Desktop Operating Systems

Windows and MacOS have many features that violate your privacy. Microsoft and Apple are able to collect all your data (including, but not limited to: keystrokes, searches and mic input, calendar data, music, photos, credit card information and purchases, identity, passwords, contacts, conversations and location data). Microsoft Windows is also more susceptible to malware and viruses, than alternative systems.

Switching to Linux is a great choice in terms of security and privacy - you don't need necessarily need to use a security distro, any well-maintained stable distro is going to be considerably better than a proprietary OS

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Notable Mentions

Septor is a Debian-based distro with the KDE Plasma desktop environment, and Tor baked-in. Designed for surfing the web anonymously, and completing other internet-based activities (with Thunderbird, Ricochet IM, HexChat, QuiteRSS, OnionShare). Septor is light-weight, but comes bundled with all the essential privacy + security utilities (including: Gufw, Ark, Sweeper, KGpg, Kleopatra, KWallet, VeraCrypt, Metadata Anonymisation Toolkit and more).

Subgraph OS is designed to be an adversary resistant computing platform, it includes strong system-wide attack mitigations, and all key applications run in sandbox environments. Subgraph is still in beta (at the time of writing), but still is well tested, and has some nice anonymization features

For defensive security, see Kali and BlackArch, both are bundled with hundreds of security tools, ready for pretty much any job (not reccomended as a daily driver!)

Other security-focused distros include: TENS OS, Fedora CoreOS, Kodachi and IprediaOS (Avoid systems that are not being actively maintained)


General Purpose Linux Distros

If you do not want to use a specalist security-based distro, or you are new to Unix - then just switching to any well-maintained Linux distro, is going to be significantly more secure and private than Windows or Mac OS. Since it is open source, major distros are constantly being audited by members of the community. Linux does not give users admin rights by default - this makes is much less likely that your system could become infected with malware. And of course, there is no proprietary Microsoft or Apple software constantly monitoring everything you do.

Some good distros to consider would be: Fedora, Debian, or Arch- all of which have a large community behind them. Manjaro (based of Arch) is a good option, with a simple install process, used by new comers, and expers alike. POP_OS and PureOS are reasonably new general purpose Linux, with a strong focus on privacy, but also very user-friendly with an intuitive interfac and install process. See Detailed Comparison.


BSD systems arguably have far superior network stacks. OpenBSD is designed for maximum security — not just with its features, but with its implementation practices. It's a commonly used OS by banks and critical systems. FreeBSD is more popular, and aims for high performance and ease of use.


Two alternative options for Windows users are Windows 10 AME (ameliorated) project and the LTSC stream.

Improve the Security and Privacy of your current OS

After installing your new operating system, or if you have chosen to stick with your current OS, there are a couple of things you can do to improve security. See: Windows 10 security guide, Mac OS security guide or Linux security guide.

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