Most people use the terms privacy app and VPN (a virtual private network) interchangeably. While these programs give you a wide range of tools like data encryption, secure browsing, and location shields, there are other programs out there that also give you ways to secure your Android phone.
These are the best privacy apps for Android
Bitdefender Mobile Security is the best privacy app for Android because it has most of the privacy tools you need in one app, including a VPN, safe browsing, and remote locating and locking of your device.
Our favorite VPN service is also one of the best privacy apps for Android in ExpressVPN. With this installed, you'll be able to access streaming service libraries in other countries while protecting your browsing history.
If you want a browser that keeps all of your activity private, Tor Browser is the best of the bunch. The app blocks third-party trackers, offers multi-layered encryption, and is completely free to use.
1. Bitdefender Mobile Security
Bitdefender Mobile Security
Bitdefender is our top pick for virus protection on both computers and mobile devices, and part of its package is 200Mbps of daily VPN encryption. This isn't a lot, but it is enough to keep what you're doing in apps or online private from internet snoops. It also has safe browsing that keeps your online browser history from being tracked, warns of dangerous websites before you access them, stops malicious downloads, and blocks phishing schemes.
Bitdefender includes a personal firewall, which is a good tool to have while connected to public hotspots. However, it does take up more resources than other privacy apps, so it will cause slightly more slowdown of your device compared to other solutions. But it won't be enough to cause any real headaches.
Another security tool included with Bitdefender Mobile Security is remote location. This helps track down your phone if it is ever lost or stolen. You can also use this remote access tool to lock down apps or wipe all personal information from your phone, so it can't be compromised.
Using a VPN is all the rage nowadays, but the truth is that using one can really make you rest easier knowing that your information is protected. In addition to offering more than 3,000 different servers across more than 90 countries, it's easy to see why ExpressVPN is our pick for the best VPN service.
Along with being one of the best Android apps, ExpressVPN also works across many of your other devices. This helps ensure that your browsing history will stay secure, regardless of what phone, tablet, or computer you are using. And those who want to check out streaming service libraries abroad will enjoy the ability to do so for the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and others.
As for encryption, ExpressVPN offers IP address masking, a Private DNS, and AES-256 encryption, which is widely considered to be best-in-class. In addition, you'll be able to use this VPN with up to five devices at the same time and will have access to support no matter what time of the day (or night) it is.
3. Tor Browser
This browser covers your tracks as you search and browse online. It doesn't shield you quite in the same way as a VPN does, but it does keep ads at bay and wipes cookies away each time you leave a website. The Tor Browser makes it difficult for adware to figure out your history to create targeted ads based on what you've searched for or bought online. All Tor users look the same from the backend.
While you are in the Tor Browser app, you can't take screenshots of what you're looking at. This is just another layer of security to ensure your personal information is kept safe.
While Tor is a good tool for securing your privacy, it has a reputation for allowing its app to be used for illegal purposes, such as accessing restricted regional websites. I don't condone illegal behavior, but Tor Browser is a good choice if you just need safe browsing.
Other great options
Though they didn't quite make it into our top three, here are more of the best privacy apps for Android that you should try out.
If you're not already using a password manager, you definitely should be. However, if you need help deciding on one, we suggest checking out 1Password as the best-password manager available on the Play Store. In addition to just managing and storing your passwords, 1Password can be used to create unique passwords with as many characters as you need.
But the real power of 1Password is unlocked when you start discovering everything that the service can keep locked behind the vault. From two-factor authentication codes to recovery passwords and even credit card information, 1Password is the one-stop shop for anything that shouldn't be jotted down for prying eyes to see.
Instead of blocking ads by using a separate and secure browser, Blokada works to block ads across the entirety of your device. From those annoying pop-up ads in games to the ads that take over the entire webpage that you're reading, Blokada does the trick.
It does so by creating a DNS server on your device, which then blocks any of those ads that may appear while browsing the web. Blokada has even gone so far as to include a built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network) that provides an extra layer of security for your browsing. In addition, the app is completely free, and unlike other ad-blockers, your Android phone does not need to be rooted in order to use this.
As I've tested encryption software over the years, I've always been impressed with how quickly and securely Folder Lock works. This program sends important data through its programs and scrambles it so your files can't be swiped by snoops or ransomware. Folder Lock uses an AES-256-bit key algorithm, the most secure code available and used by financial institutions and militaries to encrypt and secure their data. It's also fast. In our tests of the encryption program, Folder Lock encrypted 123MB of data in less than six seconds and compressed the file down to 97% of its original size.
All encrypted documents are secured with a password you set up. You can choose to encrypt a vault where all encrypted data is stored or password-protect each individual file. Unfortunately, because Folder Lock is so secure, it doesn't have any way to recover lost or forgotten passwords. This means you will need to have a good memory or have a secure place to jot down or remember your passwords so important documents aren't lost.
Google Find My Device
Google Find My Device
Find My Device by Google is a handy tool for locating a phone or tablet that has been lost or stolen. It pings your device to find out where it is. Find Device will still show you the last pace it was used before it died or was turned off if the device isn't on. This information is still helpful when tracking down a lost phone. In order to use this app, you will need to create a Google account so that Find Device can tap into the Google Map resources.
While looking for your phone, Find Device shows a message on the lost phone mentioning that you're looking for it. This isn't helpful if the device is stolen but can be if it is simply lost and found by someone. Once your phone is located, you can use the app to place a help message on the lock screen that includes your address or phone number. That way, if it is pickup by someone, they can more easily find you to return it.
However, Find Device doesn't have any better options for securing a stolen device. For example, you can't wipe sensitive data or remotely lock down apps. In addition, you can't change the password of your phone or wipe personal information off it.
One question you may have when using your phone is finding out what apps are actually using your data. Maybe you're trying to find a rogue app that keeps eating up your monthly data allowance or are trying to figure out if an app is doing something that it shouldn't be. Glasswire is the perfect app to help you determine what apps are using your data.
You can set data notifications when you approach data thresholds, along with viewing what apps are using data regardless of whether you're on Wi-Fi or using your cellular network. In addition to viewing the data usage in real-time, Glasswire allows you to view past history. You can even go so far as to block specific apps from connecting to the network in the event that you don't want to uninstall them.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
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