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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 news.bitcoin.com written by Kai Sedgwick - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Robert Hensonw]

In this latest edition of our periodic deep web series, we bring news of Tor 8 – the most feature-rich onion browser yet. We also take a first look at a clearnet web browser that trawls the darknet, and cover the fallout from the Alphabay shutdown, whose repercussions rumble on to this day.

Tor 8 Looks Great

The Tor Project has released its latest and greatest browser yet. Tor 8 is a slick looking beast compared to the Tor browsers of yore, partially thanks to its incorporation of Firefox Quantum, which allows for better page rendering and other subtle tweaks. With Tor 8, there’s a new welcome screen to guide first-time users through the process of connecting to the deep web, and there are additional security protections built in. A Tor Circuit button can now be used to switch servers at random, further obfuscating users’ connection route.

The Tor Project

The Tor Circuit button in action

Tor 8 comes with HTTPS Everywhere and Noscript, and it is recommended that users enable these add-ons, as they’re critical in maximizing anonymity while browsing the web. While the Tor browser is best known as a tool for navigating the dark web, it can also be deployed as a privacy-friendly clearnet browser which minimizes cookies and other web trackers. Finally, the new improved Tor makes it easier to circumvent firewalls in countries where internet censorship is rife. Its development team explains:

For users where Tor is blocked, we have previously offered a handful of bridges in the browser to bypass censorship. But to receive additional bridges, you had to send an email or visit a website, which posed a set of problems. To simplify how you request bridges, we now have a new bridge configuration flow when you when you launch Tor. Now all you have to do is solve a captcha in Tor Launcher, and you’ll get a bridge IP. We hope this simplification will allow more people to bypass censorship and browse the internet freely and privately.

Deep Web Gets a Clearnet Search Engine

Searching the deep web has traditionally been harder than with its clearnet counterpart. The absence of a darknet Google is arguably part of its appeal, making onion sites accessible only to those who know what they’re looking for. It was this barrier to entry that ensured sites like Silk Road were accessible solely to technically adept users in bitcoin’s early days. The deep web has opened up significantly since then, giving up its secrets, and in the same week that Tor released its most user-friendly browser yet, it’s perhaps fitting that a clearnet search engine for the deep web should launch. Onionlandsearchengine.com is a simple but effective tool for generating deep web search results without needing to first connect to the deep web.

Deep Web Gets a Clearnet Search Engine

Onionland deep web search engine

US Government Authorized to Seize Alphabay Suspect’s Assets

Long after deep web marketplaces have been shut down, the fallout continues to make its mark in US courtrooms. Silk Road, Hansa, and Alphabay’s legal wranglings periodically make the news, despite the years elapsed since the sites were first seized. As evidence of this, consider the ruling by a recent US magistrate judge granting the federal government permission to seize and sell millions of dollars worth of assets associated with Alexandre Cazes. The reputed Alphabay ringleader had $8 million of assets on his driveway alone at the time of this arrest in a string of high performance sports cars. Including cryptocurrencies, his total net worth was eventually calculated at $23 million.

US Government Authorized to Seize Alphabay Suspects Assets

The US government’s application for Alphabay asset seizure

Among the showier items in Cazes’ collection was a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 worth almost $1 million with a license plate that read “Tor”. The late Alphabay boss certainly wasn’t subtle, but for all his sins, it is hard not to feel sorry for the 25-year-old who wound up dead in a Bangkok cell from suicide, another needless victim of the war on drugs.

Categorized in Deep Web

Source: This article was Published cnbc.com By Arjun Kharpal - Contributed by Member: Martin Grossner

  • The dark web is a hidden portion of the internet that can only be accessed using special software.
  • TOR, or The Onion Router, is a popular anonymous browsing network used to connect to the dark web.
  • While the dark web offers anonymity and a way to bypass internet censorship, it is commonly associated with illegal activities such as the buying and selling of drugs and other contraband.

The so-called dark web, a portion of the hidden internet, is usually associated with a host of illegal activities including the buying and selling of drugs, firearms, stolen financial data and other types of valuable information. The selling point? Total anonymity.

That may sound nefarious, but some experts argue that the dark web is also useful in circumventing internet censorship.

While most people spend their time online on what is known as the surface web — the portion of the World Wide Web that can be accessed with standard browsers and search engines — it has become relatively easy for anyone to access the dark web.

The dark web is a small subset of the deep web, which is part of the internet that is not found using search engines. That includes many websites that require users to log in with a username and password, and the deep web is estimated to be about 400 to 500 times larger than the common internet. The dark web is relatively smaller — it is made up of a series of encrypted networks that is able to hide users' identities and locations and can only be accessed with special software.

The most popular of those networks is called TOR, or The Onion Router, which was developed initially for government use before it was made available to the general public.

"When people typically refer to the dark web, a lot of the time they're referring to a portion of the internet that's accessible using an anonymous browsing network called TOR," Charles Carmakal, a vice president at cybersecurity firm FireEye, told CNBC's "Beyond the Valley" podcast.

One of the primary functions of the TOR network is that it allows users to access ".onion" pages, which are specially encrypted for maximum privacy.

Carmakal explained that TOR also lets users connect to normal websites anonymously so that their internet service providers cannot tell what they're browsing. Similarly, the websites will not be able to pinpoint the location of the users browsing their pages.

On the TOR browser, the connection requests are re-routed several times before reaching their destination. For example, if a user in Singapore is trying to connect to a website in London, that request on a TOR browser could be routed from Singapore to New York to Sydney to Capetown to, finally, London.

According to Carmakal, a service like TOR is a useful tool for many users to bypass state censorship and crackdowns on the internet. With it, he said, they can communicate with the free world without any repercussions. The service is also used by journalists and law enforcement, he said.

Still, the term dark web today is commonly associated with illegal activities. In recent years, a number of high-profile marketplaces on the dark web were taken down for selling drugs and other contraband, including Silk Road, AlphaBay and Hansa.

Law enforcement agencies around the world have been working hard to take down communities on the dark web that criminals use, according to James Chappell, co-founder of a London-based threat intelligence company Digital Shadows.

Hansa, for instance, was taken down by the Dutch national police last year after authorities seized control of the marketplace. In a press release, the officials said they had collected around 10,000 addresses of buyers on the marketplace and passed them onto Europol, the European Union's law enforcement body.

"It was very interesting to see the effect this had. Initially, we thought that lots of websites would come back online, just replacing Hansa as soon as it was taken down," Chappell told, "Beyond the Valley." Instead, a lot of the users moved away from TOR and onto message-based services like Discord and Telegram, he said.

Categorized in Deep Web

Installing Tor on Android and iOS devices is not as difficult as you may think.

You can safeguard your online privacy when you are using an Android or iOS device to browse the internet by using TOR. TOR hides and occasionally changes your IP address when you are online. Thus, when you are using TOR on either of these devices, your privacy and identity will be safe when you visit social media sites or any other sites on the internet. Here is a detailed guide on how you can successfully install TOR on your Android or IOS device.

How to install TOR on an Android Device

1: Download Orbot

You will have to download Orbot from any the credible app stores available. You can download it from Google PlayAmazon App Store or even from the website of the developer, which is the Guardian Project.

2: Install Orbot on your device

It is easy to install Orbot on your Android device, thanks to its highly intuitive installation wizard. Here is how the setup wizard looks like at first glance when you are just about to start the actual process of installing Orbot on your Android device

TOR Install (1)

3: Select the features you would like to run via Orbot

If your device is rooted, you will have to choose the particular applications you would like to access via Orbot. The process of selecting the apps that you would like to use via Orbot is simple and straightforward. However, if your device is not rooted, you may skip this step of the process by choosing the option that lets you proxy all the apps on your device through TOR.

4: Give Orbot Superuser access for rooted devices

If your Android device is rooted, you will have to give Orbot super user access for you to proceed with the installation process. Granting the app superuser access at all times ensures that you will be able to use Orbot when you are opening any app on your rooted Android device at any time.

This is how the screenshot for the stage when you have to grant Orbot superuser status to the apps on your Android device looks like.

5: Reboot your device

You will have to reboot your device at this stage of the installation process to allow Orbot to access all the apps on your device. If you attempt to open your mobile browser at this stage, it is likely that the browser may not function as desired. Therefore you may have to restart your device at this stage of the installation process.

6: Check your IP address

TOR Install (3)

Once you have reset your device, you will have to visit any website that checks your IP address. The purpose of this activity is to confirm that your traffic is getting re-routed via a proxy server and that you have a different IP address from your original one. If the Orbot installation process has been successful, you will get a different IP address. Here is a screenshot of how things should appear at this stage of the process.

6: Make configuration for some applications

You may have to configure some apps on your mobile device for you to use Orbot successfully. In this case, you may have to go to the ‘settings’ section of every particular app you would like to configure and make the necessary changes.

For some apps, you may have to download and install particular add-ons for you to use the apps on Orbot successfully.

7: Start using your device

Once you have successfully gone through the five steps that have been outlined above, you will be able to use TOR for your Android device. One important thing you need to note is that TOR will change your IP address at times. The occasional changes to your IP address are essential in making you anonymous online. Here is a screenshot of how things look like when you check your IP address once you complete the process of installing TOR on your Android device.

How to install TOR on an IOS Device

The procedure of installing TOR on your IOS device is similar to that of when you are installing the app on your Android device. However, there are slight variations that you have to keep in mind when installing TOR on your iOS device. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can set up TOR on your iOS device so you may enjoy the level of anonymity and online privacy that TOR offers to its users.

1: Download the TOR browser from Apple App Store

You will have to visit the App Store on your iOS device as the first step of the process. Once you access the app store, you may have to search for the TOR browser. You will see a list of alternatives. Choose the TOR-enabled browser that suits your needs. Here is a screenshot of what you should have when you are just about to tap on the ‘Get it’ button on the app store.

Remember that you may have to buy some apps from the Apple App store.

2: Install the app on your device

Once you successfully download the TOR app, you will see a button asking you to install it on your device. You will have to tap on the button to allow the installation process to commence. Remember that it is at this stage that the highly technical aspects of setting up TOR on your iOS device begin.

The installation process takes a few minutes. Here is a screenshot of what you are supposed to have on your device just before you tap the ‘install’ button.

3: Connect to TOR

Once you have successfully downloaded and installed TOR on your iOS device, the device will prompt you to connect to the TOR network. You will have to select this option to enable the TOR browser to start working on your device.

Remember that this stage is similar to that of installing TOR on your Android device during which you have to reconfigure some apps so that they work on TOR. Similarly, you may have to select to use the TOR app on particular apps on your iPhone device. However, the good news is that the process is straightforward.

4: Start using TOR to browse

Once you have successfully gone through the steps that have been outlined here, you will be ready to use TOR when browsing the internet on your iOS device. TOR helps to safeguard your online privacy by changing your IP address. As it is the case with installing TOR on your Android device, you may find it necessary to check if the installation has been successful by testing your IP address. If the installation has been successful, you will realize that you have an IP address that is different from the previous one.

In conclusion, it is easy to install the TOR app on your Android as well as an iOS device. The most important things you need to keep in mind are that you may have to reconfigure some apps on your device to make them compatible with TOR. Also, in the case of Android devices, the level of complexity of the process largely depends on whether your device is rooted or not.

Source : This article was published hackread.com By Ali Raza

Categorized in How to

Achieving internet privacy is possible but often requires overlapping services

It’s one of the internet’s oft-mentioned 'creepy' moments. A user is served a banner ad in their browser promoting products on a site they visited hours, days or months in the past. It’s as if the ads are following them around from site to site. Most people know that the issue of ad stalking – termed 'remarketing' or 'retargeting' - has something to do with cookies but that’s barely the half of it.

The underlying tracking for all this is provided by the search engine provider, be that Google, Microsoft or Yahoo, or one of a number of programmatic ad platforms most people have never heard of. The ad system notices which sites people are visiting, choosing an opportune moment to 're-market' products from a site they visited at some point based on how receptive it thinks they will be. The promoted site has paid for this privilege of course. Unless that cookie is cleared, the user will every now and then be served the same ad for days or weeks on end.

Is this creepy? Only if you don’t understand what is really going on when you use the internet. As far as advertisers are concerned, if the user has a negative feeling about it then the remarketing has probably not worked.

If it was only advertisers, privacy would be challenging enough but almost every popular free service, including search engines, social media, cloud storage and webmail, now gathers intrusive amounts of personal data as a fundamental part of its business model. User data is simply too valuable to advertisers and profilers not to. The service is free precisely because the user has 'become the product' whose habits and behaviour can be sold on to third parties. Broadband providers, meanwhile, are increasingly required by governments to store the internet usage history of subscribers for reasons justified by national security and policing.

The cost of privacy - dynamic pricing

Disturbingly, this personal tracking can also cost surfers money through a marketing technique called 'dynamic pricing' whereby websites mysteriously offer two users a different bill for an identical product or service. How this is done is never clear but everything from the browser used, the search engine in question the time of day, the buying history of the user or the profile of data suggesting their affluence may come into play. Even the number of searches could raise the price.

This seems to be most common when buying commodity services such as flights, hotel rooms and car rental, all of which are sold through a network of middlemen providers who get to decide the rules without having to tell anyone what these are. Privacy in this context becomes about being treated fairly, something internet providers don't always seem keen to do.

How to browse privately

Achieving privacy requires finding a way to minimise the oversight of internet service providers (IPS) as well as the profiling built into browsers, search engines and websites. It is also important to watch out for DNS name servers used to resolve IP addresses because these are increasingly used as data capture systems.

At any one of these stages, data unique to each user is being logged. This is especially true when using search engines while logged into services such as Google or Facebook. You might not mind that a particular search is logged by the search provider but most people don’t realise how this is connected directly to personal data such as IP address, browser and computer ID not to mention the name and email address for those services.

Put bluntly, the fact that an individual searched for health, job or legal advice is stored indefinitely as part of their personal online profile whether they like it or not.

VPNs

In theory, the traditional way of shielding internet use from ISPs can be achieved using a VPN provider.

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel from the user’s device and the service provider’s servers which means that any websites visited after that become invisible to the user’s primary ISP. In turn, the user’s IP address is also hidden from those websites. Notice, however, that the VPN provider can still see which sites are being visited and will also know the user’s ISP IP.

Why are some VPNs free? Good question but one answer is that they can perform precisely the same sort of profiling of user behaviour that the ISP does but for commercial rather than legal reasons. In effect, the user has simply swapped the spying of one company, the ISP, for another, the VPN.

Post-Snowden, a growing number advertise themselves as 'no logging' providers, but how far the user is willing to go in this respect needs to be thought about. Wanting to dodge tracking and profiling is one thing, trying to avoid intelligence services quite another because it assumes that there are no weaknesses in the VPN software or even the underlying encryption that have not been publicly exposed.

IPVanish

IPVanish is a well-regarded US-based service offering an unusually wide range of software clients, including for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux, as well as mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. There is also a setup routine for DD-WRT and Tomato for those who use open source router firmware. Promoted on the back of speed (useful when in a coffee shop) and global reach as well as security. On that topic, it requires no personal data other than for payment and states that it does not collect or log any user traffic.

Cyberghost

Another multi-platform VPN, Romanian-based Cyberghost goes to some lengths to advertise its security features, its main USP. These include multi-protocol support (OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP and PPTP), DNS leak prevention, IP sharing (essentially subnetting multiple users on one virtual IP) and IPv6 protection. Provisions around 50 servers for UK users. It also says it doesn’t store user data.

Privacy browsers

All browsers claim to be ‘privacy browsers’ if the services around them are used in specific ways, for example in incognito or privacy mode. As wonderful as Google’s Chrome or Microsoft’s Edge might be their primary purpose, isn't security. The companies that offer them simply have too much to gain from

The companies that offer them simply have too much to gain from a world in which users are tagged, tracked and profiled no matter what their makers say. To Google’s credit, the company doesn’t really hide this fact and does a reasonable job of explaining its privacy settings.

Firefox, by contrast, is by some distance the best of the browser makers simply because it does not depend on the user tracking that helps to fund others. But this becomes moot the minute you log into third-party services, which is why most of the privacy action in the browser space now centres around add-ons.

Epic Privacy Browser

Epic is a Chromium-based browser that takes a minimalistic approach to browsing in order to maximise privacy. It claims that both cookies and trackers are deleted after each session and that all browser searches are proxied through their own servers, meaning that there is no way to connect an IP address to a search. This means your identity is hidden. Epic also provides a fully encrypted connection and users can use its one-button proxying feature that makes quick private browsing easy, although it could slow down your browser.

Tor

This Firefox-based browser that runs on the Tor network can be used with Windows, Mac or Linux PCs. This browser is built on an entire infrastructure of ‘hidden’ relay servers, which means that you can use the internet with your IP and digital identity hidden. Unlike other browsers, Tor is built for privacy only, so it does lack certain security features such as built-in antivirus and anti-malware software.

Dooble

This stripped back Chromium-based browser offers great privacy potential but it may not be the first choice for everyone. Able to run on Windows, Linux and OS X, Dooble offers strict privacy features. It will disable insecure web-based interfaces such as Flash and Javascript, which will make some web pages harder to read. In addition, user content such as bookmarks and browsing history can be encrypted using various passphrases.

See here for a full list of our best secure browsers. 

Privacy search engines

It might seem a bit pointless to worry about a privacy search engine given that this is an inherent quality of the VPN services already discussed but a couple are worth looking out for. The advantage of this approach is that it is free and incredibly simple. Users simply start using a different search engine and aren’t required to buy or install anything.

DuckDuckGo

The best-known example of this is DuckDuckGo. What we like about DuckDuckGo is it protects searches by stopping 'search leakage' by default. This means visited sites will not know what other terms a user searched for and will not be sent a user’s IP address or browser user agent. It also offers an encrypted version that connects to the encrypted versions of major websites, preserving some privacy between the user and the site.

In addition, DuckDuckGo offers a neat password-protected 'cloud save' setting that makes it possible to create search policies and sync these across devices using the search engine.

Oscobo UK search

Launched in late 2015, Oscobo returns UK-specific search results by default (which DuckDuckGo will require a manual setting for). As with DuckDuckGo, the search results are based on Yahoo and Bing although the US outfit also has some of its own spidering. Beyond that, Oscobo does not record IP address or any other user data. According to its founders, no trace of searches made from a computer is left behind. It makes its money from sponsored search returns.

DNS nameservers

Techworld's sister title Computerworld UK recently covered the issue of alternative DNS nameservers, including Norton ConnecSafe, OpenDNS, Comodo Secure DNS, DNS.Watch, VeriSign and, of course, Google.

However, as with any DNS nameserver, there are also privacy concerns because the growing number of free services are really being driven by data gathering. The only way to bypass nameservers completely is to use a VPN provider’s infrastructure. The point of even mentioning them is that using an alternative might be faster than the ISP but come at the expense of less privacy.

DNS.Watch

Available on 84.200.69.80 and 84.200.70.40, DNS.Watch is unique in offering an alternative DNS service without the website logging found on almost every rival. We quote: “We're not interested in shady deals with your data. You own it. We're not a big corporation and don't have to participate in shady deals. We're not running any ad network or anything else where your DNS queries could be of interest for us.”

OpenDNS

Now part of Cisco, the primary is 208.67.220.220 with a backup on 208.67.222.222. Home users can simply adjust their DNS to point at one of the above but OpenDNS also offers the service wrapped up in three further tiers of service, Family Shield, Home, and VIP Home. Each comes with varying levels of filtering and security, parental control and anti-phishing protection.

Privacy utilities

Abine Blur

Blur is an all-in-one desktop and mobile privacy tool that offers a range of privacy features with some adblocking thrown in for good measure. Available in free and Premium versions ($39 a year) on Firefox and Chrome only, principle features include:

- Masked cards: a way of entering a real credit card into the Blur database which then pays merchants without revealing those details. 

- Passwords: similar in operation to password managers such as LastPass and Dashlane without some of the layers of security and sophistication that come with those platforms. When signing up for or encountering a new site Blur offers to save or create a new strong password.

Masked email addresses are another feature, identical in principle to the aliases that can be used with webmail systems such as Gmail.  Bur’s management of these is a bit more involved and we’d question whether it’s worth it to be honest were it not for the single advantage of completely hiding the destination address, including the domain. Some will value this masking as well as the ease of turning addresses on and off and creating new ones. On a Premium subscription, it is also possible to set up more than one destination address.

- Adblocking: with the browser extension installed, Blur will block ad tracking systems without the conflict of interest are inherent in the Acceptable Ads program used by AdBlock Plus and a number of others.  We didn’t test this feature across many sites but it can be easily turned on and off from the toolbar.

- Two-factor authentication: Given the amount of data users are storing in Blur, using two-factor authentication (2FA) is an absolute must. This can be set up using a mobile app such as Google Authenticator, Authy or FreeOTP.

- Backup and Sync:  Another premium feature, this will sync account data across multiple devices in an encrypted state.

- Masked phone: probably only useful in the US where intrusive telemarketing is a problem, this gives users a second phone number to hand to marketers.  Only works in named countries including the UK. Only on Premium.

Overall, Blur represents a lot of features in one desktop/mobile browser extension. Limitations? Not terribly well explained in places and getting the best out of it requires a Premium subscription. Although the tools are well integrated and thought out most of them can be found for less (e.g. LastPass) or free (e.g. adblocking) elsewhere.  The features that can’t are masked phone and masked card numbers/addresses.

Source : This article was published in techworld.com By John E Dunn

Categorized in Internet Privacy

According to reports, the Guardian Project, Tor Project, and Home Assistant have come together to create a new security system that can protect IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

The new system works based on the principle of funneling all of the data traffic from IoT devices to the master update servers or end users through a Tor connection, eliminating the use of the public Internet.

The new security system is the Home Assistant platform which would run on a new Tor Onion Service Configuration to provide secure as well as remote access to IoT devices of users.

Though it is in the experimental stage at the moment, the new security system is also scalable.

The IoT refers to the remote control as well as networking of devices like the baby cam or the lawn sprinkler used at homes to an entire HVAC system installed by corporations.

New System Runs On Raspberry Pi Board

raspberry_pi

For users to run Home Assistant’s software, all they are required to have is a device or other similar devices.

In turn, the devices would run a special Tor configuration. In simple terms, it amounts to setting up a special Onion site on the IoT device.

This is to say that the remote users wanting to access an IoT device will have to have the Onion link that connects them to the Home Assistant’s software.

This, in turn, will transfer the connection to the IoT device, operating as a proxy.

There are tangible benefits to using the new security system as far as both IoT vendors and users are concerned, especially those who are interested in embedding this kind of technology into devices on a default basis.

Shodan Scanning Not Required for IoT Devices That Are Exposed

First of all, the need to develop complicated software by setting up complex SSL/TLS certificates in order to support HTTPS connections can be eliminated.

This is because all of the Tor connections get encrypted by default.

The Onion protocol would ensure that there are many different layers of encryption.

Moreover, the need to either use a VPN service or unnecessarily open firewall ports can be done away with by the users of the new security system.

The reason behind this is that all connections go through the Tor network.

This ensures that nobody knows as to which devices users are connecting to.

Technically speaking, it is just not possible to scan IoT devices that are protected by Tor.

This means that users don’t have to determine as to which of the IoT devices are vulnerable using Shodan.

As a result, users would also not accidentally stumble upon exposed equipment.

Top Priority Is to Secure IoT devices

Nathan Freitas reportedly said that there are too many things in peoples’ homes, at the hospitals, in business establishments that are often exposed to the public Internet throughout their lives and protecting their communication is not an easy job at all.

He added that Tor ensures protection for free with the help of real-world hard ended as well as open-source software and through strong as well as modern cryptography.

The executive director of Tor, Shari Steele, said that Tor Project aims to integrate Tor privacy technology into everyday life so that logging on to it is not necessary because of the built-in security and privacy.

She added that Tor Project contributor and Guardian Project Executive Director Nathan Freitas’ work with Home Assistant could be considered as an important milestone in this direction.

Source : darkwebnews

Categorized in Deep Web

People who want to browse the web with anonymity using the Tor network are having problems with too many CAPTCHAs that they encounter before gaining access to a site.

CAPTCHAs are the simple security tests or puzzles that are set to prove that the user is indeed a human being and not a robot or software. CloudFlare is the content delivery company behind these restrictive CAPTCHAs.

Your TOR usage is being watched
However, there is a good news for Tor users, this experience may soon be a thing of the past.

CloudFlare announced that they are formulating a way for anonymous Tor users to gain access to websites without in inconvenience of solving CAPTCHAs.

HISTORY OF TOR AND CLOUDFLAREtor-visitor-challenged


The Tor network was developed and is operated by the Tor Project. This is a non-profit organization that deals with the development and distribution of free software to help people tackle online surveillance.

The idea behind the Tor network is definitely a noble one that serves human right defenders, diplomats, government officials, and other people who seek freedom from surveillance.

However, the network has always often been used to facilitate malicious and illegal activities.

As such, most content delivery firms including CloudFlare and Akamai block Tor users from accessing important websites.

This is of course, unfair to a percentage of Tor users who is using the network for perfectly lawful activities.

Tor users have been complaining about CloudFlare’s CAPTCHA system that treats each IP address as a single user.

They have also voiced their concern on CloudFlare’s failure to address the interest of the community to have a dialogue with regard to the issue.

Therefore, this recent announcement is a step that is favorable to Tor users.

THE CAPTCHA SYSTEM’S IMPACT ON USABILITY

These are the reasons why Tor users are annoyed by the seemingly simple CAPTCHAs, in many cases the system presents Tor users with a lengthy series of CAPTCHAs that often are very slow, or it seems like it’s on an endless loop. This is intentionally done so that a user may give up.

Sometimes, it will push the user to opt for unsafe browser, thus revealing their location and IP address.

This can be a big risk to some Tor users who need anonymity including human rights activists or those victims of domestic violence.

The ones that are affected the most are those users leaving in a country with a slow internet, that leads to a very negative experience.

This new reform that will be implemented by CloudFlare is a response to the widespread backlash that the firm has received on social media and other online platforms.

This CAPTCHA system has been called a discriminative censorship system on numerous occasions.

David Kaye, UN Special Reporter detailed this internet discrimination in a 2015 report where he affirmed that the Tor network is necessary for the freedom of expression despite its negative aspects.

It is important to note that this CAPTCHA system also affects mobile phone users. Android users with the Android version of Tor browser and Orfox, have also complained about CloudFlare’s endless CAPTCHAs.

THE PROPOSED SOLUTION

CloudFlare has always been aware of this problem for at least three years already. Tor Project Developers claimed that they have discussed the matter with CloudFlare developers both online and in person for more than a year.

However, CloudFlare CEO Mathew Price stated that the firm has always been open to finding an amicable solution without compromising the security of their clients.

This announcement has been long overdue and could be just another strategy to delay the matter. According to CloudFlare authors, the firm aims to solve this issue by employing a system called the Challenge Bypass Specification.

Through this system, authentication tokens called nonces offered via a Tor browser plugin will eliminate the CAPTCHA problem while still protecting other sites from malicious users.

Malicious traffic that has always been automated will be unable to earn these tokens.

Provision of nonces by authentic users will enable anonymous access to important websites. Users will be able to earn a number of tokens for solving a single CAPTCHA.

CloudFlare claims that this feature is not unique to them. Other content delivery firms will be able to implement this with their own policies.

The single CAPTCHA for token option, is not a guarantee that you ca access all websites.

While this feature is still in the works, it will definitely reduce the inconvenience caused by the current security measures.

Source : darkwebnews

Categorized in Others

The Internet today is huge. It offers many opportunities but also brings certain dangers. That is why need decent protection when we browse the web. The topic is quite popular and there are many options you can try. You can find much information about VPN, Proxy, TOR and other technologies but what does all that mean and which option should you choose. In this article, we will explain popular options in details, namely the trended TOR bundles TOR plus VPN and TOR plus Proxy.

Architecture

TOR is quite popular right now and it provides a decent level of protection. However, there are certain risks involved like malicious exit nodes .

There is a remedy. VPN or Proxy may serve as a great addition to TOR but only one of them can secure your traffic from malicious TOR nodes. Let us clarify why is that. The reason for that lies in the difference between VPN and Proxy technologies.

Security and Privacy

HTTP Proxy simply changes your IP for web traffic and SOCKS Proxy extends the functionality to work with other traffic (e.g FTP, BitTorrent, etc). Therefore, Proxy offers anonymity but not privacy.

VPN has an option of traffic encryption and DNS leaks protection. In other words, VPN provides both anonymity and privacy. VPN plus takes the concept to a new level and introduces an extra security layer .

This is a DNS leak test result for Privatoria’s VPN TOR service

Set-up process

There are not so many ways to use TOR together with Proxy and VPN. Proxy is more flexible in this regard as it can be used ensemble with TOR browser or Tails OS. The configuration process is trivial. You simply have to enter web browser’s preferences>advanced>network and enter the settings.

This is how Privatoria Proxy plus TOR settings look like on a Debian 8 with MATE desktop

There are also more advanced configurations that you can try, for example a Proxy Chain .

Unfortunately, VPN cannot be used inside Tails OS. The developers clearly state that on the official site . Fortunately, Privatoria offers a way to use TOR plus VPN. The best, you don’t have to use Tails OS or a web-browser for that. To configure Privatoria’s VPN TOR service on Debian-based systems use regular OpenVPN functionality (you’ll need packages “openvpn” “network-manager-openvpn” and “network-manager-openvpn-gnome” packages for it to work).

This is how the settings look like on a Debian 8 with MATE desktop

Speed

Proxy is an absolute winner in this situation. This is most because your connection only goes through one extra computer and not the whole network. The proxy also does not touch your OS networking infrastructure, unlike VPN. That is why VPN can slow the system down a little. Also, VPN connection speed should be slower compared to VPN due to a longer path that the data has to travel. Add TOR to the mix and what you’ll get is a pretty long distance. Fortunately, with Privatoria Proxy and VPN connection speed does not differ due to service’s specific system architecture.

Here is the speed test screenshot

Conclusion

Internet anonymity and privacy tools finally make their way to the mainstream audience. It is important to know the differences between Proxy and VPN and how both interact with the TOR network. The main point to remember is the that Proxy TOR should be used for simpler tasks like watching YouTube while VPN TOR is a choice better for sending a personal e-mail.

Source : deepdotweb

Categorized in Deep Web

CAPTCHAs have effectively protected websites from harmful bots and various types of spam for years. They are an internet commonplace. For Tor users, however, the number of CAPTCHAs presented to the user becomes debilitating. Tor users have routinely voiced complaints about the number of anti-robot puzzles presented to them.

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become-an-internet-research-specialistCloudFlare, however, has defended their use of CAPTCHAs, stating that 94% of requests from the Tor network are malicious. When a user browses the internet using Tor, they are assigned the IP address of the Tor exit node. Many users, and bots, use the same exit node. Differentiating between concurrent legitimate and malicious requests coming from the same IP is no easy task.

Consequently, some form of filtering needs to be done to protect the website being travelled to.

RQvSP.jpg

In March 2016, CloudFlare implemented a step in what some consider the right direction. Website owners using CloudFlare as a CDN were given the option to whitelist all incoming Tor traffic. However, in whitelisting all such traffic, the site essentially becomes vulnerable to everything the CAPTCHA would detect and prevent.

Some sites began to utilize this configuration. DeepDotWeb whitelisted every Tor exit nodeand encouraged other sites to follow suit. Unfortunately, this option did not catch on for the vast majority of websites. Many webmasters felt uncomfortable allowing every exit node the ability to bypass CAPTCHAs.

tor-whitelisted.pngCloudFlare, being the massive CDN and anti-DDOS company that it is, may have found a solution. This potential solution comes in the form of a recent update to the challenge-bypass-specification proposal on CloudFlare’s GitHub repo. In the update, CloudFlare notably points out that Tor users do face a disproportionate number of CAPTCHAs

CloudFlare’s acknowledgement of the difficulty CAPTCHAs present to Tor users:

While CAPTCHAs in themselves are supposed to be easily solvable for humans, Tor users are dealt a disproportionate amount of these challenges due to the regularity of Tor exit nodes being deal with poor IP reputations. This problem has been likened to an act of censorship against Tor users as these users are the most targeted by this protection mechanism. This problem also affects users of certain VPN providers and of I2P services.

In an effort to make Tor browsing more seamless, CloudFlare is proposing a form of blind signatures. “A blind signature is a cryptographic signature in which the signer can’t see the content of the message that she’s signing,” Brave developer Yan Xu points out.

Tor users would solve a single CAPTCHA and in doing so, be granted a predefined number of access tokens. These access tokens would allow the user to visit websites without being confronted by subsequent CAPTCHAs. However, without the concept of blind signatures, this implementation would be fundamentally contradictory to the anonymity Tor provides.

Capture.PNG

The spec explains how this protocol would be implemented in a way that would not impact a user’s web footprint. “First, it moves JavaScript execution into a consistent browser plugin (for use in TBB etc.) that can be more effectively audited than a piece of ephemerally injected JavaScript,” they detail. The writers continue “Second, it separates CAPTCHA solving from the request endpoint and eliminates linkability across domains with blind signatures.”

Tokens granted to the user following the solving of an initial CAPTCHA would not be without limitations. Every puzzle solved would provide tokens that would be useable for standard web browsing. The number of granted tokens would be too low for attacks and malicious requests. Furthermore, this would not change the “protective guarantees” that CloudFlare currently offers.

“We also leave the door open to an elevated threat response that does not offer to accept bypass tokens,” authors explain.

Ultimately, if this proposal gets implemented, it would mean Tor users would experience a much smoother browsing experience. They would face less CAPTCHAs while maintaining the same anonymity currently provided.

Source : deepdotweb

Categorized in Internet Privacy

The Tor network has become the most widely used system for online anonymity.

It has been used by journalists, lawyers and other professionals and people residing in countries with repressive regimes to hide their Internet browsing habits, for over a decade.

In addition, websites hosting content that may be considered subversive have used Tor to conceal the actual location of their web servers.

However, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) have come up with a smart way to break Tor anonymity without even touching its onion encryption system.

They discovered that an adversary can deduce the server location of a hidden service or the actual source of the data coming to a particular user, by studying the traffic patterns of the encrypted data moving through one computer in the Tor network.

The researchers, led by Albert Kwon, a graduate student of computer science and electrical engineering, will demonstrate Tor’s vulnerability this summer at the Usenix Security Symposium.

How Tor Provides Anonymity

Basically, the Tor network is made up of Internet users who have installed the Tor software.

To provide anonymity to users, their Internet requests are wrapped in many layers of encryption and sent to a randomly selected Tor-enabled computer.

This computer is called the guard.

The guard will remove the initial layer of encryption and send the request to another randomly selected Tor-enabled computer which will peel off the next encryption layer.

The final Tor-enabled computer will take the last layer of encryption off and expose the final destination of the original user’s request.

The last computer is called the exit. No computer in the encryption chain knows both the source and destination of the request.

In addition, Tor’s hidden services allow users to hide the actual address of their servers through the use of Tor routers called “introduction points”.

Users’ browsers can therefore connect to those “introduction points” so that the provider of the hidden service can publish information without revealing any location details.

Once a browser and hidden host establish a connection through the introduction point, a Tor circuit is formed.

How an Attacker Can Break Tor Anonymity

Albert Kwon and his fellow researchers at MIT and QCRI revealed that an attacker can break Tor anonymity by ensuring that his computer becomes a guard on the Tor network or circuit.

This can be done by connecting many computers to the network so that one of them will eventually be randomly selected as a guard.

Then the computer can be used to snoop and study the data being passed back and forth in the circuit.

The researchers demonstrated that machine-learning algorithms, in programs installed on a guard computer, could study this data and reveal whether the circuit was for ordinary anonymous web browsing or for a connection to a hidden service, with 99% accuracy.

In addition, they showed that a computer that becomes a guard for a hidden service can use the analysis of traffic patterns to reveal the actual identity of the host of the service, with 88% accuracy.

All these could be done without attempting to decode Tor’s encryption.

Tor Software

Conclusion

Effective Tor anonymity is vital for the protection of freedom of expression online.

So this revelation of Tor’s vulnerability is critical.

The researchers have suggested the use of dummy packets to make every type of circuit look similar.

With this new discovery, Tor’s developers have proposed the concealing of fingerprints of various circuits in future versions of the software so that attackers will not be able to study them successfully.

Source : Dark Web News

Categorized in Deep Web
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