60 Open Source Tools for Protecting Your Privacy

Open source software for anonymous browsing and email, anti-spyware, data destruction, password management and more.
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With the growth of social networking, blogging and the Web in general, personal privacy is becoming harder and harder to find.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has argued that privacy is no longer "a social norm." And former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once famously opined, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

However, in reality, many ordinary, law-abiding citizens are (justifiably) much more worried about online privacy than these famous executives are. Many individuals and organizations are concerned about a variety of threats: oppressive government regimes, hackers bent on stealing their personal information and corporate marketers who want to track their every move.

Fortunately, the open source community has developed a variety of tools to help you protect yourself from threats like these. Below are 60 open source projects that can help you keep your identity and your personal information safe. Note that these are not listed in order of their quality or usefulness – instead, they're organized into various categories. If you know of others that we should have mentioned, feel free to add them in the comments section below.

Anonymous Browsing

1. Tor

Used by journalists, intelligence officers and other individuals who need to remain anonymous, Tor allows you to browse and communicate over the Internet without revealing your identity. It can also help you access Web services that have been blocked in particular countries. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

2. JAP

Like Tor, JAP hides your IP address while you're browsing online. However, because it is a research project, the service occasionally experiences outages and downtime. Operating System: OS Independent.

Anonymous Email

3. Zmail

Zmail describes itself as a "fake e-mail program" that allows you to send e-mail from anyone to anyone. It's useful for testing mail servers or for sending e-mail without using your regular account. Operating System: OS Independent. 4. Mixmaster

Available in both client and server versions, Mixmaster is a remailer that protects you from traffic analysis. With it, you can send e-mail anonymously or under a pseudonym. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

5. Mixminion

Another anonymous remailer, Mixminion passes e-mail through a network of servers that mixes them up and encrypts them in order to protect privacy. It hasn't been updated in a while, but a stable version is available. Operating System: Windows, Unix, OS X.



ASSP (or "Anti-Spam SMTP Proxy") claims to be "the absolute best SPAM fighting weapon that the world has ever known!" It uses Bayesian analysis, penalty box trapping, realtime blackhole listing, and several other techniques to block spam at the SMTP server. Operating System: OS Independent.

7. MailScanner

Downloaded more than 1.3 million times, MailScanner combines the power of two other open source tools—SpamAssassin and ClamAV—to protect mail servers. Extensive documentation is available on the site. Operating System: Linux, Unix.

8. SpamAssassin

"The powerful #1 open-source spam filter," SpamAssassin from Apache uses an entire arsenal of techniques to find and block unwanted e-mail. You can deploy it on a mail server or locally on an individual e-mail account, but you will need to be fairly knowledgeable to set it up. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

9. SpamBayes

After you train SpamBayes by showing it which messages you like (the ham) and which messages you don't like (the spam), it will use special algorithms to sort your e-mail for you. It integrates with a wide variety of e-mail clients, including Outlook and Thunderbird. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


10. Nixory

Nixory's job is to get rid of malicious tracking cookies. The new Active Shield mode removes cookies while your browser is open, without slowing down your surfing. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

11. xpy

For the many users still running Windows XP, xpy tweaks the operating system settings to give you better privacy. For example, it disables communication with Microsoft, removes Windows Messenger, and makes some changes to Internet Explorer. Operating System: Windows XP.


12. Dooble

Dooble is a newer browser built with a focus on security. Unlike the better-known browsers, it encodes all of your browsing information for better privacy. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Browser Add-Ons

13. Torbutton

This Firefox add-on makes it easy to turn Tor (see above) on or off for anonymous browsing. Note that when you are using it, you will not be able to access sites that use JavaScript, some CSS features, or Flash. Operating System: OS Independent.

14. HTTPS Everywhere

Many websites have the ability to encrypt traffic via HTTPS, but don't turn on that feature by default. This Firefox add-on, a collaboration between the Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, rewrites requests so that you will automatically use HTTPS whenever it is available. Operating System: OS Independent.

15. Privacy Dashboard

This Firefox add-on from W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) alerts you to the data being collected by the various websites you visit. Users also have the option of contributing to a project that is tracking how websites are doing at protecting users' privacy. Operating System: OS Independent.


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Tags: security, Linux downloads, privacy, open source apps

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