Chrome alternative: Yandex privacy browser review

Yandex.Browser is an Internet browser focused in privacy developed by Yandex, a search engine giant in Russia. Due to its Chromium interface and Blink rendering engine you will not have any compatibility problem viewing pages with this browser, websites will believe you are using the Chrome browser, if a page works in Chrome it will also work with the Yandex browser. I have been using Yandex for three months straight, every day and not once I have come across a site looking different of what it does in Chrome, in the rare event of a problem, bugs can submitted to Yandex developers with the integrated feedback form, an extension that can be removed if it bothers you.

During browser installation you will be asked what search engine you would like to use by default and given the choice of Google, Bing or Yandex. I don’t like any of those search engines, I use DuckDuckGo because it does not record my computer IP and it respects my privacy. To set a different search engine, after installation visit DuckDuckGo, or StartPage.com, go to Settings>Manage search engine>Find DDG on the list and select “Make default“.

Changing the default searcher is easy to do for people familiar with the Chrome browser menu interface, but for new Internet users, it will be hard to find. A browser built for privacy, like Yandex, should allow users to select a privacy searcher during installation instead of forcing them to do it manually.

Yandex privacy Internet browser
Yandex privacy Internet browser

The one thing you will find odd when you first use the Yandex browser is that tabs are not above the fold like all other browsers do, Yandex gets rid of the toolbar, hiding the URL you visit, and places the tabs below. It should not be a huge problem once you are familiarized with the set up and you will appreciate the extra viewing space, you will also notice a very cool animated background with moving clouds, I tested the CPU usage of this visual gimmick using the Windows Task Manager and I was very pleased that it didn’t utilize CPU at all. The browser background can be changed to a different animation right clicking on it and selecting “Change background“, it took me two months to discover that there are twelve different backgrounds.

Now going into the drummed privacy and anonymity features of this browser, it comes ready with various Chrome browser extensions, for security management you will find: Site Reputation WOT, indicating what sites can be trusted, AdGuard, to block pop up and flash banners, and Blocks Flash, blocking all kind of Flash. Nothing too impressive, not bad but not great either. Other extensions that come by default with the Yandex browser are Lastpass, Evernote and Save Articles for later reading, I did not understand why Yandex ships two extensions that do the same thing but they all can be uninstalled and are turned off from the beginning.

The most relevant security features of this browser have to be that downloads and sites you visit are automatically scanned in the cloud with Kaspersky, one of the best antivirus companies in the World, if you visit a site with malware you will be stopped and a red warning will cover the screen. Another singularity is that if you wish to sync bookmarks, passwords and settings Google servers will not be used, you have to open an account with Yandex own free cloud storage service, called Yandex.Disk, this can be good if you prefer a Russian company to store your personal data instead of an American one, it is your choice, myself I never sync anything with anybody, my data, my property, even if that means reduced functionality.

Yandex browser opening .doc file
Yandex browser opening .doc file

There is a Stealth mode in Yandex that is meant to block online trackers, social widgets like Facebook and third party cookies, as well as hiding your computer IP from sites you visit, I tried it multiple times and the cookies and widget blocking worked but the part where my computer IP is meant to be hidden never did.

Other unique features that I liked are that if you have a Yandex email account, available in English, the browser can notify you on new messages without having to open the page, you can read .doc and .pdf documents inside the browser without plugins, the tabs are all coloured which makes easy to distinguish them and people on metered or slow connections using 4G can take advantage of page caching, the Yandex browser comes with Opera turbo, a proxy server fetching popular pages for you and downloading them to your browser without having to visit the website, perhaps that is where the claim of Yandex hiding your computer IP comes from.

What I dont like from the Yandex browser is that when I hoover my mouse over an hyperlink I can’t see the URL address, I have no way of knowing if clicking on it will take me to a bait site or the original website, I was unimpressed too by the extensions Yandex comes with, I missed a proxy extension for anonymous surfing, and after some digging I found the help manual for the browser, it should have been placed more prominently, if Yandex is going to promote this browser for privacy, they could as well draw a comparison table explaining what makes Yandex different from Chrome.

Overall, I see myself using this browser because I don’t have dealings with Russia and prefer a company from a country at odds with the USA managing my privacy, probably Russian secret services subpoena their tech companies just like the USA, but the level of cooperation in between Russia and the USA is nothing like the direct data pipeline that UK&USA&NZ&AUS have.

Important! The Yandex addons link redirects you to the Opera addons store, a very limited out of date extension store, I was about to swap browser because they do not have the KeePass autofill password manager extension available. I have now discovered that if you visit the Chrome official extensions store with ten times more extensions than Opera, everything installs just fine, I am using chromeIPass, a Keepass extension, without any problem.

Visit Yandex.browser homepage

Review spy camera watch Flylink HD 1080P

Smartphones tiny integrated camera and mic can be used to gather important evidence recording things like police encounters or bullying at the workplace, the problem with using your phone for covert filming is that everybody knows it is a recording device and it defeats the element of surprise. This is why I bought the Flylink spywatch with a high definition 1920x1080P camera, made by a Chinese company called Flylink Tech. I have had this watch for four months and tested it out in multiple situations and different weather, outdoors and inside home.

The first thing that let me down from this spy watch when I unboxed it was that the time was not working. I bought the watch directly from the manufacturer at Amazon Marketplace and I am convinced that they would have replaced it for a new one if I had filled in a claim but I did not want to wait another two weeks for the watch to be shipped and I didn’t think that not having the correct time would be important, this turned out to be a mistake from my part. After a few days of using the spywatch I realised that there was a strong possibility of a person coming up to me and asking what time is it, responding that I am wearing a broken watch on my wrist will create suspicion, having said that, after two months of spywatch usage, mysteriously, the time started to work properly by magic, so it is all good now.

Spywatch Flylink 1080 camera watch
Spywatch Flylink 1080 camera watch

Since I mentioned that it took two weeks to receive this watch through the mail, you should know that I bought it at the Amazon Marketplace because, after extensive research it was by far the cheapest retailer I found, except if you live in the US where Newegg is selling the same watch for a reasonable price too. The watch manufacturer sends the package from abroad and informed me in advance that it would take at least a week, in my humble opinion, it isbetter than buying it from an online Chinese shop because you enjoy the guarantee of Amazon customer service if the package is broken or missing.

There are multiple Flylink spy watch designs, from classic, to sports, very few of them are female friendly, it is mostly men watches, before deciding which one to pick, it is best to plan in what environment you are going to use the spywatch. If you attend a business meeting with a bulky sports watch it will look out of place. Myself I decided to buy the sports model because it is a near replica of a Casio G-Shock, labelled G-Shook, and even thought it is bulky, most sport watches are.

One small mistake I made was to buy the 8GB (7.4GB when formatted) version instead of the 16GB, the price difference was only €5, I just though that since the battery only lasts for an hour, 8GB was enough, the 8GB spywatch holds exactly one hour of video, my surprise was that there was battery left after one hour of filming, if it was now, I would buy the 16GB version for longer recording.

The Flylink spy watch is advertised as water proof, the meaning is that if you splash water or it rains, it will be fine, but you can not submerge the watch or shower with it. I have tried this watch under the rain and I had no problems but you can tell from the build quality that not everything is tightly sealed. The watch strap and the glass feel cheap, easy to wear out, treat the watch with care to avoid scratching the glass and don’t bang it around like a real sports watch, overall build quality is on the fragile side.

Flylink 1080 camera watch battery
Flylink 1080 camera watch battery

About the camera,  I was initially sceptical of the video quality and battery life such a tiny device could provide, it turned out to be unfounded, for a needle head camera, the quality is amazing, you can’t see the lens even if you look close at the watch, is very well concealed inside the dial markers. The videos are automatically split in 2GB chunks that hold 20 minutes each, this is a good thing, small files are easier to manage. What did not work very well was the infra-red night vision, it works, but not very clear and you have to be very very close to the target.

A positive point for Flylink camera watch is that it comes with a replacement knob button that is often removed to plug in the USB cable and transfer the video to a computer. Out of the two knob buttons, one of them has hole in it, this is the one you want to use to record voice, if voice recording is unimportant to you, swap that knob by the one without a hole to stop sand or water leaking inside the watch.

Important considerations when filming with the Flylink spywatch, maximum distance in between you and the target has to be kept at around six meters, if you intend to use this watch to film people from far away, don’t buy it. I have tried doing this and the faces will not be visible, this watch has been designed for filming from a very close distance, and, on top of that, it is very hard to focus the camera watch on the correct target if you are too far from him or her.

What is entirely unacceptable of this watch is the small booklet with the operating instructions in English and Chinese, the company must have used an online translator for the English text because it can’t hardly be understood, many of the paragraphs don’t make any sense at all. I managed to operate Flylink in little time because I had owned a similar spywatch a couple of years ago, otherwise I am not sure a novice can do it with just the manual, this is why I am going to write the instructions to operate the Flylink camera watch here:

To start filming, hold the A button for 2 seconds, you will see a blue LED light is displayed, hold that button until the blue light flashes four times before it disappears, the spywatch is now be recording. To stop the video, click and hold the same button After one second, you will see a red light flashing a couple times before going off, the video recording has now stopped, if you don’t stop the video recording, the watch will carry on filming until it runs out of file space or battery, you should get at least an hour of footage until that happens.

Flylink camera watch spywatch
Flylink camera watch spywatch

If your flash memory is full, when you click and hold the recording button A on your watch, instead of a blue light, you will see a red one, this means that no filming is possible because storage is full.

I would forget about all of the other buttons on the watch, night recording is very low quality, and taking photos is nearly impossible to do without people looking at you for awkwardly pointing the watch at them and holding a button, it gives away that it could be a camera. Just remember button A to start and stop filming and nothing else is needed. When outdoors, bear in mind that you will be unable to see the flashing LED lights under the Sun, start he recording button under the shadow of a tree or place your hand on top of the LED light.

To recharge the spywatch battery, you can use your computer USB port or a the mains adaptor that comes inside the package. It takes around an hour to fully charge the spywatch, you will know that the phone is charging when the LED light is blue and fully charged when it turns red.

To transfer the videos to your computer, just plug in the watch to your computer, the watch comes with drivers but my Windows 7 automatically detected it with a message saying that Syntec MSDC USB device is ready to use, it will appear only once. You can then access the watch like any USB thumbdrive, the videos are stored inside a folder named 100MEDIA, they can be move to your computer copying and pasting.

The only problem I have when I plug in the spywatch in my computer is that every single time Windows tells me that I need to scan the drive, do not accept it, click on ignore. Something else about the watch, the internal memory contains a _REC.exe program to change the timestamp of the video recordings, this file was flagged a threat by Avast antivirus, not only that, I could not change the date and time of the videos with it.

Here goes another advice, when you have finished transferring the videos to your computer, do not unplug the spy watch from the USB port until you first right click on the device icon in Windows and select “eject the USB camera“, if you don’t do this step, you can have driver problems the next time you try to use the watch. The latest computers will have USB3 and the watch is USB2, it works the same except that video transfers are slow, thats something I can live with, you can browse the Internet while the videos are being moved from the watch to the computer.

I only evaluated the filming, I didn’t think that taking covert photos with this watch can be done, holding the spywatch on the target’s face puts you on the spotlight, people are not that stupid. And by the way, if you want to securely erase the files in the watch after moving them, fill in the watch memory with random music files until it is full so that it will overwrite past recordings.

Overall, a great hidden camera that is only good to record from a very close distance, which, opens the possibility of awakening your target suspicions about the bulkiness of the watch and you playing around with the buttons. I don’t regret buying it, I love the long battery and the high definition, but the situations in which it can be used are limited, it is not that often you can get close to the target.

Surf the Internet anonymously with VPNSecure

VPNSecure is long standing VPN provider based in Australia, currently in the process of moving their head quarters to Hong Kong to avoid being forced to spy on its users by the new Australian Data Retention law. Knowing that management has scrutinized legal advice about the latest legal developments in Australia and that the company is willing to do what it takes, even moving abroad, to honour their no logging policy, tells you how genuinely they care about customer privacy.

I have been on and off this VPN provider a couple of times, I switched to a different company in the past because I found cheaper VPN services of comparable high privacy standard, with far less servers than VPNSecure but I didn’t need exotic locations like Japan, Egypt, New Zealand, Brazil or South Africa included in VPNSecure. I have been back for another test drive and this review is based on the last week of usage.

One thing I rapidly noticed, and something that could make sign up with them again, is the price reduction in yearly packages.

Anonymous Internet surfing VPNSecure.me
Anonymous Internet surfing VPNSecure.me

There are multiple things that I like of VPNSecure, the top one is the secure IP binding, an option in the software settings that lets you add any application, like an Internet browser or torrent client, to stop it from accessing the Internet when it is not connected to the VPN.

When using other VPN providers, it happened often that my Wi-fi goes down, causing the tunnel to break and automatically reconnect exposing my real IP. I have had two fake Facebook accounts closed because of this, there is an automatic check in Facebook detecting when you change country, a one time geolocation IP change is enough for Facebook to ask you to verify your account with a mobile phone number.

Other nifty VPNSecure features found in settings are being able to fix DNS leaks ticking a simple checkbox, being able to start the VPN on startup and disabling the Internet when you disconnect from the VPN, a little different from the Secure Bind, the former stops all activity, secure binding only stops the program attached to it. You will also see that the VPN servers have a TCP option, this is for people living in China or Middle East countries where the ISP firewall blocks access to websites.

VPNSecure caters to all kind of needs, it offers OpenVPN the most secure protocol, PPTP, for mobile devices without a VPN client, HTTP proxy, not encrypted but enough to hide your IP, and SmartDNS to watch georestricted TV or game from abroad without you doing anything other than changing the DNS servers in the router.

The company has servers in more than 40 countries covering all continents, I am on a 10Mbps home connection and the speed was nearly always close to what I pulled without the VPN, I also tested the USA servers in Hulu and CBS.com to watch online series that I am not supposed to access from my country and not once I had a problem.

I liked that VPNSecure has a dedicated VPN server labelled “TV”, when you want to watch online TV you don’t have to keep trying what server works and which one has been blocked by Hulu, a one click on the VPN set up specially for that purpose does the job.

VPNSecure Chrome Extension HTTP proxy
VPNSecure Chrome Extension HTTP proxy

There is an option where you can use a US VPN server for free for 30 days, with 2GB bandwidth cap, it is meant to be a trial without having to enter any payment details, when you are satisfied all works fine in your computer and you decide you like VPNSecure software interface, you can buy an account with unlimited bandwidth and all locations, payments can be made with Paypal, credit card or Bitcoin for more privacy.

A single VPN account can be used on multiple devices even at the same time, the only condition is that they all are under the same Internet connection, this means that all your family can be protected at home paying for a single account.

For those on a budget, there is a Chrome extension to manage VPNSecure proxies, the cheapest of their anonymous Internet surfing plans. For people in need of encryption as well as hiding their computer IP, OpenVPN is the one to go for, and gamers will want to go for the SmartDNS package.

If I had to mention any kind of fault with VPNSecure, it is that the connected and disconnected notice on the software is not very visible, in other VPN programs you get a clear red/green colour that quickly indicates to the user if the VPN is still on or off.

There are a few other quality VPN providers out there with similar specs but I see two reasons that make VPNSecure stand out of the crowd.

First of all the company is very clear that they only keep logs for a few hours and the second good reason to sign up with them is the secure binding in the software stopping your computer IP from being exposed when your Internet connection goes down. Add to this OpenVPN encryption and server locations outside of the five eyes country jurisdiction (UK,NZ,AUS,US,CA) and you end with a very powerful online privacy tool.

Visit VPNSecure homepage

Avast! SecureLine VPN review

I have been using SecureLine VPN as part of Avast! Internet Security suite, it comes integrated with the software and you get the first 7 days for free. For those who don’t know, Avast is a Czech company that sells security software, their free Antivirus is one of the most downloaded in the world. Avast business model consists in giving away software and getting customers to upgrade to a paid version later on, free users can also be monetized gathering usage data to improve their products.

Avast SecureLine is available as stand alone Windows program, Android or iPhone/iPad app, my review is based on the integration with the Avast Internet Security suite.

SecureLine choice of servers is practical, you will not find the staggering number of VPN nodes that other massive VPN companies offer, Avast SecureLine VPN spreads over all continents but with far less nodes. Unless you run a bot in need of thousands of computer IPs for when one of them is banned, Avast SecureLine VPN should appropriately accommodate an average user, they have servers in the USA, Canada, UK, South Korea, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and few others.

SecretLine Avast! VPN
SecretLine Avast! VPN

The main purpose for me to use a VPN is to bypass geographical blocks placed in USA online TV websites, Avast SecureLine does not mention anywhere that it can be used for this, but it is no secret that the only reason why many people pay for a VPN is to watch TV from abroad. I suspect that by not mentioning it Avast has legal cover from lawsuits, the VPN is only being marketed as a security product.

Although servers are spread worlwide, except by the USA, Avast SecureLine VPN does not allow you to switch server node. During my usage, I detected that the Salt Lake and Miami USA servers were being blocked and flagged as anonymous proxy by Hulu, getting around was not difficult, I just had to switch to the Seattle server, however, not such luck with the Canadian and UK servers to watch online TV in CBC.ca and the BBC iPlayer, the Canadian server prompted Google to show me advertisements meant for Brazilians surfers and CBC.ca blocked me from watching online TV on their site believing I was outside Canada.

The Avast SecureLine UK server worked with the BBC one day, the second time I found the VPN blocked, this makes me believe that Avast SecureLine is using load balancing to automatically switch you to the fastest server, which makes it impossible for a user to manually change IP and hampers the ability to watch online TV when blocked.

Speed wise, with a home Internet connection of 10Mbps, every single time I tested multiple SecureLine VPN servers speed I did not notice any important decrease, my connection was a consistent 8Mbps.

BBC iPlayer VPN block
BBC iPlayer VPN block

Something I did not like was the VPN interface, you get warned with a pop up window when connecting and disconnecting from the VPN but the assigned IP is not visible and to change VPN country you have to use a drop down menu that has no configuration options, no server load information and not even a country flag next to the server name.

I also tried to find out information about what logs and how long for they are kept, I was unable to see anything, a bad indication. If Avast was able to boast about logs they would do so, the fact that they prefer not to mention the information tells you that the company rather not to disclose it.

As for payment, Bitcoins are not accepted, only a credit card or Paypal account tied to your real identity is accepted by a third party payment processor called Digital River.

A subscription to Avast SecureLine VPN can help you encrypt a public WiFi Internet access point, secure voice over IP calls (skype), stop search engine tracking, and hide your real IP from websites but do not count on it to protect you from government spying.

I certainly would not buy this VPN to be anonymous on the Internet or watch online TV, except for the USA where multiple VPN servers are available, the Canadian and UK servers are useless for TV.

Due to Avast not having information about log keeping, their VPN not working to watch Canadian and UK online TV, the average price and the lousy VPN interface, not a snowball’s chance in hell  you will see me buying a subscription to their product when there are cheaper and better services.

Visit Avast Secret Line homepage

Review Dust, the self-destructing messaging app

Dust is a free Android, Windows Phone and iPhone app to communicate privately via ephemeral messages, the app tries to appeal to the simple texting market and it is being funded by entrepreneur Mark Cuban, a selfmade billionaire who become aware of his digital trail when the US Securities and Exchange Commission falsely accused him of insider trading using some of the messages he had sent as evidence.

The app download is over 30MB and I had to grant it access to my location, camera, contacts, photos and Wi-fi connection. You are also asked the date of birth to make sure that you are over 13 years of age, this can be easily made up like I did. Password recovery can be set up with an email address but it is not compulsory, I managed to open my Cyberdust account entering no email address and no phone number, the only information I provided was a nickname and a password.

You can use Dust to send text, photos and videos, everything is sent encrypted but there is no specific information about how encryption in Dust works. Messages are erased 30 seconds after somebody opens them and there is a warning system that tells you if the receiver has taken a screenshot of your message. Data is always dealt with adopting volatile memory, the messages you open never touch your Android solid state disk and Dust servers don’t store messages in the hard drive either, any message you send will be kept for a maximum of 12 hours in the server and then purged regardless of if it has been read or not.

Selfdestructing messages app CyberDust
Selfdestructing messages app CyberDust

The app has a wide range of emojis that can be added to make texting more fun, I found the choice of emojis bizarre, they consist of different monkey faces, it is open for debate how amusing they are but I personally do not identify myself with a monkey and this is meant to be an app for adults, not children.

I liked that Dust has a complete interactive tutorial for new users. There is also a social element that allows you to interact with other Dust users adding them to groups and creating ephemeral group chats that send “blasts”.

One of the major differences in between Dust and other self-erasing messaging apps like Snapchat, is that the Dust list addresses of celebrities and famous entities in their network you might want to follow, from day one, you already have somebody to dust with. Since the main problem with new messaging apps is to find friends that are also using it, having a premade list of people you already know from the media sorts that out, however the practical implementation of that idea did not work as expected.

I joined as a follower of a famous tech journalist and all I received was her RSS feed for me to visit her website, another celebrity I followed sent me a pasted message with a pitch for an investment in her company and BusinessInsider Dust account was nothing else than messages with links to their site, basically, all these famous people with a public Dust address, all they do is to send you a headline with a link, don’t expect any kind of interaction or exclusive information that can not be found in Twitter.

CyberDust encrypted mobile phone messages
Dust encrypted mobile phone messages

Despite the celebrities failure, I didn’t think that Dust was a bad app for the problem it is meant to fix, I loved how little information is required to open an account with them and that the app does not store data on the hard drive as well as the automatic erasing, however, at times, you might want to actually store those messages and you can’t do that in Dust. In another app I have installed,  called Telegram, you can have it both ways, messaging somebody keeping the conversation or choose an optional private chat that is ephemeral like Dust.

I found Dust conversations very hard to follow and I am sure that some people will want to record their messages to remember what it was about, I can’t see myself advising family members to install this app, on top of that it remains a huge problem convincing anybody to install yet another app that few people use in their phone.

I ended up using the delete account feature in Dust, I can confirm it worked flawlessly, I got rid of the app and I will be sticking with Telegram to send ephemeral messages given that millions of people are already have it and mostly because I will not have all messages set to ephemeral by default.

Visit Dust homepage

Note: Post has been updated with the new name, from Cyberdust to Dust

Review no logs VPN OkayFreedom

This review is based on the one year unlimited bandwidth OkayFreedom VPN premium service that I won online during a give away, I have been using them for two months now. I initially liked that this VPN parent company is a well known security German company called Steganos. I have tested other of their security products and most of them are excellent, I also appreciated that as a German company, in my view, Steganos is less open to government blackmail than USA, UK or Chinese companies are.

This VPN is being marketed as a tool to help you get around online content regional restrictions, bypass firewalls censoring the Internet, to anonymise your computer IP, and encrypt your Internet browsing, stopping hackers and government agencies intercepting it. OkayFreedom has servers covering all continents, you can get an IP from the USA, UK, Germany, Egypt, Singapore, Japan, Turkey and others. The VPN software is only available for Windows, no smarphone app, no Mac computer and no Linux support.

I sporadically watch Canadian TV online (GlobalTV, CTV), not having any Canadian server was a downer, I can live with it since I get most of my content out of USA TV websites, my only contention is that OkayFreedom competitors with a similar price also cover Canada.

It is very exotic getting an Egyptian or Japanese computer IP and learn how people from those countries see the web, but in reality, I can’t use any of those locations, the lagging slows down my web browsing and I always end up sticking to European or North American servers, I would imagine that it is the same for other users, so, best not to get too impressed just because far away locations are available, unless you live nearby they will not be of much use.

OkayFreedom VPN location
OkayFreedom VPN location

During installation OkayFreedom will install a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox, this is in addition to the VPN and it doesn’t have to be necessarily activated, but if you turn it on you will be able to automatically trigger the VPN in the browser when you visit websites delivering georestricted content, it worked everytime I listened to Pandora radio.

OkayFreedom VPN free edition has a shopping toolbar that pops up with discount offers when visiting e-commerce sites, in the premium OkayFreedom VPN you will not find this adware.

Be mindful that OkayFreedom does not have a full VPN interface, to switch country you have to right click on the Windows taskbar, and you can’t choose the server you want, the VPN software finds out the least loaded server and automatically assigns you the one with the best performance, you can’t choose a different city, or select an East or West coast USA IP. The upside of this is that you know this is the leading speed for that location, the downside, is that if you are not happy with one IP, you can’t manually get a new city.

I tried numerous times for more than a month to watch content in Hulu with OkayFreedom VPN and I was always blocked, Hulu detected that I was using a proxy, I had no problem using OkayFreedom to listen and watch Pandora radio, Slacker, CWTV and CBS.com, Hulu was the only site that did not work with this VPN. It is only one site, but it is the most requested, if other VPN services can make it work, why not OkayFreedom?

I should give top marks to this VPN for their free no registration trial to future customers and for their 30 day money back guarantee to present customers but they get bottom marks for not allowing Bitcoin payments as an option.

OkayFreedom VPN using Pandora radio
OkayFreedom VPN using Pandora radio

For people after an advanced VPN, OkayFreedom is not for you, there are very few settings you can change, it is Windows only and selecting a city is automatic.

For people with high privacy standards, OkayFreedom is the one you should go for.

The company does not mention this on their front page but their privacy policy states that they do not keep any logs and it is impossible for OkayFreedom to link somebody with the assigned IP, furthermore, you don’t need a username or password for this VPN, a pseudo ID is derived out of your computer MAC address, a unique hardware number linked to a computer network card that can not be associated with any real name or address even if it were to posted on the Internet. As for payments, OkayFreedom never gets access to those details, a third party processes them, this is written in capital letters in their privacy policy.

This is a mixed outcome VPN review, whether you should choose this VPN or not, it will depend on what you want it for, the person who needs thousands of computer IPs and be able to manually rotate them, should choose a different provider. If  your main concern is online privacy and you don’t care about Hulu or about a full fledged VPN interface, OkayFreedom will be ideal for you.

Visit OkayFreedom homepage

Registrars with free privacy whois registration for ever

Some domain name registrations, like .at (Austria) or .nl (Netherlands) hide registration details by default, other domain extensions like .us (USA) do not allow private domain registration, and the .eu domain name only allows private registration for individuals, but not companies. Check individual domain name registration rules if you want privacy.

The most used top level domain names .com, .net or .org allow privacy registration but somebody acting as a proxy is needed for this. A few registrars, like NameCheap and NameBright only offer the first year of whois privacy for free, after that you are asked to pay a yearly fee for the privilege, small fees quickly grow to unsustainable.

Entering a fake name and address in the registration details is free but it breaks ICANN rules, webmasters doing that can be reported online in the ICANN website and your domain name can be taken away. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also requires domain registrars to keep customer contact data intact in escrow, this protects your domain name from being lost if the registrar used to protect your privacy goes out of business.

The following list contains domain name registrars delivering no tricks free privacy whois registration for ever included in the price of the domain name:

DreamHost: US hosting company that can register domain names without having to necessarily host with them, but if you decide that you also need shared hosting, the price of the domain will be free together with the whois privacy registration service, for as long as you remain a custome.

NameSilo: Very cheap domain prices from a US company that offers lifetime whois privacy registration. Special bulk prices for domainers and an interface able to manage domain portfolios. The account includes other free perks like Domain Defender to secure your domain name from hijacking. Get $1 off using the discount code: dusk

Gandi: Company based in France that will mask your domain name registration details with a French address and you will not be charged extra for the privacy services. The only condition they have is that privacy can only be used by individuals, not businesses, you are also given a free mailbox for your domain.

MrDomain: Spanish company that will mask your whois registration with a Spanish address in the Balearic Islands, free whois privacy for ever included with the price of the domain name, if you are an European resident though, you will be charged VAT tax when you buy a domain name.

Hover: Canadian company that includes lifetime whois privacy registration. I found single domain registration slightly above average but there are volume discounts. The more domains you have with them, the less you will pay in renewal fees.

UniRegistry: A US based company providing free whois privacy for the life of the domain you register,optional two step verification with your smartphone to log into your account. This domain registrar includes unique domainer tools, it lets you upload documents and pictures connecting them to a single domain in your account, this is meant to help you out remember sale queries.

Domain name privacy whois registration
Domain name privacy whois registration

 

CosmoTown: Straight forward Korean company, with US offices, that bows to never charge a higher renewal domain registration fee than what you paid for the initial domain registration. Whois privacy is included for life and they have a price comparison table contrasting their offer with that of major providers. This registrar is very competitively priced.

InternetBS: With an office in the Bahamas but owned by a British company, I used to be with them but I transferred the domain out after the company was taken over by new management and they started to charge VAT tax to European customers. InternetBS offers free lifelong privacy domain registration with partial or full privacy protection.

Domain Monster: British owned registrar that will let you opt out of the whois database using their domain privacy registration details instead. Like all other European companies listed here, they charge VAT tax to European customers. If you don’t live in the EU you don’t have to worry about it, otherwise, you could be better off with a US registrar.

Above: Australian domain name registrar geared towards domain investors, on top of free whois domain privacy, there is a domain marketplace and parking manager where you can try to monetize your domain names with integrated reports on paid per click income and domain name traffic.