Here are a few tips to help increase your online security and protection. I will add more over time, these are just some ideas for now. Feel free to comment with suggestions.
VPN- Most people know what a VPN is- a Virtual Private Network. This is a system where you are using the internet with the VPN Server’s IP address instead of your own, which can provide protection from hackers, people who might try to physically find you, etc. I personally haven’t been using one much but plan to in the near future. This article explains the details of several different VPN apps which can provide protection for both your computer and mobile devices. VPNs can slow your internet speeds because they’re routing your traffic through additional servers, but overall I’d say they’re worth it (and can of course be turned on and off as you choose).
DeleteMe- DeleteMe is a service that contacts data-collecting websites and has them erase your personal information on your behalf. I’m sure there are other services similar to theirs, I’m just not familiar with them at this time. Data collecting services may have personal information such as past and current addresses, phone numbers, emails, neighbors, vehicles, arrest records, etc. DeleteMe contacts these sites and has them purge the information, and they do this four times a year (for a fee). They also have a free guide explaining how to do it yourself for several of the websites. Their prices are listed here, but right now are generally about $350 for two people for two years, or $230 for two people for one year (at this time).
Messenger Apps- Signal is a free chat app that allows communication with end-to-end encryption, meaning that (mostly) no one can intercept your messages without actually breaking into your phone or laptop. You can also set it to delete messages automatically at time periods you choose (12 hours, 24 hours, a week, etc). I’m sure there are plenty of similar apps out there, but again, this is the one that I am personally familiar with. You can find Signal here.
Forum-style apps- Keybase is an app very similar to Discord or Slack, but it’s encrypted similarly to Signal (I believe), and it’s free. I don’t use it often so I’m not as familiar with its capabilities, but basically you set up different threads, can private message other users of your group, etc, and my understanding is that it also uses end-to-end encryption. There are of course probably others but I’m not familiar with others at this time. You can find Keybase here.
These are just a few of the basics of online security. They work in conjunction with other standard practices, such as- don’t put your private/personal information on the internet, only use cards on trusted sites, etc. The only person looking out for you is you. Now, the cool thing about these apps is you can use them in conjunction. For example, if I were to go to a protest and thought for any reason that violence might be expected to break out, if I took my phone with me I’d disable the GPS and only use secure comms like Signal as well as a VPN like NordVPN. Protesters are currently being targeted for crimes they may not have even witnessed, and one method of targeting people is by tracking their phone movements. Personally, I wouldn’t take mine at all unless I planned to record everything.