In 2016, security professionals and consumers alike became increasingly wary of mobile threats, as malicious apps continued to infiltrate app stores.
In the year ahead, malware, ransomware, and remote-access tools will grow more sophisticated, according to a report from McAfee, giving users more reason to lock down their devices and browsing activity.
“Think about how much valuable information you store on your phone,” says Ben Knieff, senior research analyst at research firm Aite Group. “You have addresses, emails, browsing history, messages, banking details—a lot of sensitive information that can cause big problems, if the wrong people get a hold of it.”
Updating your devices’ and apps’ built-in settings is the first step to staying more secure in 2017, Knieff says.
The second: Downloading secure apps—from ad blockers and password managers to private browsers and secure messaging apps—designed to add another layer of security and privacy to your devices in the new year. Here are 10 to consider.
1Password, a free app available for iOS and Android, generates strong and unique passwords, stores them securely, and lets you fill them in quickly on websites and third-party apps. The password manager doubles as a digital vault and secure wallet for sensitive information, including addresses and credit card numbers. 1Password also includes a “teams” feature, which lets you share important information with select people.
- Adblock Browser
Adblock Browser, available for iOS and Android, blocks pop-ups and ads on sites such as Facebook and YouTube, helping pages load faster, and saving your battery and data. The app includes preconfigured filter lists, though you can create your own and choose acceptable ads to show. In addition to blocking ads, the app lets you disable most tracking and reduces the risk of malware infection. Adblock Browser is free.
- AdBlock Plus Mobile
AdBlock Plus disables, tracks, and blocks ads and domains known to spread malware, and lets you customize what you want and don’t want to see with filter lists and whitelists. AdBlock Plus accepts money from advertisers to show whitelisted ads, though this option can be turned off. It’s free and available for iOS.
Search engine DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect—and therefore doesn’t share—user data. That also means it doesn’t manipulate search results based on prior searches—a good thing if you find Google’s omniscience creepy. DuckDuckGo is free and available for iOS and Android.
- Firefox Focus
Firefox Focus, a free, secure browser from Mozilla, automatically blocks a number of trackers that follow you around the Web, and erases your history, passwords, and cookies with one touch. This can create a faster browsing experience, as some pages may require less data and load faster. Available for iOS.
Privacy browser Ghostery minimizes third-party access to your data by blocking thousands of trackers and scripts. It gives you granular control over which trackers you want and don’t want. It also provides a one-click disconnect from all trackers, and one-click access to clear your cookies and cache, and it includes secure searching provided by DuckDuckGo. Available for iOS and Android.
Password manager and generator LastPass requires that you remember one password to log in, then lets you store and autofill passwords and sensitive information such as credit card information across devices. Other features include a password generator, emergency access, data management, and password audits. LastPass is available for free for iOS and Android.
SpiderOakOne is a private cloud service that offers end-to-end encryption, file backup, sync, and sharing for all your important stuff across all devices. Unlike other services, SpiderOakOne does not store your password along with your data; instead, it uses a strong key derivation function to generate encryption keys using your password so no trace is uploaded to the service. It offers a 21-day free trial for up to 250GB of storage; other plans range from $5 per month for 100GB to $12 per month for 1TB. Available for iOS and Android.
- WhatsApp Messenger
WhatsApp lets you securely place voice and video calls, and securely send text, picture, audio, and video messages. Everything sent and received via WhatsApp includes its own unique lock and key, ensuring that you and the person you’re communicating with are the only ones who can view or listen to the message—not even the app can read it, a differentiating point from many encrypted-messaging services. WhatsApp doesn’t store messages on its servers. Available for free on iOS and Android.
- Wickr Me
Wickr Me is a messaging service featuring end-to-end encryption that lets you set text, photo, video, and voice messages to self-destruct after they’ve been read by your Wickr contacts. It doesn’t keep any of your messages on its servers, nor does it access its customers’ usernames; if you forget your log-in information, you’ll have to create a new account. Wickr is free and available for iOS and Android.