UR Browser Blog

Privacy and security with UR Browser

Tag: tips

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!

 

 

How to Protect Your Digital Privacy at the U.S Border

EFF guide to digital privacy at the US border

Be prepared when traveling

If you are traveling through the US border, you may be subjected to an invasive device search. This is beginning to raise questions amongst those who want to protect the private data on our computers, phones, and other digital devices.

On these grounds, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a new guide for those traveling to the US. In a long or short format, this guide gives travelers the facts they need in order to prepare for border crossings while protecting their digital information.

See more on the EFF website: https://www.eff.org/press/releases/digital-privacy-us-border-new-how-guide-eff

Useful resources:

Digital Privacy Guide at the U.S. Border
EFF’s pocket guide
Your constitutional rights

How To Change Your VPN Location

How to change VPN country

Tip: How To Change The Country of Your VPN

Want to change your VPN location? First, click on the ninja icon in the upper right-hand corner. Then, click on your current VPN location (the flag).

You will now see all the available VPNs, beginning with the most recommended. From there, you can choose any location on the grid.

 

Protect your data online with UR. Learn more about our free privacy features.

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.

Shield: Look For the Colors to Stay Safe

With Shield, use the colors to protect you while you browse!

Top 5 Malware Threats To Watch in 2017

Cisco recently published their Annual Cybersecurity Report and presented the most common malware threats.

Top 5 Most Commonly Observed Malware: 

1. Reconnaissance: attackers look for vulnerable spots in internet infrastructure or network weaknesses that will allow them to gain access to users’ computers and, ultimately, to infiltrate organizations.

2. Suspicious Windows binaries and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs): suspicious Windows binaries deliver threats such as spyware and adware. Malicious browser extensions are an example of PUAs.

3. Facebook scams: include fake offers and media content, along with survey scams. With nearly 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is the perfect territory for cyber criminals.

4. Trojan Downloader: opening links in spam emails or downloading an image in emails, which can attach to the victim’s computer.

5. Browser redirection malware: these infections can expose users to malicious advertising (malvertising), which attackers use to set up ransomware and other malware campaigns.

Read the entire Cisco report here (email required)

So, how to prevent malware?

Install a reputable antivirus software

It goes without saying that you should invest in a good antivirus software. Read reviews and decide on one that matches your needs and price range. It will be money well spent—believe us, getting rid of viruses can be more costly in the end!

Stay on top of those updates
Regularly check for updates not only for your computer, but also for your antivirus software. Updates are often security patches to keep you safe in between large updates. It is important to have these so your computer is protected from potential threats.

Secure your network
You’ve heard it before—strong passwords are really important! You should never have an unprotected wifi network at home. Opt instead for a WPA or WPA2-encrypted password. For optimal security, use a VPN when you visit websites to create an encrypted “tunnel” between your browser and websites.

Think before you click
Avoid websites that provide illegal and pirated material. If you receive email attachments from an unknown sender, do not open them. Bright “Download” buttons should be avoided, as they often lead to malicious software. One last trick: hover over a link and look in the bottom left corner of your browser to see where it’s really leading you.

Backup your files in multiple places
No one wants to think about it, but you should prepare for losing your data, even if you are safe online. Keep your files in multiple places—on a external hard drive, in a secure backup cloud, or even at a friend’s house.

If you’re concerned about your online privacy, you’re not alone. UR is a web browser created specifically to keep your online data private and safe. Learn more here.

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