Internet browsers are so much a part of our lives, most of us don’t think twice about using them whenever we are searching online. While browsers are an extremely helpful tool, they also come along with risks. Aside from enabling you to quickly and easily find information online, browsers also collect a great deal of information about their user’s behavior. Many people fail to consider just what is revealed when they browse online.
When using a browser, the company is obtaining private information about you – starting with the obvious – your search results. Beyond these results, the browser can also obtain information such as your IP address (which reveals your location), sites you visit and length of time you do online activities. A quick look through your browsing history reveals the great amount of information recorded about your activity during each and every session – for each browser you use!
With all this information being collected, browsers are able to gain an intimate look at users, compiling a picture of interests, connections and other details about your life based upon online activities. This information is also stored for other users of your computer or device to view. Many browsers also store passwords, which can also result in privacy risks. Some companies even sell the data they collect, putting it into the hands of advertisers or third parties who use it for unknown purposes.
Introducing Internet Privacy Guides
In the new Internet Privacy Guides section of our website, we share ways to delete your browsing history from major browsers including FireFox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and more. These How To guides explain, step-by-step, how to delete your browsing history to better improve your online privacy. Check out the guides below to get started today!
How to Delete Your Browsing History
Follow our Browser Privacy guides to learn how to delete your browsing history and improve your privacy.
The Internet is abuzz with news that VPNs, or virtual private networks, are now illegal in China. While there’s much alarm that the latest crackdown severely restricts Internet freedoms and increases censorship, the new regulations also have implications for businesses operating in and outside of China.
Pervasive Censorship Impacts Business
Whether traveling from abroad or working within China, censorshop and the Great Firewall are a strong concern for anyone trying to conduct business. Without a circumvention tool such as a VPN, Internet users in China may be unable to access documents, websites or even accomplish basic tasks like sending emails. The restrictions are sweeping, and tools such as Gmail and Google apps, chat programs, email clients and news and social media are filtered or blocked. This censorship poses a serious barrier to those conducting business – and it looks like that barrier is increasing. By prohibiting VPNs, many businesses who rely on VPNs to access business tools and information outside the country may loose access to their essential resources. Additionally, new regulations around domain name registration provisions and mobile apps may also have implications for foreign businesses in the long-term, such that China residents can only use registered companies.
Retain Access with VyprVPN for Business
Here at VyprVPN we have many business customers that use our services to work from. Our users implement VyprVPN to access Google applications from China, to correspond using their preferred email clients and to access important tools and information for business use. VyprVPN for Business allows users to retain access to all necessary business tools and access sites freely, despite the censorship in place. As we mentioned in our previous post, the latest developments out of China are concerning. We believe access to the Open Internet is an essential right that should be afforded to all Internet users around the world – and it’s also a necessity for conducting business and innovation.
China’s censorship under the Great Firewall increased yet again last week when the country added Pinterest to its list of blocked sites. Pinterest is a social media site that allows users to share images of things they like, which are dubbed “pins.” As reported by Greatfire.org, Pinterest has been blocked in China for the past week, likely indicating it will be blocked permanently. Pinterest joins Facebook, Twitter and a multitude of other popular social media sites (and many websites) the country restricts access to.
Although Pinterest’s use isn’t extremely prevalent in China, the blockage is significant as Pinterest was one of the few Western social media sites that remained accessible. It’s not entirely clear why Pinterest was suddenly targeted.
Freedom on the Net 2016, an annual report published by Freedom House that examines Internet Freedom around the world, was released this week. This year’s report highlighted an alarming trend – Internet freedom is continuing to decline around the world – for the 6th year in a row. One major contributor to this decline was increased censorship of social media sites and messaging applications. WhatsApp was blocked in 12 countries, and 24 countries blocked social media this year (a significant increase from the 15 that blocked it last year). Social media blocks raise concerns about free speech and the right to communicate, and 2016 even saw some full blown Internet shutdowns. Additionally, VOIP services such as Skype were increasingly blocked, to both censor users and to avoid detracting from the business of in-country telcos.
China has further tightened its grip on the Internet, with the passage of a new cybersecurity law. The law will have wide-reaching impacts both in and outside the country, on Internet businesses and human rights alike.
China’s new cybersecurity law requires the collection of personally identifiable information of Internet users, as well as those using messaging services. This information can include real names and other personal content, and provisions of the law require storing the information. Certain data for foriegn Internet companies must be stored locally – meaning in China. The new law additionally includes provisions requiring companies to monitor networks security issues (network “intrusions”), and offer technical support in addressing incidents that occur. The increased monitoring could lead to surveillance, as well as network shutdowns. Unsurprisingly, the laws also increase already severe censorship under the Great Firewall.
The Human Rights Watch described the new law as a “regressive measure that strengthens censorship, surveillance, and other controls over the Internet.”
It’s finally here! We’re excited to announce that the product you may know as VyprVPN Server is out of beta and is now VyprVPN for Business Cloud. VyprVPN for Business Cloud is an easy-to-use cloud VPN, offering a dedicated server and unprecedented control of your network.
VyprVPN for Business cloud is available as a business plan, and integrates the great features of VyprVPN for Business with the added value of a product built for the cloud. VyprVPN for Business Cloud offers you total control of your network, and a variety of great benefits:
Your own dedicated server
Fast and easy deployment
You can easily spin up multiple servers for all your teams, using concurrent connections included with your account. Learn how one VyprVPN for Business Cloud customer improved their efficiency and improved business operations using the product in our Client Spotlight. VyprVPN for Business Cloud is supported on several platforms, including DigitalOcean, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VirtualBox.
It’s being reported that Russia is working on it’s own “Great Firewall” – a reference to the mechanism China uses to filter and censor their Internet. Russia has been working with China to implement some aspects of the Great Firewall, to maintain control over their flow of information and enable telecom companies to comply with recently-passed Russia Internet laws. Russia’s system to filter the Internet is dubbed the “Red Web.”
Russia has already been imposing restrictions on Internet users, but has significantly ramped up these measures in recent months. In June the country passed several measures, called Yarovaya’s laws, which include data retention provisions. The laws require telecom companies to store user data for 6 months and metadata for 3 years. Additionally, they mandate that companies provide “keys” to encrypted communications if asked by authorities. And now, just this month, additional legislation was passed which “gives the Kremlin primacy over cyberspace,” including the “exchange points, domain names and cross-border fibre-optic cables” that comprise the Internet.
The purpose of the laws isn’t entirely clear — there is some debate over whether the goal is to ensure companies can comply with data retention provisions or for the government to both censor and maintain control over the flow of information for political reasons (or both). Either way, it is a concerning development as the country moves towards increased control such as that exercised in China.
Earlier in December, Russia blocked access to popular networking site LinkedIn, a move which reflects tightening control over the Internet.
The Chinese government has finally come out and said it: VPN services are not allowed without authorization. These updated Chinese regulations effectively outlaw VPNs within China after years of sporadic VPN blocking and degradation by the Great Firewall. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Sunday announced a “clean-up” of Internet access services, including VPNs, which will take place over a period of 14 months. The new Chinese regulations appear to target ISPs and network providers that are operating from within China. It remains to be seen if China will enact any new blocking strategies against VPN services that operate outside of China, such as VyprVPN.
VyprVPN Remains Accessible from China
Currently, VyprVPN continues to operate normally for our customers in China. Amidst these claims, it’s business as usual for us here at Golden Frog – and for VyprVPN customers. Golden Frog is incorporated in Switzerland and does not operate any servers within China, so we are not subject to the harsh new regulations. We will continue to provide our customers connecting from China and around the world unrestricted, uncensored Internet access via any of our 70+ worldwide VyprVPN server locations. We will also continue to offer our proprietary Chameleon technology, which defeats VPN blocking by scrambling OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it’s not recognizable to the Great Firewall or other deep-packet inspection (DPI) technologies.
“China has targeted VPN providers in the past,” said Phil Molter, co-CTO at Golden Frog, “but VyprVPN has been able to quickly and effectively update our service to defeat these blocks, bringing our users back online more quickly than other providers. We are one of the biggest, and most successful, VPN providers in China – and despite implications of the new legislation we remain confident in offering VyprVPN as an effective solution around China’s harsh censorship. While we do not believe the new regulations affect VyprVPN users at this time, we will, of course, continue to follow Chinese developments.”
A Continued Fight for a Free and Open Internet
While this news out of China is highly concerning, it’s nothing new from a country who imparts some of the strictest Internet censorship in the world. We are unsurprised to see China tightening its already-strong grip on the Internet, which they have been controlling and censoring for the past two decades. It is alarming to see their control increase so greatly in recent months, but Golden Frog’s mission drives us to provide a way around this control.
“Golden Frog was founded to stand for a free and open Internet,” said Sunday Yokubaitis, President of Golden Frog. “We created VyprVPN to offer Internet users around the world with a tool to preserve their privacy and freedom, and to enable them to access the unrestricted Internet experience. VyprVPN is the portal to the free world for many Chinese users, so we take that responsibility very seriously and it drives us to continue our fight for the free and open Internet. Our Operations teams are prepared to implement the technical measures to defeat any new VPN crackdown.”
It appears China’s latest crackdown is politically-motivated, and may be in a response to a change in political power that happens only once per decade. The new rules aim to support a new “party congress” by further restricting Internet freedoms. We’ll provide more information on why the crackdown may be occurring in a follow-up piece later this week, so be sure to stay tuned. We will also offer additional information as we continue learning about the new legislation and understanding the implications. If you have questions, please reach out to us at [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss the news further.
News broke this week that the Chinese government is further increasing its control of the Internet in the country, tightening an already-iron grip. China strictly censors and restricts the Internet via a mechanism called the Great Firewall. With newly-proposed regulations, they will increase the Great Firewall’s censorship of websites and expand restrictive practices to mobile and Internet-based applications.
Domain Name Registration
The new legislation greatly increases control over what content websites can display and which sites can operate in the China. The legislation requires websites operating in China to register to a Chinese domain name (.cn) — meaning the government can shut down the website if they want or need to for any reason. This doesn’t only apply to domestic companies and sites, but to overseas websites as well. This type of domain name registration requirement could have serious implications for businesses – even foreign ones – as it would restrict which sites are allowed into the country and what they can display.
The new legislation also addresses mobile app usage within the country, substantially tightening control over mobile apps. It’s being purported in an effort to “further promote the healthy and orderly development of the online app store industry and regulate mobile app-based information services.” The governemnt believes, under the current procedures, many mobile app-based Internet services allow for illegal information to be shown, due in part to the existing “weak” management of app stores. The new regulations are extremely stringent, requiring mobile apps to confirm the real identities of their users by using phone numbers to verify. They also call for creation of an “information security” system that informs the government about why information is collected by the app user, and create a strict censorship system for mobile apps. Additionally, user information is to be tracked and retained for a period of at least two months. App stores may face additional rules to ensure compliance. Similar regulations have gone into effect for mobile games recently, as well.
Implications for VPN Use
This new legislation has implications for VPN use, and could impact those who turn to tools like VPNs to circumvent the Great Firewall’s censorship. The current method being used to block websites is blacklisting, or blocking and filtering of sites deemed unfit by the Chinese government. If this new domain registration approach is implemented, however, it means that a VPN would be useless – the website content wouldn’t be allowed/exist in China to begin with, so circumventing a block wouldn’t enable users to access it. As outlined in Radio in Asia “any overseas connections that are not approved will be blocked.”