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[Source: This article was Published in ibvpn.com By IBVPN TEAM - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Alex Gray] 

Since when are you an Internet user? For quite a while, right?

How many times have you asked yourself which are the dangers that might hide at the other side of your connection and how a VPN software can help you? You’re about to read this article which means you’ve asked yourself this question at least once.

This article will give you all the information you need to know about the advantages of VPN plus a list of tips and tricks that will make your life easier.

Are you ready?

By the way, if you are aware of the benefits a VPN brings, it’s time to start using it!

Get ibVPN!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The VPN (Virtual Private Network) technology came as an answer to individuals’ request to protect their online activities and to maintain their online confidentiality.

Besides this functionality, the technology helps internet users access restricted content from anywhere in the world, with just a click of a mouse.

Therefore, we can say that a VPN is a secure solution that allows its users to send and receive data via the internet while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of their data, based on its encryption level. The cherry on top is that a VPN will unblock the internet, by providing you the most-wanted Internet freedom that you deserve.

It’s obvious that because of people’s security need and especially because of the need for sending encrypted data over a network, the VPN technology has been developed. But besides the role of creating a “private scope of computer communications,” VPN technology has many other advantages:

  1. Enhanced security. When you connect to the network through a VPN, the data is kept secured and encrypted. In this way, the information is away from the hackers’ eyes.

  2. Remote control. In the case of a company, the great advantage of having a VPN is that the information can be accessed remotely even from home or from any other place. That’s why a VPN can increase productivity within a company.

  3. Share files. A VPN service can be used if you have a group that needs to share data for an extended period.

  4. Online anonymity. Through a VPN you can browse the web in complete anonymity. Compared to hide IP software or web proxies, the advantage of a VPN service is that it allows you to access both web applications and websites in complete anonymity.

  5. Unblock websites & bypass filters. VPNs are great for accessing blocked websites or for bypassing Internet filters. This is why there is an increased number of VPN services used in countries where Internet censorship is applied.

  6. Change IP address. If you need an IP address from another country, then a VPN can provide you this.

  7. Better performance. Bandwidth and efficiency of the network can generally be increased once a VPN solution is implemented.

  8. Reduce costs. Once a VPN network is created, the maintenance cost is very low. More than that, if you opt for a service provider, the network setup and surveillance is no more a concern.

Here is how your connection looks while using a VPN!

Advantages of VPN_your connection

Other things you need to know:

The advantages and benefits of a VPN are clear, let’s find out how to choose your VPN service and your new VPN service provider.

As a future VPN user, keep something in mind: the process of choosing and buying a VPN service should work the same as the process of doing a regular purchase.

Public networks are a real threat. The private networks are not very safe either because your internet service provider can throw an eye on anything you do. You can never be sure if you’re about to connect to a secured network unless you keep your internet activity safe.

So, no matter if you are looking for a VPN to encrypt your traffic while browsing the internet, to bypass geo-restrictions or you’re just the kind of person who likes to save some bucks while buying plane tickets, here’s what you future VPN should provide:

  • Free VPN Trial. Yes, maybe you’ve done some research on your own and saw those Five Best VPN articles all around the web. These articles are useful because are providing you information about VPN services at affordable prices, their performance, and features. When you can test these services by yourself, the experience is even better. That’s why is important to choose a VPN that provides you with a Free VPN Trial.

  • Speed. Do you have the patience to wait tons of seconds for your page to load while using a VPN? No, who has? Always look for the VPN that improves your internet connectivity, not slows it down!

  • Connectivity and reliability. Before buying a VPN service, you have to make sure that it assures you a safe/without drops connection.

  • The number of servers. The number of servers is an important thing for you to look into a VPN service. Before subscribing to a VPN provider, make sure it provides you a large number of servers around the globe.

  • Apps is compatible with various operating systems. I’m sure about one thing – you have more than one device you use to surf the web. There’s a significant probability for your devices do have different operating systems. An important thing that you should keep in mind is that your VPN provider should be able to meet your need by providing you with apps compatible with as many operating systems as possible.

  • The number of simultaneous connections. We are (almost) always online from more than one device, that’s why the number of concurrent connection is important.

  • Customer support. Not all of us are tech-savvy and, from time to time, even the experienced ones need help and guidance. Choosing a VPN provider with outstanding customer support is mandatory. Look for a VPN that allows you to contact the support via e-mail, support ticket systems and live chat. You will thank us later for this tip! ?

  • Privacy policy. One of the primary purposes of a VPN is to keep your online activities away from the curious eyes of any third party. If you don’t allow your ISP to spy on you, why would you let your VPN service provider do it? Choose a VPN service that has a transparent way of saying and doing things and make sure it won’t keep any connection logs. So, always check their Privacy Policy first, before subscribing!

  • Check their reviews page. We were mentioning above some things about the VPN reviews websites. Those websites are doing their reviews based on some tests. Wouldn’t be awesome to be able to find out what the actual customers of a VPN provider have to say about the service and its performance? Here’s a tip: if your future VPN service provider has its own reviews page, throw an eye on it.

Are you ready for some action?

Now that you know which are the advantages of a VPN, their value, and how you should choose one, it’s time for some action.

If you’re curious to test on your own the benefits of a VPN, you can do it for free, right now.
ibVPN is the perfect choice for those who care about their online privacy and freedom.

What do you have to do? It’s easy:

  1. Create a trial account – no credit card required

  2. Download a suitable app for your device(s)

  3. Enjoy a secure and open internet by connecting to one of the 180+ servers we are providing.

If you’re happy with the performance of our service, you can always subscribe to one of our premium plans.

Go Premium!

Keep in mind that a VPN has its limitations too!

Just like any other thing in this world, a VPN service has its advantages and disadvantages.

So, if you’re not an experienced technician or if you’re trying a security solution aka a VPN for the very first time, make sure you won’t dig that deep into the VPN’s settings. Before doing advanced settings into your app, please make sure you know what you’re doing otherwise, you might risk having leaks or your activity exposed.

Another thing that you should know if that, from time to time, a VPN can have connection drops. These drops are perfectly normal, that’s why you should make sure you’re connecting to a server that’s not overloaded.

Tips and tricks.

We want to make sure you make the most out of your VPN service, that’s why we have a list of tips and tricks which will help you a lot.

We have over 15 years of experience in providing our customers with security solutions so, listen to the old ones this time. ?

  1. KillSwitch. To assure the safety of your network connection, a VPN offers (or it should provide) features that enhance your level of security. One of these features is the KillSwitch. If you have never heard about it before, this feature assures your safety in case of connection drops. There are two kinds of KillSwitches: The Internet KillSwitch which will block your internet traffic in case of VPN drops and the Application Killswitch which ensures you that a list of selected apps will be closed, in case your VPN connection drops. So, for a secure connection, always use the KillSwitch!

  2. Use P2P servers. Some of you might use a VPN service to download torrents safely. To avoid any problems with your ISP, use only the P2P server for such activities!

  3. Use Double VPN. If you’re lucky enough to have Double VPN servers in your list, make sure you use them. Double VPN technology allows you to browse anonymously by connecting to a chain of VPN servers. In simple words: VPN on top of VPN (or VPN tunnel inside another VPN tunnel). Double VPN is all about VPN tunnels and levels of security and encryption. Isn’t it awesome?

  4. Use Stealth VPN or SSTP protocols. If you’re living in a country with a high censorship level and your connection gets blocked even if you use a VPN, make sure you change the protocol and try to use Stealth VPN or SSTP. These two VPN protocols are high-speed and secure and, for example, Stealth VPNwill mask your VPN traffic and will make it look like regular web traffic. In this way, you can bypass any restriction or firewall.

  5. Use VPN + Tor. Since Tor is used to mask very sensitive information, the frequent use of this browser might light the bulb of your ISP and mark you for surveillance. That’s why the safe way is to connect to a VPN server while using the Tor browser.

  6. Leak protection. Check your VPN app’s settings and, if it allows you, make sure you check all the options that keep you away from any leak (DNS leaks, IPv6 leak protection, etc.).

  7. Use the VPN on your mobile devices too. It’s not enough to keep it safe only when you use a laptop. Public wifis are real threats that’s why you should always be connected to a VPN.

  8. Test the server network before connecting. Why are we saying this? Well, this practice assures you that you will connect to the fastest server for you. And who doesn’t love a fast server?

  9. Use browser extensions. A browser extension is a super useful tool. There are cases when you need to change your IP fast and easy and to open your app, entering your details and choosing the desired server is somehow complicated, and it takes time. If your VPN provider provides you not only VPN clients compatible with different operating systems but browser extensions too, make sure you use them…

  10. Smart DNS. This neat and useful technology allows you to access blocked streaming channels, regardless of your region. If your VPN provider has such an option, make sure you use it to watch your favorite media content while you’re far away from home.

  11. Save money by using a VPN. Who doesn’t like traveling? Here’s a piece of advice: search online for a flight, compare the prices and then go back to the page you have initially accessed. There are 80% chances that the rates have been increased. If you’re wondering how this is even possible, let us explain. Some online ticket agencies have preferential prices for different countries. Save some extra bucks using a VPN!

Are you still here?

As you can see, the discussion about VPN technology and its advantages is so complicated. We could talk about it for days.

What you should keep in mind after reading this article is that no matter if you’re looking for the best option to browse anonymously, to unblock your favorite online content, to download torrents or to watch for the cheapest plane tickets, a VPN can always help you.

Besides its disadvantages, a VPN has tons of advantages, and it allows you to keep your personal information safe in the first place.

There are lots of fishes in the sea, make sure you choose the one that meets your needs.

Always browse safely!

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in popsci.com written by David Nield - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Joshua Simon]

BROWSING HISTORY

Many sites keep tabs on your past searches.

rawpixel via Pixabay

Every time you run a search online, the websites where you maintain an account can record that information. This data—collected and stored by search engines like Google, social media networks like Facebook, and retail giants like Amazon—won't disappear when you erase your browser's search history.

Ostensibly, these sites use your search history to assemble a profile of you, allowing them to show you content or products that will appeal to your interests. Conveniently for these tech companies, better understanding your preferences also lets them serve you targeted advertisements. On the bright side, a service can only collect this information while you're logged into your account for that site. Still, if you're uncomfortable with this record of your past searches, or you don't want them to influence your future browsing (maybe you've run a lot of queries for camping accessories but no longer want to see ads for related products), you can scrub them from existence.

To do so, you'll have to go through your accounts one by one. Here's how to purge your search history on some of the biggest and most popular search engines, social media networks, and retail websites.

Google

When you search for something in one of Google's services—which include email, mapping, calendars, messaging, file storage, video, and more—the service logs all of that information. Your search history helps the tech company tailor your search results. For example, if you rarely look up sports-related terms, a new search for "dolphins" is more likely to relate to the aquatic mammals rather than Miami's NFL team. Your data also tells Google which ads are more likely to get you to click.

To erase this information, head to Google's My Account page and log in. Among the many options, you'll find pages on account privacy, data logging, and security. Click Go to my activity followed by Filter by date & product. Here, you can view your search history, which appears on a separate page for each Google product. For example, one page lets you view your search engine history, another displays YouTube searches, and you can even check out your spoken Google Home queries.

Pick one of these categories—we recommend that you start with the main Google search engine, accessed by choosing Search. Next, highlight the results you'd like to erase and click the menu button (three dots) to the top right of the list. Finally, hit Delete results. When a confirmation screen pops up, click Delete again, and Google will erase the information you've highlighted. To delete individual entries, look for the smaller menu buttons next to each item on the list. From this menu, you can delete an entry directly.

Bing

Not everyone relies on Google to search the web. If you use Microsoft's Bing search engine instead, you can still clear your history.

First, head to the website and click Sign in. Then click the menu button (three horizontal lines) on the top right, followed by Search history and then View and delete search history. This will take you to a new privacy page on the Microsoft website. Click View and clear search historyClear activity, and then Clear. If you'd rather remove entries from the list one by one, click on any individual Delete button.

This page also lets Microsoft Edge users delete their web browser history. Microsoft stores your browsing history online, as well as within the Edge application on your computer, to make it easier to sync your activity across multiple devices. To erase this information as well, go back to the main menu, select Browse from the list on the left, and then hit Clear activity followed by Clear.

Facebook

While you're poking around Facebook, you may search for a page that interests you, a friend's name, or an event. To view all of your recent queries, open the Facebook website and click on the search box at the top of the page. If you'd like to erase these searches, click the Edit button to the right of the results.

This will bring up a screen that shows a complete log of everything you've ever looked up on Facebook. To remove one entry, click the Edit icon (the no-entry symbol) on the right of the entry, then choose Delete and confirm by hitting Remove search.

To blitz everything in your Facebook search history at once, click Clear Searches on the top right. Then confirm by choosing Clear Searches again on the pop-up window that appears. This will erase all your past queries from Facebook's servers.

Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter records your recent searches so you can easily access them again. It also lets you delete them.

Visit the Twitter website and click the Search Twitter box at the top of the page. This will pull up your most recent queries, as well as your saved searches—keywords you've told Twitter to save in case you want to run them multiple times. To save a current search, click the three vertical dots to its right and hit Save this search.

However, if you'd prefer to clear your searches, the process is easy. Simply click the Xbutton to the right of any recent or saved search to remove it from the list, no confirmation screen needed. To erase all recent searches in one go, click Clear All. However, this only deletes your recently-run searches—your saved searches will remain untouched.

Amazon

Unlike the other sites on this list, Amazon doesn't keep a log of your search terms—at least, not one you can scroll through and examine. Instead, it records every item you look at on the site. This record influences your recommendations, as well as the ads that appear.

To see everything you've clicked on the site, head to the Amazon website, look at the toolbar at the top of the page, and click Browsing History followed by Your Browsing History. The results will appear in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest.

Now, to erase them. Click Remove next to any item to, well, remove it. This can help you get rid of one-off purchases that you don't want to receive any more ads about. You can also go nuclear and clear everything at once: Click Manage history followed by Remove all items. When the confirmation screen appears, choose to Remove all items again.

If you'd prefer to have Amazon stop tracking your browsing history, look under the Manage history heading. Then turn off the toggle switch.

Categorized in Search Techniques

[This article is originally published in cointelegraph.com written by Connor Blenkinsop - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Deborah Tannen]

cryptocurrency exchange says it is prioritizing the privacy of its users — eliminating the “tedious” registration steps imposed by other websites.

BitConvert argues that some rival platforms ask for too many personal details when they are bringing new users on board and says this can make consumers uncomfortable when they are in pursuit of absolute anonymity.

The company also claims such excessive registration procedures actively undermine the purpose of coins that were designed to deliver privacy.

According to BitConvert, its users have the ability to “instantly exchange coins” without being required to register an account with the website. At present, it supports the exchange of Bitcoin and ZCash (ZEC).

ZCash — which, at the time of writing, is the 22nd-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap — describes itself as a “privacy protecting digital currency built on strong science.” The coin’s founders say that its infrastructure ensures personal details remain completely confidential — all without compromising transaction data being posted to a public blockchain. “Selective disclosure features” also enable consumers to share transaction details for audit or compliance purposes.

BitConvert says that it plans to support more cryptocurrencies in the not-too-distant future, all while remaining loyal to its mantra of “anonymous, fast, safe.” Ethereum — along with Monero, another coin that places an emphasis on privacy — are specifically named as two coins that are in the pipeline.

Quick transactions

The privacy-led exchange says that most transactions can be fully completed and confirmed within an hour — and in many cases, execution times can be as little as five to 30 minutes. While two block confirmations are required for Bitcoin, a total of five are needed for ZCash.

BitConvert stresses that its rationale behind eliminating the need for creating a user account is to “fully protect privacy” — and to this end, no personal information is collected when a transaction is taking place, including IP addresses. The company says that it promises these features will not change “so long as our platform is operating,” in an attempt to build trust among users. Data such as the transaction hash, address and amount are kept on record — but this is only to ensure that support can be provided to the consumer in the event there is a complication with a payment.

The company says it hopes to blend anonymity with simplicity. It monitors the best rates for Bitcoin and ZCash on a plethora of other platforms, such as Binance and Bitfinex, to ensure its users get the best deal.

Given how BitConvert users do not have their own account, the platform says it has taken a strong stance on security — making sure that its services are protected using strong security protocols, while also striking partnerships with dependable trading platforms.

Send and go

BitConvert sets out the procedure for using its exchange in three simple steps. Firstly, users select the crypto trading pair they wish to use (at present, it is limited to Bitcoin and ZCash). From here, they set out how much crypto they wish to convert along with their wallet address. Finally, the user can send their funds to BitConvert and complete the exchange. When it comes to the destination for converted coins, the company recommends its clients “only use trusted services in order to avoid losing their funds.”

Privacy has long been a buzzword in the crypto world — and contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin does not necessarily offer its users the anonymity they might expect. Instead, the leading cryptocurrency delivers something known as “pseudonymity,” meaning that consumers only have the opportunity to obfuscate their real identities rather than hide them altogether.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in fastcompany.com written by KATHARINE SCHWAB - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Wushe Zhiyang]

You’re probably sick of hearing about data and privacy by now–especially because, if you live in the United States, you might feel like there’s very little you can do to protect yourself from giant corporations feeding off your time, interests, and personal information.

So how do you walk the line between taking advantage of the internet’s many benefits while protecting yourself from the corporate interests that aim to use your data for gain? This is the push-and-pull I’ve had with myself over the past year, as I’ve grappled with the revelations that Cambridge Analytica has the personal data of more than 50 million Americans, courtesy of Facebook, and used it to manipulate people in the 2016 elections. I’ve watched companies shut down their European branches because Europe’s data privacy regulations invalidate their business models. And given the number of data breaches that have occurred over the past decade, there’s a good chance that malicious hackers have my info–and if they don’t, it’s only a matter of time.

Mozilla

While the amount of data about me may not have caused harm in my life yet–as far as I know–I don’t want to be the victim of monopolistic internet oligarchs as they continue to cash in on surveillance-based business models. What’s a concerned citizen of the internet to do? Here’s one no-brainer: Stop using Chrome and switch to Firefox.

Google already runs a lot of my online life–it’s my email, my calendar, my go-to map, and all my documents. I use Duck Duck Go as my primary search engine because I’m aware of how much information about myself I voluntarily give to Google in so many other ways. I can’t even remember why I decided to use Chrome in the first place. The browser has become such a default for American internet users that I never even questioned it. Chrome has about 60% of the browser market, and Firefox has only 10%. But why should I continue to use the company’s browser, which acts as literally the window through which I experience much of the internet, when its incentives–to learn a lot about me so it can sell advertisements–don’t align with mine?

Firefox launched in 2004. It’s not a new option among internet privacy wonks. But I only remembered it existed recently while reporting on data privacy. Unlike Chrome, Firefox is run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organization that advocates for a “healthy” internet. Its mission is to help build an internet in an open-source manner that’s accessible to everyone–and where privacy and security are built in. Contrast that to Chrome’s privacy policy, which states that it stores your browsing data locally unless you are signed in to your Google account, which enables the browser to send that information back to Google. The policy also states that Chrome allows third-party websites to access your IP address and any information that the site has tracked using cookies. If you care about privacy at all, you should ditch the browser that supports a company using data to sell advertisements and enabling other companies to track your online movements for one that does not use your data at all.

Though Mozilla itself is a nonprofit, Firefox is developed within a corporation owned by the nonprofit. This enables the Mozilla Corporation to collect revenue to support its development of Firefox and other internet services. Ironically, Mozilla supports its developers using revenue from Google, which pays the nonprofit to have Google Search as Firefox’s default search engine. That’s not its sole revenue: Mozilla also has other agreements with search engines around the world, like Baidu in China, to be the default search engine in particular locations. But because it relies on these agreements rather than gathering user data so it can sell advertisements, the Mozilla Corporation has a fundamentally different business model than Google. Internet service providers pay Mozilla, rather than Mozilla having to create revenue out of its user base. It’s more of a subscription model than a surveillance model, and users always have the choice to change their search engine to whichever they prefer.

I spoke to Madhava Enros, the senior director of Firefox UX, and Peter Dolanjski, a product manager for Firefox, to learn more about how Mozilla’s browser builds privacy into its architecture. Core to their philosophy? Privacy and convenience don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Instead, Firefox’s designers and developers try to make the best decision on behalf of the user, while always leaning toward privacy first. “We put the user first in terms of privacy,” Dolanjski says. “We do not collect personally identifiable data, not what you do or what websites you go to.”

That’s not just lip service like it often is when companies like Facebook claim that users are in control of their data. For instance, Firefox protects you from being tracked by advertising networks across websites, which has the lovely side effect of making sites load faster. “As you move from website to website, advertising networks essentially follow you so they can see what you’re doing so they can serve you targeted advertisements,” Dolanjski says. “Firefox is the only [major] browser out of the box that prevents that from happening.” The browser’s Tracking Protection feature automatically blocks a list of common trackers in private browsing mode and can be enabled to run all the time, something you need a specific, third-party browser extension to do on Chrome.

The “out of the box” element of Firefox’s privacy protection is crucial. Chrome does give you many privacy controls, but the default for most of them is to allow Google to collect the greatest amount of information about you as possible. For instance, Google Chrome gives users the option to tell every website you go to not to track you, but it’s not automatically turned on. Firefox offers the same function to add a “Do Not Track” tag to every site you visit–but when I downloaded the browser, the default was set to “always.”

Firefoxs privacy protection

Because Chrome settings that don’t encourage privacy are the default, users are encouraged to leave them as they are from the get-go, and likely don’t understand what data Google vacuums up. Even if you do care, reading through Google Chrome’s 13,500-word privacy white paper, which uses a lot of technical jargon and obfuscates exactly what data the browser is tracking, isn’t helpful either. When I reached out to Google with questions about what data Chrome tracks, the company sent me that white paper but didn’t answer any of my specific questions.

One downside to using Firefox is that many browser extensions are built primarily for Chrome–my password manager luckily has a Firefox extension but it often causes the browser to crash. However, Mozilla also builds extensions you can use exclusively on Firefox. After the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica firestorm, Firefox released an extension called the Facebook Container, which allows you to browse Facebook or Instagram normally, but prevents Facebook from tracking where you went when you left the site–and thus stops the company from tracking you around the web and using that information to build out a more robust personal profile of you.

Mozilla Firefox released an extension called the Facebook Container

Firefox isn’t even Mozilla’s most private browser. The nonprofit also has a mobile-only browser called Firefox Focus that basically turns Firefox’s private browsing mode (akin to incognito browsing on Chrome, but with much less data leakage) into a full-fledged browser on its own. Privacy is built right into Focus’s UX: There’s a large “erase” button on every screen that lets you delete all of your histories with a single tap.

Firefox’s private browsing mode also has a feature called “origin referrer trimming,” where the browser automatically deletes the information about which site you’re coming from when you land on the next page. Focus also blocks any analytics services that would take this information. “The user doesn’t need to think about that,” Dolanjski says. “It’s not heavily advertised, but it’s the little decisions we make along the way that meant the user doesn’t have to make the choice”–or even know what origin referrer trimming is in the first place.

Firefoxs private browsing mode

Many of these decisions, both in Firefox and in Focus, are to guard against what Enros calls the “uncanny valley” of internet browsing–when ads follow you around the internet for weeks. “I buy a toaster, and now it feels like the internet has decided I’m a toaster enthusiast and I want to hear about toasters for the rest of my life,” he says. “It’s not a scary thing. I’m not scared of toasters, but it’s in an uncanny valley in which I wonder what kinds of decisions they’re making about me.”

Ultimately, Firefox’s designers have the leeway to make these privacy-first decisions because Mozilla’s motivations are fundamentally different from Google’s. Mozilla is a nonprofit with a mission, and Google is a for-profit corporation with an advertising-based business model. To a large degree, Google’s business model relies on users giving up their data, making it incompatible with the kind of internet that Firefox is mission-bound to build. It comes back to money: While Firefox and Chrome ultimately perform the same service, the browsers’ developers approached their design in a radically different way because one organization has to serve a bottom line, and the other doesn’t.

That also means Firefox’s mission is aligned with its users. The browser is explicitly designed to help people like me navigate the convenience versus privacy conundrum. “To a great degree, people like us need solutions that aren’t going to detrimentally impact our convenience. This is where privacy is often difficult online,” Dolanjski says. “People say, go install this VPN, do this and do that, and add all these layers of complexity. The average user or even tech-savvy user that doesn’t have the time to do all these things will choose convenience over privacy. We try to make meaningful decisions on behalf of the user so we don’t need to put something else in front of them.”

When GDPR, the most sweeping privacy law in recent years, went into effect last week, we saw firsthand how much work companies were requiring users to do–just think of all those opt-in emails. Those emails are certainly a step toward raising people’s awareness about privacy, but I deleted almost all of them without reading them, and you probably did, too. Mozilla’s approach is to make the best decision for users’ privacy in the first place, without requiring so much effort on the users’ part.

Because who really spends any time in their privacy settings? Settings pages aren’t a good UX solution to providing clear information about how data is used, which is now required in Europe because of GDPR. “Control can’t mean the responsibility to scrutinize every possible option to keep yourself safe,” Enros says. “We assume a position to keep you safe, and then introducing more controls for experts.”

Firefox doesn’t always work better than Chrome–sometimes it’ll freeze on my older work computer, and I do need to clear my history more frequently so the browser doesn’t get too slow. But these are easy trade-offs to make, knowing that by using Firefox, my data is safe with me.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in techradar.com written by Anthony Spadafora - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Deborah Tannen]

Anonymous View protects users' privacy with every web search

In an effort to further protect its users online, privacy search engine Startpage.com has launched a new “Anonymous View” feature.

The new feature protects users against tracking by serving as an anonymous buffer between websites and end users.

Most users are aware of Google Chrome and other browsers' 'incognito mode' which prevents your browsing history as well as cookies from being stored. However, incognito mode gives users a false sense of privacy since it does not actually protect users from websites that track, save and sell their web behaviour.

Anonymous View on the other hand, actually does. When a user clicks on an Anonymous View link, Startpage.com goes to the website, loads the page and displays it for them. Though instead of seeing the user, the webpage sees Startpage as the visitor while the user remains invisible.

Protecting users' privacy

A free Anonymous View link is available to the right of every search result on Startpage.com which makes it incredibly easy for users to visit websites while protecting their privacy.

The company's CEO Robert Beens provided further insight on this new feature in a statement, saying:

"With this innovation, we make it easier for consumers to keep personal data more private than ever before. Anonymous View is easy to use and unique for any search engine," said Startpage.com CEO Robert Beens. “Unlike the incognito mode in your browser, Anonymous View really protects you. It combines searching in privacy with viewing in privacy.

“We will continue to offer the world's best search results without the tracking and profiling,” Beens promised. “We are proud of our new features together with our new design and faster results. We will continue to develop new online tools that help people take back their privacy.”

  • Take your online privacy to the next level with our top picks for the best VPN

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in techradar.com - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Clara Johnson]

Top tips to stay secure online and maintain your privacy

Staying safe online represents a significant challenge, and for families, this is even more difficult with younger internet users too often unaware of the dangers that can lurk on the web. Well, just like any sane parent would not let their child wander around Times Square on their own, neither should these same children be let loose on the internet to roam free.

It can be difficult to maintain privacy online, with more of our data flowing onto the internet, including family photos and finances, to name a couple of potentially sensitive areas. Many folks are seemingly facing challenges in this respect, as last year in the US, there were a staggering 16.7 million incidents of identity fraud, with a total of $16.8 billion (around £12.7 billion) stolen, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

While these are alarming statistics, there is plenty that can be done to keep you and your family from becoming victims. Here are six essential ways to maintain your privacy online.

1. Avoid public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi in airports, libraries, hotels and coffee shops is an attractive resource in terms of staying in touch when away from home. These are open Wi-Fi spots, and many stores have them available these days, but the problem is that they are not encrypted like your home router’s wireless connection.

When using these wireless hotspots, you should be very cautious, particularly in situations where sensitive data is transmitted, such as account credentials or financial details. This is because a process known as Wi-Fi sniffing can be carried out, and the unencrypted packets of data can be grabbed by anyone within wireless reach of the signal – this is a form of wireless eavesdropping if you will.

An additional danger is that malicious types can set up their own rogue Wi-Fi network masquerading as a legitimate free Wi-Fi spot, with the attacker being able to steal you and your family’s data.

In short, it is best to avoid using public Wi-Fi completely if possible, but potential workarounds including surfing with a VPN, or tethering to a smartphone, and encrypting the Wi-Fi signal so no unencrypted data gets transmitted. Also, don’t log into financial accounts while away from home.

2. No phishing here

Phishing scams are an attempt to extract sensitive information from an individual via a fraudulent email. Most folks know not to respond to the ‘Nigerian prince’ scam, requesting you to wire them money so you can subsequently inherit millions.

However, phishing scams are getting craftier, and now include authentic details, official logos, and originate from email addresses that seem legitimate at first glance as they include the company’s name in them.

Children using email should be warned never to respond to these emails. Also, banks and the IRS do not ask for your financial information via unsolicited emails. Good practice is for the emails in question to be forwarded to the fraud department of the respective organization which can be easily found via a web search – for Apple it is ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’ for example – and then delete the email.

Finally, if the message includes an attachment, don’t be curious and be sure to never open it, as this will inevitably infect your PC with malicious code, opening your system up to an attack.

3. VPN

VPN is an excellent tool to keep your privacy online. Rather than your data leaving the home network and going onto the internet all out in the open, instead it goes to a distant server via an encrypted tunnel that creates a high level of privacy.

This is especially useful, as mentioned above, to make using a public Wi-Fi connection more secure. This is also handy on your home connection to ensure privacy, and that includes avoiding any potential snooping from your Internet Service Provider. In the past, ISPs have been called out for tracking users and selling their data (as if they did not make enough money already).

To celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month, IPVanish is giving a 69% discount on two year plans throughout October 2018, making its top-tier protection effectively $3.74 (£2.83) per month.

4. Batten down the passwords

Strong security starts with a strong password. You should have a Wi-Fi password of at least 12 characters or longer, with a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Then apply this same principle to all of your online accounts, so they are safe from ‘brute force attacks’ that randomly try dictionary words.

While the above may sound obvious to more veteran users, research has found the most common passwords are ‘123456’ and ‘password’. Clearly too many folks are taking the lazy route, and the entire family needs to educated on this best practice for creating strong passwords to protect accounts. Another fundamental tip: never reuse the same passwords over different accounts.

5. Take two

While stronger passwords are vital to keeping accounts secure, another important point is that you shouldn’t rely on them completely. A complex password may afford protection from a brute force attack, but it can still be obtained if, for example, a hacker breaks into the online database of passwords. This has become such a regular occurrence these days that there are even websites entirely devoted to letting users enter their credentials to check if their account is known to have been hacked.

Rather than relying totally on one password, there is an alternative and better approach known as ‘two-factor authentication’ (abbreviated to 2FA). The idea is that two pieces of information are better than one, and to log into the account, you need something that you know – namely the password, which should still be a strong one as per the recommendations above – and also something that you have.

The something that you have – and presumably the hacker won’t – is most commonly a mobile phone, which can be employed for 2FA in several ways. The service you are logging into might text you a special code which you then enter as well as the password. However, this particular method can be vulnerable to being defeated via SIM card cloning (although that’s not exactly common).

The more secure, and therefore preferred option, is an authenticator app, which is installed on the smartphone, and performs the function of a security token, as it provides a number code that is only valid for a brief minute or less.

Another option for 2FA is a physical security key, the so-called USB 2FA.

In short, you should make sure that 2FA is enabled on all accounts that support it, and if you have a choice, use the authenticator app method. Teach the rest of the family how to use 2FA, as well.

6. Look before you leap

No discussion of online privacy would be complete without mentioning those pesky app permissions that pop up when installing a new application. While folks tend to just want to get their app working, they really should make sure that what the app is asking to access makes sense.

For example, it would follow for a reputable photo editing app to need access to your library of images, or else it wouldn’t be of any use. However, when you download that free calculator app, you might start to wonder why such an app would need access to your microphone, GPS or your contacts, as the intended use of the application should not involve any of those smartphone functions.

For those who aren’t careful, going along with such excessive permissions might be a serious threat to privacy, and could lead to you being tracked or eavesdropped upon. Does that seem paranoid? Well, there are already examples of smartphone apps using the device’s microphone to track TV viewing habits.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was Published pymnts.com - Contributed by Member: Anna K. Sasaki

Think of online privacy as a race.

With consumers increasingly focused on how their data and web personas are used by eCommerce and other digital organizations, regulators and lawmakers are moving to get ahead of that political and cultural wave. Payments, commerce, and tech companies, meanwhile, are trying to stay a step ahead of regulators and lawmakers, and tweak or refashion their brands and reputations so they can boast about privacy protections and reduce the risk of losing profit as customers rethink their loyalties.

DuckDuckGo, the no-tracking search engine with a name that reflects a childhood play activity, intends to make the most of the ongoing privacy backlash from consumers. It has raised $10 million in fresh capital — only the second funding round for the 10-year-old, Pennsylvania-based operation —  and has plans to better promote itself to a global audience, while also offering other privacy-protection technology.

It seems foolish to even fantasize about the search engine ever catching up with Google. However, in a new PYMNTS interview, DuckDuckGo Founder Gabriel Weinberg said that, in the coming year, it could end up accounting for a double-digit chunk of search activity.

Optimistic View

His optimism stemmed in large part from the search’s engine growth: Use is up at least 50 percent over the last couple of years, with more than 5.8 billion direct search queries in total so far in 2018, compared with nearly 6 billion for all of 2017. The site’s daily direct traffic averages about 26.2 million. The United States stands as the largest source of DuckDuckGo traffic, followed by such countries as France, Germany, and Canada.

Of course, Google has numbers that dwarf that: about 3.5 billion searches per day. Though DuckDuckGo does not engage in tracking the behavior and habits of consumers online, it does make its money via ad offerings based on the keywords entered by users when searching for something — just as Google does. A consumer on either search engine might type in “car insurance,” for instance, resulting in relevant ads being served up, which in turn can result in revenue for that search engine.

The difference is that DuckDuckGo stops there — it does not sell search data to third parties for advertising (which, of course, cuts out a lucrative source of revenue). The search engine does not store users’ search histories, either.

That limit stands as a big part of the search engine’s appeal in these privacy-sensitive times, according to Weinberg. The search engine, its results compiled from more than 400 sources and its own web crawler, earns revenue from serving ads via the YahooBing network and affiliate relationships with such eCommerce operators as Amazon and eBay. For each user who buys a product that originates with certain DuckDuckGo searches, the site earns a commission on that transaction.

“We are definitely small,” he said, acknowledging the obvious. However, the company turns a profit and has yet to do any major marketing. So far, DuckDuckGo has benefited from word of mouth, essays, blog postings and question-and-answer content published and distributed on Quora and social media sites, he said.

New Funding

The new capital, from OMERS Ventures, a Canadian pension fund, will enable DuckDuckGo to beef up its marketing, among other areas. “We’re not sure what kind of marketing yet,” Weinberg said. “We’re running different kinds of experiments to figure out what works the best.”

DuckDuckGo last raised capital in 2011 — $3 million in seed funding. Since then, the digital landscape has significantly changed, which attracted OMERS. “Issues of privacy and security in the digital world have become increasingly topical and controversial,” the firm said in explaining its investment. “In 2018, these concerns have risen to the forefront of public consciousness. Users are becoming more aware of their personal data and are increasingly concerned with protecting it.”

DuckDuckGo aims to go beyond online searches in further building its pro-privacy brand. It recently launched what OMERS called “a mobile browser and desktop browser extension to their product mix; these products include built-in tracker blocking and smarter encryption.”

Facebook Example

Recent data and consumer trends support that path, Weinberg told PYMNTS. Like others in the space focusing on privacy (or worried about the consumer backlash), he used Facebook as an example.

For those who’ve enjoyed the luxury of a news-light summer away from digital leashes, the story goes like this: The social media platform needs to maintain — or even win back — the trust of consumers who were either shaken by the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal or are just increasingly wary of sharing too much information online with a massive corporation. In fact, Pew Research recently reported that 42 percent of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform during the past year, while 54 percent of those 18 and older have adjusted their privacy settings during that time frame. Additionally, 26 percent of U.S. adult consumers said they deleted the Facebook app from their smartphone.

“Awareness is really high,” Weinberg said about online privacy, adding that the company’s own surveys echo findings that a good chunk of consumers are having second thoughts about how their data is used by digital service providers. “People are trying to figure out how to protect themselves online.”

Figuring out answers is taking on an almost existential flavor in digital payments and commerce (which is to say, most of Western daily life). A recent discussion between PYMNTS’ Karen Webster and Sunil Madhu, founder of identity verification and fraud prevention services provider Socure, dug deep into those questions and featured a debate about how much Facebook really has to worry about and analysis of what makes a solid digital ID.

The consumer focus on privacy, and the ongoing backlash — demonstrated in part by Europe’s GDPR and other laws — is no flash in the pan, Weinberg said. This moment of privacy protection effort represents, perhaps, the best opportunity for DuckDuckGo — one that could propel it to capture 5 percent to 10 percent of searches, he said.

Historians will have to figure out and define the various phases of internet development and digital economy growth, and trying to anticipate what they will say is a fun game, but often ends up as a reckless intellectual endeavor. That said, the last few years — don’t forget the Edward Snowden NSA revelations, because Weinberg and other students of online privacy sure don’t — are shaping up as a turning point in how online consumers view privacy.

That will, no doubt, provide an opportunity for a host of businesses — not just DuckDuckGo.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Contributed by Member: Rebecca Jenkins

Remember the early days of "not provided"? Well, Google Search Console has begun removing some query data for "privacy" reasons.

Google has quietly posted that they are now removing query data from the Google Search Console reports that they identify as “anonymous queries.” Google said, “an anonymous query is a query submitted only a few users.” Google added that they “omit these queries from results to protect user privacy.”

Google said the amount of queries removed depend on the site, Google said: “some sites will have very few unique queries; other sites will have a large proportion of anonymous queries.”

Google wrote on the page:

Chart totals no longer include anonymous* (rare) queries when you apply a query filter. Previously, the chart totals included all anonymous queries when a “Queries not containing:” filter was applied. Because of this, you might see a drop in clicks and impressions when adding a filter that excludes specific queries. We believe that omitting anonymous queries from all query-filtered results is more consistent.

Back in 2011, Google removed query data from their reports when they began moving Google search results to HTTPS. When Google made this move, it was about protecting user’s privacy to disallow people from sniffing Google’s searches. But Google told webmasters that they will be able to get all this data securely in Google Search Console. Now, with this change, Google is now also removing some query data from Google Search Console as well.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was Published ifsecglobal.com By John Mason - Contributed by Member: Grace Irwin

Google voice search makes finding what you need even easier.

Just say “OK Google,” tell your phone or tablet what you want to find, and you’ll get results. Or use the microphone icon in your browser.

There’s even an official Chrome extension that combines voice search with Google Docs dictation, so you can type a document without touching a keyboard.

It’s really cool technology, but like most convenient tech, there are some tradeoffs.

In this case, the biggest trade-off is privacy. Voice search comes with some “features” that you might not be aware of, and privacy enthusiasts find those features a bit worrying. (Fortunately, you can mitigate them with a few clicks if you know where to look; we’ll get to that in a moment.)

First, let’s talk about how Google voice search is changing human-computer interaction.

Google Voice Search: The future of search

For years, Google has been making it easier to find the information you want on the internet. Extremely refined algorithms, sophisticated tracking and scoring, and integration with a variety of other services all remove barriers to getting great search results.

Voice search is an extension of that. If you can’t – or just don’t want to – type your query, all you need to do is speak it and Google will take a look. You can use it to search other search engines (like DuckDuckGo, which is much more privacy-focused), Wikipedia, YouTube, Wolfram Alpha, and a wide variety of other sites.

Google Assistant, a more powerful companion to simple voice search, will help you find photos, send text messages, keep your shopping list, and even order products.

It’s clear that Google is betting heavily on voice technology, and that it’s working. A 2018 survey by Stone Temple found that 16% of people prefer to use voice search over any other method.

And 60% used voice search at least some of the time. Users also took advantage of voice tech for sending texts, making calls, getting directions, and setting reminders.

Google stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device

Why do so many prefer voice-enabled apps? Mostly because it saves time. Over 60% said that they use voice because it’s fast. But the fact that it’s accurate, doesn’t require typing, and results in an audio answer were mentioned, too.

The past few years have seen increased usage of voice search and other voice-enabled technologies, and it’s unlikely to slow down any time soon. Google is leading the way in making it easier for users to interact with their devices using their voice.

But this convenience has a cost that many people aren’t aware of: privacy.

Why privacy advocates are wary of Google Voice Search

Most people using Google’s voice products without much thought. They say “OK Google,” or hold down the home button on their device, and start talking. When they’re done with the search, they forget about it.

But Google doesn’t.

It stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device, plus a few seconds of audio before you gave the command. Which means that Google is always listening through your phone. They might not be saving everything you say near the device, but they’re always listening.

And much of it is saved. In fact, you can see how much. Head to myactivity.google.com and you’ll see the data that Google has stored. If you’ve used voice search recently, you should be able to find a record of it and even listen to the stored audio.

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer, and knowing that it’s coming from Google’s servers.

And, of course, we all know what Google does with your information that’s stored on its servers: analyzes it and uses it to serve you ads. That, combined with the fact that your phone is always listening and ready to record audio, has privacy enthusiasts worried.

What you can do to protect your privacy from Google Voice Search

The most obvious thing you can do to mitigate the privacy concerns of using Google voice search is to simply not use it. If you turn Google Assistant off, it won’t be listening, and it won’t be recording anything.

To turn it off, open Google Assistant, then tap the blue icon in the upper-right corner. Hit the three dots in the upper-right corner of the resulting screen and select Settings. Tap the name of your device, and move the slider for Google Assistant to the off position.

Of course, that means you won’t be able to use the full power voice search. And that’s inconvenient. But if you’re concerned about privacy, it might be worth it.

Especially because Google’s voice search capabilities may not work very well when you’re using a VPN. And using a high-quality, secure VPN is one of the most important things you can do to keep your mobile data safe.

If you want to keep using voice search, you can tell Google to stop recording and storing what you say. You can do this by going to myactivity.google.com, selecting Activity Controls from the sidebar menu, and scrolling down to Voice & Audio Activity. Click the slider to pause it.

This will prevent the storage of your voice searches and activity. That means Google won’t be using it to target ads . . . but it also means that it won’t be as good at recognizing your voice, have as much data for learning speech recognition, or learn things that might help it solve your problems.

But it’s a step in the right direction for privacy.

Weigh the options

Unfortunately, keeping your data secure means not getting as many benefits from Google’s voice-recognition technologies as you might otherwise. So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of privacy versus the convenience of Google voice search and similar services.

In an age when privacy is increasingly threatened, it’s easy to assume that all of your data will end up in Google’s hands anyway. But if you put up a bit of a fight, you just might be able to maintain a bit of control over your data.

Categorized in How to

Source: This article was Published cbsnews.com - Contributed by Member: Bridget Miller

Even if "Location History" is off on your phone, Google often still stores your precise location.

Here are some things you can do to delete those markers and keep your location as private as possible. But there's no panacea because simply connecting to the internet on any device flags an IP address, a numeric designation that can be geographically mapped. Smartphones also connect to cell towers, so your carrier knows your general location at all times.

To prevent further tracking

For any device:

Fire up your browser and go to myactivity.google.com . Sign into Google if you haven't already. On the upper left drop-down menu, go to "Activity Controls." Turn off both "Web & App Activity" and "Location History." That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

Google will warn you that some of its services won't work as well with these settings off. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful.

On iOS:

If you use Google Maps, adjust your location setting to "While Using" the app; this will prevent the app from accessing your location when it's not active. Go to Settings - Privacy - Location Services and from there select Google Maps to make the adjustment.

In the Safari web browser, consider using a search engine other than Google. Under Settings - Safari - Search Engine, you can find other options like Bing or DuckDuckGo. You can turn location off while browsing by going to Settings - Privacy - Location Services - Safari Websites, and turn this to "Never." (This still won't prevent advertisers from knowing your rough location based on IP address on any website.)

You can also turn Location Services off to the device almost completely from Settings - Privacy - Location Services. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps will still work, but they won't know where you are on the map and won't be able to give you directions. Emergency responders will still be able to find you if the need arises.

On Android:

Under the main settings icon click on "Security & location." Scroll down to the "Privacy" heading. Tap "Location." You can toggle it off for the entire device.

Use "App-level permissions" to turn off access to various apps. Unlike the iPhone, there is no setting for "While Using." You cannot turn off Google Play services, which supplies your location to other apps if you leave that service on.

Sign in as a "guest" on your Android device by swiping down from the top and tapping the downward-facing caret, then again on the torso icon. Be aware of which services you sign in on, like Chrome.

You can also change search engines even in Chrome.

To delete past location tracking

For any device:

On the page myactivity.google.com , look for any entry that has a location pin icon beside the word "details." Clicking on that pops up a window that includes a link that sometimes says "From your current location." Clicking on it will open Google Maps, which will display where you were at the time.

You can delete it from this popup by clicking on the navigation icon with the three stacked dots and then "Delete."

Some items will be grouped in unexpected places, such as topic names, google.com, Search, or Maps. You have to delete them item by item. You can wholesale delete all items in date ranges or by service but will end up taking out more than just location markers.

Categorized in How to
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