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Posts Tagged ‘vpn’

Kick Your Privacy Up a Notch with Tor

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Online privacy is becoming more important as our lives increasingly migrate to the internet. With government surveillance intensifying, you may have come across the term Tor as a way to protect yourself. So what exactly is it?

The Onion Router (TOR), is an open source project that aims to provide anonymous communication for its users. The underlying technology was initially developed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the nineties as a way to protect communications within the intelligence community. Tor has since moved over to the open source community, supported by a range of volunteers, privacy advocacy groups, various US government departments and others.

Tor - The Onin Router

Tor allows web browsing, messaging and chat, as well as access to .onion websites, which are a secretive side of the internet. Unfortunately, Tor cannot give a user complete anonymity, particularly from government level surveillance. This is because these entities have the capability to correlate the traffic that goes into Tor with the traffic that exits. Despite this, it is still a useful tool that can help to enhance privacy in a range of use cases.

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Tighten Up Your Security with a VPN: LuxSci’s Guide to Choosing One that Works for You

Monday, April 24th, 2017

As online crime figures continue to grow and government spying moves forward unabated, many people are becoming worried about their privacy and security. With the US Government striking down a set of privacy laws that were set to boost individual rights on the internet, things are getting pretty grim.

In recent years, VPNs have become more popular for personal use as individuals attempt to reclaim some sense of anonymity online. Given how many entities could be looking at your activity – governments, advertisers, your ISP and criminals – a VPN is one of many tools you can use to help protect yourself. VPNs can also be useful for circumventing censorship or accessing geo-restricted content.VPN Security

A VPN can be excellent for helping you stay safe online, but you also need to be aware of the limitations. Unfortunately, VPNs aren’t some magic technology that immediately makes you impenetrable – they are merely something that enhances your security.

You also need to be aware that not all VPNs are created equal. In fact, the VPN industry is incredibly messy and the dodgy operators far outnumber the good. There is a huge disparity in the services and protection level that are on offer. This ranges from the free VPNs, which are poorly regarded, to the scammy companies that are just in it to make a buck, to the more trusted options that generally have good reputations. Finding a reliable VPN isn’t the end of the battle. You also have to set it up and use it properly.

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What is really protected by SSL and TLS?

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

This question came in via Ask Erik:

Hi Erik,

I stumbled upon your blog while trying to learn a little about SSL/TLS in the context of client/server e-mail sessions, i.e. not web mail which I understand to be an HTTP session.  I am just an ordinary user with no special security needs but I find all this news about corporate and government surveillance to be troubling for both philosophical and practical reasons.  In any case my questions is quite simple.

My e-mail client, apple mail, and my e-mail service provider both support SSL so my e-mail exchanges between my computer and the server are encrypted.  I understand that I can’t control what happens with other e-mail servers.  What I am trying to understand is what does it mean to be encrypted?  When an e-mail leaves my computer how much of the message is encrypted?   Are the e-mail headers encrypted including the sender and recipient e-mail addresses.  I would assume so but nobody talks about the details.  What metadata trail does a user leave when using SSL/TLS.  Is it is as simple as the destination and sending IP address with everything else encrypted?  Reading Data and Goliath right now by Bruce Schneider which talks about a lot of this stuff but again doesn’t give quite enough detail.  At the end of the day I am trying to understand how much protection SSL really provides.

SSL (now TLS) protects data as it travels across the Internet. To understand in detail how SSL works, we recommend reading: How does Secure Socket Layer (SSL andTLS) work?  However, looking at how the protocol works can leave answers to some of these fundamental questions a little unclear.  Lets address them one by one.

SSL and TLS Security

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The US Online Privacy Law Repeal: How It Will Affect You

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

As with any politicized issue, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the repeal of the data privacy framework. Regardless of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, your online security and privacy rights are going to be affected, so let’s just get the story straight.

This whole issue began back in February 2015, when the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) set up an Open Internet Order. This established net neutrality rules and also reclassified ISPs as carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This meant that ISPs would be subjected to a new set of regulations.

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Do you need a VPN for Secure Email in a Wireless Hotspot?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

LuxSci has been approached by many people asking for VPN (Virtual Private Network) services.  When we ask them why, they indicate that they use wireless hotspots (like at Starbucks and other public places) that are insecure and untrusted and they want to be sure that their email is secure and encrypted there.*

Note that even if the hotspot is password protected and “secure”, that does not mean that it is “trusted”.  The hot stop administrators or other users of that hotspot could still try to intercept your Internet traffic.  So, just because it is a “secure” hotspot with the little lock next to it and a password that you must enter, do not assume you are safe at all.

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