Social media is creepy enough when you think about all the people who can review your profile, monitor your activities and track your movements. But it has just gotten worse with the launch this year of two apps that take personal data analysis to the next level. There’s a fairly new app in Russia called FindFace that scans photos and matches them to profiles on the most popular Russian social media platform VK, formerly known as VKontakte. The algorithm used for this app signals the dawn of a new era in social apps that spells disaster for privacy. Google just launched their smart messaging app called Allo, which has its own version of Siri that listens to everything and sends it back to Google. Both of these apps pose serious privacy concerns for their users. [click to continue…]

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Linkedin is still suffering from the major data breach four years ago that leaked 6.5 million encrypted user passwords on a Russian crime forum. That was just the beginning. The breach was not properly handled, and the hacker behind it is now selling 117 million email and password pairs on the dark web marketplace for five Bitcoins, equivalent to about 2,300 US dollars. Data breaches happen all the time, and they have lately gotten much bigger and bolder. Online companies most especially need to be more vigilant to protect their users from multi-fold attacks. Some companies like Netflix and Facebook regularly scan user profiles for re-used passwords that have been stolen in hacks. Users may not be too happy about having to swap out passwords, but security advocates are relieved that companies are making this pre-emptive move. [click to continue…]

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CTO Josh Gagliardi of IPVanish had a Secure Session a couple of weeks ago with reporter and blogger Jenna McLaughlin of The Intercept. McLaughlin has recently reported on national security hacking threats, the Islamic State, increasing government surveillance powers, and social media controversy over privacy versus counter-terrorism data mining. This is our take on part of the 6th Secure Sessions episode which covers a discussion about secret Internet surveillance powers, and the government’s lack of technical knowledge in deliberating issues relating to technology. [click to continue…]

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Best French IP VPN service providers

by Mike on May 5, 2016

in VPN

Are you a French citizen living outside your country? or are you a person of a different nationality who loves French? French language is one of the most popular ones in the world and many of us love it. Not only that, French TV channels, TV shows, movies and other video contents can be viewed outside the country only if you are signed up for a reliable French IP VPN. French channels are quite popular and there are a lot of French nationals living outside their country and for all these people, best French IP VPN is the only way to access all the French websites. [click to continue…]

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Improve Security on iPad with VPN

by Mike on April 15, 2016

in ipad VPN

Apple iPad is one of the most popular tablets in the market and it has a special place in all households and business organizations. This particular device provides a lot of attractive and high quality features that no other tablet can offer. But just like any other tablet even this tablet lacks security. If you are using the internet on an unsecure device such as this then your data and device will be at risk. Online risks and threats caused by hackers, snoopers, phishers and other fraudsters is very risky and you could lose all your finances and other valuable files to fraudsters in no time. This shows why there is a need for maximum security and anonymity. [click to continue…]

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How to access US content in China

by Mike on April 14, 2016

in China VPN

There are a lot of US citizens living in China and these people love to watch their favorite US contents and not to forget the demand for US websites all over the world. US websites are very popular and most of the popular video streaming websites in the world are US video streaming websites. Most of the video, music streaming websites is based out of US and if you want to access them you should be living in the US. Living in China you won’t be able to access the US websites because of your location. All the US websites will track the identity of the visitor and based on it, the user will be able to access the website. If you are from a different country then your access to the website will be rejected due to geo-restriction. [click to continue…]

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April VPN Updates

by Mike on April 8, 2016

in News

This month, StrongVPN has new servers for their network and is offering a year-long discount on some of their VPN plans. IPVanish has two new partners and now offers over 500 VPN servers all over the world. IPVanish has also released an update for their Android app. VyprVPN continues beta testing their VyprVPN Server and updates us on its key features. IAPS Security is now offering Verizon Fios VPN lines to unblocker services that are no longer able to provide access to sites such as Netflix. IAPS is also offering free access to their residential VPN network for all active military personnel. Read on for more details on these great updates from our favorite VPN providers.

StrongVPN Adds New Servers and Offers 15% Discount

Nineteen new servers have been added to the StrongVPN network in nine different cities all around the world. First, we have the European servers. There is one OpenVPN server str-gtw301 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Amsterdam, Netherlands has four new PPTP / L2TP / SSTP servers and one new OpenVPN server. The former are vpn-ba9, vpn-ba11, vpn-ba12 and vpn-ba13 while the latter is vpn-ba10. Milan, Italy got two new PPTP / L2TP / SSTP servers, str-mxp101 and str-mxp301. Molkom, Sweden, has two new OpenVPN servers, str-ksd301 and vpn-ys2. Manchester, UK has one new PPTP / L2TP / SSTP server, str-man101 and one new OpenVPN server, str-man301. Moving on now to the US, Chicago, Illinois has one new OpenVPN server, str-ord301. New York, New York, has two new PPTP / L2TP / SSTP servers, str-jfk103 and str-jfk203. Phoenix, Arizona has two new OpenVPN servers, vpn-px2 and str-phx301. Finally, Asia has two new OpenVPN servers, vpn-tk3 and vpn-tk4, both located in Tokyo, Japan. [click to continue…]

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TPP Signed and Sealed

by Mike on March 23, 2016

in News

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed on February 4th this year in Auckland, New Zealand. This trade agreement, perhaps the biggest secret and most controversial one ever made, binds 12 countries that together carry over 40% of the world’s economy. The TPP, denounced by privacy advocates and independent organizations for its secretiveness and threat to freedoms, has only to be ratified by these signatories to come into effect. This may not be completed until the end of this year, but we have only a loss of privacy and security to look forward to. [click to continue…]

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Privacy advocates led by Fight for the Future (FFTF) have alerted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about continuing Net Neutrality abuses. The FCC ruled against ISP throttling and traffic discrimination last year, but some companies are doing all they can to flout the ruling. The FCC has been looking into the issue and will make their decision soon. [click to continue…]

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Privacy Tools to Try in 2016

by Mike on March 13, 2016

in News

Many companies and governments would like to make people think that Internet privacy is unattainable. They are hungry for all our data and so they want us to give up the fight and just let them take it. But privacy is a very important right to us all, and this is why many small groups have made it their business to create and distribute privacy tools that help us combat online spying. They work hard to keep up with the threats, and below we have a list of tools that we agree are going to come in very handy this year as we face greater cybercriminal activity, hacks, and of course, good old Internet monitoring. There is never any single solution to secure and private browsing, so Internet users need to prepare to slap on a few layers to shield their online activities.

Search Engines

The best search engines are those that allow users to search the entire world for information. All of these search engines are free, too, which makes them awesome. But they also track everyone that uses them, and record page visits to figure out what ads to shove in users’ faces at the next available opportunity. To do this, they analyze each user’s behavior on a page and decide whether or not the user would be interested in this or that product. The companies that make and sell these products pay very well to have their ads fed to users in this manner. And sometimes the ads are repeatedly pushed to the same user until a response is received. This is irritating, but responding just means giving them more data. And who can really be sure that all of these ads are legitimate and safe?

Let’s start with the simple solutions. A lot of privacy-conscious people have simply stopped using these scary search engines. There are better alternatives, namely DuckDuckGo and Oscobo UK search. DuckDuckGo has been around for some time now and has proven itself to be both safe and quite good. It actually feeds users with Bing and Yahoo search results combined with their own for accuracy and volume, but strips all indentifying information so that users are not abused by the companies behind the original search results or any other website that they visit from the search results. IP addresses and browser user agents are also taken off for added privacy. The newer encrypted versions of these private engines also go straight to encrypted website versions where available. In addition, DuckDuckGo has a sync feature that users can secure with passwords. Oscobo UK search has been tailored for users in the UK by default, but works almost the same as DuckDuckGo (which can be set to local if desired). These services are also free, and they also make money from paid search advertisements, but these are clearly labeled and not created from user data.

Browsers and Add-Ons

But let’s not pick on search engines. They may be the fastest way to gather tons of data because so many people use them. In reality, though, almost every free service uses data gathering as a basic part of how they do business. Even a small-time landscaper or babysitting service with a website will track everyone who browses their pages to learn how their marketing is going and what else they can do to sell more. We have free online storage service, free social media sites, free email providers – and yes, free privacy services as well – that routinely collect data to sell to advertisers. We users are the product, and as dehumanized bits of data, we no longer command respect. Even our Internet service providers themselves are collecting data, though this is mostly for the government and not for profit.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is probably the best when it comes to respecting user privacy. All the major browsers promise private browsing, but when the companies behind them live off user data, we tend to be wary of these claims. Firefox is also a free browser, but Mozilla does not support it by tracking users. Plus, to help users stay safe when they search the Internet, Mozilla embedded DuckDuckGo into Firefox beginning in 2014. To maintain privacy on other websites that allow third-party services to monitor users, you can use Tor, or add tools to the browser such as the Disconnect suite. Disconnect provides a private browsing experience through their set of add-ons that allow users to gain control over what cookies are allowed, and also to do private searches. It is VPN-like in that it promises anonymity for users, and no logging of user data other than payment details for its Premium or Privacy Pro versions. Disconnect may yield to law enforcement, however, if presented with a warrant.

VPN Services

Virtual Private Networks are still at the top of our list of best privacy tools simply because they are made for the sole purpose of protecting users. Some of them are free or rely on third parties as part of the service, and so can be questionable, but there are a few that remain at the top of this list, having proven themselves over time. A VPN shields a user by redirecting all traffic through an encrypted tunnel and to a secure server so that the user’s identity cannot be established via IP address. If not even your ISP knows who you are, then no one else can find you. The only one who knows who you are is your VPN provider, so all you have to worry about is which provider you can trust.

The General Problem

Almost every free service on the Internet has someone behind it with a hidden agenda. People really don’t just give stuff away. Be it a game or an email service or a search engine or social media platforms, there is always another side to it all. Most of the time, it has to do with advertising, which is where the big bucks are. We are often told that exchanging our privacy for free services is not a big price to pay since this is what allows these providers to offer their apps and services for free. But the reality is that it is our lives – our data, our privacy – that allows these companies to exist. Some people may not care about allowing companies to follow them around on the Internet, but mostly this is because they don’t know who is really monitoring them or what they are really giving up. And in the end, they do care. When people get retargeted with ads popping up in the most inconvenient places, hardly anyone feels good about it. It’s creepy and annoying.

Profiling is even worse. When users are logged on to free services, their personal data like names, email addresses and any other information on the accounts is recorded along with all their Internet activity. Their computer IDs and their IP addresses are also noted. This is all unique user data that most of us do not realize is so very important not just to marketers but to governments and other companies like insurers and lenders. Imagine trying to get health or life insurance when your online profile shows you searching for information on a terminal illness or drug dependence. This in no way proves that you are dying or an addict, but insurers will use this to raise your premiums or outright deny a claim later on, after you have paid for your insurance and need financial assistance. You can imagine from there what kind of Internet searches will give you trouble when you are trying to get a loan or are looking for a job, for instance. Your online profile is alive forever on who knows how many servers around the world, depending on where you have gone in the virtual world.

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