The universal access to the Internet and advancements in technology lead to the necessity of the reinterpretation of such notions as privacy and personal data. The government's attempts to regulate and take control of the "network" life in all its manifestations, even with good intentions, turn out to be ineffective, ill-conceived and somewhat inadequate, which causes extremely negative reactions from the public and even resistance.
That's why we can find so many products that offer a solution for those who tend to preserve their rights for anonymity. This article aims to provide you with an analysis of 10 best Internet privacy tools existing thus far: private Web browsers, messengers with encrypted file storages, DNS, and Emails.
What are the best Internet privacy tools?
Tor browser is a modified version of Mozilla Firefox. Using this web browser allows you to hide your location, IP address, and other identifying information from regular websites. Earlier, in order to connect to Tor, you needed special knowledge that the average computer user did not have. Now, the situation has changed. Tor Browser simplifies the process of protecting personal data, but at the cost of reduced performance.
The browser works according to the principal of the Onion Router.The data is encrypted several times with the transmission from server to server (3 randomly chosen servers of Tor network) and then transferred through the virtual channel. The decryption is processed the same way.
Traffic between the Tor network and the target resource is not encrypted. Therefore, if the user wants to transmit sensitive information over the Internet, you still need to take care of confidentiality through the use of https or another pass-through encryption protocol, as well as authentication mechanisms. In addition, when using the Tor network, the user still has the opportunity to visit blocked sites.
The former Skype vice president left the company when Microsoft bought it and decided to develop another one. This is how Wire appeared. It is a messenger with end-to-end encryption for making calls, exchanging images, videos, documents, GIFs, and so on. Wire promises not to publish or send your information to anyone and doesn't contain ads. That's great.
The registration is anonymous, you just need to provide your username. The messenger is available on three platforms and is equipped with a message synchronization system. Wire is great for private and secure group conversations with up to 128 people.
Utopia is an ecosystem developed right for the sake of total security and anonymity on the Web. It includes browser Idyll, uMail, instant messenger, uMaps, a wallet and own digital currency Crypton and other builts-in.
It is a decentralized peer-to-peer network which applies the most advanced encryption methods including elliptical curves. The main advantage of it is that it combines all the possibilities of all software presented in this article. But taking into account that it is a relatively new product (only beta-version is released,) I give it the third place.
While creating an account, each user is given a key which gives access to the Utopia system. Each user participates in the transmission of data, but only the recipient has a key to decrypt and see the content of the message.
The registration, communication, files transfer are anonymous. API allows automating financial transactions, invoicing, receiving payment, transfer, receiving, and sending order information to their customers. That's especially beneficial for businesses.
I consider it to be a new level of privacy and convenience. Besides, the ecosystem is available for free.
ProtonMail is an email with encryption and setting message lifetime. The service quickly encrypts mail between ProtonMail users. You can send encrypted messages to users of other mail systems. Moreover, you can specify the lifetime of the message (after which the letter will be automatically deleted).
ProtonMail claims that the devs do not have access to your messages due to end-to-end encryption.
When registering, you do not need to indicate your real first and last name. However, during the registration, a "check for bots" is performed: you will have to specify an email or phone number. Thus, the condition of anonymity is not fulfilled. At the same time, the service rejects some of the entered email addresses, which is also disappointing sometimes.
Tails is a Debian-based distribution for Linux that ships with Tor anonymizer, encryption and security software.
The Tails system can be downloaded to any computer from a regular flash drive or SD card, which makes it convenient to use for safe Internet surfing. All Internet connections are made via TOR, and messages are encrypted with modern cryptographic means. Tails does not save any traces of your Internet activity.
Tails also has support for the anonymous I2P network, which provides anonymous use of applications. The network is based on IP-style messaging, but there is also a library for creating reliable TCP-style streaming connections.
Tails supports the mode of saving user data between downloads; a separate encrypted partition is created to store data on a USB drive, TrueCrypt is used for encryption.
Tails also provides protection against the analysis of amnesic in the computer's memory, in the process of shutting down and removing the media, all RAM is automatically cleared.
Brave browser is Firefox's child. It is an open-source product based on Chromium. Its distinguishing feature is a high level of visualization of effects from the use of security mechanisms. Brave's home page displays visual statistics in the form of special counters for blocked trackers, ad modules, redirects from http to https, as well as time saved as a result (the creators of Brave promise to load web pages 2 to 8 times faster than Chrome and Safari).
Regarding the collection of personal data, Brave implements Anonize technology, which allows transactions based on the principle of "anonymous accounting." To apply this technology, cryptographic methods of evidence with zero disclosure are used. Moreover, the browser is free.
Signal Private Messenger is Edward Snowden's favorite messenger with not so bright reputation. It gives users the ability to exchange messages and files, make calls.
All transmitted messages, files, and calls are protected by end-to-end encryption, and the messages can be stored only on the user's device if he/she decides to make a copy. As for metadata, this is the only thing that service owners can know - the date when a particular user was online.
But as it turned out, there are situations when all efforts to encrypt Signal information are in vain. During the process of migrating from the Chrome extension to a full-fledged desktop client Signal exports user messages to unencrypted text files.
Threema is also secure services because it performs E2EE of all the data exchanged by the users, whether it is messages, chats, media files, etc.
Threema uses an open-source cryptographic NaCl library for encryption. The keys are created and stored in protected folders on users' devices. It excludes private data access or copying. In addition, you do not need a phone number or email address to use the app. This allows you to use Threema entirely anonymously.
In terms of functionality, Threema is in no way inferior to the market leaders. The messenger can send text messages, photos, and short videos, share its location, record voice messages. In addition to individual communication, group chats with several contacts are allowed.
The main disadvantage of it is it's a commercial product, and you have to pay for the usage - $3.07.
Mailvelope is a free browser add-on which uses the OpenPGP standard and is designed for webmail. No additional programs are required to download or install.
With Mailvelope, you can Create encryption key pairs, export your public key (then you can share it with others), import other people's public keys. You can create, encrypt and sign emails, decrypt and verify letters, encrypt and decrypt attachments.
Your interlocutors do not need to install Mailvelope. Any OpenPGP-compliant program is enough.
Unfortunately, Mailvelope lacks many of the features Thunderbird, Enigmail, and GnuPG have, but today this is probably the easiest way for a webmail user to start using E2EE.
Each of these services serves the noble aim - your security and anonymity on the Web. Whatever tool you would choose, use it right - not for the sake of suspicious and illegal activity. I hope this article helped you to clarify the situation on the market of Internet privacy tools. Stay safe!