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Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short, is a secure network connection through which you can safely connect your device to public networks.

It is widely used by large corporations, educational institutions and government agencies.

It is also used by individuals who care about staying anonymous on the internet for various reasons.

In countries where governments are blocking access to certain websites, people use a VPN to get around these walls of censorship.

Another reason people use VPN’s is to gain access to web content restricted to certain countries; this is particularly the case with some YouTube channels, like Vevo and similar.

In countries where downloading torrents is heavily monitored, like the USA for example, people use VPN to hide their internet activity and IP address from ISPs and from the torrent source.

This is similarly the case for streaming, the use of streaming services like Kodi is exploding lately and the movie studios are not at all happy about so they are now suing users.

Kodi (formally XBMC) is a media center platform where developers have made thousands of plugins that deliver the latest movies, TV series, pay per view sport, porn, documentaries etc. for free to your device.

It is like having access to every single video media out there, and not all of it is pirated content but a large selection of it is.

Because of the rapid growth of streaming on Kodi and other similar service like Popcorn Time, the movie studios have started to employ lawyers and are suing thousands of people around the word for downloading and streaming pirated content.

anonymity tools

You can really get hit with a massive fine for doing so if they can find out your IP address. This is where a VPN can save you a fortune.

Most VPN providers require payment, but there are some that offer a trial version, and a couple of them offer free limited versions.

Be aware that the free VPN’s are usually shit and slow, especially if you try to stream video.

Why is Tor not enough for Deep Web Anonymity?

The Onion Router, or Tor, is a network of volunteer computers (routers) that provide secure and anonymous connection to the Internet.

 

The data which user sends from his computer to the destination and vice versa are being encrypted in each of the three routers which stand in-between user’s computer and the destination.

It is used by governments, journalists, bloggers, whistleblowers, but also by drug dealers who are selling illicit drugs at the so called darknet markets.

The fall of the Silk Road, the first and the largest darknet market; the arrest of Ross Ulbricht; the affairs of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden – who were all using Tor for their anonymity and various other reasons caused the general trust in Tor to decrease.

Some evidence suggests that a great deal of Tor nodes are being controlled by the NSA.

Once the node is controlled, the process of revealing one’s identity is easy and straightforward.

This has been proven by a group of hackers who previously hacked Play Station Network and Xbox network; after these attacks, the group announced that they are going after Tor Network, which they considered a huge challenge.

In just a couple of weeks hackers managed to take control of 3000 routers, and they revealed more than 95% of users’ identities!

The fact that Tor’s exit nodes (routers) are having some security issues is also admitted by the founders of Tor network, and it was the main reason why Agora, once a well-knowndarknet market, has stopped their operation.

Another more recent example of the tor Network being cracked is in 2015 the FEDS cracked Tor with the help of a University computer science department to catch users on the darknet markets.
They did this effectively and ended up catching tons of people doing illegal activities on the Deep Web who were then prosecuted.

This is an example of what can happen if you only rely on Tor for anonymity on the Deep Web.

How is VPN used?

If you are browsing the deep web using Tor, the best solution is to use both, Tor and VPN.

You should use Tor namely because it is the only browser that can access hidden services of the deep web and .onion URLs; VPN should be used for security reasons.

VPN is very useful even if you are not using Tor, and you are concerned about your online privacy and safety.

Tor and VPN can be used in two ways.

1. The first and less safe way is to connect your computer to the VPN and then start Tor. This way, the target website has no means to learn your IP address but your ISP will know that you are using a VPN, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing; however, if you are suspicious to the authorities for any reason, the VPN provider would have to disclose your log files.

 

So, your connection will look like this: Computer –> VPN -> Tor -> Internet

2. Another way to do this is to let Tor encrypt your connection towards the VPN server first; from the VPN your connection returns to Tor; then once again to the VPN and finally to the Internet.

This way, your ISP has no idea that you are using a VPN, and your VPN provider also has no record of your activities; your target website doesn’t have access to your exit node and you have the maximum level of protection!

So, your connection looks like this: Computer -> Tor Encrypted VPN -> Tor -> VPN -> Internet

3. There is another way that is really for the paranoid that offers insanely good anonymity and privacy.

You need a special router with DD-WRT firmware installed on it (you can buy these pretty easily) and then you have the VPN running on this so all of your internet connected to it is encrypted from the beginning, then you use tor and then you use your desktop VPN client to further encrypt in a separate location.
VPN Router (location 1) -> Computer-> Tor -> PC VPN (location 2) -> Internet.

On what devices can you use a VPN?

Most VPN providers have made their products available for multiple devices.

So, they support PC and Mac, and also smart devices; some can even work on routers.

However, there are some VPN services that can work only on a limited set of devices.

Benefits of using a VPN

Using a VPN has a lot of advantages, even if you are not a Deep Web visitor.

1. Browse the Deep Web with much better anonymity and security than just Tor.

2. Stream and download anything without LE or your ISP knowing and logging.

3. Access blocked content like YouTube, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Gmail etc. in countries where they are blocked.

4. Hide your Tor usage from your ISP. This helps so when they see you are using Tor they log your usage. LE can then use this to link you to activity on the dark web as they make a profile for you like a digital fingerprint.

5. Use to access GEO blocked content like different versions of Netflix, HULU, HBO NOW, BBC, Spotify, Pandora Radio.

6. You will be safer while browsing the internet; your IP address will be hidden, and hackers, malware, and other attackers will have a hard time getting information about you and probably won’t be able to get anything unless you give it on your own.

 

7. If you’re running a network, you have a reason more to use a VPN, since it won’t protect just one computer, but a whole bunch – together with your valuable documents, all your hard work will be protected.

8. VPN has no access restrictions, therefore, you will be able to browse all your favorite web applications including email and chat clients, etc.

As a bonus, if your country doesn’t have access to certain web content, VPN will enable them for you by default.

This is particularly handy in China, for example, where various services and websites are blocked by the government: Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, even Google itself shows selective results.

9. ISPs are cooperating with NSA and FBI and other LE agencies, and if your web behavior becomes suspicious, by any particular reason, most probably you are going to be monitored.

Privacy is the biggest benefit of VPN. If you choose a VPN that doesn’t keep logs, you will be able to hide all your internet activity from your ISP and therefore are able to browse safely. Not only that, but you will also be able to download whatever you like, even torrents.

10. Another benefit is that all your connections will be encrypted and even if someone obtains some information about your online activity, it will unreadable.

Drawbacks of Using a VPN

In comparison to benefits, there aren’t many drawbacks of using a VPN; but without listing the little drawbacks that exist, you wouldn’t have gained an objective picture.

And besides, there ARE some disadvantages.

Speed is probably the biggest drawback, especially if you live in areas where you have a bad connection already.

A good VPN will not slow down your connection dramatically.

The free versions of VPN’s are usually the slowest and to be honest, shit house.

Some free VPN’s like HOLA VPN were found out to even steal your internet and sell it off to others who then used it to spam people!

Encryption will also slow things down, but you shouldn’t look at encryption as something bad, even if you have to wait a second or two more for the page to load.

Another big drawback is that you won’t be able to use PayPal with VPN – PayPal simply doesn’t allow it.

What’s more, if you keep trying despite the warnings, your account might get suspended! So, you’ll have to find some alternatives to PayPal if you want to do some online deep web shopping.

 

What to Look for in a VPN?

VPNRatings_Blog_WhattoLookforVPNVPN providers have different packages and different prices and opting for the right one isn’t always easy.

So, here are some tips that will hopefully help you to determine which VPN suits your needs best.

1. The most important thing you want to know about your VPN provider is whether they keep logs or not.

Most of them claim that they are not, but it is known that VPN providers, such as HideMyAss, forwarded the log files to the LE at least on one occasion even though they claimed that they were not keeping logs.

You must know that none of these companies are willing to lose their business just because you have done something illegal. So, be very mindful of this.

2. The other important thing to consider is whether they have a kill switch or not. The kill switch will disconnect you from the internet if you lose connection with the VPN and your privacy won’t be compromised at all.

3.When speaking of privacy, if you want to stay truly anonymous on the web, along with using tools such as VPN and Tor, you will also need to purchase your VPN anonymously, and the easiest way to manage this is by using bitcoins.

So, your ideal VPN provider should accept bitcoins as payment. Bitcoins are ideal cryptocurrency for staying anonymous since they cannot be traced and they are not connected to your bank account.

4. One of the crucial things is whether the VPN of your choice is the Tier1 (aka. Top Tier) provider or not. This means that they own and manage their own servers and network. There are hardly any of these providers on the market.

If they are not a Tier 1 provider then they rent rack space in hosting companies to run their VPN’s and they outsource their server maintenance and upkeep to the hosting company, this means they can not 100% guarantee they integrity of the severs and say they are not being tampered with. How could they? They don’t know because they don’t even see the server.

If you want to learn more about VPN and see the list of the best VPN providers, please visit https://topvpnsoftware.com.

Please note that the purpose of this article is not to encourage anyone to download anything illegal from the internet or engage in any illegal activities online; the purpose of this article is purely informative.

Source : darkwebnews

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Since the the revelations of Edward Snowden, we’ve all become a bit more paranoid about digital security and privacy. Snowden himself hasn’t owned a smartphone since he blew the whistle on the NSA’s illegal tracking actions in 2014 for fear of being tracked. Still, as Joseph Heller wrote in Catch-22, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”.

To that length, Snowden has now partnered with hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang to build a case for your iPhone 6. Once installed, it will alert you if the phone is broadcasting when it shouldn’t. The primary purpose is to protect journalists who are reporting in dangerous parts of the world like Marie Colvin who, in 2012, was killed by artillery fire. The Syrian military has been accused by Colvin’s family of targeting her using her mobile device.

Snowden’s device is not yet on the market, but there are still ways out there that make it easier to protect yourself and your phone from snooping.

1. Hardware Level Encryption

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iOS has long supported hardware level encryption, and every new version seems to support more features. Android encrypts your storage by default ever since version 5.0 Marshmallow. In both cases they encrypt your data and can only be unlocked by the hardware in your phone.

However, it’s only as strong as your key. Setting up a lock code more complex than ‘1234’ or your birthday is one of the best security devices you can have.

2. Biometric scanning hardware

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Why have passwords and codes to unlock your phone when fingerprint readers are on the newest iPhones and flagship Android phones? Securely unlocking your device is as quick as pressing a button. Iris scanners are the new biometric scanner toy, and is currently a unique feature on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. It’s far more secure than fingerprint scanning, but early reports indicate that it’s slower and more inconvenient. Even so, thieves will have a hard time replicating your iris in order to access your data so iris scanning might be your best option.

3. Smartphone technology

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You can put your phone in Airplane Mode or you can hold the power button and turn it off. However, Edward Snowden rightly believes that malware can be installed on your device to simulate those features while still reporting your location. The only way to be sure your phone isn’t talking to the wrong people is to yank the battery.

Phones like new LG G5 are doing some things to work around that. The flagship smartphone was redesigned to take advantage of LG Friends products, which are modular accessories that add special features to your phone. The accessories haven’t really taken off, but it gives the G5 the unique ability to pop the battery out with the push of a button. It also has a fingerprint reader and the newest Android with encrypted data protection built in.

When it’s turned off you can’t use the camera, microphone, or notepad features that make a smartphone so useful when acting covertly. You’ll have to check how safe you are, then with a quick pop the battery is back in and you can get recording.

4.Encrypted Instant Messenger

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There are dozens, maybe hundreds of Instant Messaging apps out there. We all have our favorite, and our friends have theirs (which we have too just to use just to stay in contact). If you want to be sure that only you and your recipient will be able to read your conversation, you need to use Signal (available for iOS and Android).

 

 

Once you install it, the app checks your contacts and immediately connects you to anyone else who has the app installed. There are no animated stickers here. The design is minimal and fits right in with Android or iOS’s design specs.

If your friends are unwilling to part with their IM app-of-choice, you have to do your research. WhatsApp supports encryption using the same algorithm used in Signal, but they were acquired by Facebook in 2014 and that makes some users uncomfortable. Google’s forthcoming Allo app will replace Hangouts, but only enables end-to-end encryption with Incognito Mode conversations and are deleted when the conversation ends. Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime both support end-to-end encryption as well. Just make sure to encrypt your backups because all your conversations will wind up there.

5. Anti-Virus Software

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.33.17 AM.png

No sooner than someone says an operating system is virus-proof than someone tries to write a virus for it. While not the plague it was for desktop computers in the 90s, viruses are still a very real possibility even if you only download from the official Apple or Google app stores.

 

To that end, there are several anti-virus apps that sit in the background and scan every app that comes through the doors. Lookout Security & Antivirus is one of the grandaddies on the mobile platform. It’s available on Android and iOS for free and remains one of the highest ranked antivirus apps. Additional features are unlocked for $2.99 a month or $29.99 annually.

6. Password Safes 

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.19.05 AM.png

Thinking up a new password for every email address, e-card site, and cat video portal is exhausting. Eventually, you start to recycle passwords. It then only takes one hacked Sony or LinkedIn to expose your accounts on every site where that password is used. Password managers like 1Password and LastPass securely store your passwords, and release them only when authorized by a master password or fingerprint reader.

While they can store your weakly generated and repeated passwords, password safes can also randomize unique passwords for each site. Securely storing ‘passw0rd123’ is good, but no hacker will guess a 16-digit random collection of letters and numbers. Since they will automatically populate username and password fields in your browser or apps, you’ll never need to type it in either. Both 1Password and LastPass can be installed on your desktop browsers so you have full access to those secure sites everywhere.

7. DTEK by Blackberry

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.20.02 AM.png

You’ve set a secure password on your lock screen, you’ve turned off Google’s tracking, you disable WiFi when outside the house, but there’s still lots of work to do. Just one year ago privacy experts found that simply having Uber installed on your phone could send buckets of your data to their servers, even if you weren’t using the app.

Enter DTEK by Blackberry. It will scan all potential security breaches on your phone. If an app decides to turn on your microphone, DTEK flashes you a warning. Most of the time it will probably be okay, but that one time it’s not you’ll appreciate the warning.

DTEK keeps a log of the access each app receives and reports back to you how many times it has, for example, read your contacts. It even has Factory Reset Protection, which stops thieves from wiping your device to prevent you from tracking it. All this security sounds like a lot of work, but that’s the beautiful thing about DTEK. The clean interface makes it all very simple for the casual user.

Sadly, the DTEK app requires deep access to the phone’s OS. That’s only possible for Blackberry on their own devices; the Blackberry PRIV and DTEK50. Both are Android phones with hardware features comparable to other high-end and mid-range Android flagships. If Blackberry decides at the end of the year to get out of the hardware game, the DTEK software may be opened to other devices.

8. Tracking software

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.21.42 AM.png

Sometimes, tracking your phone is a good thing. Your phone goes missing, and all your photos, notes and interview recordings are on there.

For at least a few years, both iOS and Android have had tracking software built into your phones in case they get lost or stolen. Using iCloud.com (link), iPhone users can locate their device, lock the screen, lock the activation (so it can’t be resold and reactivated), or remotely wipe the device clean.

When logged into your Google account, a simple search engine query of “Find my phone” will bring up a map for any of your registered devices. From the web-based interface you can force it to ring (even if the sound is off). Useful for when you just can’t find it around house, or when you know the thief is nearby and you want it to send up a flare. From here you can also reset the password, or completely lock out the device.

 

 

9. VPN

A Virtual Private Network sits between you and the Internet. It’s like a butler that goes out, gets the newspaper, and returns without anyone knowing you like reading supermarket tabloids. VPNs can be used to keep your information anonymous when visiting web sites, place you in different countries (so you can watch Netflix’s BBC lineup), and most importantly, encrypt your data transfer.

Avoid free VPNs. If you don’t know how they’re making money, then they might be making money on you. Spring the few bucks a month it takes to secure all your connections in and out of your smartphone with a service like NordVPN. Is one level of encryption not good enough? NordVPN offers Double VPN which runs AES-256-CBC encryption on your data transfers two times at the expense of some speed. The feature is optional and can be enabled for those times when you’re feeling as paranoid as Edward Snowden. The service is $8 per month, or $69 for the year.

Source : https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/08/9-ways-to-secure-your-smartphone.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy
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