VPN APPs: What are the most important features to have?

—5 actionable tips that work for all—

Photo Credit: Asaf Hanuka illustrator

Using an internet connection without a VPN in place has its shortcomings. Ranging from security issues to data throttling and data selling without consent, using a VPN to overcome these threats while online has become increasingly popular nowadays. It is safe to say that VPNs are a thing of mainstream culture today,  rather than an exotic tool for all the right reasons.

 

A few years ago, adopting a VPN was not the simplest of tasks for IT managers for a number of reasons which included: deployment, compatibility or interoperability issues and the expense of these systems. Things have changed. VPNs are now entering the mainstream, and many companies view them as a telecommunications necessity from both security and cost perspectives.

 

Originally designed to reduce the costs of connecting branch offices to the main office of a business, VPNs addressed the concern of high costs of leased lines and dedicated connections. The next matter-of-course step was to adapt VPNs to individual remote use, for internal network access and secure operations across the internet.

Widely used by companies to protect corporate data, Virtual Private Networks took over the personal data arena, as well, to such a degree that the use of a VPN has become an almost inalienable, “basic right”, for virtually any kind of private data exposed to the internet.
Beyond connectivity a VPN implicitly means that a secure bridge has been created between any given device using that connection and your business server and that can be on your premises or in the cloud.

 

Photo Credit: Gabriel Silveira illustrator

However, there is still a level of abstract that goes into a VPN connection, especially the ones designed via cloud, since it’s an intangible product and often little know in terms of what aVPN connection should offer as features. As VPN providers ourselves we listed some of the most important features that make the whole VPN concept a bit more streamlined. When choosing a VPN provider we also recommend reading reviews for specific feed back from people who already tried that VPN app.

FEATURES TO LOOK FOR:

* ENCRYPTION*

They say that a VPN is only as good as its encryption capabilities, but encryption in itself is not the simplest of topics. The terminology used to determine how secure a VPN connection is, can get very confusing, very quickly.

 

OPEN VPN CYPHERS

 

AES- 128, the Open VPN Cipher used by My IP.io, remains secure as far as the AES in general is regarded (AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard- right above AES-128 is  the 256-bit keys — also known as the AES-256, which is basically the same encryption standard adopted by the U.S. government and used by security experts worldwide to protect classified information.)

The mathematics of the 128 bit AES goes to show that a billion billion years are required and a supercomputer for a brute force attack to crack it. With this in mind we say that 128 is pretty impressive on its own.
PPP

In a remote- access VPN, tunneling typically relies on Point-to-point Protocol (PPP). When searching for VPN apps you should come across one of these three protocols based on PPP:

  • L2F (Layer 2 Forwarding) — Developed by Cisco; uses any authentication scheme supported by PPP;
  • PPTP (Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol) — Supports 40-bit and 128-bit encryption and any authentication scheme supported by PPP;
  • L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) — Combines features of PPTP and L2F and fully supports IPSec; also applicable in site-to-site VPNs

Credit Photo: Adrià Fruitós – illustrator

SECURE SHELL— SSH

SSH, also known as Secure Socket Shell, is a network protocol that provides administrators with a secure way to access a remote computer. SSH also refers to the suite of three utilities that implement the protocol: — slogin, ssh, and scp — that are secure versions of the earlier UNIX utilities, rlogin, rsh, and rcp.
My IP.io comes bundled with a variety of VPN encryption protocols, supporting all the latest security protocols including SSTP, PPTP, IPSec, L2TP, SSTP and 128bit –AES, OpenVPN cipher.

*AUTO-RECONNECT AND PORT FORWARDING*

One exciting feature is also port forwarding that enables you to connect to considerably more seeds/peers. The disadvantage of port forwarding is having an open port in your firewall, which always carries some security risk, so as a rule, it is best to have as few ports open as possible.

*TRANSPARENCY*

Always go with the VPN provider that is most transparent about things like: logging and the privacy policy they have in place.

 

*KILL SWITCH*

This is a feature that will make sure your IP Address isn’t accidentally exposed in case of a dropped connection with the VPN server. It can react virtually instantly, block your internet connection before your computer has a change to reconnect to the internet outside of your secure VPN tunnel.

*LOCATION SWITCH*

If you are more of the globetrotter typology than the security oriented one or a combination of both, then watching the Olympics live while they happen is a thing for you. For bypassing geo restrictions that your local networks might have for remote gaming or remote working, or listening to location-restricted streaming internet radio a good VPN means a location diverse server list you can chose from.

Geared with brand new locations from California to Florida, from United Kingdom to Germany or Australia to Japan, My IP.io comes with brand new locations to chose from.

Introducing a much more location diverse dedicated VPN service, our latest server acquisitions are located in:

  • USA California
  • USA Oregon
  • USA Ohio
  • USA North Virginia
  • USA Florida
  • Brazil
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • India
  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • Japan

Now that you know how to address the “location” aspect of a VPN, remember that My IP’s latest server locations were hand-picked to deliver the most reliable speed. We continuously update our server locations by analyzing numerous data points, among which: Connection success rate, Customer usage and Speed.

*SPEED*

It is a known fact that major mobile network operators purposely curtail the speed of your connection in order to limit the amount of data you consume. Sometimes as low as 32 kbps.

 

Using a VPN hides the kind of traffic you’re using, so ISPs can’t discriminate against high-bandwith ones— Netflix and possibly other streaming services like Hulu or YouTube can fall into the same category. Major companies like Verizon or Comcast have previously used these practices.

 

When choosing a location it is also important to check things like: Speed Index, Latency, and Download Speed, as these are all important factors.

This is what they mean:

Speed Index: shows how fast the VPN server is; the higher the number, the better the server.

Download Speed: it tells you how fast your VPN server is able to download information; also the higher, the better.

Latency: it’s the time it takes for a data packet to go from your device to reach the VPN.

You can also check the speed of your VPN here.

All in all, we can’t really imagine or sometimes even function outside the online paradigm, from accessing sensitive data at work, to hailing a cab, to social media, to online shopping, we’re putting a lot of corporate or personal data out there in what has become a too easy to be felt routine.

All this data is subjected to government snoop, hacking and “hacktivism” and evensimple browsing can be susceptible to data trawling. You don’t have to be a security advocate to understand the necessity of using a VPN while online, but simply a privacy minded person in a strictly monitored environment or in a completely open one, it makes no difference, really.

Credit Photo: John Holcroft illustrator

My IP.io, the platform of choice for many agile businesses, trusted brand by thousands of happy business owners.

MyIP.io is a self-managed VPN network platform, delivering fast, secure and reliable VPN service , designed with the professional focus in mind. Our platform caters to a wide demographic through three channeled directions:Personal,Dedicated and Business, so it makes for a wonderful choice for corporate or personal use at the same time.

Engineered as a global platform,MyIP.io is a VPN service provider committed to developing applications and services that preserve an open and secure Internet experience while respecting user privacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WannaCry Cyber Attack left a lot of data crippled. Guess who’s not crying? VPN users

Photo Credit: thehackernews.com

 

Last Friday, WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attach struck globally in what has become one of the fastest –spreading extortion campaigns on record.

The virus infected more than 300,000 machines in 150 countries since Friday and the victim numbers continue to grow. In this very moment, someone could be clicking a link or activating macros in a malicious document.

 

 

A few seconds later, the entire hard disk content, personal files and sensitive information, everything including cloud storage accounts synced with PCs could be locked for good. Or for a good tidy ransom. A pop up in bad graphic could then appear on screen asking for “cold hard cash” in return for a decryption key.

 

Photo Credit: heimdalsecurity.com

 

 

If this is what you’re experiencing, well then tough luck. You’re device has been infected with WannaCry. Guess who’s not crying? All those people who are using a VPN. That thing you could never quite grasp the importance of. But wait! How is this even possible, how frequent these things can happen and could they happen to me? you ask.

Ok, let’s give some context and background to the story for clarity.

The first ransomware attack struck in 1989, almost 3 decades ago. It’s hard to fathom now, but the virus spread via floppy disks and involved sending $189 to a post office box in Panama.  AIDS Trojan was the WannaCry ransomware from back in the day.
The following graph shows just how intricate this type of malware has become, in the past 10 years, eased by the appearance of Bitcoin and the evolution of encryption algorithms. Starting out as a minor threat of cyber vandalism, this type of cyber crime is now a high scale money making machine.

Photo Credit: heimdalsecurity.com

 

To name the most recent inglorious attack of this nature we can name the bank heist of no less than $81 million stolen from a Bangladesh bank, that took place only last year.

But ransomware attacks are believed to have broader implications in much more than just making money, as they have been used as tool in cyber battles of political substratum, the attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment – in retaliation for the comedy film “The Interview” is a telling example. The hacker attack was aimed at Sony Pictures for the satirical comedy directed by Seth Rogen, that involved a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  Who knew a Seth Rogen film could get this “inflammable”, right? Well if we think that the attack is believed to being launched by Lazarus Group, allegedly a North Korean run hacking operation is starting to make sense.

 

 

Technical clues found in the code of WannaCry ransomware by researchers could link to the same North Korean group. However, no conclusive proves have been found for a clear conclusion in any of the aforementioned attacks.

 

Photo Credit: thehackernews.com

If in the case of Sony Pictures cyber attack, the goal was to prevent the release of The Interview, a film that mocked a North Korean leader, in contrast WannaCry was wildly random infecting everything it could.

WannaCry didn’t seem to have a pecuniary goal, with more than 200,000 machines infected and around $70,000 paid in ransoms, it’s a terrible return.

Analysts are now turning to another hypothesis, maybe the ransom was a distraction for a political goal that has yet to clearly surface.

 

And here’s were things get really confusing and could take a really steep turn for the left so brace yourself for what I will reveal in the following of what the political implication could be

 

Brad Smith, President of Microsoft Corp, confirmed in a blog post on Sunday that WannaCry attack made use of a hacking tool developed by the NSA (US National Security Agency) that had leaked online in April. This pours fuel on the long running debate over espionage and cyber warfare conduct and software flaws best kept secrets.

 

Photo Credit: www.ft.com

Elevating the subject far beyond the immediate need to improve a computer defenses, the WannaCry attack has turned into a political debate in Europe and the United States with discussion of the role national governments play.

 

Since China was among the worst hit, it seemed unlikely to some that Lazarus was behind all this, as antagonizing North Korea strongest ally would not hold as a good strategy. Having been speculated as having an implication, Russia denied all accusations, but Putin did not waste the change to draw attention on the NSA in the light of Smith’s revealing on the topic.

 

If this story is not in the realm of a true Matrix scenario unfolding, then I don’t know what is. But just as Neo is looking for a way to Zion, you too could be wondering for the same path.

Photo Credit: fliwave.com

These days data that is a day old can usually be recovered, but potentially losing real time data for even 24 hours can produce massive damage for a company, for example,  just like a lack of oxygen to the brain.

 

Unless you have a back up, which companies usually have, but most people don’t, you can be faced with a cyber attack that could damage tones of done work,

memories stored on picture or film or well put together playlists that took years to build.
Here are the most common infection methods used by cybercriminals.

  • Spam email campaignsthat contain malicious links or attachments
  • Security exploits in vulnerable software;
  • Internet traffic redirects to malicious websites;
  • Legitimate websites that have malicious code injectedin their web pages;
  • Drive-by downloads;
  • SMS messages (when targeting mobile devices);
  • Botnets;
  • Self-propagation(spreading from one infected computer to another)

 

SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
In all cases prevention is the best thing you can do. Considering how intricate these attacks are in the large scheme of things is better to take the matter into your own hands and not wait for government to regulate. Besides, do you really trust the government with your personal data? Just a question.

Remember we talked about VPNs at the beginning. Did you know that having a VPN in place can protect your computer from remote attackers? All attacks will stop into the VPN vendor.

 

Having a robust VPN to encrypt your personal data is nowadays, the only way to Zion.

 

Photo Credit: ifc.com

 

Across the world, businesses use VPNs to connect to remote data centers, or for employees to connect remotely to the physical network of their workplace, while individuals can use VPNs to get access to network resources when they’re not physically on the same LAN (local area network), or as a method for securing and encrypting their information from the potential liabilities that lie ahead once exposed to unsecured networks such as public WiFis or hotspots.

REASONS YOU SHOULD START USING A VPN APP. NOW:

  • PROTECTS YOUR DATA FROM REMOTE ATTACKERS

your internal data, sites, git repositories, banking credentials and all information will be coated in multiple layers of encryption;

  • REMOTE ACCESS

as IT is being challenged to enable safe access to employees remotely by providing mobile VPN, secure email, encrypted containers and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), living outside the data security paradigm is simply not smart anymore, whether we’re talking about corporate or personal data;

  • IP CAMOUFLAGE

A simple VPN download gets you a new location identity so that you can use geographically dispersed resources;

  • BYPASSING FILTERS AND GEORESTRICTIONS

Bypassing Internet censorship in countries where censorship is applied;

  • SHARING FILES

You can share files and sensitive information inside a secured group away from prying eyes;

 

MyIP.io is a self-managed VPN network platform, delivering fast, secure and reliable VPN service , designed with the professional focus in mind. Our platform caters to a wide demographic through three channeled directions:Personal,Dedicated and Business, so it makes for a wonderful choice for corporate or personal use at the same time.

Engineered as a global platform,MyIP.io is a VPN service provider committed to developing applications and services that preserve an open and secure Internet experience while respecting user privacy.

MyIP.io is the result of the craftsmanship of our engineers, with many years of experience supporting large-scale, custom deployments for businesses , telecommunications companies, multi-service operators and enterprises.” Dave Wilson, CEO My IP.io

 

 

Congress sold you out, what now?  Simple guide to online data privacy  

 

statue of Cain by Henry Vidal, fragment, Tuileries Garden, Paris, France.

Privacy is a fundamental human right, declared so by the United Nations but don’t rest assured Congress is about to shake that up.

An inglorious attempt to block online privacy regulations to go into effect was made last week by the US Senate and this week’s House decision. Rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission or FCC to ask for permission before selling your browsing data, even though passed in October of last year, under the Obama administration, had not yet gone into effect.

Data collection and data selling is nothing new under the sun for your ISP, so continuing business as usual, selling your data to the highest bidder without bothering to ask you first, is a real privilege. One very particular privilege that sounds more like stepping on one of our most fundamental rights: the right to privacy.

#WHATSTHEDRAMA

 

Photo Credits: simplyclassywatches.tumblr.com

If you’re anything like me, the whole ordeal sounds a bit exhausting and futile since you don’t have “state secrets to hide”. But having nothing to hide doesn’t make a good case for allowing the abuse here, does it? nor does it set the premise to influence change for the better in a digital world becoming less and less private.

Your exact physical location from minute to minute, the constant monitoring, all the websites you visit, your banking details or social security number, clicks, searches, app downloads and video streams, shopping hobbits, porn preferences and even the content of chats and emails fall under the above litigious case. Sure, you’re going to appear as an ID, a long sequence of numbers, but isn’t that just the coldest of comforts? More, isn’t the social profiling that’s the most dangerous, not to mention annoying? And to add to the conundrum, how is it not having to give consent over sharing this information ever going to lead to a greater good? Can we still talk about thinks like the right to privacy then, when our boundaries have shifted so much we can no longer see where we took the left turn.

Rollback of FCC regulations could mean creating a loophole, to put more “in the gray” a matter that’s already debatable, so the next logical thing is to expect those who will take advantage of these loopholes. Even if we step aside from the bias of politics, regardless if this is a matter of democratic or republican enforcement, where do we, as individuals, draw the line?

The upcoming rule of FCC was going to make it slightly more difficult for your ISP to collect and sell your data to third parties like advertisers, by requiring a customer opt-in. This new privacy rule was set to take effect in December of this year, had it not been for the recent House and Senate vote to remove it.

Already passing the Senate, the companion legislation raises legitimate privacy concerns and President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill.

But how was this even possible and who’s benefitting off of it, you wonder? Passed in 1996 to allow Congress to overrule regulations created by government agencies, The Congressional Review Act (CRA) had been used once prior to 2017. With the new administration however, that took over in January, CRA has proven to be very lucrative, being successfully used 3 times to overturn things like environmental regulations and this time online privacy regulations.
Benefitting at the end of the scheme the rollback creates, stand four big companies as speculated: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and Comcast, all proven to have previously used “in the grey” practices of online personal data collection.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPT IN AND OPT OUT

 

Photo Credits: leckte.tumblr.com

there will be voices that will say, there’s no big difference between the opt in policy proposed by democrats versus the opt out advocated by republicans. Don’t believe them, there’s immense difference between the two.

Requesting people to opt in for the collecting and selling of their data to advertisers is reasonably expected to bring infinitely less people volunteering for such a cause, than collecting of data by default. Having to go through exhausting opt out processes will surely make a lot of people put up with the abuse, simply because let’s face it, we have better things to do with our time than constantly monitor our ISPs privacy policies. I would rather get myself a VPN then set a google alert for my ISP’s name and privacy.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

 

Gif Credits: mashable.com

No longer an exotic tool, VPNs are now entering the mainstream and given the context it’s easy to understand why.

Simply put, when you’re using a VPN, all your data travels through a tunnel encrypted from end to end. In other words, your ISP will not be able to make sense of your data, since you’ll have all your online data happen elsewhere, not going through your ISP servers and encrypted all the while.

But it’s not just your ISP that keeps track of your browsing data, it’s your cell phone provider too, most apps, operating systems, and other services do the same.

Smartphones with preinstalled tracking software, secretly bundled with tracking files are sold everyday, while some companies try to leverage the very problem they create by charging extra for privacy.

Having a VPN in place is the smart approach to getting around all this. Think at a VPN as the middleman between you and the internet, where your ISP can only see a bunch of encrypted traffic. And since your VPN knows as much as your ISP would, it’s very important to choose a reliable one with a zero log policy and a strong encryption.

REASONS YOU SHOULD NOT GET A FREE VPN

The phrase “There is no such thing as a free lunch” made popular by Milton Friedman back ’75, remains of great economic relevance today in describing things like “opportunity costs”. However enticing, free VPNs seldom defeat the purpose of what a Virtual private network should be.

· IT AIN’T A FREE LUNCH

A VPN service implies having servers in various countries. The maintenance or renting costs can amount a few figures, depending on volume.

· SELLING USERS BANDWIDTH

“When the product is free. You are the product”-

 

Photo Credits: violettinder.com

using their users as servers by converting them into a botnet, some VPN providers have been revealed, while others admit in their lawyer-eese terms of service, they can sell your bandwidth to other companies.

In other words, by searching a bargain you can be faced with two main issues:

1. Slower computer and internet connection: as you’re sharing your bandwidth and processor with others;

2. Higher Security Risks: assuming responsibility for what other users do online, that can be tracked down back to your IP.

A good VPN will have its own servers and encryption protocols designed for it, reducing possible security failures to a minimum. Free VPN services are often an open door to malware and can be easily used by scammers.

In the FREE vs. PAID matter, its is important to understand that most legit businesses will offer 7 days of free trial, but a free connection on a indefinite period of time is sure to get its profit elsewhere; in ways that can harm your security and defeat the whole purpose of having a VPN in the first place.

We suggest you do yourself a favor and invest a good 5 bucks for a reliable VPN like the dedicated VPN you can get from My IP.io or from another reliable provider.

As a general rule, mundane but so incredibly important, reading the company’s Terms of Service and the Privacy Policy, before buying a vpn service is a thing you should really consider. Ideally, these documents are in plain English and not lawyer-eese.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

  • HTTPS : -makes it harder for your ISP to see what you’re doing on any web site, as they can only see that you’re on YouTube, for example, but not what video you’re viewing.
  • Disabling cookies or installing an ad blocker: — prevents tracking by conventional ad networks;
  • Opting out your ISP
    use a different ISP. Not all ISP want to sell their user’s data. In fact, a list of some of the smaller players — including Sonic, Cruzio Internet and Etheric Networks — wrote a letter opposing the repeal of the FCC’s privacy rules. The only problem is that they’re not as wide-spread as the big players and you might not have the luxury to chose a smaller company.

Having a robust VPN to encrypt your personal data is nowadays, the only way to Zion.

And as we’re not looking to exhaust the “hide everything I do” reasoning; we mainly believe that a VPN is not paramount to activity that borders on illegal, but the very symbol of our right to the privacy acumen.