6 Ways You Can Surf The Web Anonymously

anonymous-surfing
Concerned about your online privacy? Are you doing everything possible to maintain your online anonymity or are you simply relying on pure luck? Tweaking a few of your browsing behaviors and adjusting the default setting will prevent marketers, social networks, search engines, hackers and governments from collecting information about your online activity.

VPN Services

A virtual private network (VPN) is a physical server that is controlled by the VPN service provider. This server acts as the “middleman” between your computer and the global network.

The VPN server encrypts all of the data transferred between your computer and the global network. This encryption prevents third parties from getting access to information about your web traffic.

VPN encryption becomes essential when you use open wi-fi networks. Such networks are inherently unsafe and you need to be extra-careful about using your laptop in a café, at the airport or a hotel. These services eliminates such worries and enables you to use all kinds of networks safely and anonymously.

Web Proxies

Many web proxies are free and completely anonymous. Anonymouse is just one example of such an online privacy possibility.

The web proxy acts as an intermediary between your computer and the global network, much like the VPN does. Its main aim is to keep your IP address hidden. The web proxy service provider, however, is aware of your IP address information, which may decrease the attractiveness of the service.

Reading reviews and choosing the right web proxies is the key to maintaining anonymity. Some web proxy services are set up by hackers and designed specifically for the collection of personal data. Do your research before opting for one possibility or another.

Encrypted Chat Services

Encrypted chat services encrypt your communication with others, as well as all file transfers. Cryptocat is one example of such a service.

Many chat encryption services are offered as browser extension and they encrypt all chat communication on the client’s side. Most often, encrypted chat software will use off-the-record (OTR) messaging protocol. The protocol enables two users to communicate with each other while the communication is being encrypted.

Advanced encrypted chat services guarantee the privacy of group chats, voice and video conversations. Some of these possibilities can be used alongside popular chat options like Facebook chat. They will encrypt the social media communication, guaranteeing a level of anonymity that is originally unavailable.

Tor

Tor is a free open network that was initially designed to guarantee the privacy and classification of governmental communication. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a privacy advocacy organization, recommends the use of Tor to make online activities anonymous and more secure.

The traffic is routed through a series of servers before the data reaches its final destination. These servers are operated and maintained by Tor volunteers across the world. The technology used delivers wonderful results in terms of keeping your IP address hidden.

There’s one main disadvantage connected to using Tor – since the data passes through numerous servers, browsing could become quite slow.

Private Social Networks

Private social networks have established themselves as a wonderful alternative to traditional social media like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Websites like Ello don’t feature advertising, which means that the member information is not shared with third parties. Facebook became notorious for its attempts to deliver targeted advertising by sharing personal data of its members with companies. Private social networks enable individuals to enjoy the “community” experience without threatening their online privacy.

Closed social networks can be used for personal communication or business interactions (much like Linkedin). It’s also possible to establish your own closed social network and add members on a per-invitation basis.

Browser Tweaks

One of the simplest possibilities for boosting your online anonymity involves adjusting the default settings of the browser that you use.

Start by disabling cookies. The cookies are small text files that contain information about your online activities. Many websites use cookies to guarantee a higher level of personalization.

Many browsers, including popular options like Google Chrome and Firefox, have an incognito browsing possibility. Using your browser in incognito mode doesn’t store information about your activities and the websites that you visited.

Finally, get in the habit of deleting your browsing history on a regular basis. If you want to, you can prevent the browser from storing any history whatsoever.

Changing your online behavior is one of the most important factors for keeping your personal data safe. Many privacy solutions are free or quite inexpensive, as long as you’re willing to make the transition and substitute convenience for a higher level of security.

Using VPNs For Torrenting To Keep You Protected

Connectivity has become nothing short of ubiquitous and we are completely, totally and utterly reliant on it. However, the internet is still just a jungle, full of guerrilla hackers that will stop at nothing to get information out of everyday people like you and me. Besides these, there are totalitarian regimes and governments (including our own, as it now transpires) who want to make sure you can only access what they want you to see, and they want to keep tight tabs on what you are doing as well. This is why you should stay away from public networks and choose to use a VPN instead, particularly if you are interested in torrenting.

pirateflagPublic networks are nothing but cesspools for horrible things like Honeypot attacks, Wi-Fi spoofs and Firesheep, and then there is the NSA and PRISM of course. However, sometimes you simply have to work with sensitive data when you’re in a public area, such as if you work remotely. The information that you are potentially handing over in this case is huge and you must make sure you are better protected. With torrenting, for instance, we all worry about that dreaded email that we have been “caught” and need to cough up the dough for all those movies and albums we downloaded. Nightmare!

By using a VPN instead, you can access any network and share your data completely privately, even if you are on an open, public network, such as the McDonald’s Wi-Fi hotspot. It is like a firewall, which protects your computer’s data, but this actually protects you online. Technically, a VPN is a Wide Area Network (WAN), but it allows you to have all the security, functionality and appearance as if you would be on the private network. Perfect, in other words, because you don’t need to be a computer genius in order to continue to access your favorite torrent sites.

Corporations are using VPNs more and more commonly, but now individual users are starting to catch on to the benefits. A VPN that doesn’t log uses encryption protocols and dedicated connections to give you a virtual P2P connection. This means that if a really good hacker would somehow be able to get into that connection, they would not be able to know what you are doing, because all your data is fully encrypted. Besides this, VPNs that don’t log also don’t have a fixed IP address, which means your physical location will always remain completely hidden. This also means that you can get around content filters, including, by the way, the Great Firewall of China. You can get past all of the nasty filters our own government has put in place and you can actually watch that YouTube video that they so badly want to keep hidden from you. And download a couple of good movies while you’re at it, of course!

It is actually really easy to sign up to a VPN network. You do have to make sure that you work with a provider that has a commitment to keeping your data safe and secure. The only way to do this, really, is by not keeping any logs of data and information. There are a number of really good VPNs out there that you may want to consider. Two of the best are Private Internet Access and BTGuard.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is an award-winning VPN that can be used all over the world. They will completely and totally protect your identity and keep your privacy intact. All censorship filters are unblocked (you would be surprised to find out just how much as been hidden from you all this time) and it only takes seconds to connect through their tunnel. Cheap and with many different payment options, this is the VPN of choice for many torrenters.

BTGuard

BTGuard is another of the world’s most respected VPN services. Best of all, they have a service specifically geared towards torrenters, which is the Bittorrent Proxy. For a nominal fee, you are able to access both Vuze and UTorrent, two of the world’s best torrent websites. They are as good as Private Internet Access in as such that they do not keep any records, information or data on file. In fact, if they would be court ordered to provide information, they wouldn’t be able to hand any over even if they wanted to do. The only downside to BTGuard is that they currently only offer limited payment options, although they are trying to improve this.

HideMyAss Pro VPN Review

With free public WiFi hotspots becoming more prominent, being able to secure your information and identity becomes just as important, especially when hackers can simply connect to the same unsecured network that you’re using and start eavesdropping on your information. This might come easily to networking gurus who already know how to cover their tracks, but the general public is quite clueless about some of the steps they can take to secure their data.

Accessing the internet through a VPN service is just one of the things you can do, but most people don’t even know what it can do for them or even how to set one up. One particular VPN service that tries to make it easier for the average PC, tablet and smartphone user to take advantage of VPN is Hide My Ass Pro VPN. So what sets them apart from the competition aside from the catchy name? Read on to find out in my full review.

Hide My Ass Pro VPN Logo

Understanding How VPN Services Protect Your Privacy

Accessing the internet through a non-secured network is one of the easiest ways to get your information and identity compromised. Hackers connected to the same network can easily listen in, capturing things like your usernames and passwords, which eventually allows them to access your accounts and identity. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts the information you send and receive over the network while in transit so that even if hackers are listening in, they won’t be able to make anything of it.

VPN services also allow you to browse the web anonymously. Anonymity is important because it protects your online identity from hackers and network snoops. A VPN can also function to allow you to virtually reside in another country and bypass geographical blocks and censorship laws. Ever try to access your Netflix subscription while vacationing in Asia? If you answer yes then you probably already know what I mean.

You might be confusing VPNs with Web Proxies at this point. They are very different in that a web proxy works within a browser, while a VPN encrypts everything to and from your computer and the internet, regardless of the application. That way, you can send emails via your browser, communicate via your instant messaging client, or simply share files without having to worry that anything will be intercepted on the way.

Pros of Using HideMyAss Pro VPN

HideMyAss Pro  currently gives you access to over 53,000 IP addresses through 442 VPN servers in 110 different locations distributed across a total of 61 countries. And those numbers are growing, as every month, Hide My Ass adds about 15-20 new servers. This aggressive growth helps assure high speeds regardless of where you are connecting to the VPN service from. In fact, HideMyAss has the most number of IP addresses and servers of all the VPN services I’ve tried.

Of course, speed isn’t the main reason people use VPN services. What’s more important is speed, and while HideMyAss automatically gives you a new IP address every time you connect, it also takes it one step further by allowing you to have it changed every so often while you’re connected. You can even change how long that interval is.

There’s also a feature called Secure Bind that makes sure that you can only connect to the internet through a VPN connection. If the software detects that you are no longer protected by a VPN, it will automatically disconnect you. That way, you don’t run the risk of accessing the internet unprotected without knowing.

PC Interface

Another thing I like about this service is that it supports multiple platforms. You can use it on a PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and even configure it directly on your router to make sure that all your devices at home are protected. Other VPN services might be more affordable, but a lot of them stumble when it comes to the number of platforms they support. Hide My Ass Pro VPN doesn’t make that mistake.

Linux is supported, which is nice. The interface is command-based though, but you can request for an Alpha build that comes with a UI. Luckily, I’m not a Linux user so I don’t have to tolerate Alpha software.

One last thing I like is its money-back guarantee. Yeah, it’s not exactly a feature, but being a paid service, there has to be some way that interested customers can try out Hide My Ass Pro without any risk. You can cancel within 30 days, but if you exceed a 10Gb bandwidth cap, you will no longer qualify for a refund.

Cons

To be honest, there aren’t any cons I can think about when it comes to the service. However, trying to get in touch with support is limited to email, live chat and a community forum comprised of Hide My Ass users. It would have been nice to have a phone number to call, but I guess less and less services offer that nowadays.

Pricing and Recommendation

HideMyAss VPN offers three different pricing plans: 1 month, 6 month and 1 year. The 1 month plan is priced at $11.52, which is a bit steep. The 6 month plan is more affordable on a monthly basis, being priced at $49.99 for the entire period, or $8.33 a month. I would recommend going for the 1 year plan, which is $78.66 for an entire year, or the equivalent of $6.55 a month.

Pricing

If you only access the internet through one or two platforms, there are cheaper VPN services out there that focus on PCs, Macs or mobile devices. Hide My Ass isn’t the most affordable VPN service out there, but it offers the widest platform support and most easily configurable software of all the services I’ve used. Heck, the PC and Mac versions of the software allow you to connect with a single button, and the Android and iOS versions require no app at all since they already have built-in VPN settings. If you need a VPN service that doesn’t require any technical knowledge to set up, HideMyAss Pro is an easy choice.

download HideMyAss

Private Internet Access Review

As public WiFi hotspots become increasingly available, the possibility of having your information and identity compromised also increases. If you regularly access the internet through open networks, it is almost inevitable that someone will eavesdrop on your online activity and sniff through your information. If you don’t have some kind of way to block them, you’re identity and information is as good as compromised.

This is where Private Internet Access comes in. Aptly-named, Private Internet Access is a VPN-service that passes the information from your computer to wherever you are browsing online through an encrypted tunnel, keeping out malicious individuals who are after your data. It’s a lightweight, no-nonsense service that requires only one click to instantly protect your data while browsing. Sure, there are a number of other popular VPN services, but Private Internet Access has a few features that set it apart from the competition, which you can learn more about in this review.

Private Internet Access Logo

What is VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a way for you to anonymously surf the internet and keep your information safe. It passes whatever information you send from your computer to a destination site through an encrypted tunnel so that information eavesdroppers can’t pick up your data while in transit. Take note, that a VPN can only protect your information while it’s going from point-A (your computer) to point-B (the destination website) and vice versa. That’s why it’s still important to be wary of the sites you visit since phishing sites and even legitimate websites that have been compromised will still be able to capture your information.

How Private Internet Access Works

A VPN service also allows you to mask your location, which happens to be very convenient if the site or online service you are trying to access has location restriction. This is awesome if you have a US Netflix subscription you would like to access while vacationing in Singapore or live in Asia and want to access a YouTube video that’s been restricted for US viewers only. There are many other situations where this would come in handy, but these are the most common.

What Sets Private Internet Access Apart From Competing VPN Services?

Naturally, Private Internet Access gives you all the basic functionality that you expect from a typical VPN service, but it’s the advanced features that really set it apart from the competition. My favorite feature is the VPN Kill Switch, which automatically kills your internet connection if the VPN created via Private Internet Access gets disconnected. This ensures that malicious individuals won’t suddenly have access to your information when the VPN goes down.

You can also turn on something called DNS Leak Protection, which routes all DNS requests through the VPN. This is quite possibly the best way to secure your information and keep your identity anonymous, but it can be buggy when you use it in a non-standard environment. Still, it’s a very nice feature to have when the environment supports it.

Private Internet Access also allows you to setup the VPN service on the network router itself. Just make sure that your router supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP and other consumer level VPN services. It’s a great way to make the most of your 3 device license limit but is only something that network administrators and networking gurus will really appreciate.

One cool thing that I noticed that isn’t necessarily feature is that using the internet while using the Private Internet Access VPN was that speeds were often considerably faster compared to when I wasn’t using it. And it was consistent, too. No matter what city I was in at the time or which free WiFi hotspot I had decided to mooch off of, speeds never dropped below what they would have been if I wasn’t connected to VPN, and they were often a lot faster.

Despite all the advanced features, Private Internet Access is surprisingly one of the most lightweight VPN services I’ve ever used. There’s no fancy control dashboard or application window; just a small icon in the system tray. You can right-click on it to bring up some options, but that’s about as heavy a UI as you’re going to get.

A Few Cons

If there’s anything I can’t like about Private Internet Access, it’s the fact that there’s no free version or some sort of trialware that I could use to try the service out first. Being a paid VPN service, it would have been nice to know what you’re getting into and find out exactly what it can do for you. A service can be really good, but if customers shun it in favor of another one that allows them to try it first, that’s a lot of potential revenue lost, and there are a lot of free VPN services, as well as those that offer free trial periods.

Another thing I don’t like is that it’s only available for PCs and Macs. An Android app is in development and the iOS version will be close behind, but there’s no definite time frame for when they will come out. With more and more people accessing the internet through their mobile devices, this is definitely a biggie.

Pricing and Recommendation

Payment Plans

Private Internet Access offers three different payment plans: monthly, biannual and annual plans. The one with the lowest up-front cost is the monthly plan, which is $6.95 a month. Then there’s the biannual plan that gives you 6 months for $35.95, or the equivalent of $5.99 a month. Finally, there’s the annual plan that allows you to buy 1 year of VPN access for $39.95, or the equivalent of just $3.33 a month.

If you want to try out the service before committing to as long as a year, I’d recommend trying it out for a month for $6.95 so you can decide if it has what you want. Sure, you’re losing out on the dollar equivalent of an extra month’s worth of service on the one year option, but it’s better than wasting $39.95 for a year of service for something you don’t like. Also, if you’re going to choose a longer plan, go with the one year plan as it’s only $4 more from the 6 month plan.

It’s hard not to like Private Internet Access. It’s so successful at being able to satisfy both advanced users and complete beginners to networking. It does so many things while remaining light and streamlined. At the moment, Private Internet Access is the only VPN service I would recommend regardless of the experience level of the user.

download Private Internet Access

New Solution For Breaking Through China’s Great Firewall

raspberry piWhile the Chinese government invests its time and resources on Internet censorship at a massive scale, individuals in the country continue to create simple hacking solutions that give them free access to information.  A new blow to the nationwide online blackout, dubbed by many as the Great Firewall, has surfaced in the form of a small Raspberry Pi computer.

A Reddit user going by JaiPasInternet recently posted a technique that involves turning the simple single-chip Raspberry Pi into a wi-fi hotspot.  The user connected to a virtual private network (VPN) in France through the open-source software OpenVPN.  VPNs, used by many companies to allow their employees to connect to private networks when they are not in the office, are also crucial tools for uncensored Internet access overseas and peer-to-peer Internet privacy anywhere.  OpenVPN allows users to authenticate the peers who are helping them connect.  This extra encryption is a powerful tool for overcoming firewalls, as China is increasing its attack on foreign VPNs by programming its security system to discover and block such networks.  While some protocols for VPNs have been discovered and shut down in China, there are still others that offer free access to information.

With the Raspberry Pi chip connected to a VPN, the user JaiPasInternet simply plugged the device into a wi-fi dongle, setting up a hotspot like any Internet cafe.  The software daemon hostapd helped create the hotspot connection.  The Reddit user said that although it took some time initially to connect to the VPN server, the connection was strong and consistent once established.

JaiPasInternet continues to successfully use this technique to out-fox the firewall in China:

“I use it on a daily basis with my iPhone and Android tablet (way better than the included VPN client) but the good thing is that, wherever I go, I just bring my Raspberry, plug it into ethernet and to any usb plug, and after a few minutes, I have my censor-free Wi-Fi hotspot.”

The Reddit poster also claims that this method is relatively easy to set up, citing an ELinux Wiki page that gives instructions for the technique.

The Raspberry Pi method makes the Internet user and the overseas VPN client much more difficult for authorities to track and shut down, essentially hiding the activity.  As word spreads about the ease of this method, there may be many more users in China with unlimited access to websites like Twitter, Facebook, and any number of Western news media sites — at least until the Great Firewall develops a new tracking method, causing hackers in China to scramble for a new solution for their delivery of free information.

What Is A VPN And Reasons To Use One

VPN is an acronym for “Virtual Private Network” which simply means that you are able to connect securely over the Internet with another secure network. These can be very useful for people who need to access websites which are not available in their geographical region or to hide browsing activity when users are on a public WiFi network. Basically the VPN forwards traffic first to the network effectively bypassing any censorship on the Internet.

So What Exactly is a VPN

Whenever you connect your computer, smart-phone, tablet or other device to the VPN it acts just the same as if it was connected to the local network – any internet traffic is directed to the secure connection of the VPN which means that your computer has access to the resources of the local network of the VPN even from across the other side of the globe. This can be very beneficial for people who need access to information sites which are only available to specific geographic locations and they are not present in that location.

The VPN effectively acts as a go between forwarding any requests for you and bringing back the correct response via a secure connection. Many people use this type of facility to access sites like Netflix or other television sites – as far as Netflix is concerned it will think that you are based within the United States no matter where you are in the world.

Why Use a VPN

VPN’s are actually quite a simple idea which can be used effectively for many different reasons:

  • A VPN can be used whie traveling as a means to access a home network – so no matter where you travel to in the world you can access the internet securely.
  • A VPN can also be used whilst traveling as a means of accessing a business network – this can help to increase internet security for business travelers as the local resources are not directly exposed on the Internet.
  • VPN’s are also very useful for people who regularly, or even occasionally use public WiFi networks. People who use a public WiFi network are leaving their browsing activity open to exposure to anyone close by who knows where and how to look for the data. By using a VPN the only thing that they will be able to discover is the single, secure connection to the VPN and all other activity will be hidden from view.
  • VPN’s are also terrific for people who want or need to access websites which are intended for use only within a specific geographical area. Americans will be able to access sites like Netflix, Hulu and Pandora for example when they are traveling in other parts of the world, well, just so long as the VPN is in the USA they will anyhow!
  • VPN’s can also be used as a means of bypassing internet censorship. The Great Firewall of China is an example of this, many of the people of China gain access to the entire internet via a VPN connection.

As you can see VPN’s have many different uses for many different people.

 

Rank
Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
1
Private Internet Access
12
$6.95
2
Hide My Ass
140
$11.52
3
IPVanish
41
$10
4
PureVPN
18
$9.95
5
VPN4All
50
$9.95

Using VPNs Get Around The Great Firewall Of China

In late December, a number of VPN companies and their users reported a number of VPN outages.  The latest developments support earlier reports that China has taken a proactive stance at clamping down on VPN technologies.  The question now is whether or not a VPN is still the best way to try and circumvent the Great Firewall of China.

The Recent VPN Blockages Are Based on the Protocol Being Used

The most important factor to consider when trying to get uncensored access to the Internet in China with a VPN is how China has identified popular VPN networks.  In most cases, the VPN companies are not what is being identified, but rather the VPN protocol being used.  This means that the only way to get around this is by using a VPN service that offers multiple protocols.  For example, the popular P2P protocol has long had only limited success in getting around the Great China Firewall.  This is because it is one of the least complex which makes it easy for ISPs to spot and block.  Recent reports note that a new technology used by China to filter the web can carry out complex encrypted traffic analysis.  Essentially, it learns what connections to block.

A No-Win Situation for Some VPN Companies

The biggest problem VPN companies face is that they do not have a bargaining chip with China.  This is because the Chinese government believes that VPN companies are operating outside of their laws.  As a result, VPN companies are forced to continually improve their methods to stay ahead of Chinese censorship.

What Other Options Are There?

While some VPN companies have faced some struggles against the Great Firewall of China, this isn’t a reason to disregard the VPN technology altogether.  The first thing to keep in mind is that there aren’t any other consistent options available.  Switching away from a VPN connection isn’t possible because there are not any viable alternatives.  The key is choosing the right VPN company.

The Focus Should Be on Available Protocols

Since China primarily blocks VPN companies based upon the tunneling protocol being used, it is essential to choose a VPN service which offers multiple protocols.  This not only provides maximum flexibility from one device to another, but also gives users the ability to switch VPN protocols as needed.  This makes it more difficult for Chinese ISPs to track and analyze the encrypted data.

VPN Companies Are Finding Solutions

As soon as consistent VPN outages were reported, VPN services started to release a variety of quick fix solutions to their customers.  The most common fix is modifying protocols; however modifying MTUs and ports have resolved the problem in some cases as well.  The highest success rates have been reported when TCP adjustments were made.

Stick with a VPN

VPNs are still the best way to get around the Great Firewall of China.  While China is working hard to block VPN traffic, it remains the most viable option that is readily available.

Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
Hide My Ass
140
$11.52
IPVanish
41
$10
VPN4All
50
$9.95

Top VPN Services For The Six Strikes Rule

By now you have likely heard that the Six Strikes Rule is now in affect after a couple of years of development by copyright cartel and the major ISPs.

The reason why a vpn is such a good option is because of how they help you make your online presence more private by masking your true IP address (the thing that is assigned and tracked by your ISP and every website on the planet).  Here’s a quick video of how this works:

With that said, here are a few vpn services that make your internet connection private and out of reach of the prying eyes of your internet service provider.

Rank
Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
1
Private Internet Access
12
$6.95
2
Hide My Ass
140
$11.52
3
IPVanish
41
$10
4
PureVPN
18
$9.95
5
VPN4All
50
$9.95