Everything shows that 2015 is becoming a year where topics like surveillance, censorship, freedom of speech, and privacy are becoming important topics in daily life. Whether you are a journalist or a critical internet user, below are the 8 tools you should use in order to protect yourself online:

#1. Tor: a program for serving Tor and related files over SMTP. Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.

#2: OpenWhisperSystems: offers different open source mobile applications for secure communication. The apps offer end-to-end encryption over the air and on your phone, securing your conversations and texts.

#3: PGP (Pretty Good Privacy): a data encryption and decryption tool that provides privacy and authentication for data communication such as texts, e-mails and files sent by e-mail. By using PGP, you can protect your email communications from being read by anyone except their intended recipients. It can protect against companies, governments, or criminals spying on your Internet connection, and, to a lesser extent, it can save your email from being read if the computer on which they are stored is stolen or broken into.

#4: Jitsi: a cross-platform, free and open-source program which supports Instant Messaging (IM), voice and video chat over the Internet. It supports many of the most popular and widely used IM and telephony protocols. It offers additional independent encryption for text chats through the OTR (Off-the-Record) protocol, and voice and video sessions. Jitsi runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The Android version is forthcoming.

#5: Avast! Anti-virus: a free, full-featured anti-virus program that detects and removes malware and viruses from a home or personal computer.

#6: Riseup: a secure e-mail client for people and groups working on liberatory social change, providing a relatively safe means of e-mail communication for them. Riseup provides online communication tools for people and groups working on liberatory social change.

#7: Tails: a live operating system that can started on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. Tails provides a platform to solve many surveillance problems by “doing the right thing” out of the box by default, protecting even less tech-savvy users from the most likely and highest impact risks. Journalists can use Tails to write articles, books and create movies. Journalists use Tails to chat off-the-record, browse the web anonymously and share sensitive documents. Many human rights defenders and journalists overseas depend on Tails to do their daily work, if not simply to stay alive.

#8: VPN. encrypts and sends all Internet data between your computer and another computer. This computer could belong to a commercial or nonprofit VPN service, your company, or a trusted contact. Once a VPN service is correctly configured, you can use it to access webpages, e-mail, instant messaging, and any other Internet service. A VPN protects your traffic from being intercepted locally, but your VPN provider can keep logs of your traffic (websites you access, and when you access them) or even provide a third party with the ability to snoop directly on your web browsing. Disclaimer: not all VPNs are evenly secure, and it is advised to only use a VPN which you trust!

For more tips, guidelines and self-diagnostic tools to remain digitally secure, check our Digital First Aid Kit: https://www.digitaldefenders.org/digitalfirstaid/