Betternet is a popular free VPN service that hides your public IP address and encrypts your Internet traffic. But, is Betternet safe for regular usage? Is your data secure while using Betternet? Let’s find out.
What is Betternet VPN?
Betternet is a relatively new free VPN service founded in 2015. Betternet offers VPN functionality without any costs involved.
Although there is a paid version available on iOS and Android, the free version will run on Firefox, Chrome, Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.
How is Betternet free?
Betternet is totally free and, as registration is not required, you don’t have to give a name or even an email address.
Although this sounds good, VPN providers have to generate revenue in some way, and this is not always done scrupulously.
For several years, Betternet made money by relying on affiliate videos and apps served through the app.
At one point, Betternet was acquired by AnchorFree, another VPN provider – the parent company of Hotspot Shield, and started to switch from an ad-based to a freemium business model.
Betternet introduced a Premium version of its app late in 2017. This version allows users to access dedicated servers, a bigger IP selection and location options, and support. There is a free 7-day trial available that will enable users to try out the features without having to pay first.[click to continue…]
VPN services are able to see and store various types of information related to the identity and behavior of their users. Some VPN providers keep logs for troubleshooting, others for improving their systems. However, there are VPNs that do not keep any user information. Such a service is called “logless VPN”, or “no log VPN”, or “zero log VPN”.
What are VPN logs?
Typically in Virtual private networks (VPNs), incoming and outgoing data is encrypted so that to protect user’s privacy, anonymity as well as personal information transmitted via a network. A record of customer activities while using VPN services is called a VPN log. Logs can be found in various categories and forms.
Both ISP (Internet Service Provider) and VPN can see and store users unencrypted data including:
Records of visited websites;
Accessed internet resources such as downloaded files;
Passwords entered into non-HTTPS secured sites.
Many times these records may request by courts orders. As an example, in the UK, it is required to store these usage files for 12 months so that various government departments can be accessible to them. [click to continue…]
PFS or Perfect Forward Secrecy offers an additional security measure for encrypted communication. VPN services may use PFS to increase data communication security between VPN clients and servers.
What is Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS)?
Perfect forward secrecy is a feature of Internet communication protocols that ensures the security of data exchanged between a client and a server.
What is a session?
The time a user spends from initiating the connection with the server to the end is called a session. As an example, a user starts uploading a file to a particular server and disconnects the connection once it is finished. That time period can be identified as a session.
Along with that file some other technical data, which helps server to contact user, are also exchanged, like IP address, metadata and connection type. With the use of secure connection protocols like SFTP or TLS, these exchange data is encrypted and hence only the client, and the server knows the incoming and outgoing data. There is an encryption key, a shared secret code known only by communication parties, to decrypt the data. Therefore, when a hacker steals data, he will get some useless scrambled data.
Perfect forward secrecy is more than just encryption
Perfect forward secrecy is a step forward security measure than regular encryption.
PFS is encryption with a temporary private key which is produced in VPN client and the VPN server.
A unique session key should be used for each session to protect the transmission of data, and that key exchanged must not be used to derive any additional keys. Also if that key is derived from any other keying material, then that material should not permit to derive any more keys. Since there is a unique session key for each user session, even the compromise of a single session key will not affect any past or future data other than exchanged in the specific session protected by the particular key. [click to continue…]
The Incognito browser mode or private mode is a web browser feature built to maintain (some) privacy to the browser users. However, it does not hide your public IP address, nor it provides any level of online anonymity.
What is the Incognito mode & how it works?
When someone browses the Internet the web browser (like Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge) usually saves all kind of data like search history (learn how to protect yourself from search tracking), login details, automatic form filling data, cookies, cache, downloads, so that browser or user can retrieve them when needs.
Incognito or on the other words private mode allows the user to browse the web without storing browsing data. Once the user closes the window the web browser in Incognito mode deletes cookies and keeps the browsing history empty. However, bookmarks and downloaded files are kept, and it does not hide user traffic from third parties like network admin, Internet Service Providers or government. Almost all popular browsers have similar behavior in Incognito/private mode.
Benefits of the Incognito mode
There are several significant benefits in using the Incognito mode:
Keep user data private – When using a public computer Incognito mode helps to prevent any other to see or use your data.
Save money – to book hotels and air tickets Incognito mode is very helpful because it is well known that hotel and airline web sites use cookie data to find the travel dates and other information from the browser and to increase prices accordingly.
To log into multiple accounts – Incognito mode is an entirely isolated session so that the user can access multiple accounts (like more than one Facebook accounts) at once.
To start web browsing in incognito mode, Open the web browser, Select File and then Choose a New Private Window or New Incognito Window (This name will be vary depending on the browser.)
Incognito Window – Keyboard shortcuts:
Chrome: Control/⌘ + Shift + N
Firefox: Control/⌘ + Shift + P
Internet Explorer: Control + Shift + P
Safari: ⌘ + Shift + N
To end the session user can simply close the window. Also, it is worth to know that incognito mode can be set as default in your browser by changing the browser settings.
Is the Incognito mode really private?
When you open the Google Incognito, it states that
“Your activity might still be visible to:
Websites you visit, including the ads and resources used on those sites
Your employer, school, or whoever runs the network you’re using
Your internet service provider”
Apart from those if the user opens a Google app like Gmail, Chrome, they record your cookies and history just like in regular browsing.Below list shows the things that can be seen by other people although the user is in incognito mode.
ISP can see what a user is doing or where a user is going
Your ISP can see your internet traffic, can track the web sites you visit, can record browsing activities. And also it is complete transparency can be seen in illegally downloaded data when it is using incognito mode. Therefore, the ISP can even sell this data to a third party. Can you trust your ISP?
Network administrator/company admin
They can see what is going on although the user is in incognito mode. This is not only limited to the company machines, but also they can monitor other devices of the user when it is using the company Wi-Fi. For example, when you are accessing a particular web site server in your office/school can see when this traffic comes from and to where it is going similar to the ISP.
Websites can recognize you
User may feel anonymous when he is in the incognito mode. But still web sites can see when you are coming and how long you stay in the particular web sites and they can store and utilize those data for their advertising campaigns etc.
Incognito mode does not affect apps
Apps like Gmail can trace the user activities although the user is in incognito mode. In simple words when it is running an app, there is no difference between incognito and regular browsing.
Parental control applications/ spyware applications and keyloggers
Private browsing does not protect the user against parental control type applications installed on the user computer which takes screenshots and monitors the web sites you access. Also, spyware applications that are running on the user computer can monitor the browsing activities.
Can my IP address be tracked while using the Incognito mode?
Incognito mode hides users browsing history but still your public IP address is visible to the web sites you access. Because incognito mode primarily uses to hide browsing history and it doesn’t have security features to prevent malicious attacks or attacks from retrieving your personal data.
How to check? Open a private window and load an IP locator website (like XMyIP.com). If you are not using a hide IP tool, you will see your real IP address and an approximate location.
Virtual private network (VPN) is the best method that is used to hide the personal IP address. VPN servers act in between user device and the websites. So, when someone performs web browsing, downloading web sites cannot trace the private IP address and user locations. As an example, by using VPN services, everyone can access blocked web sites in a particular region.
Incognito/private mode is not a complex security feature. It can merely hide browsing history and delete cookies when the session is over. But still, ISPs, network administrator, websites can monitor what is going on and user behavior. Despite that when someone logged to an app like Gmail, despite deleting the history, there is no difference between incognito and regular browsing. Also, in the incognito mode it does not hide your private IP address, so to hide IP address user must go for other options just like by using VPN services.
Stealth VPN is a term used to describe a VPN protocol or server that makes VPN traffic look like regular web traffic through obfuscation, even when deep packet inspection (DPI) is performed on the traffic by a firewall or network administrator. Learn about StealthVPN, the way it bypasses VPN blocking, the available implementations, and the best Stealth VPN providers.
What is the DPI (Deep Packet Inspection)?
Deep packet inspection (DPI) is an advanced technique used to examine and manage network traffic. It employs packet filtering to locate, identify, classify, reroute or block packets with a specific code or data payloads. Conventional packet filtering can’t detect DPI, as it only looks at packet headers.
Deep Packet Inspection tools
Network administrators often use DPI as a security tool to detect and intercept viruses and other types of malicious traffic. However, they can also use it for disreputable activities, such as eavesdropping.
Deep Packet Inspection is also used to streamline the flow of network traffic. A message that is, for example, flagged as a high priority can be sent to its destination before low-priority packets or messages. DPI can also be used to improve network performance by throttling data transfer, thereby preventing peer-to-peer abuse.
DPI has sparked concern among proponents of Net Neutrality and privacy advocates, as it is possible to identify both the recipient and originator from content enclosing specific packets.
What is Obfuscation?
Obfuscating means to make something obscure. When applied to Internet traffic, obfuscating implies that you are trying to hide its real purpose, similar to putting on a disguise. [click to continue…]
ZenMate is a VPN provider well-known for its proxy browser extensions. ZenMate VPN service offers easy-to-use apps and high speed. Keep reading my (ultimate) ZenMate review to find out more about the pros and cons of ZenMate VPN!
ZenMate is a VPN provider based in Berlin, Germany. As a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of countries, Germany shares intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. A VPN service provider located in one of these countries might share user data with intelligence services in some instances. You should keep this in mind when using a VPN provider located in Germany.
Update 10/2018: According to recent news, ZenMate was acquired by Kape Technologies, a tech company that also owns CyberGhost.
Before we look at the advantages and legality of VPNs, it will help to understand how they work and what they do. A virtual private network (VPN) connection does two things:
It manipulates your device’s IP address, making you appear that it originates from a different place (machine, location, or country).
It encrypts and cloaks your signal, making it impossible for any eavesdroppers to monitor your online activity.
Firstly, is hiding your IP address legal?
Well, that is a tricky question. The answer should be “Yes,” but it is more accurate “It depends.”
In most countries, going through a proxy to hide your IP or using a VPN is perfectly legal. You can’t get in any trouble for this unless you are suspected of doing illegal activities while under hidden IP’s.
Advantages of using a VPN
Although a VPN (Virtual Private Network) slows down connection speed by between 25 and 50% percent, there are some excellent reasons why you might want to change/hide your IP address or cloak your activities.
Download and upload P2P files in privacy – P2P is frowned upon by the MPAA and other cinema and music associations. This is detected by eavesdropping on ISP signals, something which a VPN will prevent.
Access streaming content from outside your country – Content streaming services such as Netflix are not allowed to stream content outside the US due to copyright agreements. This is enforced by reading an IP and tracing it to its country of origin. With a VPN, the Netflix block can be bypassed.
Break out of restrictive networks – There are specific private or public networks (or Internet providers) that restrict access to a particular type of content from the Internet. A VPN connection will allow you to break off a restrictive network at school or work and connect to websites and webmail services that might otherwise be restricted.
Watch home-specific broadcasts while traveling – A VPN tunnel connection can be used to force the foreign connection to access your home country as if you were physically there, enabling you to watch local football feeds, TV and newscasts. Don’t forget to read: 7 tips to keep your laptop secure while traveling.
Use search engines without having searches logged – Search engines catalog every web search you perform to customize the advertising and future searches for your computer. With a VPN, this is not possible, and it protects your privacy. Also, you may want to use a private search engine.
Privacy is a fundamental right – If you are a firm believer in personal privacy and the right to receive and broadcast without being surveilled and cataloged by authorities, a VPN or Tor is the way to go.
Avoid reprisals and tracebacks when doing research – If you do sensitive research for your company or don’t want your research details known for any other reason, using a VPN will prevent this.
Are VPNs legal or illegal? VPN is legal in most countries!
In general, VPNs are legal in most countries, but how it is being used will ultimately determine its legality in those countries. There are however many countries where the use of VPNs is illegal, irrespective of what it is being used for. In these countries surfing the Internet may be dangerous, as users identity may be exposed to the activity monitored by governmental firewalls. [click to continue…]
Cargo VPN is a new VPN service offered by a well-known software producer that you may use on your iOS and MacOS devices. Keep reading the Cargo VPN review to find out what are the pros and cons of CargoVPN.
The company that offers Cargo VPN, Eltima Software, is based in Germany. As a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of countries, Germany shares intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. Thus, a VPN provider located in one of these countries might (not necessarily would) share user data with intelligence services in some instances. You should keep this in mind when using a VPN service located in Germany. [click to continue…]
Private Internet Access is a popular VPN service that you may consider as your permanent VPN solution. PIA provides excellent value for the money, but the support is not great. Keep reading my (ultimate) Private Internet Access review to find out more about the pros and cons of PIA VPN!
Support is not great, a low number of locations (compared to other VPNs).
Headquarters & jurisdiction
Private Internet Access VPN is based in the United States. Not the best location for running a VPN service as the United States is a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of countries that share intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. Also, the US is the home of NSA, the well-known governmental surveillance agency.
However, PIA has a strict no-logging policy that was recently confirmed by an FBI investigation. The criminal complaint filed by the FBI shows that a subpoena sent to Private Internet Access resulted in no useful data being revealed about a suspected hoaxer. [click to continue…]
I am using ibVPN (along with other VPN services) for more than five years. There are many things to love about this VPN service that I consider one of the best. It offers excellent features, helpful apps, and fair pricing. Take a look below at my (ultimate) ibVPN review!
As stated on their website, ibVPN (aka InvisibleBrowsingVPN) operates from Romania, an East European country, member of the European Union. Romania is not a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of nations that share intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. Also, it looks to be outside of the influence of NSA and GCHQ. However, as a member of the European Union, some retention laws may be implemented in the future. But, at this time, Romania seems to be the right place for running a VPN service with no logs policy. [click to continue…]
Are you downloading torrents frequently? Then, you must read the tips listed below on how to torrent safely!
As you probably know, the torrent P2P protocol (BitTorrent) is a file-sharing technology that provides users with access to virtually unlimited content. This protocol is one of the most popular for peer-to-peer file sharing in the world. Torrenting is almost entirely decentralized, except for trackers that enable users to search and download magnet links and p2p files. Magnet links and torrent files are used to find users on the network who host the needed files, although they don’t host those files.
Torrent users do however, face many security threats each time they download or share a file, and before you start torrenting, you should take the time to learn how to torrent safely.
Are torrents legal?
Yes, BitTorrent file-sharing technology is legal. Although the technology is legitimate, how you use it might not be. Whether P2P downloads are illegal or legal depends on which files are being downloaded, who holds the rights to these files, and where you are located. Different laws apply to different countries regarding file sharing and copyright issues.
If a user chooses to download files that are copyright protected, whether or not it is illegal will depend on the country’s laws.
Tips on how to torrent safely
The tips below will show you how to torrent safely.
Tip #1 – Take care when choosing your torrent client
Torrent clients range from the simple, straightforward to the extremely powerful. Many clients, e.g., Vuze, have extra features, including add-ons, plugins, and additional functionality. These features do, however, often mean that performance and security are sacrificed. [click to continue…]
Kodi is a free and open source software entertainment hub and media player. Among the many media types that can be used with Kodi, Kodi streaming is one of the most popular. No matter how big or small the device you want to use, or which operating system it works with, you can install Kodi add-ons and enjoy hours of entertainment wherever you are.
Kodi can be installed on Windows, OSX, Linux, Android, and iOS. It also features a 10-foot user interface that can be used with TVs and remote controls.
Keep all your digital media in one place with this entertainment hub that is open source and 100% free.
Although being open source, a vast community and a committed team of volunteers supports Kodi. Extensive Wikis and forums contain a massive knowledge-base with suitable information and help aimed at everyone, from application developers to new users. Kodi can also be customized to get precisely the look and feel you want. View or play Kodi online streaming TV, podcasts, music, most videos and many other types of a digital media file from the internet and network and local storage.
Pictures and images can be imported to a library and then browsed with different views, or as a slideshow. You can also use a remote control to filter and sort your libraries. Live TV can be watched and recorded easily by using Kodi’s powerful user interface. Numerous back-ends including MythTV, MediaPortal, Tvheadend, and NextPVR are supported.
Use the enormous range of skins to change the appearance of the interface to suit your taste and needs. Kodi uses a JSON-RPC based remote interface. This enables the use of 3rd party tools, web browsers, and remote controls to take Kodi to a level seldom seen in any media player. You can control media any way you want with the support provided for hundreds of CEC-compatible TVs, remote controls, or one of the many Tablet and Smartphone Apps.
How to use Kodi addons
Kodi’s real power comes from the vast selection add-ons created by a user. Once you have installed Kodi, you can download and install whichever add-on you want right from the user interface. Add-ons will be updated automatically when new versions become available. Kodi has an impressive catalog and a wide range of different categories for its add-ons:
Look and feel
Video and Audio add-ons allow internet content to be streamed, the look and feel of the interface can be changed with Skins, Services and Programs contain tools that may be helpful, while Web interfaces are used to control Kodi remotely.
Why you should use a VPN with Kodi
When you download any content from the internet, there is always the danger that there is malware embedded in the download, and this has significant security and privacy risks. With premium Kodi add-ons, the ones available in the official repository are vetted before they are released, and the probability that they contain malware is therefore much lower, although it is still not guaranteed.
Even trusted download sources such as Google Play Store occasionally inadvertently release downloads that contain malware, although this happens very rarely. If you do download Kodi add-ons from any other source, the risk increases exponentially.
Downloading addons from shady sources
Apart from the threat of malware, downloading add-ons for Kodi from sources other than the official repository could contain illegal, pirated content. Kodi does not allow any addons that use pirated content to be added to its repository. Some content has limitations on where and by whom they may be used. One example would be BBC content that may only be viewed by users with a valid TV License residing in the UK.
To protect your computer against snooping and hacking, or malware attacks, and to get access to content that is only available in individual countries, you can use a VPN software. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will protect your data and prevent hackers from seeing usernames, passwords and your internet activity. The VPN will encrypt all data going from and to your device. This will ensure that no one, not even your ISP, will be able to monitor your internet activity. Here are some VPNs that we recommend: NordVPN, ibVPN, PureVPN, ExpressVPN. [click to continue…]
You probably heard about Firefox 57, the complete rebuilt version of the popular browser. Some of the existing VPN and proxy add-ons are no longer available. This post lists 3 (I wish I could find more) free Firefox VPN/proxy addons that still work on Firefox 57.
How is Firefox 57 different?
Firefox 57 (aka Quantum) was launched on 14th of November 2017, and it was presented to be twice faster and more memory efficient. It represents the result of years of development from the Mozilla team that tried to fix the most of Firefox’s previous problems, such as speed and frequent crashes.
Unfortunately, the new Firefox architecture comes with a price. The WebExtensions API that is now the backbone for all Firefox addons is not backward compatible. Thus, some of the older addons for Firefox no longer work on Firefox 57.
What is a Firefox VPN addon?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) or a proxy is a solution that changes your public/visible IP address while browsing the Internet. Thus, your browsing data is secured, you are protected against some types of cyber attacks, you are able to safely access the Internet, and you can access blocked websites.
As we explained in another post, the term of VPN is not accurate for browser add-ons or extensions. But, as it is largely used I will continue calling them Mozilla Firefox VPN/Proxy addons.
Free Firefox VPN/Proxy add-ons for Firefox 57
During the last days, I have tested several Firefox VPN/proxy add-ons to identify those that are compatible with Firefox 57. Unfortunately, I was only able to identify three such add-ons that are free or at least expose an open mode, without signup. Read my findings below.
Hotspot Shield VPN Free Proxy
Hotpot Shield Firefox VPN addon is precisely the same as the Chrome extension, and it works like a charm on Firefox 57. It comes with unlimited bandwidth, a lot of extra, security and privacy-related options, like ad-blocker, tracker blocker, and cookies blocker. The default server selection is “Optimal,” but you may switch to manual and pick one of the following countries: Canada, Chile, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, India, Germany, and Singapore. Click to connect in seconds.
ibVPN – Best VPN & Proxy
ibVPN Firefox VPN extension is a pleasant surprise. I use their Windows app on a regular basis and I find it extraordinary useful, even though the user interface is not as lovely as it could be. The so-called Guest Mode of the add-on allows you to enter without signup and connect to servers located in the United States, Netherlands, Germany, and Singapore. The extension automatically disconnects every 10 minutes, and manual re-connection is needed. [click to continue…]
Raspberry PI is a wonderful device: so simple, yet so powerful and useful. As a regular VPN user, you will probably want to set up a VPN connection on your Rasp as well. The process is not trivial, but it can be done without much hassle. Learn how to set up a Raspberry PI VPN.
What is RaspberryPI VPN and why would you need one?
If you are using your Raspberry PI as a desktop computer, then you may need VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to: secure your Internet connection, protect yourself from hackers or unblock restricted websites.
As expected, due to hardware and software restrictions, you may NOT use Raspberry PI VPN in the same way you use VPN on a regular desktop or laptop.
How to configure the VPN on Raspberry Pi?
This article covers the way you set up a VPN connection on a RaspberryPI, not the way you install a VPN server on your Raspberry PI device. If you are interested in using your device as a VPN server here are some useful article: [click to continue…]
Have you heard about the fact that PureVPN keeps logs and you plan to switch to another VPN provider? This post lists 7 PureVPN alternatives for secure browsing and unblocking streaming sites.
PureVPN logging policy
As I have explained several times on this blog, it is hard to tell if “no logging” really means that no (to be read zero) logs are kept for each user or connection. I believe that “No logs” is more likely a marketing strategy and that most of the VPN (Virtual Private Networks) providers are maintaining (some) logs for their protection. Logs that can, in some cases, be handed out to authorities.
Anyway, PureVPN did what most of the companies would have done in the same situation: provided the info requested by FBI.
It is debatable if what they did was wrong or not. The question is: what can you, as a PureVPN user, do? And the answer is simple: if you don’t care about logs you don’t need to do anything, but if you do, you need to start looking for alternatives.
How to look for PureVPN alternatives?
Take a look at the list below or search Google. You will find plenty of PureVPN alternatives for surfing anonymously and unblocking restricted websites. Do not jump to the first one that looks good! Take your time and look for user reviews and reviews written by bloggers. These will help you make an informed choice.
7 PureVPN alternatives – Top VPN (Virtual Private Networks) providers
I have selected seven excellent VPN providers that may offer what you need: an extended number of server locations, unlimited bandwidth, excellent support, and good connection speed. Make sure you also read the additional tips. [click to continue…]