Archive for NordVPN

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Difference Between A VPN & A Proxy

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 13, 2017 by itnerd

There has been lots of increased interest in staying private online due to the new developments in privacy and security. For example, Investigatory Powers Bill was launched in the UK last November, which allows the government to hack into people’s computers; Australian government tightened the rules of accessing many websites, and most recently, the U.S. gave Internet Service Providers the right to collect and sell user data without their consent.

People around the world started getting concerned about privacy, and researching tools that help them stay private – such as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and proxies. NordVPN, a VPN service provider, has noticed their user inquiries triple after the latest development in the U.S., which gave ISPs the right to freely sell user data. Overall, Google searches for VPN increased by quarter after US Congress decided to cast away ISP privacy rules. Similar trend was noticed after each change in privacy rules around the world: for example, when Australia strengthened copyright infringement rules, VPNs saw a 500% surge in subscriptions.

While most people realize that they need to protect their privacy online, they often wonder which privacy tool they should choose – a VPN or a proxy – and whether it will be easy enough to use.

VPN vs. Proxy

What is the difference between a VPN and a proxy, and how to choose the best option?

Both VPNs and proxies are similar in one major feature: they hide one’s IP address and make it seem that a user is connecting from another location. However, the main difference is that proxies do not encrypt Internet traffic, while encryption is what makes VPNs security and privacy oriented.

Proxies are great for streaming geo-blocked content, as they do not slow Internet traffic – or for by-passing content filters. However, any entity – such as ISP, government, or a hacker who can snoop on anyone using Wi-Fi in a coffee shop – can access your data despite the proxy. In addition, certain Flash or JavaScript elements in a user’s browser can easily reveal their identity. Moreover, a proxy is only configured for a certain application, such as a web browser, but is not installed computer-wide. Those who are not concerned about keeping their Internet traffic safe, and only want to stream a movie, can use proxies. However, they should be looking at one of the paid options, as free proxies are sometimes known to steal user data themselves.

VPNs. VPNs are a main tool for those desiring to protect their online privacy and security. VPNs are set up computer-wide and protect the traffic of each application used -each Internet browser, email app or online game. How does a VPN work? A user’s Internet traffic gets encrypted and routed through a secure tunnel between two points: the computer and a remote VPN server. This way, no one can access the data that passes through the tunnel – it becomes completely invisible to ISPs, government snoopers, advertisers, identity thieves and hackers. When a user installs a VPN and goes online on an unprotected Wi-Fi = at a hotel, restaurant or airport – their data will also be automatically encrypted, and they can even proceed with their online banking or shopping.

Is it hard to install a VPN? While VPNs were initially a tool used mostly by early adopters, currently many VPNs have updated their user interfaces and are easy to use by anyone who goes online. For example, NordVPN has developed apps (for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac) that starts working simply by turning an ON button. The app can quickly connect you to the desired destination by simply clicking on the country name, as it automatically selects the quickest server available. For those who like to tinker with custom server options, a detailed list is available with load and distance information – change between them with a simple click. The application contains many user-friendly features, including kill switch, detailed server list, access to SmartPlay technology and more.

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Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses 3 Ways How ISPs Can Impact Americans’ Online Security

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2017 by itnerd

President Trump has just signed the executive order on April 3rd, finalizing the repeal of FCC’s Internet privacy rules that would have stopped intrusive practices of ISPs. Internet Service Providers are now free to collect and share their subscribers’ private data that includes precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history. While ISPs are claiming they won’t sell customer data, now that they are legally allowed to do it, there’s lots of skepticism surrounding this claim.

According to the rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, “privacy and security are two sides of the same coin: privacy is about controlling who has access to information about you, and security is how you maintain that control.”

Here, we review the main ways how ISPs can potentially impact online security, given the new rights:

  1. Storing large amounts of data could attract hackers. The storage securityargument always reappears when discussing the mandatory ISP data retention programs. Security experts and human rights groups usually agree that collecting citizens’ data must be balanced with increased data protection.  To make matters worse, the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has recently halted the enforcement of another ISP regulation. It would have required providers to take measures to protect user private data from security breaches. As a result, even if users’ data gets hacked because of lax security, broadband providers will bear no responsibility.
  1. ISPs could use enhanced tracking techniques. According to a 2015 study, at least nine ISPs, including AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone, were found to have been using a “supercookies.” When supercookies are installed, every website a user visits, and every third party embedded in these websites can track them. Even if a user deletes their browser’s cookies or use the Incognito mode, supercookies persist. Also, the effectiveness  of some privacy tools may be weakened because the tracking could be added after the data leaves a device. To prevent trackers from being added on a network level, users would have to use a combination of tools to fully secure their Internet traffic, such as a tracker blocker and a VPN for encryption. Thanks to FCC investigation, ISPs (such as Verizon) were fined and have since agreed to notify users about cookies and give an option to opt in before they can track their data. However, if FCC regulations keep getting struck down, ISPs might revert to using, or invent other enhanced tracking methods.
  1. ISP tactics might weaken web encryption. At the moment, ISPs can only track the portion of user traffic that is not encrypted. Although VPN service encryption is recommended, some people choose to rely on web page encryption offered by HTTPS protocol. Tracking is limited on HTTPS websites secured with SSL (Secure Socket Layer). In such websites, any data that is being sent between a user’s browser and the server is encrypted. As such SSL certificates pose a major problem for ISPs since their goal is to build advertising profiles based on their subscriber data. There have been talks of ISPs implementing  a standard called Explicit Trusted Proxy, which would potentially  allow ISPs to intercept encrypted HTTPS web-page data, decode it, process it, re-encrypt it, and then finally pass the re-encrypted data along to its original destination. Recent studies have shown that many tools used for inspecting HTTPS traffic end up weakening the encryptionand potentially exposing it to various security breaches. If Internet providers get their way and obtain access to HTTPS data, they will reduce the security of the entire web.

NordVPN remains an outspoken supporter of Internet privacy and security. The company has noticed a 200% spike in user inquiries from the U.S. since Congress approved new ISP rights. “We will continue safeguarding Internet user privacy, and providing assistance and consultations on Internet privacy to all our clients. During the times of increasing attacks on Internet privacy, VPNs are starting to play a major part in user protection,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) secures and encrypts Internet traffic, helping protect users’ identity and data by hiding their IP address. It scrambles a user’s online data, so an ISP cannot decode and use it for building an advertising profile. It also reroutes Internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel, preventing any third parties (including the ISPs) from monitoring your Internet traffic.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Erosion Internet Privacy By The US House Of Representatives

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2017 by itnerd

On Tuesday U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution allowing ISPs to collect all possible data about their subscribers and selling it to third parties, we at NordVPN have noticed a sharp increase in inquiries from American Internet users worried about their privacy: the inquiries surged by 86% in the past few days.

ISPs might be allowed to collect data that includes precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history.

If the House votes to approve the rollback of strict FCC’s privacy regulations that would have banned ISPs from selling subscriber’s data without their consent, then U.S. consumers will be forced to look for their own methods to stay private.

NordVPN’s CMO, Marty P. Kamden, has said:

“Such spikes in user interest in VPNs are not unusual – whenever a government announces increase in surveillance, people turn to privacy tools. We saw similar spikes back in November when UK passed the law dubbed “The Snoopers Charter” or after the revelation about CIA surveillance by the Wikileaks. We are worried about the global tendency to invade Internet users’ privacy, and we are glad we can offer a reliable tool that helps people keep their information private. We want to stress that privacy tools are needed every day, not only during such moments – to protect yourself from ever-growing online security threats and increasing surveillance.”

A VPN encrypts user data through a secure tunnel before accessing the Internet – this protects any sensitive information about one’s location by hiding their IP address. A VPN connects a user to the Internet through an alternative path than an ISP. The only information visible to an ISP is that a user is connected to a VPN server and nothing else. All other information is encrypted by the VPN’s security protocol.

NordVPN is determined to hide and secure users’ data with features like double encryption and a strict no logs policy. From the moment a user turns on NordVPN, their Internet data becomes encrypted. It becomes invisible to governments, ISPs, third party snoopers and even 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.

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.