Tag Archives: vpn

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!

Verizon VPN: What Is It And Why You Shouldn’t Use It

Verizon VPN

Watch out: Verizon VPN is now “a thing.” The Internet Service Provider has unveiled that they will be launching a Virtual Private Network service dubbed Safe Wi-Fi. But is this service really safe? Can you really trust Verizon to protect your information?

Verizon VPN: Can You Trust Them With Your Data?

For most users, using a VPN means uncompromised security and encryption. A VPN means freedom from logging, tracking, and prying eyes. Using Verizon’s VPN goes against everything a VPN stands for.

In essence, the point of a VPN is to circumvent your ISP and hide your information from them. When your ISP owns your VPN, are you really hiding your information?

Verizon’s Supercookie Technology

A few years ago, Verizon was forced to settle with the Federal Communications Commission over their “supercookie” web tracking software. This allowed for tracking of interests and actions by Verizon without user consent.

Verizon had been selling information gathered by their “supercookie” technology to third parties to use for ads. Luckily, the FCC has since cracked down on Verizon’s shady business and forced an opt-out solution for their “supercookies.”

Verizon Does Not Support Net Neutrality

With Net Neutrality dead and gone, it just gives ISPs like Verizon all the more power over your online information. The new rules, or lack thereof, allow for ISPs to sell your online data without consent. With a Verizon VPN, this makes selling your information easier than ever.

The Verdict

Are you really prepared to give up your privacy to Verizon? Of course, it may be enticing at only $3.99 a month with the promise to block advertising and secure your connection, but there are so many better options.

With the Verizon VPN, only devices connected to your Verizon account can access the service. Is this to limit the connections to the VPN? Or is it to track your online activity through the VPN? Who knows?

This also means that you can only use the service on certain devices, which does not include your Wi-Fi only iPad or Mac device.

Alternative VPN Services

Luckily, FlashRouters has teamed up with the best and most trustworthy VPN providers to offer you the best services and privacy solutions. Take a look at some of our favorites below.

  1. ExpressVPN  Now offering the easiest to use custom plug and play VPN router solutions. Top performance in Asia and Australia.
  2. NordVPN – Top service for users in the EU.
  3. IPVanish  Level 1 server speeds worldwide & popular in countries like Saudi Arabia & the UAE.
  4. PrivateInternetAccess  Always a VPN service budget favorite.

Once you select one of these top-notch VPN providers, the next step is to protect your home wireless network and devices. How do you do this? With a FlashRouter of course!

FlashRouters: The All-In-One Solution

What Makes a FlashRouter Different?

A FlashRouter offers capabilities and features beyond your normal everyday router. With open-source DD-WRT firmware pre-installed on each FlashRouter, you get a supercharged and privatized router to protect you and your family.

DD-WRT allows our FlashRouters to be VPN capable, effectively routing any connected devices to any VPN provider of your choice, regardless if they support VPN connections or not. This means that your iPhones, iPads, and various other tablet devices can be protected as well.

Better yet, DD-WRT also has the capabilities to block ads on your entire home network, keeping trackers and “supercookies” out of your browsing data.

And for the cherry on top, we’ve developed a new and intuitive router app to streamline your home network experience. The FlashRouters VPN Privacy App runs directly from your Internet browser enabling users to quickly change options and settings from your computer or mobile phone.

Ready to protect your home network? Check out our best FlashRouters of 2018 or contact our support team for more information!

Spring Cleaning Checklist: Keeping Your Home Wireless Network Secure

Spring has finally come around, so get out your spring cleaning list!

Here at FlashRouters, we are not concerned with typical spring cleaning tasks. Instead, we put our focus on cleaning up cluttered computers and securing home networks.

Take a look at our spring cleaning checklist to get a fresh start this spring with a spruced up and protected network.

1. Remove Computer Clutter

After constant use of your computer, you tend to accumulate random apps and files that you no longer use. FlashRouters recommends a deep clean each Spring.

First on our spring cleaning checklist is cleaning your computer by uninstalling applications and clearing caches and files. Your operating system’s built-in uninstaller can usually handle this task fairly well. Furthermore, performing uninstalls of unused apps clears your computer’s drive space and prevents apps from running in the background.

CCleaner Application

If you do not want to use the built-in uninstaller, a good application to perform uninstalls is CCleaner. CCleaner cleans and optimizes your computer as well as clears tracking files and browsing data. It offers easy one-click cleaning for beginners as well as advanced features for power users. This program can usually cover all your bases for users looking to clean their computers.

2. Defrag Your Computer

As stated by Windows,

Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Removable storage devices such as USB flash drives can also become fragmented. Disk Defragmenter in Windows rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. Disk Defragmenter runs on a schedule, but you can also analyze and defragment your disks and drives manually.

Windows Disk Defragment and Optimize

To defragment your hard disk on a Windows computer, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Search “Defragment and Optimize Drives”
  3. Click Analyze to determine if your drives need to be defragmented
  4. For drives that are over 10% fragmented, click the Optimize button
  5. Windows will now defragment your drive

You can also allow windows to handle defragmenting on a scheduled basis to ensure your computer is running smoothly.

3. Change Your Router Username And Password

The first step to securing your home wireless network is changing your router login information. Right out of the box, every router comes with a generic username and password. The username is usually “admin” and the password is usually “password” or blank.

This generic, default login info makes it incredibly easy for individuals to access your router and potentially steal your private information. There are even websites indexing over 73,000 unsecured network cameras, allowing anyone to access and view. Changing your username and password to something only you or someone you trust knows is highly recommended.

4. Encrypt Your Home Wireless Network

This step is a given. Every router comes with options to encrypt your home wireless network, but there are many settings and techniques that can make it even more secure.

When encrypting your network, it is recommended that you use the security protocol WPA2 Personal, at least until WPA3 comes out. Using the WPA2 protocol along with the encryption type AES is one of the safest combinations thus far.

Next, picking the right password will make it nearly impossible to break into your wireless network. Your wireless network password should not be the same as your router password. Check out some of our tips to make a great password to secure your home wireless network.

5. Use A Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network, or VPN, is a way to completely encrypt your Internet traffic. This is done by creating a tunnel between your device and the Internet by means of a secure server. This server can be located in a completely different country, essentially making it look like you’re in a different country.

Take a look at some of our most popular VPN service providers:

  1. ExpressVPN  Now offering the easiest to use custom plug and play VPN router solutions
  2. NordVPN – Top service for users in the EU.
  3. IPVanish  Level 1 server speeds worldwide & popular in countries like Saudi Arabia & the UAE.
  4. PrivateInternetAccess  The longtime economy VPN service budget favorite.

Unfortunately, most VPN services only allow a certain number of devices to utilize a VPN. Luckily, FlashRouters has a fix.

Spring Cleaning With A FlashRouter

What Makes a FlashRouter Different?

A FlashRouter is a complete solution to securing your home wireless network. Our devices come with a different username and password for both the router and wireless network, allowing for the best security right out of the box.

Each FlashRouter comes pre-installed with open-source firmware, upgrading the capabilities and security of the device. One of the upgrades that open-source firmware provides is the ability for a FlashRouter to run a VPN. This protects your entire home wireless network and any device that connects to it.

ac5300-front-900Nighthawk Netgear Secure VPN Router
Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRTR7800 Nighthawk DD-WRTLinksys WRT1900AC v2 DD-WRT
Wireless-AC5300 Mbps
1.4 Ghz Broadcom Processor
8 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC2600 Mbps
1.7 Ghz Broadcom Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Prepares Your Network For All The Latest Devices
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$499.99$349.99$299.99

Any questions or concerns? Feel free to contact our support team!

Net Neutrality Update: How Do We Keep Our Internet Safe?

As you may have heard, Net Neutrality has been repealed by the FCC. Essentially, telecom companies can now block content, slow internet speeds, and even charge premium prices for higher-quality services.

What Was Net Neutrality?

In 2015, the Obama administration enacted Net Neutrality rules. These regulations provided strong supervision of broadband companies.

In essence, the goal was to offer high-speed Internet connectivity and make Internet equivalent to other utilities, such as electricity, telephone, or even gas.

However, with the new FCC regulations in place, Internet providers and broadband services can up-charge for their services and access to different content.

What To Do Now About Net Neutrality?

With the use of a VPN, or virtual private network, individuals can get around Net Neutrality regulations set by your ISP.

A VPN is a privacy and security tool that prevents your ISP from seeing your online activity. With a VPN, connections are routed to a VPN server. This disallows your ISP from seeing what you do on the Internet.

Without being able to see your Internet activity, your ISP cannot block your connection or access to content.

Net Neutrality Effects To Look Out For

While a VPN can prevent an ISP from blocking or throttling your Internet traffic, only time will tell how they will respond to these circumvention techniques.

An ISP could theoretically block or throttle all VPN traffic itself, completely nullifying VPNs.

However, this is unlikely to happen because a large number of businesses utilize this technology. This is to secure communications between offices and to allow remote workers access to corporate LAN resources.

Additionally, the biggest danger to VPN services is whitelisting. Instead of blacklisting VPN services, ISPs can start whitelisting selected servers.

VPN – A Net Neutrality Hero?

Since these new regulations set forth by the FCC are still fresh, only time will tell how much the Internet as we know it will change.

The best option for an individual to retain full Internet access is by using a Virtual Private Network. Taking advantage of a VPN allows for users to place all their traffic through a tunnel. This tunnel not only protects your network but allows you to appear as if you are in another location.

Concerned about ISPs potentially throttling your favorite streaming services? A VPN can help prevent this. As all traffic will be encrypted by the VPN tunnel, your ISP will not be able to see your activity. Consequently, they will not be able to throttle your streaming- as they will not be aware you are streaming.

At any rate, recommended VPN providers include NordVPN and IPVanish.

Sadly, most VPN services only allow a few devices to connect to their network.

Luckily, FlashRouters has a solution.

A FlashRouter allows your wireless router to use a VPN, protecting all your connected devices whether it be a computer or a smartphone.

The Netgear Nighthawk R9000 (pictured above) is the latest addition to the FlashRouters family. This router uses next-gen Wireless-AD and a behemoth 1.7 GHz processor. Furthermore, the R9000 is the perfect device for any user looking to take advantage of a VPN on the router level.

Looking for a device a little less intense? Use our Router Finder to find the best router for you.

Have any questions on how this works? Feel free to contact our support team.

Net Neutrality: The Pros And Cons

The net neutrality debate has been an ongoing fight between consumers and telecom giants. This past summer, the Internet held a day of action to raise awareness against the Federal Communications Commissions attacks. Unfortunately, this was not enough.

Just this Tuesday, the FCC announced a plan to repeal regulations set by the Obama administration. This proposal will allow ISPs to throttle Internet speeds and allow companies to charge extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services.

UPDATE 11/30/2018: The Internet is making a last and unfortunately, final, push for the fight for Net Neutrality. The deadline to gather support and signatures to reinstate Net Neutrality rulings is December 10, 2018. This discharge petition must be signed by 218 members of the House, with only 177 current signatures, 176 being Democrats.

While this rollback could technically take place until January 3rd, 2019, it would be highly unlikely given that the House will then be in Republican control.

UPDATE 11/12/2018: AT&T’s Randall Stephenson is now calling on Congress to enact Net Neutrality and privacy legislation. Stephenson called for legislative clarity around the issue of broadband Internet access, citing that certain basic principles should be made into law. 

He also called for Congress to ban behaviors such as blocking or slowing access to certain content. Without national legislation on the matter, states will step in to pass their own laws much like what many are already doing.

“What would be at total disaster for the innovation we see in Silicon Valley is to pick our head up and have 50 different sets of rules across the U.S.,” said Stephenson.

Currently, the case is making its way through federal courts.

UPDATE 10/19/2018: The New York attorney general’s office is investigating fraudulent Net Neutrality comments, citing that up to 9.5 million comments were submitted through stolen identities. Last year over 2 million comments were filed using names without people’s knowledge, while some even used names of dead people.

The FCC has since announced a plan to overhaul the comment system to deter fraud and abuse. This is far too late as the vote to end Net Neutrality rules have been over for nearly six months.

UPDATE 10/5/2018: A lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California. This lawsuit was filed by mobile industry lobby CTIA, cable industry lobby NCTA, telco lobby USTelecom, and the American Cable Association.

Together, these four lobbies represent all the biggest mobile and home Internet providers in the US as well as hundreds of smaller ISPs. Some of these ISPs include Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US, Cox, Frontier, and CenturyLink.

The lawsuit states that California’s law to reinstate Net Neutrality is an example of unconstitutional state regulation. California now faces two major lawsuits challenging their new Net Neutrality law.

UPDATE 9/13/2018: The FCC is asserting that the Open Internet Order “preempt any state or local requirements that are inconsistent”. This essentially undermines any state that is attempting to enact rulings to roll back Net Neutrality rules.

For example, Ajit Pai has found that Minnesota’s state government cannot regulate voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone services offered by ISPs. According to the courts, VoIP is an “information service” under federal law.

UPDATE 8/16/2018: Last summer, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claimed a cyber attack shut down the FCC’s website. This was during a crucial time and blocked individuals from submitting public comments in support of Net Neutrality. After an internal FCC investigation, it is confirmed that Pai lied about the cyber attack.

Chairman Ajit Pai is currently being questioned under oath by the Senate Oversight Committee. This is a key opportunity to increase the pressure on Congress to overrule the FCC’s ruling against Net Neutrality.

UPDATE 7/26/18: Massachusetts has just began finalizing approval of S2610, a law proposed to protect Net Neutrality.  It’s not too late to reach out to your representatives. Visit Battle For The Net to  write to Congress and find out if your representatives support Net Neutrality.

UPDATE 7/6/18: Several tech companies have filed lawsuits to reinstate Net Neutrality. This includes companies such as Vimeo, Mozilla, Kickstarter, Foursquare, and Etsy. Several state attorneys general have also launched lawsuits against the FCC.

Some states have also began taking matters into their own hands. Over 20 states, including California, Connecticut, and Maryland are already pushing legislation to retain Net Neutrality rules within their boundaries. Governors in New Jersey, New York, Missouri, Hawaii, and Vermont have signed executive orders to ensure Net Neutrality rules aren’t harmed by the FCC.

As you can see, we can still stop this! The Senate has already ruled in favor of Net Neutrality, but now we need your help to win the House. Contact your reps now!

UPDATE 6/8/18: The ACLU states that net neutrality protections will cease to exist starting on Monday (June 11th). However, given that 86% of Americans are in favor of restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules, it has been speculated that ISPs will begin to throttle site and service access slowly. The move away from net neutrality will be a slow and steady process, one ISPs hope you do not notice.

If you are concerned about net neutrality, call your member of Congress and make your voice heard. 

While this may sound bad for consumers, telecom providers argue that there are benefits to the repeal.

FlashRouters has the rundown on the pros and cons of net neutrality.

What Are The Pros Of Net Neutrality?

  1. The Internet remains neutral. This one is self-explanatory. Aside from illegal content, regulations will not exist. Essentially, this means that an ISP cannot block access, change services, or alter the flow of data to customers.
  2. Regulations are in place for illegal activities. Many worry that without regulation, illegal content and activity will run rampant on the Internet. This is not the case. ISPs are treated as a regulated common carrier, preventing activities such as illegal file sharing.
  3. It protects freedom of expression. Websites such as blogs, services, and businesses that abide by the law are able to operate legally. As long as laws go unbroken, content will not be censored. Without net neutrality, ISPs could potentially censor slanderous content or even content they do not agree with.
  4. Companies can continue to innovate. In the past, companies started and grew on an equal playing field. With net neutrality, big companies and small startups will have access to the same resources and capabilities, allowing innovation of products and services.
  5. ISPs are classified as a utility provider. Public utilities provide services to maintain our quality of life. Many argue that the Internet is as essential to the modern lifestyle as water and power. Utilities are provided to everyone unless they refuse to pay for them. Without net neutrality, the Internet could become a luxury that many cannot afford.
  6. ISPs cannot raise prices on services. For example, Portugal does not have net neutrality. Take a look at various Internet packages in Portugal:

What Are The Cons Of Net Neutrality?

  1. There is no compensation for data usage. In this day and age, services like Skype are offering real-time video calls. Netflix offers high-definition video streaming. These services utilize massive amounts of data for free on an ISPs infrastructure.
  2. Improve infrastructure by increasing prices. There are many business and individuals that use large amounts of bandwidth. Furthermore, without net neutrality, ISPs can charge more for their data consumption. In essence, the additional income will fund upgrades such as advanced fiber networks.
  3. An unregulated Internet is an uncensored Internet. Nowadays, anything can be posted on the Internet under the guise of “freedom of speech.” Consequently, as a result, obscene and insensitive content easily ends up on the Internet.
  4. All in all, Net Neutrality may be “more concept than rubric”. At ZDNet, David Gerwitz argues that Net Neutrality “may not be what you think.” According to Gerwitz, the situation surrounding Net Neutrality is political theatre and the FCC changes proposed by Ajit Pai will not cause any major changes, as Net Neutrality is Myth.

What Does This Mean For You?

Regardless of the outcome of the FCC ruling, a smart choice for Internet users is to use a virtual private network, or VPN.

Additionally, in the event that the FCC repeals net neutrality, your ISP will likely have more access to your data and browsing habits. To combat this, a VPN tunnels your data through a server overseas, essentially hiding your data from your ISP.

Moreover, recommended VPN providers include NordVPN, IPVanish, and ExpressVPN.

How To Protect Your Home Network With A VPN

A VPN typically only provides protection for a limited amount of devices.

A FlashRouter allows your home network to be protected by a VPN, securing all connected devices. Contact our team for more information on how a FlashRouter can benefit you.

Furthermore, here are some of our most popular devices:

Linksys WRT1900ACS DD-WRT RouterR7800 Nighthawk DD-WRT RouterAsus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 Ghz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Wireless-AC2600 Mbps
1.7 Ghz Broadcom Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Wireless-AC5300 Mbps
1.4 GHz Marvell Processor
8 Ext Antennas