Archive for NordVPN

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses A Swedish ISP Who Is Being Forced To Hand Over 5,300 IP Address Holders

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 23, 2017 by itnerd

Identities of people behind 5,300 IP addresses will be handed over to a known copyright troll, Patent and Market Court of Sweden has ruled. Their crime? Allegedly downloading and sharing movies, such as London Has Fallen, Criminal and September of Shiraz.

Thousands of households will be affected in this new development, where ISPs are forced by a court order to hand over personal identities of thousands of their subscribers.

Swedish ISP Telia will be the first ISP to give away subscriber names to a legal firm representing film producers, but other ISPs, such as Tele2 and Bredbansbolaget are also being targeted to reveal their user personal information.

In a similar development in Australia a couple of years ago, Dallas Buyers Club movie producers went to court demanding the names of thousands of Australians who supposedly downloaded the movie illegally. While the federal judge first ruled in favour of copyright holders, the ruling was later  overturned due to “excessive demands, unsupported by evidence.”

In Sweden last month, this fight led to the first significant victory for copyright holders, as the Court ruled: “There is probable cause of infringement of copyright in the films in that they were made unlawfully made available to the public via file sharing networks.”

“Online privacy is a very fragile thing,” says Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network). “When your Internet provider can take your data and give it to court for criminal prosecution, you become identified as a potential criminal. From that moment on, you have no control over your private data, and you don’t know in whose hands it might end up.”

ISPs that give away their subscribers’ data are only one example in the growing trend of online privacy invasion. Governments also require ISPs to give away user data, people are being surveilled online by secret services and tracked by advertisers.

The problem with copyright issues is that they are often abused by copyright trolls, who threaten file sharers with lawsuits. Copyright holders happen to misuse the system and issue demands that are not based on law, for example, by utilizing a legal loophole and requiring settlement fees. For example, one of the most infamous cases of copyright trolling in the U.S. has recently ended when one of Prenda Law attorneys pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering. John Steele and his co-defendant Paul Hansmeier had defrauded Internet users of over $6 million by threatening them with copyright lawsuits.

How Can Internet Users Protect Their Privacy from Copyright Trolling?

If a person uses personal privacy protection tools, such as VPNs, they can no longer be identified as a specific person behind their IP address.

While NordVPN does not support illegal downloading and file sharing, it strongly believes in every person’s right to stay private online.

A VPN service links user ’s computer to a server in a country of their choice via encrypted tunnel – for example, a person can appear to be in the U.S., while they actually are in Sweden, and vice versa, simply by choosing a different VPN server location. NordVPN helps anonymize browsing the Internet with its modern security protocols and no logs policy.

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Guest Post: NordVPN Comments On Wikileaks Revelations On C.I.A.’s Hacking Methods

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 18, 2017 by itnerd

In the largest leak of C.I.A. documents, Wikileaks disclosed the tools that C.I.A. uses to hack computers, phones and smart TVs around the world.

C.I.A.’s ability to compromise Apple and Android smartphones is troubling, since spies can access private information through these devices, including photos, emails, texts and videos. Further, a program called Weeping Angel even uses Samsung smart TVs as secret listening devices that operate even when TV is turned off, recording the conversations and sending them on Internet to a covert C.I.A. server.

While it’s understandable that governments do take advantage of the new technologies in their operations, it’s also possible that newly disclosed C.I.A.’s hacking methods will cause more harm than benefit. The cyberweapons described include programs that crash a targeted computer or steal passwords, or malware that can record keystrokes on a mobile device without breaking encryption.

“Since it seems that the government deliberately targets smart devices, it is possible their techniques might be exploited by criminals, hackers and also other governments,” says Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN, a Virtual Private Network. “Our devices should be made safer, not more vulnerable.”

Recently, there have been huge Internet liberty crackdowns around the world – such as the introduction of strict data retention laws (i.e. in the UK, Poland, etc.) and laws attacking communications apps such as WhatsApp and Viber, as well as blocking certain social media sites. These crackdowns on communications apps and social media sites goes hand-in-hand with attempts to limit citizen privacy and increase mass surveillance. For example, Americans fear that the new administration might “erode cyber privacy,” and UK now has an unprecedented surveillance law that allows for mass hacking, among other things – which could lead to massive data breaches.

Want to stay private online? Using encryption is a must 

The good news is that even though C.I.A. can access and tinker with people’s devices, encryption is out of reach even for government spies. There is no evidence in the leaked documents to show that encryption can be broken. On the contrary, the files suggest that agents circumvent the encryption since they cannot break it, and they often need to physically break into a device to get its contents.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to use secure privacy tools, such as VPNs, which help hide the user’s true location (IP address) and encrypt all the information that is being transferred through the Internet. Such a user becomes impossible to track. NordVPN helps anonymize browsing the Internet with its modern security protocols and no logs policy.

WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram still remain encrypted communication apps, and for safe emailing there are such encrypted email service providers as ProtonMail.

It is likely that C.I.A. will not change its hacking policies, and that everyone’s privacy will be even more challenged in the future. The only solution for private citizens seems to be taking their online privacy into their own hands. NordVPN believes that by taking the right precautions, people can still guard their privacy online.

In addition to using encryption and safe communication apps, Internet users need to be careful not to click on strange emailed links, not to download from unofficial app marketplaces, to always have strong passwords, and to be generally cautious when sharing information online.

Guest Post: NordVPN Talks About Why Every Internet User Should Keep Their IP Private

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 3, 2017 by itnerd

An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each Internet-enabled device by the ISP (Internet Service Provider) that can point to a user’s approximate physical location.

Since everyone’s online activity is typically associated with the user’s IP address, it is important to know that it might lead to compromised privacy. A user’s Internet searches, the websites that they visit are all tied back to their IP address.  What’s worrying is that an ISP (Internet Service Provider) could be asked to provide an exact physical location of a person by cross-referencing their customer records with their digital footprint.

One of the best ways to hide an IP address is to use a VPN – such as NordVPN, which encrypts all data between a user’s computer and a VPN server into a secure tunnel. NordVPN doesn’t keep any customer logs, offers secure encryption protocols and advanced security solutions like DoubleVPN.

A VPN hides a user’s IP address, disguising the real location, thus giving a great layer of protection from unwanted security threats and surveillance. To put it simply, VPNs allow you to change your IP address by connecting you to the internet through one of their servers.

We have collected 10 reasons of why Internet users should be hiding their IPs.

  1. Tobrowse websites without disclosing identity. When a user hides their IP by using encryption, their Internet browsing activity becomes invisible to the ISP.
  2. To access streaming from any location. It’s sometimes impossible to access favorite shows when on vacation in another country, simply because they are geo-blocked and access is denied. Hiding an IP through a VPN allows a user to connect to the desired country’s server and to enjoy the entertainment as if streaming from home. For example, users from Danish users can stream their programs while traveling in South America by connecting to a Danish server through a VPN.
  1. To stay safe from snoopers looking to access information. There might be many snoopers lurking around – including advertisers and, more dangerously, hackers. When a user hides their IP address, hackers can no more cross-reference that person’s data and track down their location or reveal other personal information.
  1. To protect oneself when using a Wi-Fi hotspot. Public Wi-Fi networks are primarily unsecured and open to everyone. Using a VPN service allows one to encrypt the Internet traffic  while logging into an unprotected network, where hackers could be lurking, waiting to steal personal identities or financial information.
  1. To access websites that are not available to the geographic location of the IP address. For example, Facebook is  blocked in Vietnam; LinkedIn is blocked in Russia; many YouTube videos are not available in Germany. Hiding an IP address and anonymously connecting to another country through a VPN allows to access content not available in that particular physical location.
  1. Access blocked networks. Sometimes, institutions such as libraries might place restrictions on viewing certain sites, including social media sites or even news aggregator sites like reddit. In some cases, these restrictions might prevent students from doing research or interrupt workflow. Masking your IP could help access those sites.
  1. To bypass government surveillance and Internet censorship. Most governments around the world are increasingly tightening surveillance laws. For example, UK’s Investigatory Powers Act mandates Internet user data retention and permits bulk hacking of thousands of computers. If all the collected data falls into the wrong hands, such as those of hackers and fraudsters, it can cause serious data breaches and theft. Opening a door for government to access web browsing data and metadata makes everyone’s online activity vulnerable.
  1. 8. To hide Internet activity from ISP.In some countries Internet Service Providers are obligated to track and hold on to data that users generate online. Also, in a number of cases, Internet providers have been known to track, collect and even sell customer data to third parties or use it for their own promotional purposes. Hiding the IP address will keep one’s information private and inaccessible.
  1. To keep private searches private. Several search engines track and store data on user’s online activity. Avoid having your search history tied to your IP address .  Make sure to clear cookies after every browsing session even while using a VPN service.
  1. To enjoy Internet freedom.When World Wide Webwas created in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, its purpose was for the web technology to be available to everyone, always. Creativity, innovation, education, communication and exchange of ideas are inseparable from the freedom the Internet offers, and everyone should be able to enjoy it without any restrictions. Hiding the IP address would give increased privacy and right to expression online.

Hiding an IP address is the key to staying secure and private online, and is easily achieved through using a VPN.

For more information about staying safe online, visit NordVPN.com.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Future Of The Internet

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

When World Wide Web was created in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, its purpose was for the web technology to be available to everyone, always, without any patents or royalties. Recently, as the Internet becomes more and more centralized, the creator of the Internet and other people at its heart start calling for a revolution in order to rethink the way that Internet works.

A lot has happened in the years of Internet’s existence, but the pattern is clear: the tool that was meant to bring profound advance for liberty is too often used by governments and corporations as a means of control. Russia and UK, for example, have passed new intrusive surveillance laws, and China and Vietnam block major websites from their citizens; users are being tracked by corporations and advertisers, and their data is being sold to third parties; Internet giants like Google and Facebook yield big power over the data of all the global Internet users.

Tim Berners-Lee publically speaks against such invasive surveillance laws as UK’s Snoopers Charter.  According to him and other web activists, the only way to give Internet its original purpose is decentralization and encryption. Some of the so-called Web 3.0 projects are already attracting investors with their idea of more privacy and security. 

Decentralization

Blockstack is a startup that is working on open-source software to create a kind of parallel web – one powered by the bitcoin blockchain. It hopes to give users more control of their data by avoiding storage with any third-parties. Later this year, Blockstack is planning to  release a software that will allow surfing this alternative Internet with a regular browser. Its users will generate data by using various services, but the data will not be stored in any of those service databases.

Another example of initiatives aimed at decentralizing the web is MaidSafe, a startup which has spent a decade building a decentralized p2p network, and now allows to create safe websites, store data, host websites and more.

Encryption: today’s solution for Internet security

Web 3.0,  which could be defined as a platform for decentralized apps, might be the future of the Internet, since decentralization idea is gaining popularity among mainstream developer community. Till then, Internet users must be careful about their Internet privacy, and take initiative to implement available encryption tools.

There already are many existing ways to encrypt one’s Internet activities: secure email service providers, such as ProtonMail, or encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal.

One of the must-have encryption services is a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN encrypts all data between a user’s computer and a VPN server into a secure tunnel. It is important to choose a VPN like NordVPN that  doesn’t keep any customer logs, offers secure encryption protocols and advanced security solutions like DoubleVPN. A VPN hides a user’s IP address, disguising the real location, thus giving the user a great layer of protection online from unwanted security threats and/ or surveillance.

At the moment, encryption – be it via encrypted email, messaging or VPN technology – remains the most secure tool available to protect one’s online privacy and security.

Guest Post: NordVPN Has 10 Tips on How to Protect One’s Financial Accounts

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 19, 2017 by itnerd

Identity theft was higher in 2016 than ever before. In the U.S. alone, around 15.4 million consumers were hit with some kind of ID theft in 2016, compared to 13.1 million in 2015.

Since credit cards became much harder to clone – due to EMV chips – most criminals moved to online purchase hacking. And since online shopping does not require physical credit cards, online fraud went up by 40% in the U.S. in 2016.

Hackers have various ways to steal identity information online. One of the most troubling and increasingly popular ones is financial account takeover. It can happen even if Internet users utilize two-factor authentication, involving text message or token app. Account takeover is a much more serious identity theft than credit card fraud. Credit card fraud is much easier to resolve – it’s often enough to simply place one call to the bank. Account takeover is much more complicated, and this method of identity theft has doubled in one year.

Unfortunately, large scale account takeovers can happen without the user’s knowledge or involvement – for example, when criminals hack into massive amounts of customer data, such a bank’s database.

However, in most cases, account takeovers, as well as the old-fashion credit card information theft, could be prevented if consumers were more careful when performing any financial transactions or when shopping online.

People who shop online are twice as likely to fall victims to identity theft. Many consumers shop online without any added protection, and sometimes even on open Wi-Fi networks, which are very easy to hack into. There are many ways online shopping can become hazardous to any user. For example, a website one found online may be a spoofed fraudulent website set up by hackers to steal the data. Or the online store where one shops may not be using a secure encryption protocol to ensure that their customers’ details are safe during the payment process. Or a customer’s account on the shopping site may get compromised, giving the hacker access to the account.

In order to stay safe when shopping online or performing any other transaction that exposes personal details, there are some simple tips. NordVPN, a VPN service provider that helps secure online experience, advises to follow these simple steps:

1. https

The first thing one should always see while making an online payment is whether the payment gateway has an https URL. The ‘s’ in the URL means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted on the site.

2. Stay away from public hotspots

It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous it is to share one’s personal or financial information with any website or any person over the Internet while using a public connection. Public Wi-Fi networks are common hunting grounds for attackers and data snoopers who try to access users’ personal information. Since public networks have negligible security, users should try to avoid using them while making online payments – or if they really have to, then they must use a VPN – a Virtual Private Network.

3. Use a VPN

VPNs encrypt all the data shared between the Internet and VPN server. The encrypted data is sent through a secure tunnel to a VPN server in the country of a user’s choice, and their real IP address is hidden. VPNs are one of essential security mechanism to protect personal online data from prying eyes. NordVPN is a VPN with most advanced encryption protocols, extensive global coverage and no logs policy.

4. Use mobile or e-wallets

E-wallets are said to make online checkouts simpler and more secure. Payment processors, such as Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Wallet and others are already starting to implement this one-click method of payment.

5. Consider a more advanced option: cryptocurrency wallet

For added security, it’s always an option to use cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin. For example, Blockchain, a technology underpinning bitcoin cryptocurrency, is making it much harder for hackers to decipher financial transactions. Blockchain records financial transactions, and, instead of storing this data in one place, it distributes its cryptographic blocks through the network of computers – which makes it much more difficult to access to hackers.

6. Enable two-factor authentication with online accounts. Signing up for tw0-factor authentication with online accounts makes it harder for fraudsters to steal one’s identity. And even if it’s not foolproof protection  from hackers, having a two-factor authentication is definitely better than signing in without it.

7. Add account alerts. Account alerts are another way of self-protection. Whenever there is unusual activity on the account, the account owner will be notified.

8. Stronger Passwords

The future of online shopping will most likely involve biometrics – thumbprints and retina scans – which will eventually replace passwords. However, before that happens, the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords. A strong password contains at least 10 characters, lower and upper case letters, numbers and characters. Since they are difficult to remember, password managers can help. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into someone’s account.

9. Clean data from a public computer

If a user is working on a shared device, or especially a public computer, they must delete all the data when the session is finished. This involves deleting browsing history and downloaded files. It’s never a good idea to save passwords on public computers or to enter sensitive information. At the end of the session, the computer must be restarted.

10.  Anti-virus updates

A computer must be up to date with the most modern anti-virus and firewall software to protect from the newest potential hacker-installed malware and viruses that could also be used to steal one’s personal data.

Being vigilant can help a lot when one shops online. Whenever a website requests for more information than is usually required, like Social Security number or any other kind of personal information, it usually spells fraud. Users should always be cautious before giving away their personal or financial details anywhere on the Internet.

 

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses Invasive Cross-Device Tracking by Advertisers and How to Protect One’s Privacy

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 14, 2017 by itnerd

One could imagine Internet users understand they are being tracked by advertisers as soon as they go online: the ad for some recently Googled product suddenly reappears on every Internet page visited. However, a new study shows that the majority of consumers do not realize their private data is being sold to advertising networks and third-party entities in order to provide them with targeted ads.

When people find out they are constantly followed and monitored, many start worrying about their privacy.  And while it’s understandable that advertisers need to use technology to reach the people that might be interested in their products, the problem is that consumers are most often not informed about what kind of information is being collected about them.

Moreover, advertisers are using cross-device tracking, which raises additional privacy and security risks. In cross-device tracking, ad companies and publishers try to build a consumer’s profile based on their activity throughout computers, tablets, smartphones, smart watches and various IoT devices. Online and offline factors are often combined: such as browsing history with physical location, retail purchases with watched TV programs, commute to work and vacation travel and so on.

Basically, most Internet users are tracked from the moment they wake up till they go to sleep through the variety of devices and physical locations revealed by their GPS coordinates.

Why hidden online tracking might be dangerous

There are a few issues when one is unknowingly tracked by advertising companies. 

First of all, it’s an invasion of Internet user’s privacy – whenever the users have not given their consent. For example, one family member might be browsing “privately” on their smartphone, but the rest of the family might see ads on their home computer related to the other person’s mobile browsing history. Or, worse yet, a woman who has suffered the trauma of miscarriage is often still persecuted by pregnancy ads, following her from once-visited pregnancy sites.

There is also the security issue. The collection of unfathomable amounts of data about people’s interests and habits can fall into the wrong hands. If such data landed in the hands of someone with malintent, the Internet user’s information could then be used to steal their identity, access bank accounts or medical records.

While some advertising companies already offer the ability to opt-out from behavioral targeting, most often Internet users are not given an explanation/disclaimer about how they are being tracked.

How can Internet users avoid being tracked by advertisers

Not surprisingly, when an Internet user learns about the amount of information that advertisers are collecting on their daily activities, they may get scared and wish to protect their privacy. There are a few methods that can be easily implemented by anyone who is using the Internet:

1. Ad-blockers. Ad blocking software provides Internet users with a list of third-party trackers, and users can choose to allow some sites to track them or they can choose to block them. For example, AdBlock Plus effectively blocks banner ads, pop-up ads, and other types of ads. It disables third-party tracking cookies and scripts.

2. Deleting cookies. Internet users may be tracked by many different entities: ISPs (Internet Service Providers), ad networks, publishers and other third parties. One of the most common ways to track online behaviour is through cookies – small pieces of code that are downloaded into a user’s browser when they visit a website. When a user visits that website again, this will be recorded through the cookie, and targeted ads can be directed towards that person. Users need to regularly clear their browsing data in order to get rid of all the cookies. Fortunately, websites in the U.S. and Europe, now have to declare that their page is collecting cookies. 

2. VPNs. A VPN encrypts the data between a user’s device and the VPN server, and is the safest security mechanism to ensure the Internet browsing history remains confidential. NordVPN has a reputation of focusing on privacy, security and having a zero logs policy, and is fast and easy to use. The developers at NordVPN have launched powerful apps for Mac, Android, iOS and Windows that are also intuitive and good-looking. The apps reroute and encrypt all Internet traffic by hiding a user’s IP address. Once Internet traffic is encrypted and real IP address is hidden, it becomes difficult to track this person.  As an added benefit, VPN users can also access geo-blocked content online.

3. Browser add-ons. Anti-tracking and anti-cookie extensions are one of the best ways to stay private. For example, Disconnect Private Browsing protects from tracking and malware. It blocks third party cookies and from tracking by social networks like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Another advisable option is Privacy Badger by the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Before ad companies figure out a fair way of informing consumers about their intent and giving a choice about which information can be tracked, users who wish to stay private should be proactive and take care of their own online privacy and security.

Guest Post: How to Avoid Fake Apps and Stay Private Online

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 28, 2017 by itnerd

When one searches for an app on Apple or Google’s Play store, there will be a list of apps that resemble the original one, but are actually fake copies. Even if Apple – as well as Google – have a tough scrutiny of apps, new malicious apps appear every day.

This month, the biggest fake app scandal on Google Play store happened with the Indian BHIM app, launched to enable citizens to make digital payments. Numerous duplicates soon followed, some of them asking for permissions to review users’ personal information.

If an app is not free, or if it’s a shopping app that requires credit card info, or happens to be any other payment-related app, it is potentially very hazardous for the person who’s downloading a look-alike application.

It has been asserted that while some apps simply have the aim to share ads, there are also many that seek to steal the user’s identity and credit card information. These apps can use malware to steal personal information or can even tinker with the phone and lock it up until the user pays a ransom.

Simple tips about recognizing the fake apps:

1. Incorrect use of language. Since most fake apps are made in haste, often where English is not a native tongue, they might use broken English grammar. Users should pay attention to spelling and grammar in any app descriptions if they have any doubts about its originality.

2. Lack of reviews. Fake apps typically won’t have any user reviews – so that’s a definite sign an app could be  a fake.

3. It’s especially important to pay attention to retail apps. Many fake retail apps pop up before major holidays – such as Zappos, Nordstrom, Christian Dior and many others. Retail apps that ask users for their credit card info should be especially monitored.

4. Correct developer’s name. Users need to check for the name of the developer in the corresponding category, and avoid downloading apps that have a wrong or misspelled developers’ name.

5. Website domains in the title. Some apps will feature the website in their title – that might also be a red flag.

6. Variety of Apps. If an app is fake, the developer is likely making all sorts of apps that can cover anything from gardening to games to retail shopping.

7. Leading to the website. If it’s a paid app or if it conducts any transactions and if it does not lead to a company website, something is amiss.

8. Deals. If the app promotes a deal that is too good to be true, be suspicious. 

Overall, staying vigilant when downloading apps is just one example of avoiding threats to your personal data. Internet users can also be proactive in ensuring they are taking additional steps to stay private and secure online. 

The list of some of the most important privacy and security apps of 2017:

Signal is an encrypted messaging and voice calling app that provides end-to-end encryption to secure all communications. The app can also verify the identity of people one is messaging with and the integrity of the channel they are using. When texting with non-Signal users, one has an option to invite them to an encrypted conversation via Signal.

NordVPN (Virtual Private Network provider) is a must-have encryption app. A VPN encrypts the data shared across the Internet, and is the best security mechanism to ensure the Internet traffic remains confidential. NordVPN has a reputation of focusing on security and having a zero logs policy, is fast and easy to use. The developers at NordVPN have launched a powerful new VPN app for Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices  that is also intuitive and focused on user experience. NordVPN app re-routes and encrypts all Internet traffic making the connection private and secured. For added security, NordVPN offers DoubleVPN servers.

my Secure email is an email app for managing various email accounts from various providers, which puts security first.  It offers encryption of sent emails, lock screen, password-protected digital signature and more. In addition, there are a few other good examples of secure email providers, including Tutanota, or the Gmail-like ProtonMail that offer an automatic end-to-end encryption, and no personal information is required to create a secure email account.

DuckDuckGo is for those who want more private browsing experience. It’s a search engine that provides information from hundreds of sources, and keeps the search private.

Besides security and privacy apps, everyone should be extra vigilant when sharing information on their devices, encrypt when using public Wi-Fi, update antivirus software, fire-up the the firewall and always use strong passwords.