First, I’d like to note that I am not affiliated in any way, shape or form, with any of the services or corporations behind the services listed below, nor do I have any incentives, monetary or otherwise, to use or mention any of them here. Second, these are not recommendations. Rather, it’s a list of applications and services I use based on my needs. It’s always recommended to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of any service before using it.

All the software listed below is open-source and free of charge. I truly believe that the ability to inspect and audit the source code is crucial to preserve users’ online security and privacy by ensuring that the practices claimed by a given application are respected.

Browser

My favourite browser of all times is Firefox. It’s the best out there in terms of user privacy protection, especially when hardened with few setting tweaks and a handful of add-ons. Here’s a list of the extensions I use with Firefox:

  • UBlock Origin: It blocks Ads, tracking, and other annoyances on the web. It comes with a predefined Ad-list with the option of adding custom ones.
  • ClearURLs: It removes all tracking query parameters from URLs before the browser calls them.
  • Privacy Possum: It blocks the referrer header and etag tracking, as well as some tracking cookies.
  • Decentraleyes: It emulates a local Content Delivery Network (CDN) by keeping a local cache of all assets that the browser fetches from remote locations. With this extension, the browser doesn’t need to talk to CDNs as often as it would without it, which reduces CDNs’ tracking ability.
  • Multi-Account Containers: It allows the compartmentalization of tabs in separate containers, effectively acting as different browser sessions. It’s like private browsing on steroids.

Email

My main email provider is ProtonMail. All emails within ProtonMail are end-to-end encrypted. It’s important to note that this only applies to the email body, the subject is not encrypted end to end.

I use Thunderbird as an email client whenever possible. It’s an open source project originally started by Mozilla, the same entity behind Firefox. It can’t be used with ProtonMail without running a bridge because of the encryption, so I stick to the web when accessing my personal ProtonMail account. But for work, where unfortunately I have no choice but to use Gmail, I connect to my account through Thunderbird.

Instant Messaging

My primary instant messaging service is Signal, which is supported by a non-profit organization. It encrypts everything end to end using a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed, and thoroughly-audited secure communication protocol called The Signal Protocol. The application supports group chats and 1-to-1 and group video calls, which is more than I could ask for. It uses phone numbers as user identifiers, which breaks user anonymity but if all one is looking for is privacy, Signal provides that and then some.

My backup instant messaging service is Session. It’s a fork of Signal that relies on randomly generated ids instead of phone numbers to identify users. The service is decentralized and routes all communications through an onion network of community-managed nodes. I only use it when I want to briefly communicate with someone without having to give out my phone number.

Notes

The notes app I use on a regular basis is Standard Notes which encrypts notes and tags on-device and end to end when syncing to other devices. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that are typically found in more elaborate notes apps, especially in the free plan, but for simple, private, and synchronized note taking it’s one of the best options out there. Plus, it can be self-hosted to unlock all the premium features and enjoy greater data control.

Password Manager

My password manager of choice is Bitwarden. Given that it’s open-source, I run my own instance so I have control over all my data. It’s not very complicated to do and I encourage everyone to give it a try, especially if you already have a server (a Raspberry Pi or a VPS). Feel free to checkout this article where I go over my setup if you’re curious about how it’s done. Besides, even if I wasn’t able to run my own instance I would still have gone with Bitwarden. To date, it’s the only reputable and open-source password manager with a decent free plan offering.

TOTP

To store my Time-based One-Time Passwords, I use FreeOTP. It has all the basics you would expect from a TOTP app and it’s completely open source.

Social

I’m not on any of the common social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Instead, I prefer to socialize on Mastodon and share photos on Pixelfed. Both of these platforms are on the Fediverse, meaning their codebase is open-source and they are federated.