How to Encrypt Your Phone in Five Minutes

Encrypt e-mails, avoid social media stalkers, and keep texts confidential: These new apps make it easy to maintain your digital privacy.

Say there’s this woman. You went out twice. (Or was it three times?) Maybe you’re just not feeling it, or perhaps she has an unsettling fondness for obscure emojis. Whatever the case, things didn’t work out. But she’s already neck-deep in your digital business—thumbs-upping your Facebook statuses, sending you Snapchats of her parents’ engagement photos. This used to be unavoidable. But breathe easy, fellas: There’s a new crop of privacy apps built for the sole purpose of keeping snooping exes, serial oversharers, and even the prying eyes of the NSA at bay. Here are four downloadable ways to watch your back. 

Protect Your Messages With Cyber Dust

The last thing you want is for your outgoing correspondence—be it topless ex-girlfriend selfies or important business details—to be stolen. Send texts through Cyber Dust(Free, iOS and Android). The app autodeletes messages, Mission: Impossible–style, roughly 20 to 45 seconds after they’re read, depending on your operating system. Even better, it lets you retract messages and, if you’re an Android user, block recipients from taking screenshots to use as blackmail. 

Give Out Fake Digits With Burner

Stop giving random women (and Nigerian princes) your real number. Instead, use Burner(Free, iOS and Android) to generate disposable—but still working—digits. They’ll ring on your own phone, but you can ditch them whenever you like. The first number is free and comes with seven days or five voice calls of talk time and 15 text messages; additional texts, time, and new numbers start at $2—a small price for remaining anonymous.

Cut The Digital Ties With Cloak

How do you avoid that special someone you don’t want to talk to, let alone see, ever again? Our favorite option is Cloak(Free, iOS). The app syncs with your Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram contacts and plots each person’s current location on a map. Flag those you’d prefer to avoid and the app pings you when they’re nearby so you can plan your escape accordingly. 

Encrypt Yourself With Signal

As government officials and madams know, phone calls are eerily susceptible to interception, too. Cellular providers are required to let Big Brother tap in at a moment’s notice, and a simple hack on a secondhand phone can do the same. Signal(Free, iOS and Android) lets you make calls over an encrypted connection that snoops can’t penetrate. So even if she’s crazy enough to put a P.I. on your digital tail, your secrets will remain safe.