Secure your Internet connection with a VPN

 

Worried about your internet provider selling your browsing history and other data?
There are a few things that you can do to help protect your data and keep your data from prying eyes.
One of the easy things that you can do, is just to quit using the internet but nobody is going to do that. The other thing that you could do is use a 3rd party service called a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and what that means per Wikipedia is " is a virtualized extension of a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network"
The nice thing about VPN's is that some are really good and out of the really good ones they can also be fairly affordable as well. Some will work on a wide array of devices from windows based computers, Android phones, iPhones , Macintosh computers and even routers. The features of the VPN will vary also as well as how many connections you can have.
If you are wondering what I mean by how many connections you can have, that refers to how many concurrent connections the VPN will allow to be run at the same time. Lets say that you have 2 laptops and 2 smart phones and you buy a VPN service that allows 2 connections. This would mean that you could install the VPN service on all your devices, but only 2 can be connected to the VPN service at the same time. You also do not have to be connected to the VPN service 100% of the time either.
If you have a lot of devices and you do not want to pay a lot to have them protected, or some devices that you just cannot install a VPN service to there are other options. Some of these options include installing a VPN service directly onto your router (note that this will usually consist of installing a 3rd party operating system directly onto your router, to which can void your warranty on your router. I do not suggest you do this unless you know exactly what you are doing), or you can buy a router that is already configured to work with a VPN service, or one that has the 3rd party software installed, to which is usually DD-WRT or Tomato.
The benefit of having the VPN run on the router is that anything that is connected to your network will be going thru the VPN all the time as long as the VPN service is working.
There are a lot of VPN services out there and in this post I am going to go over just a few, and in a later post I will go over each of them. All of the VPN services I have personally used and all of them I do like.

The first one is NordVPN


NordVPN has a special right now where you can get the VPN service for $3.29 a month when you sign up for a 2 year service ( $80.00 for 2 years of service)
Some of the features of NordVPN include:

The 1-month plan costs $11.95, our 1-year plan is $5.75/month, the 2-year plan is $3.29/month and their special 3-year deal is only $2.75/month.

  • Strict no log policy
  • Custom software for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android
  • Connect up to 6 Devices under one account
  • P2P Friendly
  • No Bandwidth Limit
  • Pay using Bitcoin, PayPal, Credit Cards and more
  • 4200+ servers in 62+ countries
  • Double VPN for increased anonymity
  • IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IPSec security protocols offered
  • Free proxy list (up to 3000 free proxies)
  • Multiple Device Support: iPhone, iPad, Routers, Game Consoles and More
  • Multiple OS Support: Win, iOS, OS X, Android, Linux, Blackberry and More
  • Shared IP (static/dynamic)
  • Dedicated IPs (special price)
  • Own DNS servers
  • OpenVPN AES-256-SHA
  • IKEv2/IPsec (AES-256-GCM / SHA2-384 / PFS 3072-bit)
  • Unique SmartPlay feature for added streaming connectivity
  • Customer Support (24/7) via Ticket system, Facebook, Twitter or Email
  • Convenient server map & custom software
  • Kill switch: NordVPN offers an automatic kill switch (it can kill individual processes or kill whole Internet connection)
  • NordVPN offers encrypted proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers
  • NordVPN has a CyberSec feature that blocks dangerous websites and lets users avoid annoying ads
  • NordVPN will automatically initiate a VPN connection whenever a Wi-Fi network is joined. It can be set up to auto-connect to Nord on both secured and unsecured Wi-Fi networks
  • Restricted countries: with the help of obfuscated servers, NordVPN works in countries (China, the Middle East countries) where Internet access is restricted and strong censorship is in place as well as in restricted local networks

NordVPN will also work with DD-WRT as I had it installed on my older router.

I use NordVPN on my computer and my cellphone, to which I have not had any issues with. I especially like to use it when connecting to unsecure WiFi

 


The 2nd is PIA or Private Internet Access. 


Buy VPN
PIA has a deal for VPN service billed yearly for $40.00, to which comes out to be $3.33 a month.
PIA features include:

  • Secure VPN Account
  • Encrypted WiFi
  • P2P Support
  • PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec
  • 5 devices simultaneously
  • Block ads, trackers, and malware
  • Multiple VPN Gateways
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • SOCKS5 Proxy Included
  • No traffic logs
  • Instant Setup
  • Easy to use
  • Works with Mac OS
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Linux
  • IOS (iPhone, iPad)
  • Android
  • DD-WRT
  • Tomato

The 3rd is TorGuard



TorGuard is $9.99 a month.
Some of their features include :

  • Unlimited Speeds
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • x5 Connections Allowed
  • OpenVPN/SSTP/L2TP/IPsec
  • OpenConnect SSL Based VPN
    (Fastest VPN protocol on the net)
  • TorGuard Stealth Proxy (See this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkoKZHxAEpQ to see what Stealth Proxy is)
  • 1600+ Servers in 50+ Countries
  • FREE 24/7 365 Support

 

Another good one is SurfShark

SurfShark is $3.95 per month when you sign up for a 12 month plan. 

Some of what they have for features are : 

  • AES 256-bit network traffic encryption
  • Enterprise-grade infrastructure and reliability
  • Secured connection over public WIFI
  • OpenVPN and IKEv2 security protocols
  • No logs policy
  • IP address masking
  • Zero-Knowledge DNS
  • IPV6 leak protection
  • WebRTC protection
  • 100+ servers in 14 countries
  • Fast content delivery
  • Avoid geolocation censor
  • Access blocked websites or services
  • Optimised for streaming
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Light and easy setup
  • Unlimited data plans
  • Unlimited devices support
  • Torrents welcome here

The unlimited devices plan is a really great thing if you want to secure all the mobile devices in your househould as well as your computers as well. 

Some of what SurfShark backs up to what they do is : 

SurfShark does not collect or gather any data that could be used to identify you as a particular user. This includes:

  • Incoming and outgoing IP addresses;

  • Browsing, downloading or purchasing history;

  • VPN servers you use;

  • Used bandwidth;

  • Session information;

  • Connection timestamps;

  • Network traffic;

The only information that our service stores:

  • User’s e-mail address (used for purposes of connecting to VPN, marketing, and troubleshooting purposes);
  • Information regarding Billing (used in case if a refund is requested)

SurfShark users are not exerted by any speed, bandwidth or data limits.

Nevertheless, please note that a little bit slower speeds and response time (ping) with VPN compared to the ones without VPN may be experienced.

SurfShark also provides online tutorials on how to setup the VPN on different devices. 

 

The last one is IPVanish

IP Vanish is $6.49 a month when you sign up for a year plan and pay annually. 

Some of the features of IPVanish are :

  • User-friendly apps for all of your devices
  • Access to the world's fastest VPN
  • 40,000+ shared IPs, 750+ VPN servers in 60+ countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Zero traffic logs
  • Anonymous torrenting
  • Unlimited P2P traffic
  • SOCKS5 web proxy
  • Access to censored apps & websites
  • OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocols
  • Unlimited server switching
  • 5 simultaneous connections on multiple devices
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with Android
  • Works with IOS
  • Works with Mac's
  • Works with Windows
  • Withs with DD-WRT & Tomato
  • Works with Ubuntu
  • Works with Chrome book

 

There are other VPN clients out there and Torrent Freak wrote up a good article with feedback from the above companies about logging, security and other great information that is a good read before you sign up for any VPN service - https://torrentfreak.com/vpn-services-anonymous-review-2017-170304/

In a later post, I will go over how to install and configure the above VPN clients.

 

If not being able to be tracked is the utmost secuirty for you, then a single VPN client will not suffice for your needs. In that event you will need at least 2 VPN clients, which they should be seperate companies. 

1 VPN service should be running on your Router and it should also be using your VPN service's DNS servers as well. 

The other VPN serviceshould be running on your computer / devices as well. 

Note that doing this will cause your internet speeds to be fairly slow. If you wanted yet another layer of protection, cascade another router to your main router and have different VPN services running on both (This can be done) and have 1 VPN service using TCP and the other VPN service using UDP. Then have another VPN service on your devices for a total of 3 VPN services running. This will result in your internet to be extremly slow and some pages may not work correctly, but it can be done. 

 

Some of the terms used in this post

Double VPN - With Double VPN, the connection is A – VPN Server 1 – VPN Server 2 – B. First, the traffic is protected with the military-grade encryption between the user's device and the first VPN server. Then it's encrypted again on its way to the second VPN server. In other words, the connection goes through two different servers in different locations: once traffic gets encrypted on the first one, IP changes and gets re-encrypted on the second server in another location. In the end, you get enhanced encryption, security and anonymity.

 

SOCKS5 Proxy - A proxy server functions as an intermediary between your device and the Internet. Any traffic directed through a proxy server will look as if it came from its IP address rather than yours. Unlike VPN servers, proxy servers do not encrypt the traffic passing through them, which saves resources and allows accepting simultaneous connections from much larger numbers of users.

SOCKS5 proxy servers are very flexible and compatible with all kinds of Internet traffic, including POP3 and SMTP for emails, FTP for uploading files to websites, and P2P. As a result, they're very popular among users who don't need advanced security and encryption but do require the privacy and flexibility achieved by replacing their IP addresses. They are also noticeably faster than services with encryption.

Dedicated IP – With this service, one is assigned a single IP that is for your own use only.  This is especially useful when accessing secure corporate, banking, or IP restricted websites or servers. It's possible to activate your own Dedicated IP VPN in the country of your choice so that each time you login to that VPN Server, you will be assigned the dedicated IP automatically.

Shared IP – With shared IP VPN's, you are assigned multiple static, shared IP's that are being used by hundreds (or thousands) of clients simultaneously. Because the same IP is being shared by such a large pool of users, it in turn offers more anonymity for the end user.  

Own DNS Server - When you use a VPN service, the DNS request should instead be routed through the VPN tunnel to your VPN provider's DNS servers (rather than those of your ISP). However, it is common for  some devices (computers, routers, smart phones, etc..) to instead use its default settings, and send the request to the ISP's DNS server rather than through the VPN tunnel. This is known as a DNS leak, and if it happens then it results in your ISP being able to track your internet movements, regardless of whether you are using a VPN or not.

TCP -  is one of the main protocols of the Internet protocol suite. It originated in the initial network implementation in which it complemented the Internet Protocol (IP). Therefore, the entire suite is commonly referred to as TCP/IP. TCP provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of a stream of octets between applications running on hosts communicating by an IP network. Major Internet applications such as the World Wide Web, email, remote administration, and file transfer rely on TCP. Applications that do not require reliable data stream service may use the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which provides a connectionless datagram service that emphasizes reduced latency over reliability.

 

UDP -  is one of the core members of the Internet protocol suite. The protocol was designed by David P. Reed in 1980 and formally defined in RFC 768. With UDP, computer applications can send messages, in this case referred to as datagrams, to other hosts on an Internet Protocol (IP) network. Prior communications are not required in order to set up transmission channels or data paths.

 

VPN - VPN encrypts your data connection, making it harder or impossible for prying eyes to see what you are doing online. This can help with securing your information when surfing online. a good writeup of what a VPN is is from SurfShark - "VPN encrypts your data connection. Thus, ISP, governments, hackers, NSA spies and other third parties are unable to monitor your accessed websites, downloaded files, used services such as Skype or P2P applications. Surfshark offers protection of your privacy online as well as prevention of third parties’ tracking and controlling your online communications as well as browsing activities. With Surfshark you can connect to different VPN servers worldwide as well as ensure the privacy of your location."

 

 




Auto Backup files and settings on your Android Phone

So,

 A while ago I did a post about this app that I use on my android phone called Drive Sync - http://www.techlibertyblog.com/index.cfm/2017/1/4/Backup-files-and-folders-in-Android-to-Google-Drive.   I have a really good use for this program besides for the ones that I had specified in the last post. Recently I had dropped my cellphone in the water and it died. Luckily I had all my photos backedup, as well as most of my media but I did not have my app settings backed up.

This program if I would have thouth ahead could have saved all my settings on all my apps that have automatic preferences backed up for my apps (some have this, the other ones I could have just saved to a folder or something), but if I would have had this setup, all my preferences for all the applications that I use quite a bit could have been backedup. I could have all the important stuff that if I were to lose my phone, what would I want backedup to my Google Drive account, to which I could have backed up all my settings easily. I also could have backed up the settings for the app that backs up the settings to make everything fairly self sufficient.

I always said that I would never drop my phone into the water as I was careful, but the otterbox holster that I had it on had started to wear away and it was not as secure as it should have been.

Some may say that there is nothing on their phone that they cannot live without, while some of that may be true, if you really feel that way lock your phone away and go without it for a few days and see what you really "need". Find those and back the settings up so that if something bad happens, you have everything backed up!




Cellphone External Battery Pack

A cellphone external battery pack is something that is very nice to have as when your cellphone gets low on battery power and you do not have a easy access to a power source, these come in very handy. I have a few of them and I will take 1 or 2 of them with me when I am out hunting. For hunting these can be a life saver as if you get stranded somewhere what are you going to do when your battery gets low? If you have an external battery pack, you can charge your phone (as long as you have a cord with you, to which I bring at least 2 with me)

There are a lot of different external battery packs out there that you can get. Some are great and some really suck. I have bought a few that were nothing but paper weights as they failed to charge anything, but they boasted to be great battery packs.

The ones that I like to use are the solar charging ones and they weight about 1lb or so. You cannot fully charge the battery pack on solar, but it can get to about 50% charge via solar and it is a nice way to get some more power when the battery pack runs out of power as well.

I have bought a few off of Amazon, and they were good they did the job. I found a few off of Wish, to which were very inexpensive but they take a long time to get to your house. The ones that I had bought were Lithium Battery Solar Power Bank 100000mAh

The one that I had bought from Amazon is no longer sold but it was similar to the one above (I did find one at amazon similar Battery Pack

They have 2 outlets for charging phones, so you could charge 2 phones off of this. I have the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, so it has a pretty big battery and I have charged my phone to 100% from 20% with one of these and I still had some power to spare. If I am in a deer stand and I have something to set them on or a way to hang them from by backpack, I will usually hang them on the outside of my backpack so that while I am charging my phone (if I need to) that the battery pack is also slowly getting some more power as well.

Once I return to camp, I am able to charge the battery pack(s) back up all the way again. I will also use these when going out and about if we are going to be gone for the whole day such as at a fair or something.




Inexpensive Dash Camera

Have you ever wanted to record your driving?
Some may ask to why anyone would ever want to do that. Well, a few reasons to why it is a good idea

  • If you get into a car accident and it was not your fault, there is your proof
  • If you witness a car accident and the person that caused the accident says it was not their fault, you have proof
  • If you have ever been accused of trying to run someone over, this is your proof that they are lying and have issues (yes, this happened to me)
  • If you have ever been in a situation where you said that you wish you would have been video recording something while driving, now you can
  • If you witness some sort of illegal activity, now you have video proof of it

There are many, many other uses besides the ones above
Well, you dont have to spend a ton of money on a dash camera. If you have a cellphone with a decent camera, or even a backup cellphone with a decent camera and it is running Android you have all that you need to have a dash camera.
I bought a inexpensive windshield mount for my phone ( I have the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, so it is a big phone) and the holder works for it, with some room to spare (not to mention that I have a otterbox on it, so it is even thicker. The windshield mount that I bought can be purched for around $2.00 at wish. Note that it can take a few weeks for it to arrive at your house.
After you have that, all you need to do is head over to the Google Play store and download and possibly purchase Auto Guard. I think I paid under $20.00 for this, to which it may even be cheaper than that. This app not only does a video recording, but it also records your GPS location and your speed. When you play back a recording it will show a map under the video of where you were and the speed you were going, to which it will also record the audio. Some have wondered about the storage on their phone filling up, well this app can automatically back up all the videos to Youtube if you want it to. For the backup, you can specify if it should backup on Cellular or on Wi-Fi only, and you can specify if it should backup when charging only, or at any time.
I have found this little app to be quite useful in recording some almost accidents that I have gotten into due to people pulling out directly in front of me when driving.

here are some screen shots from the app on the Google Play Store





Here is some info regarding the app from the Google Play store
Your smart phone can be clever as you with AutoGuard, the best Blackbox application, will give you wonderful experiences. Key Features - (Pro) Background recording: Multitasking with other apps (like navigation) - Upload videos on YouTube.com with captions for location and time information - Capture photos at important situation automatically - Show the video and map information on one screen - Automatically starts video recording when put into car dock or connect with bluetooth devices - Records driving video, speed, GPS, and nearest address - Supports high resolutions (1080p, 720p) - Traces path driven on 3D Google maps - Snapshot (supports auto focus, flash & gallery) - Send recorded information via E-mail AutoGuard records various lengths of video, acceleration, latitude, longitude, and speed. The video recorded can be limited to save space on your phone. After the space is filled it will automatically delete the oldest videos, unless marked to be saved. AutoGuard Pro can be set to automatically start when placed in a car dock and run in the background. You can adjust video resolution, bitrates, the sensitivity of the accelerator, and GPS update time. With Pro Version(AutoGrard Pro Unlocker), you are ad free, can sync your videos on Youtube.com & Multitask AutoGuard with other apps such as Navigation or Mp3. Visit AutoGuard's home and get more valuable information! https://plus.google.com/communities/109441776333405866373 -------------------- Why AutoGuard needs the contact permission? - List up Gmail accounts for uploading videos to Youtube. - Referral check. AutoGuard doesn't need any other information rather than your gmail address. Anyone who wants to help translating will be welcome. Thanks. =:) Support languages : English, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Taiwanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Turkish, Romanian, Hungarian, Czech & Slovak.




Make your own ringtones for your Android device

This is something that I have been doing for quite a long time now, even when I had my Palm Treo, and it is extremely easy to do on your computer.
What I use to make my ringtones with, is I download a program called Audacity, and when you use Audacity it may require you to download a plugin or install a plugin called Lame encoder

Basically, with this program you can import a MP3 file from your collection of music that you have paid for, and you can extract a certain part of the MP3 and turn that into a ringtone or a notification tone on your cellphone or tablet.
After you install Audacity, you can either import a MP3 or "drag" into into the stage.

Once you do that, you can play and select the part of the MP3 that you want to keep.

What I do once I select the part that I want to keep, is I go to Edit then Copy or [CTRL + C] for a keyboard shortcut, then in Audacity go to File - New and then paste the audio into a new audacity window. From here I can finely tune what I want to keep as a ringtone and then once I have it the way that I want it I can save it as a MP3, as File - Export Audio (this is where the Lame encoder comes into place).

I can save it directly to my phone if I have my phone plugged into my PC or I can save it to my Google Drive folder on my PC and then use the Drive AutoSync post that I made earlier to automatically download the ringtone to either one device or multiple devices that I have Drive Autosync installed on. I will usually have to reboot my phone for the new ringtone to show up to select (For Android there is a folder in the root that is called Ringtones. There is usually another folder called Notifications or it may be under Audio - Notifications for the notification tones). This will allow you to make your own ringtones for one or multiple devices without having to pay for ringtones or try to find the exact ones that you want.




Backup files and folders in Android to Google Drive

There is a app that I have on my Android phone that allows me to backup certain folders to Google Drive and keep the folder structure intact which has many benefits.
The app that I use is called DriveSync
One of the benefits of using this versus using some sort of built in backup is that not only can this backup stuff from your phone / tablet, but you can also push stuff to your phone and or tablet with this.
By this, I mean that the application has a few different sync methods.

You can upload to Google Drive, you can download from Google Drive or you can 2 way sync. The 2 way sync will look at your device and then look at Google Drive and make sure that they both have the same files. Download any that need to be downloaded, delete the ones that should be deleted and then upload the ones that need to be uploaded.
If you do not have easy access to plug your phone into a computer to transfer files to your phone, you can upload them to your Google drive folder, then when you have the conditions correct to sync (The app lets you dictate when it will or will not sync, such as either connected to WiFi, plugged into a power source, etc.. ) then your files will be downloaded to your device.
I will use this to keep my media files (ringtones, notifications, downloads, etc.. ) in sync between my cellphone and my tablet. I also have it installed on my brothers cellphone so that we can share downloaded pictures and what not.

I did pay for this application, and I think it is worth the price.
Per the description of this app:
"Autosync Google Drive lets you automatically sync and share unlimited files and folders with Google Drive cloud storage and with your other devices. It is an ideal tool for photo sync, photo upload, music download, document and file backup, automatic file transfer, automatic file sharing between devices,... New files in your device are instantly uploaded to Google Drive. New files in Google Drive are automatically downloaded onto your device. If you delete a file on one side, it will be deleted on the other side. It works across multiple devices (your phone and your tablet). If their folders are synced with the same Google Drive account, they will be kept in sync with each other. This is how Google Drive desktop client works but it's not the same with the official Google Drive Android app. The Google Drive app is all manual. Autosync Google Drive is all about automation."