15 best apps for online privacy in 2022 (iOS & Android)

apps to protect your privacy online (3)

Navigating the privacy minefield that is today’s internet can be a challenge.

With cybersecurity incidents like the Equifax hack and state-sponsored targeting of U.S. companies appearing so frequently in the news, you should actively monitor  your digital footprint.

To protect our phones and other personal devices, the following app recommendations should help you sleep easier at night, comfortable knowing your privacy is guarded.

Jump to…
Signal
DuckDuckGo
ExpressVPN
2ndLine
ProtonMail
LastPass
Bouncer
Bitwarden Password Manager
Privacy Bee
Hushed
Smart AppLock
Glasswire
Telegram
Notesnook
Authy Authenticator
Tips for protecting your privacy on apps
FAQ: About apps for privacy

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1. Signal

  
TypeMessaging
PriceFree
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, macOS, Linux, Windows
Websitehttps://signal.org/
Rating in App Store4.5/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.8/5

Signal’s surged to the top of the app store rankings lately, thanks to WhatsApp’s privacy policy update stipulating that user data is shared with its parent company, Facebook.

So if you’ve ever needed a reason to switch to a more secure messaging app, this is probably it.

Signal uses its own protocol for end-to-end encryption across voice calls, video calls, and instant messages. The technology is open source, meaning the code can be audited by cybersecurity professionals. What’s more, Signal uses a unique device safety number to ensure that your messages and calls are actually reaching their intended recipient.

Users also have the option to secure the app with a PIN code and send self-destructing messages.

Download Signal for all your devices

2. DuckDuckGo

  
TypeInternet search engine
PriceFree
Supported devicesChrome extension, Android, and iOS
Websitehttps://duckduckgo.com/
Rating in App Store4.9/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.7/5

Google is worth hundreds of billions of dollars mostly because it holds a vast trove of data. It tracks your every move: what sites you click on, what things you buy online, and where you log on to the internet from.

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused alternative. It doesn’t store any user data, IP addresses, or personal information. And there’s no advertising. Moreover, it forces websites to use an encrypted connection.

You can download the DuckDuckGo browser (as an alternative to Chrome) or navigate to duckduckgo.com for search queries.

Download DuckDuckGo for all your devices

3. ExpressVPN

  
TypeVirtual private network
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, macOS, Linux, Windows, browser extensions
Websitehttps://www.expressvpn.com/
Rating in App Store4.7/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.2/5

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) should be your go-to app to encrypt all internet traffic flowing to and from your device. It’s necessary when you consider that you might connect to poorly secured Wi-Fi networks or fork over financial information through unsecured sites.

VPNs are an excellent method to cover your digital footprint and port your location to different parts of the world for streaming sports and unblocking streaming media sites.

Download ExpressVPN for all your devices

4. 2ndLine

  
TypeTelecommunications
Price5.99 USD a week
Supported devicesAndroid
Websitehttps://www.2ndline.co/
Rating in Google Play Store3.5/5

If you’re self-employed or freelancing, you need to build out your network. However, handing out your personal cell phone number can leave you inundated by follow-up calls.

2ndLine gives you an alternate phone number for business calls or when you want to keep your personal number private.

Download 2ndLine for Android

For Android

5. ProtonMail

  
TypeEmail
PriceFree with up to 1GB total storage, 150 messages a day, and access to Proton Calendar Drive, and VPN.
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, browser extensions
Websitehttps://proton.me/
Rating in App Store4/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.3/5

Google’s data mining doesn’t just extend to search. Gmail also has algorithms at work, establishing a metadata profile to serve you more targeted advertisements.

If you aren’t a fan of metadata profiles, then it’s worthwhile to shift to ProtonMail, a far more secure alternative to Gmail.

Like Gmail, ProtonMail is free to use. But that’s where the similarities end. You don’t need any personal information to sign up. All email is end-to-end encrypted, which means the company can’t decipher the content of your messages.

ProtonMail is incorporated in Switzerland and therefore has to operate within the confines of the country’s rigid privacy laws.

Founded in 2013 by scientists at CERN, ProtonMail offers password-protected emails and a self-destruct option. It’s also open source, so anyone can audit the code if they wish.

Download ProtonMail

6. LastPass

  
TypePassword manager
PriceFree with premium plans available
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, Windows, MacOS, browser extensions
Websitehttps://www.lastpass.com/
Rating in App Store4.5/5
Rating in Google Play Store3.8/5

We tend to use the same password or similar ones, across all the apps and sites we access⁠—it’s just easier. But this habit puts you just one hack away from identity theft.

With password manager LastPass you can use long, random passwords that are all different while keeping them safely squirreled away in one place. You can also use it to save other data points such as driver’s license information, social security numbers, credit cards, and bank account details.

It also doubles up as a password generator, meaning you don’t have to come up with new ones on your own frequently.

Download Lastpass

7. Bouncer

  
TypePermissions
Price2.98 USD
Supported devicesAndroid
Rating in Google Play Store4.3/5

We’re so used to automatically granting all app permissions that we tend to forget how comprehensive some of these can be.

Bouncer helps mitigate this potential privacy oversight: The app can toggle permissions on your behalf, preventing apps from accessing more data than they need.

Let’s say you want to tweet a picture of your beach vacation, but you’ve disabled camera settings on the Twitter app. Bouncer will help you access it and automatically turn it off after a predetermined time.

And you can use it on a wide range of apps.

Download Bouncer for all your devices

8. Bitwarden Password Manager

  
TypePassword manager
PriceFree
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
Websitehttps://bitwarden.com/
Rating in App Store4.7/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.6/5

When LastPass announced that it was going to be limiting the number of devices users were allowed to sync their passwords on with a free account, Bitwarden became the de facto free password manager. Unlike LastPass, Bitwarden lets users sync passwords across unlimited devices for free. There’s also a premium option if users want more features like 1 GB of encrypted file attachments and secure login via Yubikey, U2F, and Duo. 

Download Bitwarden Password Manager for all your devices

9. Privacy Bee

  
TypeData removal software
Price197 USD/a year
Websitehttps://privacybee.com/

Privacy Bee is a browser extension that lets users run risk assessments for different types of online accounts, removing a user’s data from data aggregators. Privacy Bee also blocks trackers, monitors for data breaches, and removes you from marketing databases. According to its CEO, this app is popular with politicians, A-list celebrities, and top athletes.

10. Hushed

  
TypeTelecommunications
PriceStarts at 1.99 USD
Supported devicesAndroid and iOS
Websitehttps://hushed.com/
Rating in App Store4.6/5
Rating in Google Play Store3.9/5

Hushed is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) that allows users to make Wi-Fi and data calls and send text messages using a temporary secondary number. Starting at just 1.99 USD for a prepaid plan that allows you to make calls and send text messages, Hushed is an affordable option for those looking for a secondary number. 

Download Hushed

11. Smart AppLock

  
TypeApp lock 
PriceFree
Supported devicesAndroid
Rating in Google Play Store4.7/5

Smart AppLock enables Android users to lock apps like their photo gallery, call logs and social media apps that they usually can’t do from the prying eyes of others. The app will also take screenshots of anyone who tries to unlock their phone with the wrong passcode. Its simple and easy-to-use interface makes it a hit with Android users.

Download Smart AppLock for Android

12. Glasswire

  
TypeFirewall
PriceFrom 39 USD
Supported devicesAndroid and Windows
Websitehttps://www.glasswire.com/
Rating in Google Play Store4.5/5

While most devices these days have in-built firewall protection, Glasswire gives Android and Windows users an added security layer. Glasswire also detects spyware and malware and monitors bandwidth hogs by apps and other software. Through the Glasswire dashboard, users can see their PC and smartphone’s activity and view how different apps are using internet data with beautiful data visualization graphs. Currently, Glasswire is available only for Android and Windows, but a macOS version is on the way. 

Download Glassware for all your devices

13. Telegram

  
TypeTelecommunications
PriceFree with a premium model
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
Websitehttps://telegram.org/
Rating in App Store4.2/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.4/5

Similar to Signal, Telegram is a messaging app that encrypts chats and calls. Built by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who built VK, Telegram gained popularity for its ability to create huge chat groups. Protestors in Ukraine and other countries have been using the app to organize events. Telegram also has a ‘Secret Chat’ function that allows users to create self-destructing messages and securely send photos and videos.

Download Telegram for all your devices

14. Notesnook

  
TypeNotes app
PriceFree with basic features and a premium plan 
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, browser extensions
Websitehttps://notesnook.com/
Rating in App Store4.7/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.4/5

Notesnook is a note-taking app that offers end-to-end encryption across multiple devices. While default apps like Notes on iOS and macOS are great, they don’t offer the same security and protection level as Notesnook. There’s also a premium version of the app that lets you store images on the app. 

Download Notesnook for all your devices

15. Authy Authenticator

  
TypeAuthentication
PriceFree for the Starter tier with plans starting at 0.99 USD a month
Supported devicesAndroid, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Linux
Websitehttps://authy.com/
Rating in App Store4.7/5
Rating in Google Play Store4.6/5

 

Authy is a two-factor authentication app that helps add an additional layer of protection to the login process. The service was acquired by San Francisco-based communications tech company Twilio. Authy has been used by over 6,000 websites such as Coinbase, CloudFlare, and MercadoLibre to make the login process of these websites more secure.

Download Authy for all your devices

Tips for protecting your privacy on apps

While downloading privacy-friendly apps is a great idea, there are ways to protect your privacy while using other apps: 

Before You Install an App

  • Always download apps from the official app stores. Official app stores like the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store have stringent requirements that protect users from potentially malicious apps.
  • Find out what sort of information the app will be able to access. Before downloading an app, read the reviews and see if you can spot anything suspicious about the app.
  • Check out the permissions. Ensure that the permissions requested by the app make sense and check if it might share information with external parties.

Your Privacy on Apps You Already Have

  • Review the app’s permissions. With each new update, have a look at the app’s permissions and see if it makes sense for the app to require access to certain features on your device.
  • Limit location permissions. Where possible, try to limit the sort of information apps can collect from you, this includes location data, photos, and calendar information.
  • Don’t automatically sign up for apps with a social network account. This helps to limit the sort of information that an app can collect about you.
  • Always keep apps updated. Outdated apps could possess security flaws that give hackers loopholes to install and distribute malicious software.
  • Delete apps you don’t need. Create space on your phone by removing certain apps you no longer use.

FAQ: About apps for privacy

What apps should not be on my phone?
Who can see what I do on my phone?
Can I tell if my phone is being monitored?
What is an app privacy report?
Where are privacy settings on iPhone?
Do apps collect personal data?
How to change microphone privacy settings for apps?
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I like to think about the impact that the internet has on humanity. In my free time, I'm wolfing down pasta.