What are the best privacy apps for smartphone users in 2021?
Online privacy is becoming a hot talking point in 2021. Every day, sees governments erode more of our rights to privacy than ever previously. Worse, big corporations are constantly harvesting our data.
Thankfully, there are apps that you can use to protect the content of your email conversations, messages, and even telephone calls from government and Google snooping.
Here, we’ll look at 5 apps you can use to make your digital life more private.
The Best Privacy Apps for Email – StartMail and Tutanota
Whenever you send an email, it is easy for email service providers to intercept message content. Many also do just this so that they can better target ads at their users. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
At present, several secure email providers exist that make it easy to encrypt messages. This way, neither big companies like Google or governments can intercept correspondences.
StartMail is widely considered the best private email service currently available online. This is thanks to the fact that StartMail makes encrypting emails altogether easy.
When sending emails to people who don’t use StartMail themselves, users set a question that recipients must answer before they can view message contents.
When message recipients provide the correct answer, emails open in secure StartMail message windows. As a result, neither recipient email providers nor ISPs can view message contents. More, importantly, recipients can reply to messages in the same window.
- StartMail makes it easy to start sending emails 100% securely without any prior cryptography or Internet security experience.
- By operating out of the Netherlands, StartMail has no obligation to provide governments or corporations with user information, thanks to strong local privacy laws.
- StartMail is available to individual and business users.
The only catch with StartMail is that after a 30-day free trial, StartMail charges $59.95 per year to make use of its platform.
Is the cost of Startmail a little too prohibitive? If so, don’t worry. There are free secure email services available online. Of these, we believe that the best is the German-based secure email provider, Tutanota.
Built using similar technology to that powering cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Tutanota offers many of the same benefits as StartMail.
- Tutanota encrypts all emails peer-to-peer. This means that only you and the person you are messaging can view message contents.
- While slightly different, Tutanota is just as easy to start using as StartMail.
- Tutanota has been providing secure email services since 2011. This makes it one of the world’s longest-serving secure email services.
There are, of course, more well-known free secure email services online. However, many like Proton Mail seem to invest a lot of money in marketing to attract new users.
This in itself is suspicious, as providers don’t charge for their services or have any transparent way of covering existing service costs.
By comparison, Tutanota is more transparent when it comes to how they finance their services. Speaking on Reddit earlier this year, one Tutanota representative said the following:
“We founded the company behind Tutanota in 2011, and we’ve already reached break-even. We grow organically, which means along with growing sign-up rates for paid plans, we grow our team. This reduces the financial risks enormously as we don’t depend on the goodwill of investors – plus, no one can influence our development decisions and we can focus on users’ needs, not on investor’s wishes.”
The Best Privacy Apps for Messaging and Telephony
If you predominantly use a smartphone to go online, the email probably isn’t your go-to communication tool of choice. Likely, you use apps like Facebook Messenger to chat in real-time with contacts.
Sadly, apps like Facebook Messenger harvest vast amounts of data about users. It is also possible for advertisers and government agencies to trawl through message content.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to apps like Facebook Messenger available.
Signal is by far the best messaging app for privacy when it comes to chatting via IM messages or in real-time voice calls. This is thanks to the fact that Signal end-to-end encrypts all text, picture, and audio messages.
- Cybersecurity researchers regularly cite Signal as the best privacy app for iPhone, Android, Mac OS, and PC desktops.
- Edward Snowden regularly voices support for signal, as a 100% secure chat app.
- Despite using state-of-the-art encryption, Signal is just as easy to use as other messaging apps.
WhatsApp is an app that there is a good chance you might be using already. What you might not know, though, is that WhatsApp is just as secure as Signal when it comes to encrypting all in-app communications. There is just one catch.
At present, WhatsApp is a reputable privacy app. However, Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014. This in itself isn’t a problem. However, Facebook is beginning to propose moderating in-app conversations.
In this case, if you use WhatsApp, you may want to consider moving your contacts to Signal.
VPNs – The Best Privacy Apps for Total Mobile Security
As well as private email, telephony, and chat apps for mobile devices, there are a host of supposedly secure web browsers. However, the only real way to browse the Internet or use a smartphone securely is to use a VPN.
When you install a VPN on your smartphone, you immediately make it impossible for websites, hackers, and ISPs, to peek at your web browsing data, or track your location.
To do this use a VPN like PureVPN which will quickly shut down anyone trying to access your data.
Online freelancer, owner of Shielded VPN and long time website creator and designer. Happily married man and father of two amazing boys.