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Android Security and Privacy Starter Kit

Our picks for the best and safest VPNs, browsers, password managers, and chat apps are an easy way to help you stay private while online.

Apps in this Guide

Who could blame you if you flinch a bit each time you go online. The Internet can be a dangerous place.

We know the basics of staying safe online -- don't give out personal information, for example,more

Who could blame you if you flinch a bit each time you go online. The Internet can be a dangerous place.

We know the basics of staying safe online -- don't give out personal information, for example, or don't click suspicious links -- but you can take the next steps with these easy-to-use apps that can watch over your privacy and ensure you stay secure online.

Our Android Internet privacy starter kit includes tools for encrypting your Internet traffic, guarding your online privacy, ensuring no one can snoop on your text messages or video calls, and managing your passwords. You can certainly further take precautions if you're concerned about plugging every leak -- by using search engines that don't track you, for example, or by using encrypted cloud-storage services -- but using our picks for the best and safest VPNs, browsers, password managers, and chat apps are an easy way to help you stay private while online.


Our Picks for Secure VPNs

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an important piece of your online protection kit. It can provide a secure Internet connection, mask your data transmissions over a public Wi-Fi connection, help you skirt Internet filtering and censorship, and allow you access to content in a geographical region other than your own.

iVPN

iVPN

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iPVN for Android provides an easy way to create a secure connection to the Internet and guard your privacy. A monthly subscription goes for $15 a month, but better deals are available if you sign up for longer.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

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Private Internet Access VPN is simple to set up and use but offers plenty of encryption settings if you like to tinker and want a find a balance between speed and privacy. Subscriptions start at $6.95 for 30 days.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear

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The VPN market is a viper pit, full of free VPN services that make their money by tracking your activities and sharing your data with third parties. We almost always run away from free VPNs, but we trust TunnelBear, which puts a friendly face on Internet security and privacy. TunnelBear offers 500MB of free VPN data each month. And if you need more, you can tweet to @theTunnelBear to get 1GB for free for a month. Subscriptions start at $9.99 for 30 days.

Our Picks for Secure Browsers

Browsers can leave a trail of all your activities, making it fairly easy to identify and track your browsing activities without much effort. If you want to guard your data while browsing, you want a browser that attempts to mask or erase your online activities.

Brave Browser

Brave Browser

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The free Brave Browser for Android is focused on protecting your privacy. By default, it attempts to block trackers and ads. And it employs an interesting way to compensate the creators whose ad revenue you are blocking by letting you make anonymous contributions to websites you visit.

Firefox

Firefox

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The free Firefox browser from Mozilla promises to put users' privacy above other objectives. It is an easy-to-use mobile browser that compares favorably with Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari browsers and puts you in charge of your personal data.

Orfox Tor Browser

Orfox Tor Browser

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With the Orfox Browser for Android, you can keep your Internet traffic private. It works by bouncing your data around a distributed network, preventing others from monitoring your traffic, discovering your location, and observing your browsing activities. It lacks some bells and whistles found in other browsers, but you get a tight focus on your security in exchange.

Our Picks for Secure Firefox Browser Extensions

The Firefox browser is designed to watch over your browsing privacy, but you can give it a boost with a few extensions that can block trackers and guard your data.

Privacy Badger

Privacy Badger

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Privacy Badger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, watches for third-party trackers that monitor your activities across websites and then blocks their ability to track you until you grant them permission. You can find other extensions that do the same thing, but Privacy Badger is simple to use.


HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere

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Another extension from the EFF, HTTPS Everywhere automatically redirects your traffic to the HTTPS version of a website if the encrypted version is available, helping to keep your web communications encrypted.

Decentraleyes

Decentraleyes

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The Decentraleyes extension comes with a collection of commonly used web libraries that your browser can use instead of requesting those libraries from an external server and having the external site track you. If you want to know more, see these Reddit posts for details about how the extension works.

Our Picks for Secure Password Managers

A password manager can take on the task of remembering and the filling in passwords and other login information.

LastPass

LastPass

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LastPass for Android offers a rich set of password-management tools for free. With a $24 a year subscription, you can share password and other log-in info with others. If you're thinking about using a password manager, it's hard to beat LastPass.

Bitwarden

Bitwarden

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If you would rather go open-source, Bitwarden is a free password manager that lets you create, store, and sync passwords across the popular browsers and platforms. If you already use another manager, you can import your data from LastPass, 1Password, and Chrome, for example.

1Password

1Password

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The 1Password app from AgileBits securely handles all your passwords, letting you sign in to apps, websites, and services with one master password on your Android phone. AgileBits gives you a 30-day trial to check out its password manager. After that, it's $2.99 a month. For $4.99 a month, you can cover five family members.

Our Picks for Secure Chat Apps

A handful of apps encrypt messages, creating a private connection through the Internet. When applied end to end, this advanced level of encryption allows just the sender and receiver to view the message. (While WhatsApp uses the same encryption protocol as Signal does to encrypt messages, WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and we are concerned enough about how Facebook handles its user data to not include WhatsApp in our picks for secure messaging apps.)

Signal

Signal

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The free Signal communications service from Open Whisper Systems lets you hold end-to-end encrypted text, voice, and video chats to keep your messages private.

Wire

Wire

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The Wire Secure Messenger app joins end-to-end encryption with individual and group communication tools that let you chat, make video calls, hold group voice calls, and share files securely.