Greg, co-founder at Duple, is a professional hacker who used to work for governments on classified projects.

Obviously this rhymes with being privacy-aware. Below is a list of private tools he personally uses, and recommends you to use.

As a non-technical person myself wanting to improve my online privacy, I know that using "private" products usually means, unfortunately, having to give up the simplicity and convenience that I get and love from using mainstream (non-private) solutions. But that's not always the case. Some private solutions are very simple, user-friendly and accessible to everyone.

So I've asked Greg to write down which products he uses as private alternatives, as well as what he'd recommend you to use and to do, in case you're a bit interested in improving your privacy (whether you're tech savvy, or not).

Some solutions and tips are definitely simple to implement, some less. In the end that is for you to decide.

So, Greg, what do you use for...


-EMAIL: ProtonMail instead of Gmail

"ProtonMail. It's end-to-end encrypted. They will soon release the calendar app making its ease of use and functionalities very close to Gmail."

Bonus tip: "I also recommend you to own your email name by buying a domain. That way, in case there's a problem for whichever reason, you can always change your email provider and you won't lose your address (it's a little technical though)."

Can anyone use ProtonMail? Simple and accessible? :"Yes, definitely."


-MESSAGING APP: Signal instead of WhatsApp

"Signal. It works well, it's end-to-end encrypted, anyone can use it without really sacrificing user experience, plus it works on both mobile and desktop. The challenge of course, is to get your friends to use it too. In my case I told them it's the only way to contact me via instant messaging, and that it costs them nothing to try it out. In the end more people downloaded it than I originally thought.

Avoid using WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. Even WhatsApp's founder, who has actually invested in Signal (quite an incredible story), says the same thing. Here's a really interesting article of his take on the situation and on why he left WhatsApp, mentioning Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg in the process."

Can anyone use Signal? Simple and accessible? :"Yes, absolutely."


-SEARCH ENGINE: DuckDuckGo instead of Google

"DuckDuckGo. It works well and is privacy orientated.

A great advantage of using DuckDuckGo, which comes from its high level of privacy, is that you're not in a bubble, since the results from your searches are not "biased" (as opposed to when you use Google, whose algorithm manipulates your search results based on the personal data they have on you). Actually when I used Google sometimes I had to ask friends to search something for me because I couldn't access the info I was looking for (because the results I wanted were outside my search bubble)!

Though I have to admit I still use Google for some searches when DuckDuckGo's results simply don't do the trick."

Can anyone use DuckDuckGo? Simple and accessible? :"Yes, certainly."


-SMARTPHONE: Don't own one instead of... owning one

"I don't have a smartphone. I use a M5 Card Phone. Cheap GSM-only phone that fits in your wallet (credit card size), 3 days battery and very good call quality. People usually don't believe me at first when I tell them that it's my phone, they think it's a calculator.

If you knew what some people can actually (and easily) do with the info on your smartphone, my bet is you wouldn't use one.

If you truly need a smartphone, I recommend you check Librem-5.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a perfect example which shows that when all hell breaks loose, governments don't hesitate to use your data against you. Once implemented, it's quite hard for mass tracking technologies to go away, even after the crisis.

Take a look at France. The governement implemented a "state of emergency" following the 2015 Paris attacks, allowing it to bypass certain citizen rights. After extending it 6 different times, it ended up legalising most of it in 2017. And the citizen rights that were bypassed (which was supposed to be temporary) became permanently lost."

Final say? : "If you can, don't use a smartphone."


-SOCIAL MEDIA: Limit it as much as possible

"I only use Linkedin, and that is for professional purposes. If I could do otherwise I would. I don't use any other social media platform.

That's the first thing somebody who wants to hack you will check, and there is a lot of info accessible that can be used against you, which makes it even easier for someone to gain access to your accounts, amongst other things. This information can even be bought, in fact that's the entire business of background checks companies.

If you absolutely want your holiday pictures up on the internet, you should host something yourself, or take a look at Mastodon."


-BROWSER: Firefox instead of Google Chrome and Safari

"Firefox. It's a good compromise between functionalities and privacy. However it's not that private if you keep the default mode and without configuring it a little bit. I recommend having a look here."

Can anyone use Firefox? Simple and accessible? :"Yes, definitely."


-COMPUTER

"I use a Thinkpad X1 Carbon running Linux.

It's better for me because I can customize the OS and add security features which I can't add on other OS. However, it's definitely not for everybody! I understand a Mac is more convenient for most people"

Can anyone use Linux? Simple and accessible? :"Definitely not."


-CLOUD STORAGE: Duple instead of Dropbox (or any provider that stores your data and files) -  {alert: self-promotion}

"I used Dropbox, then switched to private solutions e.g. Duplicity, Rsync, which were quite painful to use. And now using Duple, of course. ;-) "

Can anyone use Duple? Simple and accessible? :"Yes."


-VPN: Use one

"I use a VPN, and you should too. ISPs collect a lot of info on you. Bear in mind though, that VPNs don't make you 100% anonymous nor 100% protected. However, they do considerably increase your level of privacy.

I use ProtonVPN (from the same people that brought you ProtonMail).

Be careful, as some VPN providers are government infiltrated, in fact I personally know some people who had problems with that. And being a Swiss company is not a badge for privacy either.

Can anyone use a VPN? Simple and accessible? :"Yes, definitely."


That's it. We hope this helps! If you ever want to speak privacy, we're all ears.

Follow us on Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube for more content on privacy.

Sign up to get notified when we launch.