ALERT: UK location offline.

At 09:30 on 31 July, 2012, our monitoring system notified us that the UK server was unresponsive.  We have the datacenter crew working on it now, and will advise when the server is back online.

Thanks in advance for your patience.

Sincerely yours,

Team proXPN

ALERT: Known issue with proXPN on Mac OS 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

As many of you may have noticed by now, OS 10.8 Mountain Lion was released earlier this week. As a result of several changes within the operating system, proXPN’s OpenVPN service has been adversely affected.

We are currently working on a fix, which we estimate will be rolled out inside the next week. In the meantime, please note that PPTP mode is still functional, and that this issue only affects users of Mountain Lion. Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion are unaffected, and this in no way impacts our Windows or mobile device users.

Until we release a patch, we ask that our Mountain Lion users to switch to PPTP mode to continue using proXPN. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we’ll have OpenVPN back online as soon as possible. Check back here often for updates.

Thanks,
Team proXPN

ALERT: General service announcement.

proXPN is performing a server migration at our Miami location today.  Our Miami location will have some slight latency or disruption of vpn service today while we affect this migration.  Everything should be back to normal performance within the next few hours.

We apologize for any inconvenience, and should you encounter any problems, please come talk to us at http://support.proxpn.com

Best,
Team proXPN

Australian AG: “The case has yet to be made” over ISP data retention plans.

Interesting read from Australia’s The Age:

http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/roxon-questions-plan-to-track-users-web-history-20120720-22fp6.html

Service Announcement

proXPN has completed scheduled maintenance of its e-commerce systems.  The website, support tickets, signups, and upgrades should all be online and functioning properly moving forward. Again, we apologize if you experienced any inconvenience.

proXPN Maintenance Announcement

Service Announcement: 

proXPN is currently performing maintenance on its global e-commerce systems. The website, support tickets, signups, and upgrades will be variably unresponsive at times over the next 8 hours. This maintenance should not affect VPN services. If you are attempting to purchase or upgrade a proXPN subscription, please check back here often for an update. We will post immediately following full restoration of these services. We apologize for any inconvenience as a result of these necessary measures.

Thanks,
Team proXPN

Google Wi-Fi snooping and proXPN

Google’s debacle on Wi-Fi Snooping was recently subjected to an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and triggered several lawsuits at the same time. Government reports say that from 2007-2010, the web giant collected emails and other sensitive personal information with the use of its Street View Cars.

If you are just hearing about this news right now, then you may be wondering, what was Google doing in the first place? Why did they do it and what did they do wrong? And, how can you protect yourself in case other people do something similar?

Where it all began

Since 2007, Google employed the use of Street View cars to take pictures and gather Service Set Identifier (SSID) information, Media Access Control (MAC) addresses and other basic Wi-Fi data from networks. That was no secret at all, considering that all these data were to be used for location-based services like Google Maps.

The problem, however, was that the Street View cars did more than just collect these pertinent data. Although Google says that its programming codes were simply meant to collect the data stated above, the Street View cars were also collecting data packet information at the same time, too. This means that they also collected web browsing histories and communication data such as email addresses, passwords and other sensitive information from numerous users making use of non-protected Wi-Fi networks.

It seems that Google has been doing this since 2007 when the Street View project was implemented, but was only realized that glitch when Germany’s data protection authority requested to audit the data collection practice. It was this request from the German authorities that sparked an internal review, which eventually uncovered the problem.

Google insists that it was an honest mistake in the programming codes made by one lone engineer, and they were mortified by the mistake. Whether it was a mistake or not remains to be seen; their apology did not stop the international outrage and investigations done by regulatory bodies from all over the world. And, didn’t ease the minds of those of us concerned with privacy.  The incident raises ta very important question: Can we trust Google?

 

How much sensitive data did Google manage to snoop?

A report from Google states that the Street Cars have collected data fragments only and not entire pieces of communication or browsing data. This is because the street cars were constantly on the move when collecting data, so it was only able to collect from specific wireless networks that were in range. Likewise, the Street View cars constantly changed channels about five times each second.

Aside from that, Google was not able to collect any information from protected Wi-Fi networks within the signal range of their street cars, but only from Wi-Fi networks which were free and unprotected.

 

What did the FCC have to say?

While privacy snooping is indeed illegal, Google did argue during the investigation that it only managed to intercept data from wireless networks which were readily accessible to the public. With that, the FCC legally cleared Google, stating that it did not violate any section of the United States Communications Act.

Even with the ruling from FCC, critics continue to target the web-giant, calling on it to be accountable for its actions. It has since apologized for this fiasco, suspended the Street View project, and has taken more stringent measures to prevent instances like this.

 

How can users protect themselves?

Despite the explanation, people continue to ask questions.

How can we be so sure that the Wi-Fi snooping incident was not a simple mistake? How can we be so sure that Google did not intentionally plan this to happen?  If one single engineer can sneak in a code without the notice of other engineers (which happen to be some of the best and smartest in the world) from Google’s how do we know that there aren’t any  similar rouge programs operating on Android, on Gmail or other services, not even related to Google?

While the chances are slim, after the Street View Incident, people can never be too sure.

With that, the only possible solution is to take proactive privacy measures. One thing is to protect your Wi-Fi router, preventing security intrusions. But it does not end there.

Another way to ensure your privacy is by making use of a Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPN services employ the use of highly encrypted connection between one’s computer to the internet, protecting your online activity and identity.  The use of VPN services provide you with online privacy, preventing the government, your internet service provider or any other group or individual from eavesdropping on your online activities and gaining access to important details such as login information, banking details, identity or other sensitive documents.

 

A look at proXPN

proXPN is a personal virtual private network that provides users with privacy and safety while using the internet. proXPN encrypts all data passing between your computer and our servers, including everything over Wi-Fi and even through your ISP. This offers dramatically improved protection from Wi-Fi snooping.

Since 2009, it has provided secure internet connection on the desktops and mobile devices of more than 1 million users. proXPN uses impenetrable industry-leading 512-bit encryption to stop other parties from accessing user online activity.

proXPN offers a free basic service and an affordable paid service featuring more powerful protection features.

Block on BitTorrent through U.S. servers removed for Premium users

We’ve  lifted our temporary block on BitTorrent traffic.  Premium Account holders can now utilize U.S. servers (and all other servers worldwide) for torrenting.

 

CISPA working its way through Senate; could CALEA be the real threat?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — According to a new report by Declan McCallaugh at CNET, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations is now lobbying top technology providers and social networks to allow for more direct access to user information and communications through sanctioned backdoors.

U.S. government officials, specifically in the field of counterterrorism, cite the need to keep pace with current technological trends in order to effectively monitor communications that are moving off of otherwise traditional mediums.  While phone calls and even emails are subject to government wiretapping under CALEA (the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act), popular platforms such as Facebook and Skype have no legal precedence.  Authorities view access to these properties as imperative to U.S. national security, as terrorist elements could theoretically utilize their internal messaging features to coordinate and conduct operations both inside the United States and abroad undetected.

Kevin Cook, President & CEO of proXPN: “Not that this is the first that we’re hearing of it, but the fact that the U.S. has a National Electronic Surveillance Strategy should trouble any U.S. citizen reading this article.  Though no one is arguing against the mandate of government to keep its people safe, some would argue that this safety should be assured ‘at any cost.’  We need to be careful how much latitude we give our elected officials in making our information accessible for the benefit of the special interests or policy camps they represent.  At the end of the day, this isn’t about foiling terrorism plots – that’s simply the song and dance.  This is about using the specter of terrorism to fast-track legislative amendments that give unquantifiable powers to various law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies relating to our online communications.”

Much has been made of CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) in the press as of late, resulting in a public outcry that has all but derailed the bill’s passage.  Though the Obama administration has stated its intent to veto CISPA should it pass the Senate, CALEA is already law. Passed in 1994, the original intent of CALEA is to require telecommunications carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment to modify and design their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they have built-in surveillance capabilities. This gives U.S. law enforcement easy access to all information being transmitted and logged over these mediums.  The Justice Department is now considering an amendment to CALEA that would require these same surveillance capabilities – or backdoors – to be added to and built into everything from Facebook and Twitter to Skype and Xbox Live.

“proXPN’s ultimate goal is to elevate public discourse around online privacy, be it in the United States or elsewhere.  CISPA has received the intense media scrutiny it should, but existing legislation can often be amended quickly and quietly.  Should an amendment to CALEA pass, our privacy will be hard to reclaim.  Laws never get thrown out; language is only added, implicitly meaning more room for interpretation.  Anyone familiar with Washington will immediately recognize the perils of allowing its inhabitants to interpret anything.  It’s our job as technology providers, enthusiasts, and end-users to get the word out” says Cook.

For more information on proXPN and online security, please visit: http://www.proxpn.com.

About proXPN
Since 2009, proXPN has secured the internet connections of more than 1 million people worldwide on both desktop and mobile devices.  Using industry-leading 512-bit encryption, proXPN prevents governments, hackers, and even internet service providers from monitoring, intercepting, or logging its user’s online activity.  proXPN is offered completely free with basic functionality or for a low monthly fee inclusive of a more robust feature set.

Users adopt VPNs to protect their privacy.

In the wake  of the failure of SOPA and PIPA, the US Congress hasn’t given up their quest to invade the privacy of all online users.  CISPA (Cyber-Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), the  proposed legislation working  it’s way through the US Congress, is really just  SOPA and PIPA by another name. Beware any government legislation labeled with the word “Protect” in it – this just means you’re about to get your privacy invaded without just cause or due process.

Congress couldn’t get enough votes or people agreeing with them when going after IP (intellectual property) violators, so they’re taking what’s essentially the same bill and renaming it with a title designed to dupe the people into agreeing with it.

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and not an American citizen, expressed opposition to the bill stating, “[It] is threatening the rights of people in America, and effectively rights everywhere, because what happens in America tends to affect people all over the world. Even though the SOPA and PIPA acts were stopped by huge public outcry, it’s staggering how quickly the US government has come back with a new, different, threat to the rights of its citizens.”

Spot on, Tim! We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Users the world over are beginning to realize that protecting their own privacy is increasingly their own responsibility. Proactive tools like VPNs are becoming necessary to keeping private information away from prying eyes, whether those eyes are attached to thieves or governments.