The internet is a scary place. You can't trust anyone!
What can a regular person do to help protect themselves? Luckily free, high quality applications can help make the internets a safer place.
Truecrypt is a whole disk encryption solution. Version 6.3 just came out. If you lose your laptop, or have a break in and your computer is stolen, Truecrypt will protect your valuable data from compromise. Unlike BitLocker, this solution is not limited to deluxe Windows machines. And unlike other solutions, such as PGP Whole Disk, it does not cost $150 a seat.
All modern browsers have a privacy option, which basically protects your history from others who may use your computer. But it does not protect websites from tracking you and your clicks. Firefox has add-ons that make it more difficult for websites and web services to track what you do.
Ad Block Plus will block ads from loading and also prevent advertisers from dropping cookies in your browser cache. Your browsing will be faster, cleaner, and more private.
Better Privacy will delete so called "super-cookies", also known as Local Shared Objects. These super-cookies are dropped via flash objects. Your browser does NOT delete them, even in privacy mode, and so many sites -- Google is one -- love to drop cookies here, as they rarely get cleared and most people do not even know exist!
Email Intergrity and confidentiality
Gpg4win is a key-based email system. Share your public key and people can use it to send you encrypted mail. Keep your private key secure, as it is the only way to decrypt what people send you. GPG4win has just released a new version, but 1.1.3 is the latest that works with Outlook. Like all PGP solutions, it does both encryption and digital signing.
Areca Backup is a powerful, Java-based backup solution. It can be as powerful as an Enterprise solution, with multiple differentials, incrementals, and merged backups. It can be as simple as running a full backup with a single click. It can be automated with Windows Task Scheduler or non-Windows cron. Restoring is easy as well, and again, can be as complex as pulling specific version of a file or as simple as an entire one-click recovery.
Best of all, it can run over FTP or secure FTP as a remote solution.
These five simple applications, free for use, can go a long way to protecting your data and privacy.
And though they are free, don't forget these are very active projects, and donations are always accepted!