With a slew of high-profile cybersecurity hacks and data breaches around the world, it’s easy to see why consumers in the digital age are worried about privacy. The Snowden revelations from a few years ago added to these worries by confirming our worst fears about the existence of an extensive surveillance machine. Thankfully, for most common operating systems, there is a wide range of privacy apps available. If you’re an Android user, you have a great selection to choose from, an overwhelming number in fact. There are many privacy apps for Android.
As such, we’ve handpicked some of the top privacy apps for Android that you might want to consider downloading. Let’s jump in!
Here’s our list of the best Privacy apps for Android apps to protect your online security and privacy:
Best Privacy Apps for Android
I know it’s unusual these days to actually use our smartphones as phones. But sometimes it’s necessary. How many times though have you had to give away your phone number, only to end up on the receiving end of cold callers?
You can prevent this by using Hushed. This is one of privacy apps for Android that allows you to create burner — or temporary – phone numbers. This means that if you need to fill in a marketer’s form, or give out your phone number to a buyer on craigslist, you can do so without fear of spam or harassment on your real phone number.
And the best part? If you do end up with a load of nuisance calls, you can just delete the number and create a new one.
Google is an incredible tool and without it we’d be worse off, but it does ingest a prodigious amount of individual data. That’s what allows it to deliver those pesky retargeting advertisements every time we visit a website or track our daily commute for better travel recommendations. Of course, some of Google’s policies are downright invasive and many users sign up without understanding that they’re pretty much agreeing to incessant monitoring of their digital footprints.
An alternative search engine for Google is DuckDuckGo which stores no data and goes out of its way to scrub any information that websites or apps may be holding about you. Its privacy protection features block advertising networks from tracking you to the effect that you’re essentially tracking who’s trying to track you. It also tries to compel sites to use an encrypted connection whenever available, although we maintain that a VPN should be your first recourse in that area.
How many times have you handed your phone to a friend to look at a picture, only to find them aimlessly swiping away through all of your photos and apps?
Well, no longer. Install AppLock to lock down your apps either with a PIN, passcode, or fingerprint if your phone supports it.
This is one of the other privacy apps for Android that has a couple of other great features too in “Photo Vault” and “Video Vault” these into the vault and it will prevent the files being displayed in your gallery.
Google’s invasive tracking features don’t just extend to search. Algorithms are at work within Gmail too, so that Google can serve more highly targeted ads and tailored recommendations. But the most worrying part about Gmail and many other popular email providers is that they’re not end-to-end encrypted.
ProtonMail is a far more secure alternative to Gmail and its peers. It was engineered by scientists at CERN and remains open source so that its code can be audited whenever needed.
The app enables you to send password-protected emails and messages that self-destruct after a certain timeframe. Since all messages are encrypted, even the company cannot figure out the content of your communications.
In a post-Snowden world more and more people are aware of the ways that various organisations are trying to snoop on your activities, and encryption is the main tool in protecting your privacy.
Telegram packs a huge amount of privacy focused features into its messaging client. Not only is the entire service encrypted, but it even features “Secret Chats” which are end-to-end encrypted so that only you and your recipient can ever see your message.
Telegram is a multi-platform messenger app which makes it stand out from a lot of the mobile-only offerings from competitors. It also includes a Snapchat-style self-destruct messaging feature for temporary and secure messaging.
As Telegram is privately-funded, the app is provided for free, as well as being completely ad-free, meaning no 3rd-party tracking in sight.
6. Find My Device
Find My Device is a proprietary app from Google and works in a similar vein to Find My iPhone. It helps by locating your Android device when lost, or disabling it if you think it has been stolen. You can set it up to view location information, as well as play a sound in case it’s within earshot.
7. Android Device Manager
You never know when the worst may happen and your phone gets lost or stolen. Before that happens, install and activate Android Device Manager from Google. It allows you to ring, lock, locate, and even erase your device if it ends up permanently out of your reach.
There are a lot of other apps that offer this service, including some all-in-one security products like Kaspersky, but Google’s is by far the easiest to set up, and if you lose your device you can even use someone else’s Device Manager app in Guest Mode to either locate or erase your device while on the go.
8. Signal Private Messenger
End-to-end encryption is now somewhat of a default standard across messaging apps with the likes of WhatsApp and LINE catching on. But privacy enthusiasts can do better than WhatsApp; it’s owned by the data-hungry leviathan Facebook and rumors of a backdoor continue to persist.
Signal Private Messenger by Open Whisper Systems is a messaging service with a strong focus on privacy. With an open-source code and end-to-end encryption for all messages, it has become a favorite with privacy enthusiasts. Being open-source means it’s possible for anyone to verify its security by auditing the code.
In addition to using peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols, Signal keeps your information safe by storing no logs. There’s no retention of metadata, such as lists of members, group icons, or names. These are all examples of data that may be tracked by other messaging apps.
9. Express VPN
If you’re not browsing the web with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) installed, now’s a good time to get with the program. There are countless free VPNs out there but this is the one app on this list where it really is worth going for a reputable paid service.
VPNs work by encrypting all the traffic flowing to and from your device and routing it via an intermediary server outside your current location. This hides your digital footprint and keeps it away from nosy surveillance agencies, hackers, and other intrusive bodies that want to spy on your web activity.
VPNs have other advantages too; they can unlock geo-restricted content such as Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and more. But it’s their encryption aspect which should appeal most to privacy-conscious users.
ExpressVPN makes the cut due to its use of military-grade encryption protocols, robust speeds, and vast server network. We’ve reviewed dozens of VPNs and ExpressVPN tops our list as the best VPN for Android. It also has a policy of not storing any detailed user logs; that’s unlike free VPNs which regularly engage in unethical data capture and mining.
With a vast server network that is optimized for high-speed connections, it’s perfect for Android devices. User-friendly apps for all operating systems. Hard to beat on privacy and security. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to browse the web without giving away who you are or where you are from — information easily gleaned from your IP address, as well as all your browsing habits.
Using a VPN minimizes the amount of data that 3rd parties can collect about you, and it protects your privacy even from your own Internet Service Provider.
One of our favorite VPNs is NordVPN because it takes your privacy seriously by not logging browsing data. Plus, it’s multi-platform and just recently launched on Android after a public beta.
NordVPN allows you to connect to 548 servers in 49 countries to anonymize your browsing. One of its best features though is “Smart-Play”. A connection to a specific server that allows you to use streaming services with a reliable and fast connection.
11. Avast Mobile Security
Avast is one of the great privacy apps to provide your Android phone protection against viruses coupled with many other threats.
It is one of the world’s most trusted free antivirus for Android which alert you when spyware, adware get installed and violate your privacy.
The detection rate of latest Android malware is about 99.9% and is around 100% of malware detected in the last four weeks.
Verdict: If malware and safe browsing are your primary concern, this app is appropriate for you.
12. NoRoot Firewall
Many of apps on your Android device might be using and eating up your mobile data unnecessarily.
NoRoot Firewall puts you in control of Internet access for apps without rooting your device. This is one of the other privacy apps for Android which allows us to choose whether a particular app can access the Internet only over wifi or only over mobile data or neither or both.
Verdict: If you don’t want to root your device but want a firewall, use NoRoot Firewall.
Orbot is one of privacy apps for Android, a part of the Tor project, which allows you to route all of your traffic through Tor network.
VPN uses a single server whereas Tor routes your traffic through various tunnels making sure no traces are left behind. Orbot creates a genuinely private mobile data connection. Data gets encrypted and re-encrypted
Data gets encrypted and re-encrypted multiple numbers of times until it reaches the last network where it gets decrypted, thus preventing the sender from being traced.
Verdict: Orbot allows you to encrypt your internet traffic easily.
14. Norton Security and Antivirus
Antivirus apps aren’t just for securing privacy. They also have the capability of detecting and removing malware and spyware. That’ll potentially lock you out of your phone in the future or spy on your data.
Norton’s a well-known name in the antivirus industry and its Android app comes packed with a bunch of great features. Other than providing routine scanning of your device, it also enables users to block unwanted calls and text messages, remotely lock devices, and locate the device on a map if lost or stolen.
This list is by no means exhaustive though and there are other things you need to know about smartphone security. But it is a great place to start. Being aware of some of the basics of security will help you to be more vigilant against potential threats. It could even be worthwhile including a personal security audit as part of your routine. Hope privacy apps for Android which are mentioned above help you protect your online security.