Thursday, October 27, 2011

VPN Services Fight for Freedom of Information in Iran

The main thorn in the paw of many Iranian citizens is Iran's lack of basic freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly. These repressive laws were put to the test in 2009 and 2010 as Iranian citizens used VPN services and identity protection software to amass protesters and broadcast their desire for freedom around the world.

But Iran's government has not gone without a fight and this week, took yet another step to reign in these freedoms. Iran's Telecommunication Minister Reza Taghipour announced Monday that the use of encrypted VPN accounts and other identity protection software to by-pass government imposed censorship filters was officially a crime and would be prosecuted by the law, German news agency Deutche Presse Agentur reported.

"Every country has its own rules for using the internet and we have our own," said Taghipour in a statement. "The use of VPN or other anti-filtering software is forbidden and considered as a crime."

This announcement seems to make millions of Iranians criminals as, according to studies done in the country by third-party sources, approximately 17 million Iranians access Facebook using a VPN, while another 5 million use the software to access other blocked information. Iran has had these rules in an official capacity for years but has been unsure how to enforce them. By attempting to track VPN service users online, the Iranian government believes it can stop protesters no longer willing to stand for these infringed freedoms.

'We have to and will take any necessary measure to confront this soft war,' the minister said, according to ISNA news agency.

Although the Iranian government cannot monitor encrypted VPN services, they plan on attempting to disrupt their use by the population. Technically this is difficult and imposing these laws previously have been spotty. For example, it is technically illegal to have a satellite dish in Iran to view TV programming from outside the country – but a look on the roofs of any major city will see satellite dishes in abundance.

Whatever steps Iran, or other governments may take to limit and censor the access to free information, VPN services will attempt to ensure these freedoms, which should be innate human rights, for oppressed people around the globe.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Study Exposes Wi-Fi Security Trends

With convenient Wi-Fi hotspots popping up everywhere from Sears to Starbucks, there are very few places lacking in internet access these days. But according to a new study commissioned by the Wi-Fi Alliance, many users are not respecting the seriousness of Wi-Fi security and the lack of identity protection available. The Wi-Fi Alliance has sponsored numerous awareness campaigns to correct this laissez faire attitude toward private browsing. But according to their research, it has come to little avail.

Entitled "The Wi-Fi Security Barometer Survey," the study findings are based on 1,000 interviews fielded among nationally representative people, aged 18 or older. Wakefield Research conducted all interviews between August 12th and August 29th, 2011, using random-digit telephone dialing. The study found that, while many people knew of the inherent security risks involved with using unsecured Wi-Fi networks, only a fraction of them took the necessary steps—turning off automatic sharing on mobile devices, using a VPN service to shield their data—to protect themselves from intruders.

While close to 85 percent of the respondents knew that they should turn off automatic sharing on their Wi-Fi devices, only 62 percent of them had actually done so. And while most respondents knew that Wi-Fi networks left data open to snoops and spies online, only 18 percent of Wi-Fi hotspot users employed a VPN account to protect themselves.

Even when users are not in public, many are lax about web security. 86 percent said they had locked their Wi-Fi with some kind of password. But only 59 percent of the respondents had created passwords that met the basic requirements for length and strength. Through over 11,000 product certifications, the Wi-Fi Alliance has been working to get users to change their passwords, as they know how easy it can be to break into an unprotected network.

The Wi-Fi alliance encourages folks interested in further securing their networks to visit for more information, quizzes, setup directions, animations and studies to help users protect themselves and their internet activity.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Prepare For Midterms With VPN Services

From Cliff's Notes to study groups, college students have already begun preparing for midterm exams coming up this October. But before you get to the treats at Halloween, it might be wise to have a few midterm tricks up your sleeve that studying can't provide. This guide can show you how using a VPN service can increase your identity protection and your productivity through the difficult exam period.

Protect Your Projects: The modern university is a competitive place. After all, Facebook was famously created in a dorm room. If you are working on an A+ midterm presentation, chances are your classmates know something about it and are interested in having a peak at your work. And if you have worked on your college's unsecured wifi networks or studied from an off-campus hotspot, you may have given your competitors a front-row seat. With a VPN account, you can reroute all your personal web browsing data through an encrypted remote server and hide your IP address so your computer-savvy classmates can't get a behind-the-scenes look at your next great innovation.

Battle The Campus Firewall: Anyone who has ever tried to research a taboo subject like child pornography or serial killers knows that finding information can be tricky. That's because college campuses ardently protect themselves from lawsuits by ensuring that illegal material is never viewed or downloaded on their watch. The result is an over-restrictive firewall system that often blocks legitimate research sites that students need to complete classroom assignments. In order to study, research and reference certain websites on campus, students can use a VPN service. By rerouting all web search data, VPN users can circumvent university firewalls and search on campus unencumbered. It is cheaper than a mobile hotspot and more secure than any campus wifi network.

Make the more scholarly choice this midterm season by using a service that can make your studying and private browsing that much easier.