Best Services for Online Security

Four ways to help protect your sensitive digital information from hackers without breaking the bank.

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Security failure, password breaches, phishing attacks and phone scams -- if you follow the news, these can seem like the unavoidable pitfalls of life today. But there are plenty of tools out there that can will give you the tools to protect you and your family from digital crime. We've assembled some of the most trustworthy services that won’t empty out your wallet in the process.

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VPN Service

When using public Wi-Fi, virtual private network (VPN) services can shield your computer’s IP address as you surf the internet, encrypting your browsing information and preventing most (though not all) would-be snooping. IVPN (opens in new tab), with broad platform support and fast internet speeds, is well worth its $100 annual fee, and discounts are common.

Password Manager

Keep all your accounts safe and sound with a service that will generate strong, individual passwords that it stores for you, all secured behind a single master password. LastPass (opens in new tab) is affordable ($24 a year for the premium plan), easy to use and supported across nearly every major platform. The company has stepped up in recent years by making some formerly paid features—such as synchronization across all your devices—free.

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Instant Messaging

When it comes to privacy, not all instant-messaging platforms are created equal. If secure communication is a must, consider Signal (opens in new tab). With end-to-end encryption, the free-to-use, ad-free app locks down everything about your conversations, from the words you use to the people you’re contacting, using a lock even the company can’t break. Messages can also be sent with a self-destruct timer, deleting themselves after an interval you choose.

Ad Blocker

The free browser extension uBlock Origin (opens in new tab) prevents the bits of tracking text commonly known as cookies from latching on to your browsing history so that advertisers can’t create a profile of your preferences as you browse. UBlock makes it easy to allow, or “whitelist,” ads from sites you’d like to support or sites that require showing ads to function, like Hulu.

Brendan Pedersen
Staff Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Brendan joined Kiplinger in 2018 and writes about technology, security and money. A Chicagoland native, he graduated from DePaul University with degrees in journalism and political science. Before moving to Washington, D.C., Brendan covered local politics for NBC Chicago and daily news for BusinessDen in Colorado.