Hack-proof your life now: 4 software programs that will help keep your secrets safe

AP

Privacy is in increasingly short supply these days. A rash of high-profile hacks this year (the Democratic Party, fast-food chains and HEI hotel chain, just to name a few) have shown it's all too easy for even the most high-profile accounts to be illegally accessed.

If today's uncertain world or Mr. Robot reruns are making you a little paranoid, we've put together some of the most basic applications you can use on a day-to-day basis. Think of these tips as simple ways to protect your digital health that can help make the internet a little less scary. These tools are useful ways to limit your exposure and mitigate your risk of being hacked.

For what it's worth, something that's "secure" today may not be "secure" tomorrow, since things change so quickly in the online world.

Download Tor

Tor is a free software that will anonymize your browsing habits.Source: Tor/Tor
Tor is a free software that will anonymize your browsing habits.  Tor/Tor

Even if you think you have nothing to hide, the amount of information (personal preferences, location and searches) that can easily be viewed and recorded without your knowledge is downright scary. Don't believe me? Head to Click, Click, Click's website to see just how much info can be discovered from just a single screen. 

Tor, which is short for The Onion Router, will help anonymize your internet browsing habits and data by bouncing traffic across different servers, making it difficult to discern your private online information.  

Sign up for a password manager

Take extra steps to safeguard your password.Source: Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Take extra steps to safeguard your password.  Shutterstock/Shutterstock

One of the easiest ways to protect your digital self is to regularly update your password(s) — this will make it harder (but not impossible) for hackers to get into your accounts.

The more complex the password, the better it is. That's where password managers can make a real difference — they can remember and store really complicated passwords for you. Some great online programs include 1Password, Sticky Password and KeePassX

The best services will generate random passwords, store your login information and even autopopulate on select websites. This, alongside two-factor authentication will boost your overall security. If you're worried your online accounts have been compromised, you can go online here to check.

Encrypt your messages

These browser extensions help bring OpenPGP encryption to webmail Source: Shutterstock/Shutterstock
These browser extensions help bring OpenPGP encryption to webmail  Shutterstock/Shutterstock

If you're looking to inject some privacy to your emails, email encryption programs, like Mailvelope, can help. This free extension can encrypt and decrypts messages while working with a variety of webmail services (i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and more). 

Users can download the extension, create their own set of public and private keys and then push forward with their regular activities feeling a little more secure in their privacy. Other open-source software programs include GnuPG, Thunderbird and its Enigmail plugin. 

Use a texting and voice app

 Encrypted messaging apps prevent hackers from reading your personal information.Source: Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Encrypted messaging apps prevent hackers from reading your personal information.  Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Free messaging application Signal is one of the simplest applications to use and is free to download for iOS, Android and desktop. The service relies on a process called TextSecure, which allows end-to-end encrypted communication to keep videos, photos and phone secure. 

Open Whisper Systems, the nonprofit behind the Signal app, has gained a reputation for its work in the private communication industry. In 2014 it partnered with messaging app WhatsApp to improve its security services and earlier this year Facebook added the company's protocols to its Secret Conversations applications.