Keeping mobile personal

Personal data is gold dust for marketers, but what if you want your details kept private? Tom Fox-Brewster discovers apps which aim to keep it personal 

LOOKOUT MOBILE SECURITY

One of the original mobile security vendors, Lookout doesn’t just watch out for malware that might siphon off your data, it also actively seeks to block aggressive advertisers from nabbing information. The app, available for both iOS and Android, has anti-theft protection, so when a phone goes missing, users still have the ability to keep their data hidden from prying eyes.

HIDEMYASS VPN

Set up by young British entrepreneur Jack Cator, the HideMyAss virtual private network (VPN) will encrypt all your mobile and desktop traffic. VPNs also funnel web communications across different servers, known as proxies, which means your location won’t be tracked either. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recommends the use of VPNs to protect against so-called permacookies.

CLUEFUL

A free product, Clueful shows how installed apps use, and possibly abuse, personal information and treat privacy. Though it’s not actually possible to download directly from Apple’s App Store, there is a web app which provides users with plenty of information. Billed by its creator, security firm BitDefender, as a personal “privacy consultant”, it’s also free from Google Play for Android users.

DISCONNECT

Controversially banned by the Google Play store, users can still install Disconnect directly from the web, though it’s a little more convoluted than normal downloads. iPhone owners can simply get it from the App Store. Those who do manage to get it on their device will be able to stop apps grabbing personal information and filter out intrusive ads.

SECURETEXT

Anyone who doesn’t want to have their comms snooped on, either by government or criminals, would be wise to download SecureText, designed by the respected Open Whisper Systems team of pro-privacy security pros. It does what it says on the tin – secures text messages using encryption. And it’s completely free. It’s not available for iOS yet, but is coming soon.

REDPHONE/SIGNAL

Another offering from the Open Whisper Systems team, RedPhone for Android and iOS version Signal encrypt phone calls, and are among the simplest and most intuitive interfaces yet. Voice packets – the slices of data transmitted during calls – are protected with proven algorithms, meaning any surreptitious actors on your network can’t snoop on conversations. Text messages and storage are also secured.