Private instant messaging apps
For when a private chat with friends really does need to be private.
You might not have noticed, but WhatsApp has had full end-to-end encryption since 2014 after it partnered with Open Whisper Systems. Just last year, they enabled encryption on everything from a normal chat, a group chat, voice messages, photos and video. All are protected by encryption, meaning nobody can see what you’re sending except the person you’re sending it to, just check for the little lock at the top of your chat. If you really don’t want anyone to see what you’re doing or you’re just feeling particularly paranoid, then you can access the security verification code that is unique to your conversation and compare it to your contact in person to ensure your messages are completely private. Download here: https://www.whatsapp.com
If you don’t want to use WhatsApp, then a good alternative is Telegram. It works in much the same way and encrypts all your communication as well as offering a self-destruct option for your messages. Download here: https://telegram.org
If you have an iPhone then good news, iOS’ default messaging app includes encryption for all your chats between you and other iPhone users. Although Apple developed this encryption independently, they apparently can’t read your messages even if Donald Trump shouts at them. Requires iPhone
Now that we have messaging covered, what about browsing the web?
If you want to stay secure on the web then your best bet is to only browse secure websites, you might have already noticed some websites have a small lock in the address bar, such as The Sphinx for example. Unfortunately, not all sites are secure but you can force some to be more secure than usual. Installing the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension will force sites to send their data to you in an encrypted form if they can. Download here: https://www.eff.org/HTTPS-EVERYWHERE
The infamous Tor Browser is a useful tool if you want to hide your physical location when browsing the web. It works by routeing all your browsing through a series of anonymous servers all around the world before connecting to the website you have searched for. Unfortunately, this does slow your browsing down but that is the price to pay if you want to remain anonymous on the web. Download here: https://www.torproject.org
For when you really need anonymity.
If you live in a country with restricted internet freedoms, such as China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tunisia or Vietnam, then you might be interested in a more comprehensive solution to get around censorship and internet restrictions. The most all-in-one solution is arguably Tails OS. Tails is an operating system like Windows or Mac OS except it is entirely engineered to get around internet restrictions, censorship and to hide a user’s activity online. It is designed to be used as a “Live OS” meaning that you can install it onto a USB stick and boot into it using any computer you can get your hands on, it also won’t leave a trace on the computer that you use it on once you are finished. Download here: https://tails.boum.org