Tag Archives: Tor

How To Use Tails And VPN To Increase Privacy

If you’re concerned about your Internet privacy, you’ve probably heard about Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) and Virtual Private Networks.

Here is a rundown on how to use these tools to help protect your data.

What Is Tails OS?

tails-and-vpn

Tails is a Linux-based, live operating system that you can boot up on almost any computer from a USB drive or DVD. Tails runs independently of the computer’s operating system, leaving no trace unless you explicitly ask it to.

The goal of Tails is to preserve your privacy and anonymity and to help circumvent censorship. It includes several applications pre-configured with security in mind. These include but are not limited to: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, and many more.

Tails uses the Tor anonymity network to protect your online privacy. Tor works by bouncing your connection around a volunteer-based network of relays around the world.

Using Tails And VPN To Increase Privacy

The best way to use Tails and VPN in unison is by placing the VPN connection before the connection to Tor. This setup yields the most benefits, including but not limited to:

  1. The Tor network thinking you are the VPN server.
  2. If the Tor network is compromised, they must also get past the VPN server.
  3. If your ISP blocks the Tor network, the VPN allows access to the Tor network.

This configuration enables Tails to operate exactly as designed but with a VPN server between your computer and the Internet. This can be easily achieved with a VPN FlashRouter.

What Makes a FlashRouter Different?

A FlashRouter is a custom wireless router with VPN capabilities, allowing for easy connection to your favorite VPN provider. This set up allows for perfect connection from your Tails computer, to your VPN provider, to the Tor network, enabling multiple layers of security.Best DD-WRT Wireless-AD Compatible Netgear Router - R9000 Nighthawk AD7200

Have any questions on which FlashRouter to choose? Check out our most popular models or contact our support team for more assistance!

Turkey Blocks Tor, VPNs to Solidify Social Media Blocks

Turkey Blocks Tor and VPNs to solidify social media blocks

Turkey Blocks Tor, VPNs

Blocking social media sites wasn’t enough. Now restrictive governments are going after Internet anonymity tools.

Once again, a free and open Internet is proven to be a very powerful thing. Why else would oppressive governments move to restrict it when they feel threatened?

Turkey Blocks VPN and Tor

Major social media sites have been massively restricted or outright blocked in Turkey. This is proving to be a rather dispiriting routine for the Turkish government.

Moreover, citizens have grown wise to the recurring threat of Internet censorship from their government and many have taken to using anonymous browsing tools like Tor and VPNs. Why? Tor and VPNs allow Turkish citizens to circumvent the blocks. So Turkey took the next rational step, blocking Tor and select VPNs, according to Motherboard.

“This is something we’ve been through a million times,” Eva Galperin, the global policy analyst at the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Motherboard. “At this point I could write a blog post on Turkish internet censorship using mad libs.”

Now, this isn’t a full TKO for the Turkish government. You can get around VPN blocks and continual changes by setting a VPN at a router with a pre-configured VPN WiFi router. It is an unfortunate development nonetheless.

Unsurprisingly, the Turkish government’s decision to block or massively throttle sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Skype is directly related to their usage by forces that oppose the current government. As ever, the first thing to go is free and easy communication. According to The Daily Dot,

Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, has said “These kinds of measures may be taken from time to time for security reasons. These are temporary measures and when the danger is alleviated, everything returns to normal.”

The “danger” Yildirim is referring to are the protests coming from the opposition, People’s Democratic Party, also known as HDP. The protests sprang up in response to the arrest of 12 HDP party leaders. Preventing opposition forces from communicating and organizing is unsuprising but disappointingly common activity these days. VoIP services like WhatsApp and Skype give users the freedom to speak for free across great distances.

How to Get Around a Turkish VPN and Tor Block

So the Turkish government is forcing opposition party members, and everyone else, to sit in the dark for a while. They’re doing the best they can anyway. As for now, the supposed VPN block list in Turkey includes “Tor Project, VPN Master, Hotspot Shield VPN, Psiphon, Zenmate VPN, TunnelBear, Zero VPN, VyprVPN, Private Internet Access VPN, Espress VPN, IPVanish VPN.”

That said, ExpressVPNVyprVPN, and PrivateInternetAccess are working just fine in Turkey, according to Comparitech. Judge for yourself as to why Turkey would claim otherwise.

Regardless, that also leaves plenty of viable VPNs active in the region. We encourage you to look into other workarounds (*cough, routers with VPN pre-installed, *cough) as well. And keep using VPNs and Tor as much as possible. Anonymity tools are absolutely essential in this era of massive hacks and identity theft. They keep online data safe. Therefore, protecting them is necessary. This won’t be the last time some despotic government goes after Tor and VPNs. Help keep the Internet free.

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What is Tor & How Does it Compare to VPN Service?

Tor: Anonymity Online

Tor: Anonymity Online

Given the import of the NSA’s PRISM program, and it’s surprising durability as a news story, it should come as a surprise to no one that people are seeking out ways to achieve online anonymity. You needn’t be paranoid nor engaged in questionable online activity to prefer that your e-mails remain between you and those you send them to, thank you very much.

We at FlashRouters like to do our part to help people find some level of privacy and comfort while maintaining an active online presence, whether we’re recommending VPNs or providing routers that enable VPN usage and feature advanced security options. The market for online privacy services is a rapidly broadening field, and the more hackers, identity thieves, and intelligence services work to undermine your personal security, the more anonymity services crop up and make their job tougher.

One of the leading forces for internet privacy is Tor, an online anonymity tool that has, unsurprisingly, seen a massive jump in downloads since the PRISM revelations. But there’s plenty more that you should know about this incredible service, and we’ll tell you all about it below…

What Is Tor?

Tor Project

Tor Project

The Tor Project couldn’t be more relevant and necessary than it is today. An open network project that offers its users online privacy, the Tor Project was initially developed for the U.S. Navy with the intention of protecting government communications. And now it works to protect you from the government and other voyeuristic forces. Funny, that.

It works like this: you download Tor, and when you use their network, your traffic is sent around a relay of networks that are run by volunteers set up all over the world. This means no one can know what site’s you visit, and the site’s you visit are unable to find out your actual location.

Tor’s network of virtual tunnels allow companies to create private networks for sending sensitive information online. The ways in which Tor provides a safe forum are limitless. In fact, here’s a sample of the list of ways that Tor can help you, taken from their site:

Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.

Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization.

It’s service like this that explains why the amount of Tor’s users has more than doubled since the PRISM revelations, and why it’s the network of choice for journalists, activists, law enforcement agencies, and regular citizens all over the world.

What is the Advantage of VPN Service versus Tor?

Tor is excellent for basic privacy within a web browser. However, there are some major advantages of using VPN and VPN Routers like the ones FlashRouters provides:

  1. Tor can anonymize your browser-based activity but using VPNs can protect the location and privacy of an entire device or computer not just your browser based activity.
  2. To utilize Tor on multiple devices, you would have to get it installed on all of them. When connecting all devices through a VPN Router, any and all can be completely protected instantly.
  3. Tor  picks a random location to route your traffic. With a VPN Service, you can pick a specific location to router your traffic and tunnel through such as the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong & much more. Server locations depend on the VPN Service. For more details on VPN services, visit our top VPN service provider list.
  4. VPNs allow you to mask your location from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Pandora, and more to unblock geo-restricted content for your laptops, smartphones, and streaming media players like AppleTV WDTV, & Rokus.
  5. Tor does not add encryption to your connection while VPNs do. Some providers, such as IVPN, also work with multiple location hop technology similar to Tor, but with encryption as well.

Tor can count Edward Snowden as a fan, and one with a clearly aligned viewpoint about internet privacy. Julian Assange has also endorsed Tor as a necessary component of Wikileaks functionality. Of course, a couple of endorsements from controversial, high-profile guys like that is all it takes to put a big ol’ target on Tor’s back, as far as the government’s concerned. Then again, if intelligence agencies go after Tor, then Tor just redoubles their protection efforts.

So if your goal is masking communication and browsing alone, Tor might be the right choice for you. But while Tor is an amazing free tool for users looking for protection and privacy, for a full collection of devices, you might want to consider a VPN service. For users who can’t afford that option, Tor is an amazing tool for immediate privacy enhancement, and a great project that is worth supporting and utilizing.

Want more online security and privacy news? Follow us on Twitter (@flashrouters) or like us on Facebook.

FlashRouters Online Security Link Round-Up

FlashRouters Online Security Link Round-Up

FlashRouters Online Security Link Round-Up

Yes, we say this every time, but it has been a really, really long time since we’ve done one of these.

Nonetheless, it’s never too late to jump back in, especially considering the wealth of worthwhile stories about compromised technology, internet privacy, and online security these days. Suffice to say, our usual advice about staying safe online using VPNs and FlashRouters devices is important to remember when considering the issues raised by these stories. Anyway, dig in!

Vulnerable Tech News

Short Password Reset Code Vulnerabilities Hacker News is reporting that they “received a vulnerability report in web applications from some unknown Indian Hacker.” The potentially exploitable is in the password reset process, which could leave many big websites that are reliant on the CAPTCHA image verification system more exposed than they realize.

Also, USB Internet Modems Are Vulnerable Too It seems Hacker News won’t be happy until everyone is trembling in the presence of a computer. In addition to the scary story posted directly above this one, Hacker News is also reporting that an Indian Security Researcher named Rahul Sasi found a critical flaw in a USB Internet Modems or Data Card that allowed him to “execute a malicious code remotely” and gives him full access to a potential victim’s PC.

Zuck Hacked! Well, if Facebook is going to insist on the safety of their site to the point of ignoring warnings from outside IT experts, then this sort of thing is bound to happen. A Palestinian IT expert has infiltrated Facebook CEO’s Mark Zuckerberg’s profile page to demonstrate a vulnerability in the social media site’s security. Khalil Shreateh said he attempted to contact the site about the bug through conventional means, and only took more drastic action when his reports were ignored. Betcha Facebook’s security team takes these sorts of warnings a little more seriously next time.

More WiFi Routers Exposed As Vulnerable to Hacking Once again, Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) have come up with a sizable list of popular wireless routers with common vulnerabilities and exposures. Check out the list and make sure you don’t have one of them.

Google Encrypting Cloud Storage By Default Well, here’s something nice from Google (which a post below will sort of negate): the company is now automatically encrypting all of their customer’s data as they enter it into Google Cloud storage. In fact, even older files will be encrypted in the coming months. Isn’t Google just the best (*high-fives Vince Vaughn)?!

Internet Privacy News

The UK's Pornography Blockade

The UK’s Pornography Blockade

No Expectation of Privacy When Using Gmail? – Hey, remember that thing we said about Google being the best? Well, we’re already rethinking that after reading this recently uncovered court filing, in which Google said that Gmail users (you know, the only e-mail service anyone uses anymore) have no “reasonable expectation” of privacy regarding their e-mails. And you thought you were being funny when you put quotes around the phrase “private e-mails”.

The UK’s Online Pornography Ban Perhaps you’ve heard about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to effectively block online pornography in the UK. Well, as you might imagine, there are plenty of ways around it, and we’re happy to tell you about them.

Don’t Be Tricked By “Browlock” You up for one more scary story from Hacker News? Well, this time, they’re warning you about a cyber criminals who’ve figured out how to trick unsuspecting web users into believing the police have locked their computer until the user pays a fine. Read up and stay safe.

How Much Are Instagram Likes Worth to You? You ever post something on Instagram that was then “liked” by someone you’ve never met? Then you go to their page and find that they’re basically selling their “likes”? Apparently, some buzz-seeking businesses are taking advantage of these phony likes, purchasing the malware-based services these companies offer to make their business look popular and hip.

Baby Monitor Hijacker We’d be hard-pressed to think up a creepier story than this one: someone hacked a baby monitor in suburban Houston, Texas and said absolutely terrible things to a sleeping two-year old. Follow this link to learn how you can prevent this sort of thing from happening to you.

WiFi Fun Straight Out of the FlashRouters Camp

How Bout Some WiFi in Your Tooth? Have you ever wished you could track your speaking, eating, drinking, and/or smoking habits? Us neither, but the technology is fast approaching, so start working on your reason for why you don’t want to do it.

Google WiFi Coming to Starbucks If you’ve been feeling like your Starbucks is a little crowded lately, then this can only come as bad news: WiFi speeds at Starbucks are about to drastically increase now that the company has traded their old AT&T coverage for Google WiFi hotspots.

WiFi Slowly Filters Into NYC Subways You’ve seen people staring at their phones on the subway even though you know good and well that they have no signal. Well, soon enough, those people won’t look so foolhardy anymore as subway stops and trains start getting wireless service.

Our WiFi-ed World

Our WiFi-ed World

If You Could See WiFi Signals If we had to guess about what the world would look like with visible WiFi signals, we’d have assumed the worst. But, as it turns out, when artist Nikolay Lamm and former NASA employee M. Browning (who has a PH.D in Astrobiology) imagine it, the results are rather beautiful.

Retail Stores Tracking Customers Info Log in to the public WiFi that some retail stores offer, and run the risk that the stores start tracking your shopping habits. Just a warning.

…And One, Last, Fun Miscellaneous FlashRouters Link

The Internet, As Understood By Teen Actors in 1997 And finally, we had some fun with this last week, but it’s worth another look: the quaintness of this internet instructional video from 1997 is matched only by its cringeworthiness (and no, a web page isn’t something ducks walk on).

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