Watch Out! Do Not Fall For World Cup Scams

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.43.45 AMHackers and scammers capitalize on big events — and the FIFA World Cup is no exception.

And, as you would expect, there are a number of scams out there aimed at World Cup fans.

These scammers are hoping that eager soccer enthusiasts will let their guard down enough so that they can get their money, access their data, and steal their identities.

But, being vigilant goes a long way!

Here are some ways these World Cup scam artists try to trick you:

#1 Free Prizes & Tickets

Anytime you get an email promising free World Cup tickets — or free anything — from someone you don’t know, you should be on high alert. One of the more common free ticket scams encourages people to click a downloadable zip file which then unleashes a virus that enables your computer to be taken over by a remote administration tool (RAT). Others ask you to click a link or fill out a questionnaire with your personal information.

#2 News & Highlights Reels

Breaking news and World Cup highlight reels are being used to entice recipients to open malicious attachments and downloads. Again, be on high alert should you receive an email which encourages you to click or download something in order to access info about the cup.

#3 Free Online Streaming

These scams show up not only in your inbox but on social media sites as well. Often these scams will ask you to complete a survey or download & install software. Again, be cautious & use your head! If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

(There are ways to safely and securely live stream all the FIFA World Cup action online. Read more about that HERE.)

 

Cryptolocker Virus: Hackers Hold Your Computer Hostage

There’s a new form of hacking out there that you may not have heard of, but experts are saying it’s the worst kind of virus out there: it’s complicated, has affected hundreds of thousands of victims, and has cost the victims tens of millions in “ransom” paid to hackers.

Recently exposed on The Today Show, this virus known as “cryptolocker” disguises itself as an attachment in an email from a familiar source, like UPS or FedEx, but when you click on the attachment, it launches the virus and attacks your hard drive. Your screen turns red, a countdown clock appears and all your data is locked…until you pay the hackers’ requested ransom.  And, the kicker is, the longer you wait, the more expensive it gets, and if you choose not to pay up, your data — family photos, sensitive files, music, medical records, etc. — are locked forever.

This sophisticated virus has been linked to a Russian crime ring.  The crime ring’s servers have now been disabled, but unfortunately there are a number of copycat hackers out there hoping to hold your computer for ransom, too!

The best way to protect yourself and your data is to (1) back up your computer regularly, (2) use antivirus software, (3) use extreme caution when opening unknown or unfamiliar emails and attachments, and (4) consider encrypting your data with a VPN service so that hackers can’t seize control.

Watch The Today Show‘s full report on the cryptolocker virus below.

Protect yourself from hackers with your own personal Virtual Private Network.
Read more about about how a VPN can protect you from cybercriminals here.

How To Watch The 2014 FIFA World Cup Online

Watch the World Cup Online

One of the world’s greatest sporting events — The FIFA World Cup — is underway, and many of you us want to watch it online.

But how? 

Fortunately, in 2014, it’s easier than ever to cut-the-cord, and watch all the World Cup games online.

And, we’ve made it extra easy for you to do away with cable with this flow chart (below) that you can follow.

World Cup Flow Chart for Cord Cutters
click for full-size

Flowchart for Watching World Cup Online

IMPORTANT: If you’re watching the cup using either ITV in the UK or CBC in Canada, then you’ll need to use Ghost Path to connect through one of those countries. Why? Because both ITV and CBC have geographic restrictions in place, so you need to be connected through their respective home countries to be able to use the service. But, Ghost Path enables you to bypass those restrictions so you never miss a game!

Ghost Path’s VPN service is just $10/month (or $5 a week), and you get instant access.  Click here to start watching the World Cup online now!

How to Break Through the Great Firewall of China

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.45.59 AMChina has the largest number of people connected to the internet — more than 600 million in fact.

Yet, despite the prolific use of the internet in one of the world’s biggest economies, freedom of information is hard to come by thanks to the communist government’s attempts to block all information that it considers to be politically incorrect or anti-cultural.

This makes it a real challenge for business people and travelers to access common and popular websites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as many others that people access on a daily basis.

These sites are blocked because the Chinese government simply can’t control how people exchange information on them. The censorship tool that China uses is widely known by the nickname “The Great Firewall of China”, or the Golden Shield Project.

In today’s post, we want to offer you some resourceful tips that will enable you to break through this censorship wall so you can access your favorite websites if you plan to visit or currently reside in China.

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to circumvent these blocks by encrypting your data and sending it through secure virtual tunnels so that you can access social media sites as well as location-specific sites such as Netflix. Even better, most VPN services extend coverage to various electronic devices such as your laptop and Smartphone.

But first, let’s delve into the tactics that The Great Firewall of China uses block websites:

  • IP blocking
  • DNS filtering and redirection
  • URL filtering
  • Packet filtering
  • Connection reset

The cool thing is, with a VPN service, you get protection from all these tactics because the service hides your IP address and data, giving you the needed security to access the internet without compromising your access or privacy.

Once you sign up for a Virtual Private Network, you will have to choose your subscription plan depending on how long you will need the service. You can even choose a free service or one with a money-back guarantee to ensure you like it before you commit!

Here’s a step by step guide on how to get your preferred VPN up and running:

  1. After signing up for your preferred subscription method, download the VPN client onto your desktop or phone and install it. This typically takes a couple of minutes.
  2. Sign in via the VPN client user interface using your username and password. (These will be emailed to you once your subscription is active.)
  3. Log in and connect to a server of your choice.
  4. That’s it! Now, you’re all set to surf anonymously and with maximum privacy!

Most VPN services stay secure even in the event of a connection drop, meaning that you have that peace of mind knowing that you’re covered at all times.

With the help of a VPN service provider, you can easily bypass “The Great Firewall of China” and enjoy unlimited access to all your favorite and necessary websites!

To learn more about VPN services or to try it out for yourself, click HERE.

 

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.

5 Reasons We’re 100% For Net Neutrality

Earlier this month, we wrote this blog post that shared an unbiased view of the Net Neutrality Debate so that you could get a clear picture of what this debate involves without any kind of slant.

(Don’t know what “Net Neutrality” means? Get up to speed by reading this post or watching the video below.)

So, now that you’re all caught up, we want to explain why Ghost Path is 100% for Net Neutrality (a viewpoint that most internet users and small businesses share).

In a recent statement, Jim Lastinger, founder of GhostPath, explained the importance of net neutrality: “Net neutrality is absolutely vital to the continued growth of the internet, as well as the people and companies that rely on it. The United States is falling behind countries such as Brazil, who recently enacted an internet bill of rights that guarantees both net neutrality and privacy rights. We cannot afford to fall further behind and be at the mercy of giant telecoms. A permanent ruling from the FCC supporting neutrality is our best chance to insure that innovation is able to continue.”

Below are the top 5 reasons why GhostPath is completely and totally in support of keeping the Internet free and open for everyone:

Freedom of Speech – We believe that the Internet should be a free and open technology without any kind of bias or unjust favoritism.  Without net neutrality, gatekeepers could re-route, impede or even stop the flow of web traffic as they see fit.  Not cool.

Ideas & Innovation – The Internet is behind countless ideas and endless innovation, and we feel this creativity should not be stifled.  “Net Neutrality safeguards everyone’s fundamental right to an open Internet, making it possible for one person’s good idea to blossom into the next big business or, even, a movement of millions.” (Source: Save The Internet)

Economic Recovery – “The Internet has thrived and revolutionized business and the economy precisely because it started as an open technology”, and “Obama and Congress also recognized that the economy cannot benefit by building a closed Internet”. (Source: Save The Internet)

Conflicts of Interest – If network providers are able to restrict information, the temptation to inhibit competitors will be too tempting to pass up.  This means that depending on what service provider you use, you could be restricted or even penalized by accessing data that is not provided by or affiliated with your ISP.

It’s Discriminatory – With Net Neutrality, we have control over our Internet experience. However, without it, service providers could charge extra or slow down your connection depending on what you’re doing online and what sites you’re visiting.  This is discrimination and completely compromises the democratic nature of the Internet.

Do you support Net Neutrality, too?

Sign the petition (we did!) to show your support and keep the Internet FREE and OPEN!

 

Should The Internet Be Free & Open? The Net Neutrality Debate

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 3.36.07 PMIn case you’re unfamiliar, let’s get you up to speed. 

Net Neutrality is the notion that the Internet should be “open” so that all users can access any content they please and use any applications without limitations and without being charged by internet service providers (ISP) based on the variety of content or quantity of bandwidth used.

What exactly is this debate about then?

Well, recently the Appeals Court ruled that the Open Internet Order’s rules are no longer valid.  And, these rules prohibited ISPs from blocking specific sites and charging for more bandwidth (i.e. faster connection).

With this ruling, ISPs are now allowed to block sites, limit, tier and give preferential treatment to those who are willing to pay for better, faster connections and more access.

Prior to this decision the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforced “Net Neutrality”, which meant users and consumers could consume the content of their choice in a fair manner.  Now, competition is the governing force, not regulation.

So, what does that mean?

It means that big companies that can afford it (think Netflix, Google, Facebook, etc.) will easily be able to pay for fast connections, whereas new start-ups will not.  Plus, users will be subject to slower connections for sites and applications that refuse to pay for faster connectivity.

Also, without Net Neutrality regulations, ISPs could give preferential treatment to a search engine (for example) that they signed a contract deal with, and then that ISP could incentivize customers to use that particular search engine by charging users more to use others.

You decide…

Should the Internet be free and open?  Or should vendors pay for the bandwidth they’re using?

Have something to say?

The FCC is collecting public comments to help them develop their new set of guidelines.  Click here to voice your opinion!

How To Protect Your iPhone From Peeping-Toms

DeathtoStock_Wired9Did you know that any time you use public WiFi with your smartphone you are putting yourself at risk?

That’s right — public WiFi is a playground for hackers who are just waiting to access your secure data.  But, here’s the good news…

You can do something about it!

The solution in three words: Virtual Private Networks.  Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, serve to protect you, your data and your identity in a number of ways, but the most important thing to understand about VPNs is this: VPNs secure the Internet connection you are using so that all of the data you are transmitting is encrypted.  This makes it more secure from hackers and other people who are trying to see what you are sending or receiving.

More specifically, a VPN is a collection of computers or networks that are joined together over a public network such as the Internet.  You can use a VPN to connect your data centers, or to access your home network without the need to log into a computer on the same local area network.  A VPN could also be used to secure transmissions and messages if you are using an untrusted network that is open to the public.  So, as you can clearly see, VPNs offer you a world of benefit in the smartphone era.

Here are a few more reasons why VPNs are so vital for smartphone users:

1. Having a VPN allows you to access your files and other data on your network even when you are away from home, your office or when you are traveling.  A lot of companies are letting their employees use their own devices for work, and having a VPN is a great way to keep your transactions, messages and data safe.

2. Use VPN when you are on public Wi-Fi.  Public Wi-Fi puts you at risk, and you never know who may be trying to hack into your phone.  Having a VPN on your iPhone or Android will keep you safe when you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi in a coffee shop, airport, hotel or elsewhere.

3. VPN allows you to be more secure.  If you use your smartphone for work, you will appreciate that VPN easily makes your transmission, e-mails and other communications safe, encrypted and secure.

4. If you are using your iPhone or Android to download files, you should also use VPN.  This is also true if you are paranoid about BitTorrent files.  Sometimes, just having a torrent-downloading app on your iPhone could put you at risk, but a VPN will protect you against that potential problem.

5. With VPN, you can use your smartphone to watch your favorite TV shows back home.  When traveling, you can connect to a VPN and check out your TV shows, sporting events or even watch Netflix online, even if it is restricted where you are.