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Your privacy did not decrease when the US Congress decided to block FCC rules on ISP data collection. That's only because there were no rules before. So lots of you very reasonably are looking into using a VPN. Today I'll discuss what a VPN is and is not good for and how you should go about picking one. And after that the hot news of the week!
CLOSER LOOK - Picking a VPN
In light of US ISP’s continuing ability to mine your data, lots of folks have been asking about VPNs or virtual private networks. This guide is to help folks choose a VPN service and learn a little more about what they do and don't do.
What is a VPN?
Essentially a VPN connects you to Internet resources like websites without letting your ISP or anyone else see your traffic and without letting the website know your IP address. Corporations often use them to keep internal resources like email and intranet pages behind their firewall while allowing remote access.
When do I need a VPN?
Anytime you’re worried someone might be snooping on your unencrypted web traffic you might want to use a VPN.
This is a good measure when using public WIFi like at a coffee shop, airport or in a hotel. But of course it can also be used at home to hide your data from your ISP or hide your IP address from the sites you visit.
VPNs are not anonymous
Most VPN operators know who you are if for no other reason than they have your payment information. Even if you paid with bitcoin, VPN is no guarantee against surveillance. For that you need a more robust tool like Tor. (https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en ) But VPN is good enough for everyday obfuscation.
Also VPN’s don’t stop tracking. If you’re allowing cookies or visiting a site with supercookies it won’t matter that you use VPN. The sites can still track you. For that you need something like privacy badger. (https://www.eff.org/privacybadger )
The downsides of Using a VPN
VPNs aren’t perfect. Because you’re adding a new route for your internet traffic, VPN use can slow down your connection. This is more evident on things like video streaming.
Also some services like Netflix and Hulu block IP addresses known to be used by VPNs. It doesn’t matter if the VPN server is in the same country you are in. In the eyes of Hulu and Netflix you are guilty of trying to circumvent their terms of service and they block you.
How do you know what VPN to trust?
First of all, avoid free ones. The easiest way to pay to run a free VPN is to sell ads which probably means mining your data which is kind of against most of you good reasons to use one in the first place.
Read the terms of service. If you can’t understand them, don’t use that service. Look for whether the VPN keeps logs and what they do with them if they do. Same goes for Timestamp, IP Addresses and payment info. What kind of encryption do they use? What jurisdiction do they fall under?
Some VPNs are a little leakier than others too allowing some requests to skip outside the VPN service. Listener tglass1976 notes that DNSLeakTest is a good way to check your VPN for leaks of your true IP address. https://dnsleaktest.com/
So the last thing you should do before settling on a VPN is read trusted reviews.
PC Mag does a yearly evaluation of several VPN services taking into account security and speed.
Torrentfreak puts out a regularly updated list of the VPN providers that take your anonymity seriously.
And the ultimate resource is the “Detailed VPN Comparison Chart” from That One Privacy Site, as frequently recommended by Shannon Morse over at Hak5. It covers almost everything you can think of including logging, speed and obfuscation, but also goes into things like activism, ethics and policies
My advice in picking a VPN is to cross reference PC Mag’s editors choice with Torrent Freak’s anonymity recommendation then dive into That One Privacy’s chart to make your final decision.
Run your own VPN?
In the end the only true way to be certain of your VPN’s security is to run it yourself. That's not for everybody or even most people. But if you’re game to go that route, head on over to Hak5 and check out their episode “Build your own a Free VPN Server in Minutes and Securely Setup Android Client”
Hope that helps you make some more informed choices about your privacy!
...and now the news!
Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi and John Ternus met with reporters to discuss Apple’s commitment to Pro users. Apple says its “completely rethinking” the Mac Pro and expects to release a new version in 2018 along with an external display. The current Mac Pro specs have been updated with options for a 6-core or 8-core Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 or D700 GPUs and 16 GB of RAM. Spec bumps for the iMac targeted at pro users will come later this year. Apple also noted MacBook Pro sales grew 20% in Q1, Apple ships 80% notebooks to 20% desktops and the mac user base is near 100 million users. https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/04/apple-pushes-the-reset-button-on-the-mac-pro/
YouTube TV launched in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. The service packages in more than 40 channels including all major broadcast networks including the CW plus SyFy, Disney, ESPN, a YouTube Red channel and more, though availability varies by market. You can also add on Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus for $11 and $15 respectively.The app has three tabs. Live, Home for recommendations, and Library for things you’ve bookmakred or recorded to your unlimited DVR. The first month is free and then costs $35 a month afterwards with a free Chromecast to boot. YOu can watch at tv.youtube.com or get the app on iOS and Android. https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/05/youtubes-35-live-tv-streaming-app-is-now-available-in-five-us-cities/
Palmer Luckey has left Facebook, and therefore Oculus, the company he co-founded. In a statement to TechCrunch Oculus said, “Palmer will be dearly missed.” Luckey’s last public statement was September 23rd in response to news reports about his involvement in a group supporting President Trump’s campaign. Luckey did not appear at the Oculus Developer Conference. He did appear in court as part of the lawsuit brought by ZeniMax against Oculus, where Luckey was found guilty of violating an NDA. Hugo Barra took over as VP of VR at Facebook in January. https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/30/palmer-luckey-facebook/
Imagination Technologies disclosed that Apple will stop licensing its graphics processing technology for new products within 15-24 months. Licenses from Apple make up more than half of Imagination's revenue, amounting to 60.7 million pounds in the last fiscal year. Imagination says it, “would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing,” Imagination’s patents. http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/3/15158982/apple-iphone-gpu-imagination-powervr
Business Insider reported that the new name for the combined Yahoo and Verizon properties will be Oath. Daniel Roberts at Yahoo News clarified that the Yahoo brand will not go away, but that Oath will be the media division containing Yahoo's media verticals, AOL blogs, and the Huffington Post. Oath will be led by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and Recode reports that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will not continue on with the new division. https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/03/verizon-might-rebrand-yahoo-and-aol-as-oath/
Eurogamer and Digital Foundry reported specs for Microsoft's upcoming Xbox console currently referred to as Project Scorpio. It features an 8-core CPU at 2.3 GHz, a 40 compute unit GPU with 40 at 1172MHz and 12GB of GDDR5 RAM. There's also a 1TB, 2.5-inch hard drive and a 4K UHD Blu-ray drive. Microsoft demonstrated Forza Motorsport running at native 4K and 60 frames per second. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2017-project-scorpio-tech-revealed
Pebble released an update to its smartphones apps for Android and iOS, decoupling the companies smartwatches from dependency on cloud services for updates and app downloads. It is unknown if services like dictation, messaging, and weather, which depend on cloud services, will contiue to operate once they are shut down. In Fitbit's acquisition of Pebble, the company only committed to keep the smartwatch's cloud services running through 2017. http://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/4/5/15196962/pebble-smartwatches-cloud-services-update-independent
Total US retail sales from recorded music rose 11.4% to $7.7 billion, the biggest rise since 1998. Revenue from streaming services made up 51% of annual revenues for $3.9 billion, up 70% from last year. Sales from paid subscriptions more than doubled while free ad-supported services like Pandora rose 26%. Sales of digital downloads declined 22%. The RIAA would like stronger copyright laws. http://fortune.com/2017/03/30/record-industry-growth/
Facebook added tools Wednesday to make it easier to report sharing of sexually explicit images without the subject’s consent, often called revenge porn. The new option will allow an image to be reported because it is a “nude photo of me.” Once an image has been banned, photo-matching tech will automatically block it from any future posts on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-revengeporn-idUSKBN1771NF
The Association for Computing Machinery has awarded the 2016 Turing Award to WorldWideWeb creator Tim Berners-Lee to be presented at the ACM’s annual banquet in San Francisco on June 24. https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/04/tim-berners-lee-turing-award/
Twitch has begun selling PC games. Partnered streamers will have a Buy Now button on their channel when showing one of the 50 games that Twitch sells. Customers can access purchased games in the Twitch app and other services like Uplay. https://thenextweb.com/gaming/2017/04/05/twitchs-game-store-streaming-fans-now-open/#.tnw_0gvH1Zfb
Intel completed its spinout of Intel Security as an independent company under its previous name McAfee, with Intel Security general manager Christopher Young as CEO. https://venturebeat.com/2017/04/03/intel-security-finally-spins-out-as-independent-mcafee/
Monday, US President Trump signed a bill into law blocking the implementation of FCC broadband privacy regulations https://www.recode.net/2017/4/3/15169748/donald-trump-ends-federal-online-privacy-rules-fcc-data-advertisers
Microsoft published a complete list of the diagnostic data collected at the Basic level in its forthcoming Windows 10 Creators Update which starts rolling out April 11. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/04/microsoft-opens-up-on-windows-telemetry-tells-us-most-of-what-data-it-collects/
Canonical announced it will switch its default user interface back to GNOME as part of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS in April 2018. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/04/ubuntu-unity-is-dead-desktop-will-switch-back-to-gnome-next-year/
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