Archive for NordVPN

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses 10 Questions Any User Should Ask Before Signing Up For A VPN Service

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

NordVPN (Virtual Private Network) has seen its users growing steadily in 2017, reflecting the global tendency of Internet users looking for ways to protect their privacy. For example, NordVPN’s user inquiries from the USA doubled in 2017, following the presidential election, and especially after the new regulation, allowing ISPs to track and sell user activity without their consent.

By using a VPN, one’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.

However, not all VPNs are equal, and some might pose additional security risks to the user. Others might be located in countries that have anti-privacy laws – or they might be collecting user data and selling it to third parties. Also, Internet users should be aware of proxies that hide one’s IP address like VPNs but do not encrypt Internet traffic.

NordVPN lists 10 questions that an Internet user should ask themselves before choosing a VPN service provider:

  1. Does a VPN log Internet traffic? Some VPN providers might be required by law to log a user’s Internet activity, and this depends on the country where they operate. Be aware of VPN service providers based in one of 14 Eyes or 5 Eyes countries, where government often practices surveillance and might require VPNs to provide user logs. When user information is logged, it could be easily shared with the government or any third parties. The safest choice is a VPN provider that does not log users’ Internet activity and is not required to do so by law of the country where it operates.
  2. Is it a free VPN? Any VPN provider that is offering a free service will be using other ways to earn money – and it’s usually through selling user data. A safe VPN will have a price.
  3. In how many countries does it have servers? The more servers a VPN has in different countries, the better it is. If a user wants to bypass geo-blocks on certain content, they can connect to a server – called exit node – in a country where that content is allowed. For those concerned about government surveillance and privacy, it’s wise to pick a server outside of the country.
  4. Does it slow down Internet traffic? Since VPN works as an encryption tunnel, it can sometimes slow down the Internet. If a VPN provider is a paid service, they will usually offer larger selection of servers to connect to – so when one is overloaded and slow, it’s easy to connect to another one.  Connecting to a server that’s closer geographically might solve the slowdown issue.
  5. What level of encryption does it offer? VPN protocols operate to establish a secure tunnel with a VPN. Some of these protocols are more secure than others. It would be wise to avoid PPTP protocol, which was one of the first security protocols introduced – however, it is now considered to be weak and insecure. The safest VPN protocols are OpenVPN and also IKEv2/IPsec, which employs very strong cryptographic algorithms and keys.
  6. Is it a real VPN or a proxy? Proxies might be useful for streaming geo-blocked content, but not in each case. Additionally, any entity – such as an ISP, a government, or a hacker – can access users’ data despite the proxy. Also, 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. Otherwise, in order to protect security and privacy, a VPN is recommended over a proxy.
  7. Does it have mobile apps? It’s not enough to protect a desktop computer – since mobile devices also contain sensitive and private information, it’s important to protect them too. Before signing up for a certain VPN provider, it’s wise to check out all their mobile apps and to see how easily they operate on mobile devices.
  8. Does it work on different platforms? Not all VPNs work on every platform – some might operate only on Apple devices, for example. A well-established VPN functions across different platforms, including iOS, Mac, Android and Windows.
  9. Does it allow to unblock geo-blocked content? Some VPNs might not be able to unblock popular streaming services, such as Hulu, BBC iPlayer or Netflix. A user should check with the VPN they are considering to make sure they will be able to unblock the content they wish to watch.
  10. Is it easy to use? User experience is an important factor when choosing a VPN. Some might still have clumsy websites and hard-to-find buttons. 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 only requires to turn the ON button. The app can quickly connect a user to the desired destination by simply clicking on the country name, as it automatically selects the quickest server available. The application contains many user-friendly features, including kill switch, detailed server list, access to SmartPlay technology and more.



Guest Post: Nord VPN Lists The 10 Must-Have Android Privacy & Security Apps for 2017

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 30, 2017 by itnerd

This year has seen some of the biggest hacks in history. For example, Yahoo, who admitted one of the largest breaches last year, announced about another hack in February, which might have affected millions of users. Gmail has been experiencing a large-scale sophisticated phishing scam, and even CNN was hacked.  If big organizations with sophisticated security systems can be broken into, what about any ordinary Internet user?

All digital devices, if unprotected, become one of the easiest data breach targets for an average hacker.

Here’s the list of the hottest security apps for Android in 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 devices  that is also intuitive and good-looking. The new Android app re-routes and encrypts all Internet traffic making the connection private and secured. For added security, NordVPN offers Tor over VPN and DoubleVPN servers.

Applock is an app that locks down various apps and protects a user’s phone from snooping by a curious co-worker or children. Users activate the app and enter a pin to protect their apps, including photos, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, SMS and others.

Norton Identity Safe simplifies the task of remembering complex passwords: it saves all usernames and passwords and syncs them across Android devices. The app then securely stores all passwords in an encrypted Vault that only the user can access. Secure passwords can be created within the app. The app also allows for faster checkout as it fills in forms with the user’s bank information. Before visiting any website, Norton Identity Safe shows if it’s safe.

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.

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.

Smart Hide Calculator is an app for storing user’s private photos, videos, notes, contacts and other sensitive data behind an innocent-looking calculator app. Everyone will think it’s just a simple calculator!

Avira Antivirus Pro protects your Android device from malicious apps, banking Trojans, and other mobile threats. It comes with anti-virus scanner, app lock and even phone finder.

Remote Phone Access app saves anyone who forgets their Android smartphone at some location and need to control it remotely. The app locks the phone and restricts unauthorized access, allows to receive phone call and SMS alerts to an email address and can remotely turn on any Internet activity.

NoRoot Firewall is an Android firewall app that helps manage outgoing Internet connections by allowing the user to grant or block access to all apps, one at a time. The user can allow or deny access based on IP address, host name or domain name.

Since most of the our valuable information is stored online, it’s important to know that it’s secure. Besides security and privacy apps, everyone should use common sense when sharing information on their devices, encrypt when using public Wi-Fi and always use strong passwords.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses If It Is Still Possible To Protect One’s Online Privacy?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

Data has recently become the most valuable commodity in the world, the same way as oil was a century ago, and concerns are similar: most of the world’s data is in the hands of a few giants, namely Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

As their reach keeps expanding and profits keep rising (their collective profit was over $25bn in the first quarter of 2017), experts are calling for the need to break up their dominance or to create another platform that would provide a more private method of browsing. For example, German companies are planning to curb the data industry dominance by creating a joint platform that will allow customers to determine whether and how their personal data can be used by third parties.

In the meanwhile, the data dominance by industry giants results in personal users’ data being tracked, collected and sold to third parties.

Facebook knows a user’s friends, all interactions, sites visited (if they have a Facebook page), purchases, devices a person uses to access Facebook, and much more. Google collects a users’ name, email address, telephone number, credit card (if entered), one’s interaction with other websites, device used, search queries and so on. Google also stores information in a local browser as “cookies.”

When faced with such data control by a few large companies, people still have some power in their own hands to protect their privacy than they often can imagine. In fact, there are some simple steps for everyone to take that would significantly reduce intrusive behavior by Internet companies and protect one’s privacy.

Here are some simple rules:

  1. Facebook. Use Facebook’s Download Your Information tool to find out what kind of personal information is collected. Make sure to visit privacy settings and select who can see which information. And certainly, be careful what kind of information you share with Facebook. Some people, for example, choose not to use their real names, location and other personal data.
  2. Google. The first step is to use Google’s Privacy Checkup to see how much information you might be voluntarily sharing. Secondly, see how private are your apps. Google’s Privacy Policy actually allows to turn off tracking, voice searches, and other features, to view and edit one’s preferences or to adjust one’s public profile. Also, make sure you use 2-step verification.
  3. Overall Internet privacy. VPN (Virtual Private Network) is the most common and secure tool used to stay private online. NordVPN, for example, offers military grade encryption for those looking to keep their information for themselves. A VPN encrypts data between a user’s computer and VPN server and routes it through a secure tunnel, so all online activity becomes invisible to trackers, data collectors and any kinds of data spies. For example, only a VPN can help bypass new increased ISP data collection in the U.S., as well as the potential removal of net neutrality.


Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Recent Ransomware Attacks

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 16, 2017 by itnerd

Last Friday morning, a ransomware attack started spreading across the globe, infecting tens of thousands of computers. Those affected included over 40 health service trusts and FedEx’s offices in the United Kingdom, a telecom in Spain, and the Russian Interior Ministry.

The malicious software, transferred over email and stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA), exposed vulnerabilities in computer systems in almost 100 countries in total, constituting one of the largest ransomware attacks on record.

The attack was in fact largely preventable, if only more Windows users had installed the critical security patch that Microsoft released for it two months ago and followed a few other security rules.

“Criminals took advantage of the fact that most people still don’t do enough to protect their computers,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network). “We at NordVPN strive to raise public awareness about what each person could do to protect their data.”

How to protect oneself from ransomware

  1. Don’t forget to install latest security updates. Security updates often contain patches for latest vulnerabilities, which hackers are looking to exploit.
  2. Don’t open anything suspicious you get through email. Delete dubious emails from your bank, ISP, credit card company, etc. Never click on any links or attachments in emails you’re not expecting. Never give your personal details if asked via email.
  3. Back up all data. Back up your data in an alternate device and keep it unplugged and stored away. Backing up data regularly is the best way to protect yourself from ransomware because only unique information is valuable.
  4. Use a VPN for additional safety. Using a VPN when browsing can protect you against malware that targets online access points. That’s especially relevant when using a public hotspot. However, keep in mind that a VPN cannot protect you from downloading malware. While a VPN encrypts your activity online, you should be careful when downloading and opening certain files or links.
  5. Close pop-up windows safely. Ransomware developers often use pop-up windows that warn you of some kind of malware. Don’t click on the window – instead, close it with a keyboard command or by clicking on your taskbar.
  6. Use strong passwords and a password manager. Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords, and choosing different passwords for different accounts. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into an account. A strong password has a minimum of 12 characters, and includes a strong mix of letters, numbers and characters. It’s not easy to remember strong passwords for each site, so it’s recommended to use a password manager, such as, LastPass and 1Password.
  7. Use anti-virus programs. Make sure you have installed one of the latest reputable anti-virus programs to make sure you are fully protected.


Guest Post: NordVPN Has 5 Simple Rules to Stay Safe on Any WiFi Hotspot

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 11, 2017 by itnerd

The travel season is almost here. Free Wi-Fi at cafes, airports, restaurants and city streets is used by almost everyone who’s traveling – but how many people take an extra step to make sure their browsing is not only convenient, but also safe?

Last year, NordVPN (Virtual Private Network) released safety tips for public Wi-Fi, but the number of public Wi-Fi scams only seems to be increasing, showing that people still don’t treat their online security seriously. According to study, 79% of respondents still don’t use a VPN when they go on public Wi-Fi. According to NordVPN’s recent survey,  almost 35% of respondents still didn’t know such obvious rules that, for example, it was dangerous to shop online on a public network.

Most common ways that a hacker can take advantage of an unprotected Wi-Fi spot:

  1. Honeypot Wi-Fi. The most common threat is still a hacker positioning himself as a Wi-Fi hotspot – the so-called honeypot Wi-Fi. When that happens, a Wi-Fi user will be sending their information to a hacker instead to a legitimate Wi-Fi spot – and that could include credit card information, private emails, and any other sensitive information. This technique is very easy for hackers, as Wi-Fi spots rarely require authentication to establish a connection.
  2. Wireless sniffers. Hackers can be using sniffers, a software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network. Wireless sniffers are specifically created for capturing data on wireless networks, but are normally used by IT specialists to monitor the health of a network and diagnose problems. When a sniffer falls into a hacker’s hands, it can be easily used to monitor and decode another person’s private data.
  3. Shoulder surfing. When an Internet user finds themselves in a crowded coffee shop or an airport, there might be data thieves lurking around, who will watch over a shoulder to memorize passwords or credit card information that one enters into their device. Just as it’s important to be careful when entering a PIN number into an ATM machine, it’s important to make sure no one is looking over a shoulder when going online at a public Wi-Fi spot.

How can an Internet user protect themselves when they go online at a public hotspot?

Actually, it’s really simple – just a few easy rules need to be followed – and they will be safe on any public network.

  1. Use a VPN. The best and most effective way for any traveler to protect their data is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device thus hiding user’s IP address. Recently, VPNs have become a mainstream tool and quite a few have been remodeled to be very user-friendly. For example, with NordVPN users only have to turn to ON button, and they will be connected. The app (for Windows, Android, Mac or iOS) will then choose the fastest server to connect to. It’s also important to be aware of free VPNs that typically rely on third party advertisers to cover the costs. In addition to protecting one’s online activities, a VPN will also help access banned sites in a different country (such as Facebook in Vietnam or Wikipedia in Turkey).
  2. Use a firewall. It’s important to make sure firewall is turned on before going online, especially on a public Wi-Fi spot.
  3. Disallow automatic wireless network connection. Make sure automatic wireless connection are not turned on, and Wi-Fi is turned off when it’s not being used – this will prevent hackers from automatically connecting to one’s device.
  4. Sharing settings should NOT be Public. To prevent anyone from finding and accessing one’s device, it’s important to make sure System’s Settings are not set to Public sharing.
  5. Be vigilant. It’s always important to know who’s around to avoid shoulder surfing or any other suspicious activities.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Fact That Internet Users Are Unaware of Email Privacy Issues

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

NordVPN’s recent survey has shown that people mostly trust big-name email providers, such as Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. It is believed that these are privacy-focused services, and most people are not able to tell which of the providers actually care about one’s privacy and security, such as ProtonMail.

Out of over 2,000 respondents, 36 percent said they thought Gmail was the most privacy-focusedemail provider, followed by Outlook (22%) and Yahoo (14%). The majority – 43 percent – did not know how to answer the question.

The same respondents were not able to identify email providers that are actually privacy-focused – such as Countermail (4.5%), ProtonMail (6.3%) and Tutanota (3.56%).

Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo are amongst the most popular email service providers, no matter that each one of them have experienced numerous hacks, data breaches or pose a general threat to one’s privacy.

Recently, the news came out about over a million of Gmail and Yahoo accounts being sold online for bitcoins. The account data included usernames, emails and passwords.

One of the largest online incidents involves around 500 million Yahoo emails stolen in 2014. In the most recent attack, 32 million Yahoo emails were affected.

In 2016, over a million of Microsoft Office clients (which includes Outlook) were hit with a ransomware attack, and it took Microsoft more than 24 hours to respond and to start blocking the infected attachment.

Some of the data leaks happen to email providers that are not able to protect users’ data, such as Yahoo. Others, such as Gmail, haven’t experienced direct leaks (only when users’ credentials have been stolen from other platforms, such as MySpace), but Gmail is known to be as one of the most intrusive into users’ privacy with the requirements for personal information.

On the other hand, there are email service providers that offer encryption, privacy and security from data breaches – such as ProtonMail, Tutanota and Countermail. However, they are much less popular, and unknown by most survey respondents.

“The scale of the breaches regularly experienced by popular email providers raise concerns about how big companies protect their data,” says Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network). “We at NordVPN try to remind people to put their online security into their own hands: to use strong passwords, encrypted email providers, and VPNs.”

Here’s what Internet users can do protect their online safety:

  1. Switch to an encrypted email provider, such as ProtonMail. ProtonMail is a free encrypted email service provider, offering end-to-end encryption – meaning even the provider itself cannot decrypt and read subscribers’ emails. No personal information is required to create accounts, and the basic account service is offered free of charge. Other secure email providers include Tutanota and Countermail.
  1. Use strong passwords and a password manager. Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords, and choosing different passwords for different accounts. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into an account. A strong password has a minimum of 12 characters, and includes a strong mix of letters, numbers and characters. It’s not easy to remember strong passwords for each site, so it’s recommended to use a password manager, though some – such as LastPass – have also experienced security breaches. In any case, password managers are still recommended for safety and security – such as, LastPass and 1Password.
  1. Turn on multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is a security system that will a user to access their online account after they log in with their username and password, and then require the second-step authentication: either through a fingerprint scan or by sending a code via text. Most sites, including email providers, already offer multi-factor authentication as an option.
  1. Use a VPN. VPNs encrypt all traffic between a user’s computer and a VPN server, providing complete privacy and security in Internet browsing experience. The only information visible to any intruder or hacker is the connection to a VPN server and nothing else. All other information is private as it is encrypted by the VPN’s security protocol. NordVPN is determined to secure users’ data with features like automatic kill switch and a strict no logs policy.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses Self-Censoring Because of Surveillance & Data Collection

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

The existence of surveillance state breeds fear and conformity, and doesn’t allow free expression, found an Oxford study, conducted last year. Four years have now passed since Edward Snowden’s revelations about global mass surveillance, which is led by American NSA, in coordination with intelligence agencies from the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – or the “Five Eyes” alliance.

This month, the Council of Europe has announced that 28 out of 47 member states do not sufficiently protect journalists against violence and threats, resulting in self-censorship amongst journalists from the 47 Council of Europe member states and Belarus. More than half the journalists surveyed said they had been subjected to intimidation by government, while four out of ten reported being threatened with physical violence. One in four said they had been belittled and humiliated by their management, and more than one in five said they had been arrested, investigated, prosecuted or threatened with prosecution.

As a result, more than 30 percent of the journalists said they had toned down sensitive stories, and 15 percent confirmed they completely abandoned these stories. One in five journalists said they shaped their reporting to suit their company’s political or business interests.

From self-censorship of people on social media to journalists abandoning their stories – this is everyday reality of living in surveillance states from North America and EU to Australia and New Zealand.

“Online surveillance by government and data collection by ISPs in many countries result in self-censorship online that brings about the biggest threat to online freedom and free speech,” says Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network). “Therefore, we see a steady rise of people using VPNs around the globe. When governments pass strict surveillance laws, such as the Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK, or give ISPs the right to collect and sell user data without permission, as in the U.S., we see sharp spikes in user inquiries. People are starting to realize that they need to take action to protect their online privacy, and a VPN is the best tool for that.”

A VPN encrypts user’s data and reroutes it through a secure tunnel before accessing the Internet – this protects any sensitive information by hiding an IP address. 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.

Bloggers and journalists in authoritarian countries and all Internet users around the world can stay private in all of their online activities simply by turning an ON button on their VPN software.

NordVPN hides 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.