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Cover image for My Favorite Privacy Tools in 2020: Be Safer on the Internet!

My Favorite Privacy Tools in 2020: Be Safer on the Internet!

zaiste profile image Zaiste Originally published at zaiste.net ・3 min read

This is a list of tools I use to increase my privacy on the Internet. I'm not a security expert. My goal is to have a good enough protection. Feel free to suggest any additions and improvements.

Firefox

firefox

Firefox probably doesn't need an introduction. It is an open-source project. It's run by Mozilla - a non-profit organization. Anyone can go to the Firefox repository to take a look at the code and see how it works.

Firefox doesn't gather your personal data to serve you ads as Chrome. While Google seems careful and to an extend trustworthy with handling people's personal data, you don't seem to have much control how your profile is built and used.

The browser is constantly being improved. It seems slightly heavier than Chrome or Safari on my computer, but that's a minor issue compared to all the advantages. I use the Developer Edition.

Little Snitch

Little Snitch

Little Snitch is a MacOS application that monitors connections and lets you control inbound and outbound traffic from your computer. It visualizes these connections and shows where applications connect. This way you have information about both familiar and unfamiliar network actions that applications are trying to perform.

PiHole & AdGuard

Pi Hole
AdGuard

PiHole & AdGuard are ad blockers. PiHole is open-source while AdGuard is a paid offering. I use one at home and the other one at the office. AdGuard is slightly easier to setup and use. Both work network-wide, but AdGuard also provides standalone applications and browser plugins to protect from ads when being outside of private networks.

Nibspace

Nibspace

Nibspace is an alternative to Google Analytics. It provides basic information about the visitors of my websites. It doesn't use cookies and it has a small footprint (~ 1kb) while being affordable ($1/mo per domain). It's not open-source. There are few other, notable competitors such as Fathom, Simple Analytics and Plausible.

Bitwarden

Bitwarden

Bitwarden is an open-source password manager. I used to use 1Password, but I wanted something more affordable yet with similar features and Bitwarden fits the bill perfectly.

NordVPN

Nord VPN

NordVPN is a personal virtual private network service provider. Their marketing seems aggressive, so I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, but then I decided to give it a try. Overall, NordVPN is one of the most polished and reliable VPNs I've used so far.

I also like that they show some innovation efforts, namely their NordLynx technology that is built around WireGuard - this relatively new VPN tunneling protocol

Last year NordVPN was hacked, but they handled the whole situation pretty well in my view.

Fastmail

Fastmail

Fastmail is a paid e-mail service that focuses on privacy and doesn't display ads. It is a simple service to manage e-mails, calendars and contacts. It costs $5/mo. It is also fast. This is partly related to their work on a more reliable, faster IMAP alternative, called JMAP - so it goes beyond just a snappy UI.


Have I missed an interesting tool? Let me know on Twitter.

Posted on by:

zaiste profile

Zaiste

@zaiste

Software Engineer. I teach programming on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ohzaiste

Discussion

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I would also recommend Brave browser, it feels faster and lighter than firefox and chrome while being heavily privacy focused with built-in features like brave shield which blocks ads and trackers on websites.

 

Brave replaces ads with their own, which not only is shady, it's also unethical.

 

For browser I would also suggest Brave, it has by default build-in tracking and ad blocking and the engine is build with Rust which is much faster than a javascript based extension.

For web analytics I would add Matomo Analytics, they have a free self hosted option. It has features like IP anonymization , respects Do Not Track, Opt Out function, disable cookies, ...

 

Please reconsider Brave. It is very far from privacy-focused, it does a lot of shady business with your pages such as replacing ads with their own and adding affiliate links without consent.

 

They don't replace ads on pages, I have been using Brave for over a year and never seen any ad on a webpage. Brave ads or shown as a browser notification and you can in your settings set how many ads max per hour you would like to see.
If so can you show any proof?

 

I don't think NordVPN should be on this list. Anything they do seems sketchy including the way they handled the hack.

 

Why do they seem sketchy to you?

 

I could start with the always 70% off promo.

You don't like the work of their marketing team, but what is sketchy about their product?

First of all when you always have 70% off it's false advertisement. They also lied in the first place about the hack. It's a marketing company with a VPN as it's side project.

The marketing don't say much about the quality of the product, also most serious companies will wait until their security vulnerability is fixed and non existent on any of their servers until disclosing it to the world, it often takes a proper security testing of the system, which takes time. Sounds like a good thing to do.

I have no idea why you are trying to defend NordVPN? Please explain yourself. They mislead the consumer and correct me if I'm wrong but I think it's against the law in a lot of countries.

 

To anyone recommending Brave - I would reconsider if I were you.
theverge.com/2020/6/8/21283769/bra...

 
 

Can I suggest protonmail.com as private email service and also protonvpn ?

 

Protonmail is cool I remember when it was still just a Beta and I managed to get an invite.

 

Has anybody tried ProtonVPN? I haven't used it myself yet but it sounds like a good option. Also not too expensive IMHO and swiss-based.

 

I use protonVPN free option since I do not need heavy internationalization use (just for safety in certain cases), I have nothing against the product. I noticed that on Linux there is no installer tool, but rather a instruction docs on web to follow to install the application and using it via shell (linux terminal). If you love quick installers, you might stay on windows or macOS to use it. Also, there are two types of connections ( udp and tcp). Udp does not have congestion control (meaning it does not have a max size of data sent), tcp has it (meaning sometimes it may be slower). Get used to the terminal I guess if you linux

 

posteo.de is a valid alternative for email

 

Thanks, man! I was only using Brave but I might as well try a bit the dev Firefox. Let's see how it compared to it :)