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It is harder than ever to figure out which companies are collecting and selling your data. To counter this assault on your privacy, you need to install or apply these new apps that promise some protections.
We have a detailed guide to improve online security and privacy, which you should implement as the first step. But things change often in the world of online privacy.
For example, since the EU has rolled out General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), several tools use its added protections to help you now. And old tools become obsolete against new styles of attack.
With that in mind, here are five new apps that go the extra mile in protecting your privacy.
Avira Privacy Pal (Windows): Privacy Protection for Windows PCs
Avira is renowned for being one of the best free antivirus and internet security suites for Windows. Now that the concern of netizens has shifted to privacy, Avira has launched a new free tool to protect that too.
Privacy Pal is made for Windows computers to protect the data of a user. It has three levels depending on what you want: basic, to stop tailored ads; enhanced, to stop apps collecting data; and personalized, to tweak each last aspect. Privacy Pal works on every level of Windows to ensure your data is secure.
For example, it stops Microsoft from experimenting with your Windows installation remotely or collecting data from apps in the Windows store. It even blocks Cortana from accessing location, one of the hidden ways Windows 10 spies on you.
I would recommend using the Enhanced profile and sticking to it unless there are any specific aspects you want to enable or disable in the Personalized profile.
Have I Been Sold (Web): Did Someone Sell Your Email Address?
Why do you get spam emails? Because at some point, you gave your email address to some company, and they sold it to spammers. Using the new GDPR protocols, Have I Been Sold lets you track that company and bring them to justice.
Enter your email address and click the “Have I Been Sold?” button to find out if you are compromised. If you aren’t, that’s great news, and you can ask the site to inform you if you are ever part of a compromised list of emails. If your email has been sold, you’ll need to report the GDPR violator and send a data request, which the next app in this list will teach you.
Have I Been Sold is a simple way to check whether your email is still safe or not among the known compromised lists. Of course, more lists are added all the time, so check back once in a while. And yes, the web app is inspired by Have I Been Pwned, one of the best ways to check if your online accounts are hacked.
My Data Request (Web): Ask Companies to Show What They Stored About You
After GDPR, many of the top online services have updated their policies or terms of service to let you issue requests for the data they store about you. But getting to that data isn’t always easy. My Data Request shows you how to file a request.
The site has detailed guides for most of the sites that are notorious for storing data. Click the name and you will find either a link to where you can download your data or the procedure to make it happen. In case you need to fill out a form or send an email, My Data Request has those templates ready for you. There are even different tabs for EU and non-EU residents, so that even without GDPR, you might be able to get something done.
My Data Request has a variety of services you can check, like social networks and chat apps, games (including Angry Birds and Fortnite), airlines, restaurants like McDonald’s or Starbucks, mobile and internet service providers, and so much more.
Privacy Possum (Chrome, Firefox): A Stronger Privacy Badger
I’m a big fan of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s extension Privacy Badger, which blocks online tracking. But a former developer on the team reckons it is limited and the project maintainers aren’t interested in improving it. So he made his own, better version, Privacy Possum.
Privacy Possum blocks four major methods of online tracking, the same as Privacy Badger, but does that more aggressively. You can read the detailed methods in a comparison, but suffice to say, Privacy Possum is better at stopping attacks like browser fingerprinting or etag tracking.
If you trust the EFF more and want to abide by their recommendations, Privacy Badger is still the tool to use. But Privacy Possum is getting some traction and might be a better privacy solution to block online tracking.
Extension Police (Chrome): Is That Chrome Extension Snooping on You?
You’re vigilant about the websites you visit and the links you click, but have you ever really paid attention to the extensions you install? Run Extension Police on Chrome and you’re in for a surprise.
The idea behind this extension is to detect and block malicious extensions that collect your data, track cookies from your browser and sell it to others or inject ads based on your browsing patterns. The job of an extension is to improve the browsing experience, not to spy on you and invade your privacy. Extension Police will show you what each add-on is doing, and let you start and stop it only when you want to use it. It’s a safer way to use extensions that you need sometimes, but not all the time.
But remember, in cases, you’re better off uninstalling bad Chrome extensions and looking for an alternative instead. It might not be a perfect alternative, but if it protects your privacy, it’s worth it.
Download: Extension Police for Chrome (Free)
Some More Apps You Should Already Be Using
You should immediately install these new vigilant apps that promise to protect your data. But that doesn’t mean you forget about the oft-recommended classics. Privacy Badger has a replacement now, but you still need to be using these other privacy protecting apps.