The internet is a scary place sometimes. It can often feel like, as soon as you open your web browser, you’re under attack. It doesn’t help that so many online threats have weird and confusing names: phishing, malware, botnets, polymorphic viruses, and so many more. Do you know what any of these actually mean? Most of us only know that they’re dangerous, spooky and they’re everywhere.
There’s also the endless news stories detailing the wholesale leaking and trading of our data. You might just feel constantly under siege from shady figures out to exploit your most personal information or steal your identity.
Fortunately, staying safe online isn’t as difficult, expensive or complicated as most people think. While most privacy tools advertised charge a premium fee for their services, with a little digging its possible to find free alternatives.
To save you time, we have compiled a list of the best free tools to quickly boost your privacy and safety online. In just a couple of hours, you can protect yourself from the scariest threats on the internet and achieve some peace of mind – without spending a cent.
A Password Manager
Take a moment to think about all the online accounts you actually have, each requiring a unique password to enter. Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, email, online banking, and countless more you can’t remember. How many of them share the same password? For how many of them have you forgotten the password? Do you write your passwords down somewhere, or keep them all in a folder?
We all make these mistakes, even though our passwords are the most common way we can be hacked. The easiest solution to keep your passwords safe is to use a free online password manager like Lastpass. A password manager is a browser extension that stores your passwords in an encrypted folder only you can access. They keep you organized and better protected, generating incredibly secure passwords for your accounts, flagging weak or shared passwords and automatically filling in your log in details on websites. All of this can save you a huge amount of time, stress and potential security issues.
Use Tor Internet Browser
The Tor browser was created to offer a completely anonymous alternative to mainstream browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Not only does Tor not record your browsing activity or personal data, it also shields you from outside parties that may want to. Using multiple levels of encryption, Tor hides everything: your IP address, location, browser, network, anything that can be used to identify you online.
Tor unrivaled effectiveness and anonymity is the reason for its popularity amongst journalists, political activists, and security experts. If you’re worried about protecting your identity online, follow their examples and switch over to Tor.
While the main purpose of ad blockers is to make websites less distracting and annoying, they also keep you safe. One of the simplest ways to infect your browser with a virus, spyware or malware is through pop-ups and fake banner ads. Just one wrong click can create a world of headaches.
By installing an adblocker on your browser, you reduce the number of ads you see – and the danger of clicking on a scam – significantly. This not only makes using the internet infinitely more pleasurable, but also considerably safer.
Good antivirus software is the best way to protect your computer from all the attacks and attempted intrusions that are constantly taking place every single second you are online (and even when you’re not). By creating a virtual safety net around your computer, antivirus software protects you 24/7 and keeps a watchful eye for any possible breaches or ‘infections’ in your hardware and operating systems.
There are so many antivirus providers in the market, it can seem impossible to know which is best. One of the most comprehensive and popular free packages is provided by Avast.
A Free VPN
A Virtual Private Network is by far the best all-round online safety and privacy tool you can you use. VPNs keep you safe on both public and private networks by rerouting your online traffic through dedicated servers that provide much greater protection than you would otherwise have access to.
Put simply, a VPN hides you from the internet and all the dangers within. By using military-grade data encryption, hiding your IP address and location, and not recording any of your online activity, a VPN insulates you from attacks, data leaks, identity theft, government surveillance, corporate greed and manipulation, and so much more. It’s much more difficult to be spied on or attacked if you can’t be found.
Installing a free VPN onto any of your devices is the biggest step you can take to protect your identity and keep you safe from harm while you browse the internet.
If you’re concerned about staying safe online and want to better protect yourself, the free tools on this list will make a huge difference. While free online privacy tools do have some limitations, they are a great place to start. With just a few quick steps, and without spending any money, your time online will be immediately safer and more private.
You can relax and enjoy the internet, safe in the knowledge that your data and personal information is protected from harm.