10 People Who Need a VPN [infographic]

Do you need a VPN?

We’ll get to the answer to that question in a minute, but first, let’s back it up.

Do you know what a VPN is?

VPN is a Virtual Private Network. And, it’s an effective, safe and easy way to add security and privacy to both public and private networks. Basically, it enables you to freely use and browse the Internet without the fear of putting yourself at risk of cybercrimes, hackers, or geographic restrictions.

As you can imagine, having a VPN can be really beneficial, but there are specific groups of people who really can benefit from having a VPN.

If you’re wondering if you are a one of them, check out the infographic below to find out!


Click HERE to view infographic in a new page.

 

For even more info about how a VPN can benefit you, visit GhostPath.com.

What The Big Dogs Are NOT Telling You About The Security Of Your Mobile Device

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.57.29 AMEver feel like you’re not getting the whole story?

Well, we’ve done some digging and it turns out that there’s quite a lot that the big dogs (namely Google and Apple) are NOT telling you about the security of your mobile device.

According to a recent Unisys study on workplace mobile habits, it was found that many business users access important corporate data using non-secure methods, like public WiFi. Plus, an increasing number of employees are accessing their workplace’s business applications on their personal devices, putting both themselves, sensitive data and their company at risk.

And worse, most people don’t give a second thought to the security of their devices before logging on at a WiFi hotspot or checking their email using mobile data.

Here are some enlightening facts about our mobile device habits & security:

  • By 2020 there will be 50 billion (yes, with a b) internet-connected devices
  • 51% of organizations have experience data loss in the last year from non-secure device usage
  • 32% of Americans say they prefer to use simple passwords; a practice that puts you & your data at risk
  • In a recent media company security breach, it was uncovered that 3,000 users had the password “123456” and 2,000 users used “password” as their password

In order to better protect yourself, your data & your mobile device, get a VPN (virtual private network), which will encrypt your data and protect your privacy no matter what device you use to connect to the Internet.

 

This post was inspired by this infographic.

7 Rules for Safer Online Shopping

For most people online shopping has become the norm.

Our busy schedules prevent us from trekking to the mall every time we need something, so instead we visit online retailers to fulfill our shopping needs.

Safe online shopping

But, not all online shopping destinations are created equal, and while many sites are trustworthy and legitimate, there are a number of fake online retailers that are just waiting to rip you off.

Luckily, a little online shopping savvy can go a long way to protecting you, your money and your identity.

Read through our online shopping rules below to keep yourself safe online.

  1. Stick to sites that you know & trust. Instead of starting your online shopping with a search engine, begin at a trusted retailer like Amazon, Target, Lowe’s or Macy’s. Search engines can lead you to places that are not trustworthy, especially if you venture past the first page or two of search results. Also, check the spelling of the site’s name (Amazon.com versus Amazn.com*). Many “copycat” sites try to get your money by looking “familiar”, and check the top-level domain as well (Amazon.com versus Amazon.net*). *These are fictitious examples.
  2. Use credit cards. Credit cards tend to be the safest option for online shopping because you have recourse. If an ordered item is never delivered or you find fraudulent charges on your card, the credit card company will work with you to remedy those issues and get you your money back. But, if you use a debit card or give access to your bank account, it can be a lot more challenging to get your money back after you fall prey to a scam. Check your statements regularly, and keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
  3. Keep a paper trail. Whenever you make purchases online, be sure to save any and all documentation that you receive via email in an email folder or, better yet, print hard copies of receipts, terms of sale, product descriptions, and any emails that you exchange with the retailer. Again, this will be helpful and necessary should you find yourself the target on an online shopping scam.
  4. Only shop with the “lock”. Any time you’re about to make an online purchase, look for the lock. Make sure that the site has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You can determine if it does because an SSL url will begin with https:// (instead of http://). Typically, a little lock icon will also appear next to the site’s url or in the status bar; another indication of a secure site.
  5. Shut down your machine. Do you typically leave your computer running and connected to the Internet 24/7? While that may seem like no big deal to you, it means that you’re leaving your machine open to cybercriminals all day and night. This gives hackers the opportunity to infest your system with malware and commit cybercrimes. Instead, after making a purchase, turn off your computer and protect yourself and your money!
  6. Don’t overshare! Only fill out the necessary (i.e. “starred”) information when making on online purchase. No online retailer needs your birth date, social security number, or other unnecessary personal data to complete your transaction. Don’t make it easy for online criminals, instead be cautious, don’t over share, and you’ll protect yourself from identity theft.
  7. Use a secure connection. Don’t conduct your online shopping while using unsecured public WiFi. This is an open invitation to hackers, peeping Toms, and identity theft. Instead, wait to make online purchases from a secure network like your home or place of work.

If you want to further protect yourself, your money and your identity while shopping online, consider getting a VPN. For more details about how a Virtual Private Network can improve your online experience, visit Ghost Path.

The Actual Time It Takes Hackers To Crack a Password + Celeb Phone Hacking

How long does it take to break a password?Do you ever wonder how secure your passwords are?

In light of the recent celebrity phone hacking scandal which resulted in revealing pictures of 100 celebs being posted and shared online and via social media, you’re probably wondering how secure your own passwords are.

The hacker, in this case, “took advantage of a security flaw in Apple’s online backup service, iCloud. Many online services lock someone out after several unsuccessful attempts to log in, but not Apple’s Find My iPhone app and iCloud. That has been changed by Apple in the aftermath of the nude celebrity photo scandal. But with unlimited guesses, a computer program can generate and test thousands of potential passwords until an account is entered. It is called a brute force attack. The tendency of many people to choose weak passwords and to use the same password for each service helped. Once a celebrity’s Find My iPhone app password is discovered, the same password often can access iCloud. People might never know their accounts have been compromised.” (quote from CNN.com)

With that in mind, if your passwords resemble something along the lines of “123456” or “password” or you use the same password for all sites, you’re putting yourself unnecessarily at risk.

Smart hackers are adept at breaking codes in little time, and when you use a simple or common password, you’re opening yourself up to be the victim of online crime.

Here is the actual time it take a hacker to break a password:

  • Lowercase, 6 characters = 5 minutes
  • Lowercase, 9 characters = 2 months
  • Uppercase & Lowercase, 6 characters = 5.5 hours
  • Uppercase & Lowercase, 9 characters = 88 years
  • 6 characters with numbers & symbols = 8.5 days
  • 9 characters with numbers & symbols = 19,985 years

As you can see, adding a length and complexity to your passwords pays off BIG TIME.

Here’s a little tip, instead of using simple words for your passwords, use phrases. For example: “Time flies when you’re having fun!” becomes “TFlyzwhenurhavinFUN!”

A password like that won’t be cracked for millennia! 

And, be sure to use a different password or password variation for every site with a secure log-in.

For extra protection, look into a Virtual Private Network to protect your data and privacy on all your devices, anywhere in the world! Read more HERE.

For the full scoop on the celebrity phone hacking scandal, watch the video below.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.38.23 AM

 

This post was inspired by an element of this infographic.

Back To School Online Safety Tips + Video

In between back-to-school shopping, end of summer activities, and gearing up for yet another school year, it’s important to talk to your kids (no matter what age!) about being safe online.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.56.51 AM

Over the summer, warm weather, vacations, camp, and playdates keep kids busy (and offline), but the school year means that the Internet will yet again play a major role in their lives as they do homework, study, and do research for school projects. And, the more time they spend online, the more vulnerable they are to being preyed upon by cybercriminals.

To ensure that your kids are well-prepared for a safe and productive school year, use these guidelines below to discuss smart online practices. Then, watch the “Online Safety Tip” video with them — it covers some important topics, too!

1. Don’t Talk To Strangers Online.

This may seem like a given, but many kids view the Internet as a safe, protected place. And, because of that, they can often over-share personal data like their name, age, address or passwords. Teach your kids the importance of staying vigilant even when online, and you’ll protect not only them, but your whole family, from malicious threats.

2. Don’t Post Anything You Wouldn’t Want Your Parents & Teachers To See.

A great rule of thumb is to teach your kids not to post or share anything online that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with you or their teachers seeing. Even if they think they are sharing something in a private, closed forum, you never know who might “share” it, and who may end up seeing it in the end!

3. Use Long & Strong Passwords.

Inform your kids about the importance of using long, strong passwords for all their accounts. A hacker can crack a 6 letter, all lower case password in mere minutes. Instead, encourage them to use passwords that are 8+ characters long and include a combination of upper and lower case, numbers and symbols.

4. Monitor Online Conversations.

It’s essential to keep tabs on your kids’ online conversations via IM, email and social media. For this, you can use parental control software and also talk to your kids about appropriate vs. inappropriate online discussions. A sit-down family chat around the dinner table will do wonders!

5. Make Sure All Devices Have Security Measures In Place.

Kids access the internet in a variety of ways and at a variety of locations. That’s why it’s vital to consider putting safety precautions in place that will protect them in as many instances as possible. Install antivirus software with a strong firewall, and consider using a VPN to further protect your data and identity from cybercriminals.

Online Safety Tips: Send Kids Back-To-School With Cyber-Security

For more info about using a VPN to protect you and your children, check out GhostPath’s services HERE.

10 People Who Should Be Using A VPN

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.21.07 AMFirst off, let’s start with the basics: what is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network is a way of adding security and privacy to both public (like coffee house WiFi) and private networks (like your home or office WiFi). It enables you to freely use and browse the Internet without the fear of putting yourself at risk of cybercrimes, hackers, or geographic restrictions.

Needless to say, a VPN service is highly useful and can benefit a number of different people with various needs.

Here is a list of 10 types of people who should be using a VPN:

1. Any who uses public WiFi at hotels, airports, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.

2. People who enjoy streaming content using Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc.

3. Employees and students who want to break out of restricted networks at work or school.

4. Anyone who likes to download/upload P2P files anonymously.

5. Vacationers who want to watch home-specific entertainment while traveling, like sporting events, local TV, etc.

6. People who want to secure their online phone calls to prevent eavesdropping.

7. Business travelers who need to bypass countries’ web censorship and content surveillance restrictions.

8. Anyone who does not want their searches logged & recorded by search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo.

9. People who work with sensitive issues and wish to avoid reprisals & tracebacks because of research like journalists, market researchers, detectives, and lawyers.

10. All who believe that privacy is a basic right!

Do you fall into one or more of these categories?

Then you will enjoy & greatly benefit from using a VPN service.

For more information about how a Virtual Private Network can improve your online experience, click HERE.

 

Photo & 10 categories originally presented by Net For Beginners.

 

 

12 Tips for Internet Safety While Traveling

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 12.28.12 PMWhen we travel it’s often to “get away from it all”, yet we still like to be connected.

And, today, it’s getting easier and easier to stay plugged in no matter where you go thanks to the prolific number of networks that are available to us at coffee shops, airports, hotels, parks, cultural sites, restaurants and more!

But, when you travel, you’re even more at risk for online hacking because you’re often using a public or unsecured WiFi network to get online.

And, if you think just because you’re paying to use a connection or because it’s password protected that you’re safe, think again: “According to Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate at Norton by Symantec (maker of Norton AntiVirus), the two main risks you face when using a hot spot are having someone track your online movements via the network you’re logged on to or trick you into using a “fake” hot spot, either by offering it up for free or mimicking the name of a legitimate one. In both instances, a hacker can potentially see your passwords, e-mail, social networks, bank accounts, documents, and more.” (Source: Travel & Leisure) Yikes!

The truth is, staying safe while traveling starts at home, well before the vacation begins!

If you’re wondering how to keep your devices, information and data secure even while traveling, we’ve got 12 tips for you.

Before Traveling…

  1. Back-up all your devices.
  2. Create temporary travel passwords, and make sure they’re strong and long.
  3. Turn on your computer’s firewall.
  4. Invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt your communications and reroute all traffic through a private, secure connection.
  5. Don’t change the security settings on your phone. Generally your phone’s default settings are relatively secure.
  6. Turn off autofill and cookies. If your laptop or phone automatically enters your login info for familiar websites, be sure to turn that off before you travel.
  7. Handle all bank transactions from home, before you leave.

When traveling…

  1. Only connect using encrypted WiFi networks or a hard-wired connection, unless you have your own WiFi hotspot or use a VPN service.
  2. Never use public computers for logging into private accounts like email, Facebook, credit cards, or any other site that has access to your personal info.
  3. Switch off your phone’s wireless connection when you’re not using it.
  4. Cellular networks tend to be secure, so instead of suffering obscene roaming charges, purchase a data plan. Both Verizon and AT&T offer affordable global data roaming packages.
  5. Always use a site’s https address if available — https connections are safer and more secure than standard http.

How To Surf The Web Anonymously

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 3.01.18 PM

Have you heard that nearly everything you do or create on the Internet gets recorded somewhere, somehow?

Meaning that for every blog post you write and every photo you share, there’s a copy of it somewhere on the Internet. It doesn’t matter if you erase it, a copy will still be there for people to find. Not to mention the fact that our searches, sites we visit and other activities are tracked, too.

But what is more unsettling is that even if you just visit a particular Web site, you are often unknowingly giving out your personal information, such as your current location, what device you are using, and even where you go to after that. Kind of creepy, right?

Well, it gets worse…depending on where you live, this data may then be collected, sorted, analyzed, and even accessed and used by the government and other parties.

But, don’t worry — there is something you can do about it!

There are now Web services that allow you to browse anonymously. These services essentially act as the middle man between you and the Web site that you want to visit. This means that the Web site will not gain access to your private, personal information.

You have to remember, though, that while the destination Web site will not see your personal information, the “anonymizer” service, itself, may be keeping server logs that could record your data…and these logs could be subpoenaed. So, be sure to look for an anonymizer service that does not keep logs!

If you’re worried about protecting yourself and your data online, we’re here with some helpful solutions.  Read on to learn how to surf the Web anonymously.

Disable any extensions

Anonymous browsing services will protect you from people who have physical access to your computer. This means it will not leave anything about your history, and it will delete any cookies and private data when you close the browsers. Google, for example, has the Incognito mode for Chrome browsers.

However, there’s one more reason for you to use Incognito and other browser’s anonymous browsing mode: it disables any plugin or extension by default. Plugins and extensions can store private data and share these with the Web sites you visit without you even realizing it!

Without plugins or extensions running, you can be sure that Web sites cannot obtain data from them.

Get a second browser

Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and other well-known browsers are available for free. Even if you have a favorite browser for your daily activities, it makes a great deal of sense to use a second browser for sites that you want to visit anonymously.

By second browser, we mean a browser that you do not use to open e-mails, access your social media accounts, and do your online shopping, among other usual activities online.

Why?

Because some anonymizer services – which may include those of your favorite browser – could still leave cookies on your machine, which could be used to find out who you are.

Use a Web proxy

If you only wish to anonymize select activities (and if you do not mind the slow speeds), you might want to check out Web proxies.

All you need to do is go to a Web proxy site, enter the URL you want to visit, and voila! You’re there…anonymously!

Be reminded, however, that some content may not display when you use a Web proxy. Forms may also not get submitted, such as when you are logging into your Web mail service.

A better option would be to use manual proxy servers that work like a Web proxy, but in this case, you will need to set your browser to use the proxy’s IP address.

Do not login

You’ve probably noticed that today there are countless sites that require you to use (or create) a username and password in order to read a complete article or use other functionalities of the Web site. Or, perhaps, they ask you to connect to the site using Facebook or Twitter.

Why?

Because the site wants identifying information about you.

Think twice before logging in or registering on any site with which you’re unfamiliar.

Don’t want to create a username & password, but still want access to the site?

Check out BugMeNot.com to see if they have log-in credentials that you can use instead.

Use TOR

TOR is short for The Onion Router.

What it does is simple: your browser will be performing the same data requests, but it will pass through a series of TOR servers, and at each of these transmissions, your data will be encrypted. This way you can access all your favorite sites without being “followed”!

Get a VPN

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. These networks enable you to browse anonymously by hiding your IP address and replacing it with that of another server.

When you use a VPN you can rest assured that your data is secure and safe from hackers, cyber scams, identity theft and phishing email fraud.

5 Simple Steps To Keep Your Home Wi-Fi Secure

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 12.16.32 PMDo you have Wi-Fi in your home?

Chances are the answer is “yes”.

Today, Wi-Fi is essential because of the growing multitude of devices that only work if connected wirelessly, like mobile phones and tablets.

Even most desktop computers use Wi-Fi for their internet connections nowadays because it’s just simpler to connect to Wi-Fi than it is to run an unsightly network cable across the floor.

All of this Wi-Fi is great, but is it safe?

We’ve all heard horror stories about some unsuspecting family who has a criminal next door that uses their Wi-Fi to do some ghastly deed, ultimately resulting in legal trouble for the victimize family. Now, in all likelihood, that won’t happen to you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the proper precautions to ensure that your home Wi-Fi is as safe and secure as possible.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to secure your home Wi-Fi connection:

Encryption – One of the easiest, quickest ways to protect your home network is to encrypt it. In fact, most routers support encryption already, just be sure to use either the WPA or WPA2 settings — they provide the best level of security. Once you encrypt your network, you’ll have to enter a password whenever you wish to connect, but that minor inconvenience definitely outweighs the headache of getting hacked.

Change Passwords – Many routers come with preset passwords for working with the device settings, and this password is different from the password that you use to access your Wi-Fi itself. Hackers often know standard default passwords and then are able to manipulate your router. Be sure to change the router’s device password after installation.

SSIDs – Another safety measure you can take is to set your router so that it does not broadcast your service set identifier a.k.a. SSID, which is your network’s name. Once you disable your SSID broadcasting, your network’s name will no longer be visible on nearby computers and devices. This means that only people who know your network’s name will be able to find and access it.  

Firewall – Most wireless routers come with built-in firewalls, however sometimes these firewalls are turned off when the router is shipped. Double check that your router’s firewall is turned on.

Disable Remote Admin – Often routers allow you to access the router remotely and administer changes. Unless this is a feature you need and are very familiar with, it’s often best to disable it so that hackers cannot gain administrative access to your Wi-Fi network for their own personal gain.

To learn how GhostPath VPN can protect your privacy online, click here.