We've all heard of the creepy internet "monitoring" abilities of the government and how in-depth their searches can truly become. For those of us with nothing shady to worry about save for the obnoxious amounts of online Amazon ordering and textbook rentals, the idea that some cyber criminal is watching our activities online can be unsettling. Everything from the online ads we constantly see and suggested websites all revolve around what we choose to search and type online. Luckily, a few determined individuals have come to the rescue with programs designed to help maintain our privacy while browsing the internet.

1. Ghostery

Ghostery makes the web "cleaner, faster and safer for browsing" online. The service blocks out clutter from web pages, increases webpage speed by minimizing the number of trackers and protects your private data by securing your browsing experience. Ghostery has several different extensions available for nearly every popular browser including Cliqz, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge and Internet Explorer. There are also mobile browser extensions as an option available for Android and iOS.

2. Opera Free VPN

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Opera VPN's service is an actual browser that enables users to "surf the web with enhanced privacy." According to Opera's website, the service is free, unlimited and requires no subscription. Because the virtual private network (VPN) is built directly into the Opera browser, there is no longer a need for any additional extension downloads, which is great news for those looking to avoid membership or service fees.

3. HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere is an online browser extension service compatible with Firefox, Chrome and Opera that works to encrypt your involvement with major websites, thus making your browsing more secure everywhere. The only caveat is that many sites will still include content from third party domains that aren't available over HTTPS, and if your browser's icon is defective, you may remain vulnerable to trackers. However, these trackers would have to use an increased amount of effort to eavesdrop on your browsing after installing HTTPS Everywhere.

4. Firefox Focus

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Firefox Focus is another browser that allows users to maintain privacy through automatic ad blocking and tracking production. The browser is available strictly for iOS and Android. At the touch of your fingertips, no longer will ad trackers be able to collect your data – Firefox Focus wipes out your entire browsing session. Passwords, internet history, cookies and clutter, gone in a matter of seconds. With all activity erased, your browsing speed increases — truly a fine service!

5. Disconnect.me

Disconnect defends the digital you. Named favorite privacy tool by the New York Times, this service has helped over 50 million people to keep their data safe by ensuring their identities secured and their internet access masked. Disconnect.me encrypts the user's internet connection and also extends battery life. With three options to choose from – Basic (free), Pro ($24.99 one-time fee), and Premium ($50 per year/3 devices) there is something available for every browser!

Although the information that we put online remains there forever, these services will help to better secure our devices and keep them virus free throughout the year!

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