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Privacy and security | UR Browser

Category: Educational

Secure browser – the necessity of today

Are we really safe?

We live in a day and age when a large portion of our lifestyle, social correspondence and everyday routine is determined and governed by the internet. We make our morning coffee and read the daily newspaper on the internet, we go to work and use emails, search engines and browsers, we get ready for bed and set the alarm clocks on our Wi-Fi connected phones. Most of us developed some skills that would seem completely unnecessary 40 years ago. We can type an essay within ten minutes, our language now includes tech-savvy lingo and we can have a one-hour conversation consisting solely of emojis. Needless to say, we feel completely comfortable and safe on the internet. However, one question comes to mind: Are we really as safe as we think we are?

Numerous reports show that the high-level data breaches are experiencing a growing pattern in recent years. Many of us choose to believe that most of these problems hit just large companies or political establishments, but the sad truth is that we are all in danger. More and more individuals are targeted and falling victim to the cyber crime every day, yet most of us choose to neglect the eminent peril that unprotected usage of the internet carries with it. Protecting digital privacy and digital identity has never been harder or more necessary. Cyber crime is more prevalent today then ever before, because of the immense amount of time we spend on the internet. The increase of cyber bullying, credit card frauds and social networking scams, show that we are in deep necessity of secure and privacy-oriented internet browser.

How could secure and privacy browsers protect you ?

Most web browsers use a feature called “third-party cookies”, as well as under-the-radar trackers. Both of these are heavily used to gather information about you. We’ve all been witnesses of recent identity theft issues on the news, as well as misused information from social networks. Many of us tried to just wave it off and continue using the internet like nothing happened. However, once the seed of paranoia has been planted, it just keeps growing. In this case, the paranoia that has set in after some scandals could be a good sign of collective awareness. Identity protection should be among our top priorities when we browse the internet, and our data should be just our own. Secure browsing is the top priority of today, as stealing information via internet has never been this widespread. One of the bright examples of the fight against cyber-crime is the UR Browser. It was created to protect the privacy of every individual that has opted to expand its views and reap the benefits of the internet. This particular browser enables all of its users to surf freely and securely through the internet. Once you’ve started conducting your searches through UR Browser’s private search engines, you can do so without a worry on your mind. It doesn’t use trackers, and it acts as your very own invisibility cloak, so secure browsing is guaranteed.

One of the primary thoughts during the creation of numerous focused browsers is about skipping the middleman. In the case of browsers, the middleman is Chromium’s built-in tracking. Contrary to widespread opinion, Google’s open source code, Chromium does have the built-in tracking, as his closed source brother Chrome, that can potentially allow your personal data to be shared. UR for example, manages to be a fully secure browser, although it is built with Chromium, because the built-in trackers of Google are removed from it. Features such as automatic password filling, prediction text on webpage searches and several others, are somewhat practical and time-saving. However, these particular traits are easy to be tempered with, so saving a few minutes is not worth the potential risk. That is the main reason that UR has these features either disabled, or completely removed. If you want to have even more browser security, this browser has the option of Ninja Mode. This particular mode functions without saving searches, passwords, history or cookies. Any login you make while the Ninja Mode is operational, will be forgotten without a trace once you leave the last opened Ninja tab. Aside from their mandatory features that save your privacy and identity, most privacy focused browsers are equipped with numerous fun features to make your internet-surfing as effortless as possible. Options such as browser personalization and shortcuts for quicker accesses are just valuable addition to make the hours spent on the internet as pleasant as possible.

Online privacy matters!

Keep in mind that the internet is one of the greatest creations of modern times. This seemingly endless source of knowledge and entertainment is available to everyone who have Internet access. Internet enables you to ask virtually any question about any topic, and once you hit the search button, you’ll get thousands of answers and explanations. Furthermore, Internet makes us connect with people who are oceans away. Whether you opt for a live chat or email, you will be able to connect with anyone anywhere in the world in less than a minute. Internet also lets you do your banking and pay your bills without standing in long, tedious queues. The web allows you to do your business online, sell and purchase almost anything you can think of. In the end, the internet reminds you that you are not alone. In the fast-paced world of today we tend to become introverts and forget the people around us. Once the loneliness sets in, the internet can let you know that there are millions of people all over the world, just like you. They share the same interests, same pain and same joy.

Internet gave us so much, but at the same time, it made us be vulnerable. It gave the monsters a bigger forest to hide in and it gave the tricksters a bigger field to play on. Now, more than ever before, it is our duty to protect ourselves and the people we love. Privacy focused UR Browser is the proper answer to internet scammers and frauds. It is the modern solution to a modern problem.

Small team, great achievements and even bigger ambitions for 2019!

privacy browser vpn

2018: Guerrilla Anti-Tracking and Embedded Virtual Private Network Shielding

We are still a start-up and even though we are a small team, and do not always get to address all your messages and needs, they do concern us and we do listen to them! Thank you for that!

We are sharing all of them with our product team who is prioritizing each of those along with our planned features and improvements, so that they will be eventually addressed.

For the past year, we had to reduce the communication efforts in favor of focusing more on the product and achieving some major milestones:

  1. Improve stability and security with UR 61 release, (do we want to link to an old version in this post vs. just having a reference to it in plain text?) adding anti-fingerprinting capabilities and improving the HTTPs enforcing;
  2. Introduce a unique feature in the browser: a full VPN client with UR 62, not only to protect the browser traffic but all your device’s traffic;

We will not talk about the first one as we already have on the blog and it’s already too old, we are already working to bring UR to Chromium 71.

We do want to share with you more about the latest VPN feature and why we considered it such an import part of the puzzle.

Why does a browser need a VPN?

For those of you who are not aware of what a VPN is and why you should use one here is a short intro.

By its’ meaning a Virtual Private Network is an internet security service that allows users to access the Internet as though they were connected to a private network. This encrypts the Internet communications as well as providing a strong degree of anonymity. Some of the most common reasons people use VPNs are for location anonymity, the right to online privacy, to protect against snooping on public Internet connections, to circumvent Internet censorship, or to connect to a business’s internal network for remote work purposes.

Generally, when users create an Internet connection to visit a website or to access an online service, most Internet traffic is unencrypted and very public. The device that initiates the request through a browser or another app, will connect to their Internet Service Provider (ISP), and then the ISP will connect to the Internet to find the appropriate web server to fetch the request website or service. Information is exposed with every step of the Internet request. The IP address is exposed throughout the process, the ISP and any other intermediary can keep logs of the user’s browsing habits and interests. Moreover, the data flow between the user’s devices and the webservers is unencrypted, which creates opportunities for malicious actors to spy on the data or perpetrate attacks on the user, such as a man-in-the-middle attack.

When using a trusted VPN service to connect to the Internet, users gain a higher level of security and privacy by:

  • The VPN client connects to the ISP by creating an encrypted connection
  • The ISP connects the VPN client to the VPN server, maintaining the encrypted connection
  • The VPN server decrypts the received data from the user’s device and then connects to the Internet to access the web server in an unencrypted communication, exposing only the IP address of the VPN server and masking users’ IP

How VPN works. What is a VPN.

This is known as a ‘VPN tunnel’ the encrypted connection between the VPN Client and VPN server passes through the ISP, blocking the ISP and/or malicious actors from seeing a user’s activity.

 

Beware, VPN and Proxy extensions are not enough!

In the past UR explored, as did other competitors, the so-called ‘VPN extensions’ or ‘proxy-extensions.’ They offered a similar service as a VPN but with a few important drawbacks like: not fully encrypted communications and solely browser request protection, excluding by its tech limitations the requests issued by any other apps running on the device.  A potential negative effect of this lack of coverage could be – the location was masked while surfing websites w

ith UR, yet other local apps/services would expose user’s location when communicating with their servers on the Internet. To avoid such scenarios users would have had to subscribe in addition, to other VPN services, requiring the installation of an additional software: a VPN client.

We stopped that type of service a while ago when such weaknesses surfaced.  However, many players in the space continue to proposes ‘proxy-like’ features advertised as VPNs, while not offering true VPN protection.

Leveraging open-source, with the power of Open VPN and a great partnership (don’t want to promote another solution and took out the links), we have built a powerful and multi-faceted privacy took that combines the utility of a browser with the protection of a VPN.

In addition to standard private browsing features, UR Browser now offers the same level of protection as other stand-alone VPN clients. And as usual, we’ve made it extremely simple to use so that not only tech savvy users can benefit from it.

If this solution is appealing to you, check it out now ! (currently available only for Windows)

2019: Let the real privacy battle begin!

Still in beta but improving rapidly, here are some key updates you can expect from UR in 2019:

  • The latest Chromium patches (on Windows, and as soon as possible on Mac too)
  • Upgraded privacy and anti-tracking features
  • An improved browser anti-fingerprinting technology (more on browser anti-fingerprinting here)
  • A bunch of under-the-hood and functional fixes (for example online streaming services and translations services had been disabled due to privacy concerns, now will become optional)
  • A VPN build for Mac
  • New features like secure account synchronization, improved bookmarks and offline web content management
  • Integrated private Search engine

We are considering opening our source code too while mobile and Linux versions are in planning as well, and should go into development later this year.

These are some of our resolutions for 2019, wish us good luck to achieve the most!

 

 

Data Encryption Explained

Data encryption

Lots of 1s and 0s…

You’ve probably heard about data encryption before, but if you still aren’t exactly sure what it is, here’s the scoop on data encryption:

The purpose of data encryption is to protect digital data confidentiality. Data encryption uses an algorithm, which translates the data into another form or code. Without a secret encryption key, this data is unreadable.

Encryption is one of the most widely used and effective data security methods used by organizations to transfer data.

Examples

• When you use your credit card online, your computer encrypts that information so that others can’t steal your personal data as it is being transferred.

• When you see the SSL image image, it means that there is an encrypted link between the website’s server and your browser.

 

 

Big Data “For Dummies”

As we embark into a fully data-driven world, it is important for technology consumers to ask questions to better understand where their personal data is going.

Unfortunately, the interminable sphere of Big Data can get really boring and confusing. This is why cartoonist Josh Neufeld and Michael Keller of Al Jazeera America collaborated to create “Terms of Service: Understanding our Role in the World of Big Data,” a comic novella sum field guide that demystifies Big Data and its implications on daily life.

The comic itself is centered around how data is handled in the United States and explores the tradeoffs between giving up personal data and how that data could be used against you. It answers many questions, such as:

• Which technologies might seem invasive today, that five years from now will seem normal? 

• As technology users, how do we keep up with the pace without letting our data determine who we are?

French newspaper Le Monde recently published the first 30 pages of the French version of the comic. Recent concerns about the collection and sharing of data have brought Big Data to the forefront of privacy discussions.

Sources

Terms of Servicehttp://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/terms-of-service/#1

Al Jazeera America, http://america.aljazeera.com/tools/pressreleases/al-jazeera-america-releases-first-graphic-novella.html

5 Frequent Types of Malware: Explained

Types of malware hackers use

You may have heard malware thrown around, but do you know what it means? Learn more about the largest types of malware we come across on the web.

What is malware?

Malware is short for malicious software, meaning software that can be used to compromise computer functions, steal data, bypass access controls, or otherwise, cause harm to the host computer. Here are explanations on the five most observed types of malicious programs to watch out for:

1. Adware 

Adware is a form of financially-supported malware that usually presents itself in the form of unwanted advertisements displayed to a user. The Internet is filled with these types of programs that can hijack your PC for profit. Most of them are hidden inside so-called “free” downloads and pop-up ads that forcibly install software on systems with active vulnerabilities.

2. Spyware

This type of malware covertly collects information and transmits it to interested parties. Information gathered includes web sites visited, browser and system information and IP address. Spyware does not have any infection mechanisms and is usually dropped by a Trojan. A hacker uses spyware to track your internet activities and steal your information without you being aware of it. Credit card numbers and passwords are the two most common targets.

3. Trojan Horses 

Just like the trojan horse from ancient greek mythology, this type of malware is disguised as a safe program designed to trick users, so that they unwittingly install it on their own system, and later are sabotaged by it. Normally, the hacker uses a trojan to steal both financial and personal information. It can do this by creating a “backdoor” to your computer that allows the hacker to remotely control it.

4. Viruses

Like a virus that can infect a person, a computer virus is a contagious piece of code that infects software and then spreads from file to file on a system. When infected software or files are shared between computers, the virus then spreads to the new host.

5. Worms

Similarly, worms also replicate themselves and spread when they infect a computer. The difference, however, between a worm and a virus is that a worm doesn’t necessitate the help of a human or host program to spread. Instead, they self-replicate and spread across networks without the guidance of a hacker or a file/program to latch onto. 

 

Surf safe with UR: all downloads are automatically scanned for viruses and if you arrive on a suspicious website, you will immediately be alerted.

Phishing vs. Pharming

fish-in-fishbowl

What is phishing?

Though phishing and pharming attacks are related, they both happen by different means. For example, phishing attacks usually involve an email that appears to be from an e-commerce company prompting you to take action and log in to your account with the link provided in the email.

The website you visit is not the real site but a well-designed imposter site. It may seem authentic to you, so you will enter your username and password, which is then obtained by the attacker. 

What is pharming?

On the contrary, pharming is different in that it can happen when you are going to a legitimate website, even when you have typed the URL of the site yourself. In a pharming attack, the criminal “hijacks” the intended site’s DNS (domain name system) server.

The end result is that you are redirected an imposter site that looks like your intended site. Most people can not tell the difference and will enter their username and password as usual, only to be captured by the attacker. 

 

UR has an integrated Safe Browsing feature which alerts you of sites that are suspected of phishing or pharming. Learn more about UR’s safety features.

Party time? A Refresher in First, Second and Third Party Data

Advertisers, websites and data brokers are having a ball with your data.

The Breakdown on Your Data

First-party data is the data you give away willingly to websites. Advertisers and publishers can extract and compile data by requiring you to register online and by then analyzing your activity.

Example: your email address, name, pages you like, ads you click, etc.

Third-party data is information that’s collected by an entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with consumers. This data is normally compiled by specialist firms who pay websites to collect information about their visitors. This data is then used to piece together detailed profiles about users’ tastes and behaviors as they browse the Internet.

Example: an advertising tracker will place a cookie on your browser and see where you go so you see ads for things you want. (Maybe those shoes?)

Second-party data is the newcomer to the scene. It is essentially first-party data that another party obtains directly from the source. This data isn’t given away directly—it usually is obtained through a direct relationship with another entity. Deals can be made between publishers or a Data Management Platform (DMP). Or simply between two parties who could benefit from each other’s first-party data.

Example: a pet store sharing data with a veterinarian, who both have similar clients.

The Wider Scope of Your Data

Collecting and dealing with all that information requires a wide range of different players. Data brokers earn their living by helping advertisers and publishers manage their own first-party data, as well as selling them more data about users.

“Companies stress that they do not know users’ names. But they identify them by numbers, and as they build up detailed profiles about those numbered users, there is concern that the information might be traced to individuals.”

– The Economist

All this data is divided into segments defined by location, device, marital status, income, job, shopping habits, travel plans and many other factors. These segments are then are then auctioned off to buyers of ad space in real time.

While data sharing can lead to products and services that make your life easier, more entertaining, economical or even informational, it is important to be aware of your data. So, whether it’s your first-, second- or third-party data, it is important to understand where your data goes, and how it is used.

Sources

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21615871-everything-people-do-online-avidly-followed-advertisers-and-third-party

https://hbr.org/2015/05/customer-data-designing-for-transparency-and-trust

https://www.wired.com/insights/2015/03/internet-things-data-go/

How a VPN Can Help Protect Your Privacy

It's like an online seatbelt

Protect your online traffic with a VPN.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a group of discrete, private networks linked together over a public network—namely, the internet. For anyone who is concerned about keeping his or her online data private, a VPN is a must-have.

A VPN scrambles all the data that passes through the networks by acting as a secure “tunnel” between your computer and the sites you visit online. By encrypting your computer’s internet connection, sites that you visit and data that you send and receive is safe from prying eyes.

Using a VPN encrypts your data.

Other uses for a VPN
  • Change your IP address and appear in another location
  • Make public wifi connections safe, which are often unprotected
  • Watch content from other countries without restrictions
  • Buy airplane tickets in a country with lower rates
  • For remote workers, to connect to a work server and share files
  • Bypass local internet networks, which can be slower than with a VPN

Overall, using a VPN secures your internet browsing and gives you more autonomy with the sites you can visit.

With a VPN built right into it, UR makes staying private online easy! Access the VPN with just a click—look for the ninja icon in the upper right corner of the browser.

Think of UR as an armored car for your online traffic. We respect privacy and created a web browser to keep you safe and private as you navigate the internet highways. 🚗 Learn more here.

Sources

Techhive http://www.techhive.com/article/3158192/privacy/howand-whyyou-should-use-a-vpn-any-time-you-hop-on-the-internet.html
PlanIT http://www.planitcomputing.ie/blog/?p=337
Technet https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742566.aspx

Search Engine vs. Browser

You know they’re related, but…what’s the difference again?

Do you know what the difference is between a browser and a search engine?

There is a lot of confusion around the two frequently-used words: search engine and browser.

A search engine is designed to search information on the Internet. The search results are usually presented in a list of results called “hits,” based off of the specific keywords you have entered. Examples of popular search engines include: Google, Qwant, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and others.

A (web) browser is a software application that allows you to retrieve and display content from websites and information across the internet. You first open up your web browser, and then go to a search engine to find information.

Think of it this way: a browser is like a car and the search engine is the map that lets you search the internet—all the roads, houses and shops along the way.

🚗  For smooth driving, UR is a browser that transports you across the web, and in total privacy. Learn more here.

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