The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to retreat into the safety of our own homes. As a result, many count on the Internet to keep them company. Social media, video streaming sites, etc.: all of these keep up from being bored.
However, with there being more use of social media and the Internet altogether comes the issue of privacy. Yes, COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic we’re fighting—we’re fighting a pandemic against privacy.
Many companies track and store your information without consent. We know this, we have known this, yet nothing’s changed. And this pandemic forcing us into our homes gives these companies the upper hand. As Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN, states:
“With headlines reminding us daily that companies and governments are collecting our personal data without our informed consent and often than either misusing or failing to safeguard it, it’s no wonder that consumers all around the world are becoming more protective of their data. People are waking up to the need to take their online privacy and security into their own hands.”
To help you protect your information during these troubling times, I want to tell you about 5 apps that you can use to keep your data secure.
Google made waves when it released. Gmail one of, if not the most popular email app in the world, with 1.5 billion users worldwide.
However, Google includes emails (sent or received) in its data mining algorithms in order to build a comprehensive metadata profile of all its users so that it can send focused and targeted advertising to its clients.
Therefore, to avoid this invasion of privacy, it is worthwhile installing a secure email app like ProtonMail. All emails sent and received using ProtonMail are end-to-end encrypted. Therefore, the brand’s holding company cannot intercept emails and decipher the content.
If your data is encrypted, then people can’t get into it. That’s what I was taught in college, and that’s a lesson I hold close to my chest to this day.
One way to encrypt your data is to use a virtual private network (VPN). And don’t worry; for those asking what is VPN for, allow me to explain.
A VPN is defined as an encrypted tunnel between your mobile device and the Internet. It is designed to protect your identity, as well as hide the details of your communication session from external interference by hackers.
In other words, in a world where personal details are a goldmine to hackers, it’s essential to protect all digital transmissions between your smartphone and the internet. Otherwise, you could find your personal details, especially your online banking login details, stolen and offered for sale on the dark web.
Not many people think of installing an antivirus app on their smartphones or tablets. However, it is effective in forming the first line of defense against hackers and other intrusive elements like malware such as trojans, worms, and viruses.
There is plenty of anti-virus software out there, however, I recommend Bitdefender. There’s nothing special about it, per se, but it’s been proven to be an effective anti-virus. It’s constantly updated too, so you don’t need to worry about newer threats as much as with other anti-virus programs.
Even our texts aren’t safe from being logged and used by the government. As much as I like iMessage, I don’t like having my texts read and used to target me with ads.
Telegram is a new(ish) texting app that promises security. In fact, its creation is because of security. The developers behind Telegram promise users that their data is neither tracked nor stored.
The Telegram messenger app has been especially popular with protesters because of its robust security.
It is scary to consider how many people use the same password for all the different apps and websites we use. Practically, it’s easier to remember one or two passwords. However, continuing with this practice will result in your personal details being hacked or stolen by cybercriminals.
A password manager is an app that is designed to store and manage all of your online and app credentials. Therefore, you only need to remember one password, and your personal information remains protected.
There are plenty of password managers out there, but I recommend LastPass. 1Password is also a good choice. Stick with those two, as they’re the most trusted ones.
Your data is worth its weight in gold. In fact, your data is gold—at least to these companies, it is. With it, they profit. You, on the other hand, don’t.
It’s vital that we make it clear to these companies that we won’t allow them to have our information. So use these apps. Do all you can to protect your data.