Fran Villalba Segarra
Individuals and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to protect their data. For a business, leaving customer data unprotected can result in fines and a very significant loss in the number of customers it has (amongst many other fatal consequences). In the case of individuals, leaving personal files in the wrong hands can also have very negative effects. I think we’d all agree that we want our data not to fall in the wrong hands. Only these past few years, we can recall thousands of data breaches that severely affected all kinds of businesses and individuals.
To name a few: Dropbox, 2012.68 million users’ email addresses and passwords hacked. Apple iCloud, 2014.Various celebrities iCloud accounts hacked. About 500 photos get leaked on the Internet. Yahoo, 2014.3 billion accounts get hacked. It included user emails, passwords, names, telephone numbers, date of birth. Marriott’s Hotels, 2018.Hackers accessed the reservation database and stole guest information. Data from 500 million guests. Adobe, 2018.User emails, passwords and credit card records. 38 million users. India’s government ID database, 2018. Stored 1.1 billion citizens’ identity and biometric info, and experienced a data leak on a system run by a state-owned utility company Indane.
We want to help you protect your privacy from hackers, corporations, and governments. For this reason, we have put together this list for you, which includes the very most secure services -in our opinion, in the analyzed industries.
Get rid of Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon Drive, Google One or Apple iCloud if you truly care about your privacy. These services do not feature client-side end-to-end encryption, thus can easily access your information. These can decrypt your files just like you can. That simple. Moreover, generally, these services don’t even encrypt your files at rest, but only in transit.
Internxt’s X Cloud encrypts your files with client-side encryption, and files are encrypted in transit and at rest. Only the user knows the decryption key of the files since the user password (only known by the user) is used to encrypt and decrypt the files. Additionally, unlike in any other service (eg Tresorit, pCloud, Sync), X Cloud shards user files and a server only hosts file fragments, never a complete file. This adds an extra layer of security to the service.
Forget Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook etc. These services can scan your emails and basically know anything you send. ProtonMail features client-side end-to-end encryption, thus making sure it has zero knowledge about your email activity while using their service. With email, however, it’s kinda tricky to be completely safe. If you’re using ProtonMail to send emails to, say, a Gmail user, it’s kind of pointless. Your conversation becomes fully readable through Google’s less secure mail service.
Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, The main issue with using Telegram is that they use a slightly less secure encryption protocol than that used by Signal. Telegram uses its own encryption protocol, MTProto. Telegram was the subject to some minor controversies over its encryption protocol. Then in 2015, a security researcher published a research paper detailing theoretical weaknesses in MTProto. Signal uses a stronger encryption mechanism, developed by the company behind Signal.
The main issue with WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, though they use strong end-to-end encryption by default (just like Signal), is their collection of metadata. What can they know about you by collecting metadata? They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don’t know what was discussed. Now that you know what metadata is: using end-to-end encryption does not prevent messaging services from collecting metadata.
Unlike Google or Bing, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you. It treats you like a completely anonymous user every time you use it. Google and Microsoft track everything you search for, then create a profile of yourself and sell it to other companies as part of their massive ads business. DuckDuckGo is super convenient, and it’s a great alternative to your usual search engine. Another option is using Ecosia, also a very private alternative to Google or Bing. It uses its revenues to plant trees all over the world, so not only you’re doing good to yourself by using it, but you’re also helping the world!
You can see that in most cases, it is the same companies which are offering services that are mostly super cheap, and in which basically you are the product. Google, Microsoft, Facebook… Make the switch to a new wave of services that respect you, and for which you usually won’t have to compromise on anything. ProtonMail, Internxt’s X Cloud, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, Wire, Signal… Stay safe! :)