“As intelligence agencies hoover up more and more of our online communications, we’ve [Amnesty International] compiled a list of some simple apps and tools to help protect your privacy and make your calls, emails, texts and chats more secure.”

TextSecure, or Signal

Text Secure is an easy-to-use, free app for Android (iPhones have a compatible app called Signal)  that is Open Source. It allows anyone to audit the code to ensure that it is secure (“The only private messenger that uses open source peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols to keep your messages safe”), it can encrypt your texts, pictures, video and audio files.  Group chats are allowed, so you can talk and share your pictures with more than one person at once with complete privacy, as the server never has access to their users’ data (membership list, group title or group icon).  You can talk to people a short distance away or another country and not be charged.


“Redphone is another free, open-source app for Android (for iPhones it’s the same Signal app, which combines voice calls and messaging) which encrypts your voice calls end-to-end. All calls are over the internet, so you only pay for wifi or data rather than using your phone’s credit”.  This is not available in the UK yet, so I could only state what O’Carroll has said, as I could not view it myself.


Is a free and Open Source service that can be used to secure your voice calls, video calls, video conferences, instant messages and file transfers. It can run directly in your browser with no need to download anything or Jitsi can be downloaded and installed on Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems.  This software enables you to invite multiple people to join a secure video call.  Your calls and chats are encrypted end-to-end, you do not need an account to use it and it can run on a relatively slow bandwidth (if you do not plan to use it for video conferencing).


MiniLock is a free, Open Source plug-in for your web browser.  It lets you encrypt and share video files, email attachments and photos with ease, as only miniLock IDs are required to send files to users.  MiniLock IDs are generated by using the users email and secret passphrase and then you could upload and send your file to a selected contact by their unique miniLock ID.  The miniLock passphrase can be used on any computer and then the user can access their miniLock ID. This software uses very modern, cryptographic primitives to stay secure and is audited, peer-reviewed software that is under the scrutiny of the Open Source cryptography community.


“This is a free add-on for your web browser which provides end-to-end encryption for your emails. It can be configured to work with almost any web-based email provider, including Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook. It’s open source and uses OpenPGP encryption.”  – O’Carrol.  The software uses public key encryption to allow the data to be shared, but to also prevent it to be accessed by unauthorised persons.


“This service helps you back-up your files, sync between multiple devices and share files privately with people you trust. It fully encrypts your data end-to-end which means that, unlike other cloud sharing and storage services such as Dropbox, even the company itself cannot see your documents on its servers” – O’Carroll. SpiderOak charges $12 each month for a terabyte of storage and offers a 21 day free trial of 250GB of storage.


O’Carrol, T. (2015) 6 simple tools to protect your online privacy (and help you fight back against mass surveillance). Available from: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2015/05/6-simple-tools-to-protect-your-online-privacy-and-fight-back-against-mass-surveillance/ [Accessed 02 February 2017].

Signal Private Messenger (2017) TextSecure. Available from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms [Accessed 02 February 2017].

Jitsi.org (2016) Jitsi. Available from: https://jitsi.org/ [Accessed 02 February 2017].

minilock.io (2015) miniLock. Available from: https://minilock.io/ [Accessed 02 February 2017].

Mailvelope (2016) Mailvelope Basics. Available from: https://www.mailvelope.com/en/help#basics [Accessed 02 February 2017].

Gpg4win (2010) How Gpg4win works. Available from: https://www.gpg4win.de/doc/en/gpg4win-compendium_8.html [Accessed 02 February 2017].

SpiderOak (2016) SpiderOak One. Available from: https://spideroak.com/solutions/spideroak-one [Accessed 02 February 2017].