UR Browser Blog

Privacy and security with UR Browser

Tag: internet security

Preserving your digital identity means using a secure browser

When Leonard Kleinrock wrote his “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets” paper, back in 1961, he probably couldn’t have imagined what he was starting. The bold idea of this famous visionary put the wheels of history into motion, so today we have this glorious web of information and entertainment that connects us all. In between 2000 and 2009, the number of active internet users went from 194 million to whopping 1.858 billion all over the world. This huge network of networks called the internet has quickly become an integral part of our every-day lives.

The vast majority of people have at least some kind of online presence. Even the smallest specs of information on the internet, leaves a virtual footprint that can eventually point in the direction of the person who made it. Needless to say, preserving personal data and saving your digital identity from misuse is of utmost importance. The ability to interact online without endangering or sacrificing your personal privacy is vital to the future of the internet as a network that connects the world. Whether you keep your digital privacy or disclose your personal information with anyone, should be your own conscience choice. This issue raises more issues, such as the matter of the level of conscience of children whose parent let them use the internet freely and without any control. It has become very easy for anyone to use the advantages of the internet for malicious purposes. From identity thefts to social security frauds, it is clear that we should all start giving more thought to secure browsing and safety of our privacy in general. It may sound silly, but a proper privacy focused browser could save your life.

Secure browsers, the modern solution to a modern problem

Secure browsers, such as UR Browser, offer an array of carefully thought and developed features. Proper security browser doesn’t use third-party cookies and trackers that could collect your information for advertising purposes. Unsecured browsers are prone to sneaky advertisement and pop-up ads, that could ultimately ruin your internet experience completely. Most of the secure browsers also offer advance private browsing features. With already mentioned UR Browser this particular feature is called the Ninja Mode. These features basically enable you to surf completely incognito, so the passwords, browsing history or searches don’t get saved. Furthermore, the secure browser will always alert you to potentially malicious websites and redirect you to a more safer internet environment. In addition to this, all of your downloads are checked against know threats as malware and viruses and you can usually count on a variety of interesting features that can make you time spent on the internet even more carefree and enjoyable. Options such as personalization of your browser and quick accesses to your favorite websites are just an icing on the cake when it comes to useful traits of the secure browsers.

Each of these secure browsers has a mission to keep you and your precious information safe. Most of them are built as special ecosystems, with incentives and handy features. Though all secure browsers differ among themselves, their mutual aim is to “heal” the current state of the web. The best you can do is to thoroughly protect yourself and your family. Now that we’ve mentioned family, it is very important to consider that not all members of one household are equally tech-savvy. That is why it is also important to think about the appearance of the browser. Everyone should be able to use it easily and without difficulties. UR Browser, for example, has a very “clean-cut” look, without flashy and distracting colors, so it is convenient and easy to navigate. Elegant design and concise instructions make it a perfect fit for everyone, and that should be one of the main features too look for among privacy focused browsers.

The internet, one for all

Because of its numerous uses, the internet has become virtually all-encompassing. It is the largest knowledge database and ecommerce hub, but most importantly – it is where we connect. Our Email accounts have seemingly endless storage capacities, and the number of information exchanged there, as well as their value, can’t be measured. On the same note, identity protection comes to mind once again. The internet offers some of the most efficient means of communication, through apps, social networks, instant messages, blogging websites and more. Basically, whether you just want to chat with someone while you sip your morning cup of Joe, or you want to express your inner self, internet is the perfect place to do it. As far as the communication goes, it offers a platform for any kind of communication imaginable. Every platform we ever visited through an unsecure browser, has kept some kind of trace of our visit. Yet somehow, we still dear to disregard the benefits of our browser security and surf the web unprotected.

Aside from being an unlimited source of all kinds of information and making our lives easier, the internet also brought new kinds of perils which we are now forced to face. Loads of illegal and inappropriate material circulates through the internet every day. The number of computer viruses and their intricacy has been worrisome for a while now. The addiction to social networks is also becoming a prevalent problem among young people in recent years. In addition to all of these problems, illegal download of music and other copyrighted content for free, has set back the music industry severely and lead to a large number of serious lawsuits. Keep in mind that this is a minority of the consequences that the unsecure usage of the internet has led to.  Secure browsers, such as UR Browser, are a necessity. The internet is intertwined with all of our daily activities, and it is our job to protect ourselves and the people we love.

Maybe the best indicator of the prevalence and power of the internet, is the existence of cyber psychology. The development of a completely new branch of psychology speaks volumes about how all-consuming and potentially dangerous the internet can be. Revise your online identity protection today, so you don’t have to worry tomorrow.

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!

 

 

May you have a happy, successful and more private year!

Browser, VPN, privacy, security, internet browsing, internet security, digital identity

We should all be aware by now that 2018 was a watershed year for digital privacy and data protection, marked by one Facebook or Google scandal after another.

Leading with Facebook Cambridge Analytica fiasco, Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony, a massive hack, and revelations of corporate smear campaigns were only the tip of the iceberg. (Refer also to: A bug may have exposed the unposted Facebook photos of millions ; Facebook is using your two-factor-authentication phone number to target ads ; Facebook has been collecting call history and SMS data from Android usersUK Parliament publishes Facebook secret documents showing ‘whitelisting’ firms in return for access to data)

The Facebook privacy issues revealed last year should not overshadow other important revelations like: Strava’s heat map exposing military locations; The giant Marriott hack or Google’s already obsolete Google+ bug that may have exposed private data from millions to its third-party apps;

It’s important to acknowledge the above and understand that some tech companies, and unfortunately some of the most trusted ones, not only harvest gazillions of users’ data but also employ flawed systems to use, share and profit from it. The zenith of privacy invasion played out in a report that alleged both Facebook and Google partnered with banks and bought financial data in secret, trying to get access to yet another sensitive category of private user information.

The aforementioned tech companies, and many other less well known, put their profits before your privacy, and actually built business models that demanded it. In addition, there is nothing FREE and we the users are often the product being monetized.  By itself there is nothing wrong with a consumer getting a free service and enabling profit for the service provider through some element of behavior and/or identity, as long as the profiting entity makes disclosures around business practice, doesn’t abuse the user’s trust by violating their own terms, and has no hidden tradeoffs that a user only finds out about after the fact.

So, what is next for 2019? It could continue with other giants like Microsoft, Amazon or Apple, especially with the latest digital assistant trend, but at this point it would only be speculation.

In any case, we should keep protecting our devices and be aware of which free or paid services we use. Put simply, we must be aware of and take action around our own digital identity.

To that end, great things happened as well, in the context of privacy, during 2018. Moreover, we salute and support initiatives like Europe’s GDPR law, trying to get back more privacy for consumers, but currently far from perfect in practice. It is still worth supporting and following how it will succeed in combating the most sophisticated tracking methods, like browser fingerprinting. Besides the European Union, many publications and organizations, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, started drawing attention to the ways Google, who owns the most used browser and largest tracking network in the world, uses its power to protect its own interests rather than protecting its users.

 

The good and the bad around privacy, in 2018, further validated the need for privacy awareness and tools, therefore fueling our conviction around UR Browser, including the addition of more simple-to-use privacy features.

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