10 Websites to Protect Your Privacy

These sites help ensure better security by encrypting your online chats, erasing browsing history and keeping your physical geo-location top secret.

With companies increasingly tracking your online activity and selling that info to third parties, as well as the looming threat of hackers and cyber criminals, it’s more important than ever to find reassurance in knowing your privacy's protected online. Here are 10 websites that help to ensure better security by doing things such as encrypting your online chats, erasing browsing history or keeping your physical geo-location top secret.

Free software and open-network platform

Tor

prevents people from snooping through your chats and online browsing habits or identifying your location. The network employs a series of virtual tunnels rather than a direct connection, which lets both organizations and individuals share information over public networks without having to worry about privacy.

Known as the “search engine that doesn’t track you,”

DuckDuckGo

eliminates “search leakage.” In other words, your search terms and your IP address are never sent to the sites you visit and are never passed on to third parties. The site also brags that it doesn't collect any information whatsoever about its own users.

This VPN services usually costs $11.52 per month, but occasional specials promote rates as low as $4.99/month for a 12-month plan. When users visit websites, this VPN gives out one of their IP addresses, rather than the user’s real IP address. In addition to remaining anonymous online,

Hide My Ass!

is also helpful when it comes to navigating content locked by government censors.

If you’re continually perplexed by terms of service, you might want to consider enlisting some help to decode the lingo before actually agreeing to the terms.

TOS;DR

translates terms of service into succinct and meaningful messages, so that you can take develop a full understanding and remain in the driver’s seat when it comes to how services use your data.

With the help of

MyPermissions

, users can find out which apps are connected to online accounts such as Facebook, Dropbox and Google and clean up those permissions. There's also a proactive element: Users will receive notifications when new apps connect to those accounts going forward.

To help erase your digital footprint, this site provides a directory of links to use so you can delete your account from Web services. Delete yourself from public record searches or social media accounts, for example.

Startpage

submits Google searches for you and then returns the results. Google sees searches from Startpage’s servers, but nothing more. The site discards IP addresses and doesn’t keep a record of any of the searches it has performed.

For $10 each month or an annual subscription for $77.99,

IPVanish

lets users surf anonymously and access blocked websites from anywhere around the globe. Once users establish a VPN connection using the site, all of their information passes through an encrypted tunnel -- without compromising speed, according to the company.

This VPN app for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android touts security and speed. “Our network is SSL secured with 256-bit encryption, and we’re constantly optimizing our network to provide unlimited bandwidth and speed, so you can stream your favorite movies and TV shows in high definition,” the site explains. Plan prices range from $12.95 per month to $99.95 for a full year.

With plans ranging from $15 for a monthly commitment to $9.99 per month for a yearly commitment, Buffered VPN protects your privacy and security while also helping to free users from geographic restraints and firewalls.