Ivy Harper

Ivy Harper has 28 articles published.

Ivy is an experienced freelance contributor to the Dark Web Journal who focuses on technology and current affairs. Ivy Harper is a pseudonym.

How to Get Unbanned From Omegle

in Guides/Privacy
How to Get Unbanned from Omegle

Since Leif K-Brooks launched Omegle in March 2009, strangers have been chatting with each other online hassle-free. Unlike most social media platforms, Omegle does not require user registration. Instead, the platform matches strangers with similar interests and allows them to have anonymous conversations.

As cool as this sounds, your online chat freedom can come to an end permanently or temporarily if you get banned. This guide explains how to get unbanned from Omegle.

How to Get Unbanned from Omegle

Omegle ban

You might feel hopeless and frustrated after Omegle bans you, but you shouldn’t be. Getting unbanned is easy.

However, before diving into that, let’s look at why Omegle bans users:

  • You have violated the terms of use: this is one of the major reasons why Omegle would ban a user. On its website, Omegle clearly states the terms that all users should observe. For instance, the platform is off-limits to users under 13 years of age. On the other hand, users below the age of 18 should use Omegle with a parent’s permission. Therefore, if you are violating these rules or using derogatory language, then you will get banned. Since Omegle offers monitored video chats as well, you could get banned for playing music in the background. That means that violating intellectual rights is another offense Omegle takes seriously. Also, if you are sexually harassing other users, then you could find yourself banned from accessing the chat platform.
  • Another user has reported you: rude behaviour or sexual harassment could cause a user to report you to Omegle. Once someone reports you, Omegle will deny you access to the platform immediately. However, Omegle is sometimes too quick to believe users’ reports, which could lead to unfair banning.
  • Your anonymous chat buddies drop you often: just because Omegle matches you with likeminded people does not mean that you will strike a rapport with them. If this happens and your matches keep dropping out of conversations with you, Omegle could get suspicious and ban you.

Furthermore, other users could lose interest in talking to you because you are rude or inappropriate in some way. If this is the case, you should change your attitude before Omegle notices the frequent lack of interest from other users.

How Long Does an Omegle Ban Last?

Omegle bans could last up to four months, but it depends on how severe the offense is. Therefore, a ban can last for one week to 120 days. Nevertheless, if you are a repeat offender, Omegle could ban you permanently.

You can wait for the ban period to lapse to get back to anonymous chatting. However, you do not have to. With a virtual private network (VPN), you could start using Omegle the same day you get banned.

Although chatting on Omegle is anonymous, the website can track users using their IP addresses. The website uses your IP address to connect you to other users. That means that it can also use your IP address to block you from accessing chats. As a result, you will need a new IP address to start using the platform again. The best and easiest way to acquire a new IP address is by using a VPN.

When you connect to a VPN server, you will get a new IP address that makes it appear like you are in a different location.

How Long Does it Take to Get Unbanned From Omegle?

Omegle

With a VPN, you can get unbanned from Omegle in about ten minutes. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Clear the internet cookies on your browser
  • Close Omegle on your browser
  • Download and install a VPN on your computer or mobile phone. Paid VPNs are great, especially if they offer dynamic IP addresses. This feature allows the IP address to change from time to time, increasing anonymity
  • Connect to a server location close to you to get a new IP address. Also, note that servers closer to you will offer faster internet speeds than those farther away
  • Open the Omegle website in your browser and start chatting again. A new IP address makes it appear like you are a new user

If for some reason the VPN connection does not work, open Omegle in an incognito window. Next, change the VPN connection to a different server location. Keep switching between servers until you find one that works.

With a VPN, an Omegle ban should not have to last for long. Furthermore, using a VPN gives you additional benefits like security, privacy, safe P2P torrenting, password management, and access to restricted websites.

To read more content, find out how to get unbanned from Discord.

Can You Go to Jail for Torrenting?

in Features
Can You Go to Jail for Torrenting

You are probably cautious to avoid downloading malware-infected files while torrenting. But have you taken precautions to avoid legal consequences as well?

Read on to find out if you can go to jail for torrenting.

What is Torrenting?

Torrenting is the process of downloading content from many computers on a peer-to-peer network. The decentralized nature of this system makes it difficult for authorities to shut down the sharing of the copyrighted material. 

Torrent software allows users to download small pieces of files stored in every computer on the P2P network. Examples of such software are BitTorrent and uTorrent.

The torrenting process consists of leeching and seeding. When you download a file without uploading it, you are a leecher. Conversely, if you download a file and upload it as well, you are a seeder. Now, other people can download that file from you since your computer is hosting a small piece of it. Note that torrent software could automatically allow you to upload a file as you download it. 

Can You Go to Jail for Torrenting?

Can You Go to Jail for Torrenting

Yes, but it depends on several factors. These factors include their determination to prosecute, the regulations of the country, and the extent of your offence. Therefore, the chances of being taken to court and eventually going to jail are pretty slim. 

Nonetheless, you could get a warning letter, or your ISP could slow down your internet for downloading unsanctioned and copyrighted content. For instance, some users on this Reddit thread reveal that they have received warning letters from their ISPs for torrenting.

ISPs can also punish the torrenting of illegal material by threatening to reveal your details to the authorities. If your ISP is collecting kickbacks from content owners, expect them to take a more active role in your punishment. Moreover, this could happen if your torrenting activity is costing them money. Torrenting uses a lot of bandwidth, which costs ISPs money.

Torrenting is not illegal. As long as you avoid downloading unsanctioned copyrighted material, you will remain safe from legal consequences. Still, it is not always clear which content is legal or illegal to torrent. For this reason, several countries have made torrenting in any form, illegal.

To avoid getting into trouble in the first place, you should stop torrenting entirely. However, if you do not want to stop, protect yourself by using a VPN.

How Will You Get Caught?

You might think that authorities cannot catch you for torrenting since only your IP address connects you to your online activity. Well, you are mistaken.

The US government, for example, works with ISPs to catch torrenters that are downloading unsanctioned copyrighted material. So, if you are not using a VPN while torrenting, your ISP will know. Because your ISP has your home address, name, email address, authorities could come knocking on your door.  

Torrent client software stores the IP addresses of seeders and leechers. Therefore, an ISP that is monitoring a torrent file can access all IP addresses that have downloaded that file.

If your ISP is not actively monitoring you for torrent piracy, you should worry about copyright trolls. These are small businesses that locate individuals illegally downloading copyrighted material based on their IP addresses. Hollywood production companies might hire such companies to find people that are downloading their content illegally.

When they locate pirates, copyright trolls sign an agreement with the copyright holders allowing them to take legal action on their behalf. As a result, you might get a threatening email or a settlement letter through your ISP.

You Have Received a Settlement Letter. What Should You Do?

what is torrenting

Copyright trolls will go through your ISP to send you a settlement letter that is not legally binding. The copyright trolls could threaten to sue you for more than $100,000 but could settle for as little as $3,000 because they know the court process is lengthy, risky, and pricey.

Also, trolls use intimidation and fear with the hopes that you will give in and pay the settlement money. After all, they only need a few people to pay up for them to make a profit. 

As this Redditor reveals, the money piracy tracking companies collect rarely goes to the artist. It goes to the publishers, labels, or studios.

That means that you could ignore the first settlement letter. However, this does not mean the copyright troll will not send more threats or take the matter to court.

Copyright trolls could also subpoena your ISP to reveal your personal information. Therefore, until the ISP discloses your details, do not respond to the letter as you could disclose your identity. If the copyright troll finds out who you are and takes you to court, you can contact these lawyers for help.

Instances of Legal Action

Several countries have taken legal action against those found downloading copyrighted material.

In 2005, a Judge in Hong Kong sentenced a man to three months in jail for using BitTorrent to make three Hollywood movies available for others to download for free. Chan Nai-ming installed on his computer three movies: Daredevil, Red Planet, and Miss Congeniality in a format that enabled others to download them. Furthermore, he announced on a newsgroup that the movies were available for download.

In 2007, Anime distributor Odex sent cease and desist letters to users in Singapore that had allegedly downloaded fansubbed anime through BitTorrent. Interestingly, one of the recipients was a nine-year-old student. The alleged offenders paid out-of-court settlements of about $2,000 each.

Countries Where Torrenting is Illegal

Some countries take downloading of copyrighted material very seriously.

According to an article on VPNMentor, if you download copyrighted material in Finland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan, and UAE, you will be fined.

The US, China, Malaysia, Australia, Italy, and Russia have shut down torrenting sites. Conversely, nations like Canada, India, Romania, and Greece overlook the download of copyrighted content.

Accessing free content is fun until you get caught. Therefore, your safest bet is not to torrent at all. Streaming services like Netflix are affordable and available in almost any place in the world. You can also find music from your favorite artists on YouTube.

Tuxler VPN Review: Is This Virtual Private Network Worth It?

in Cybersecurity
Tuxler VPN

Not all VPNs are created equal. Therefore, it is important to make sure you find a VPN provider that is right for your surfing needs. In this Tuxler VPN review, you will find out if Tuxler’s free plan is worth it.

What is a Residential VPN?

Tuxler is a residential VPN that offers both free and premium plans. This type of VPN routes web requests through residential IP addresses that real Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have assigned.

So, how does it work?

Imagine a woman in Japan surfing the internet from her home. She enables Tuxler VPN and receives an IP address from Switzerland. Now, she will appear to be browsing using a residential IP address that an ISP from Switzerland has assigned.

Tuxler VPN Packages

Tuxler review

When you compare the free and premium packages, it appears that Tuxler is making an effort to offer an attractive free plan. This means that you will probably not need to upgrade to the premium version. Nonetheless, if you do, you will pay $7.99 every month.

The table below shows a comparison between the two plans.

FreePremium
10 location changes100 location changes each day
Unlimited bandwidthUnlimited bandwidth
Limited location accessUnlimited location access
Secure connectionsSecure connections
Regular speed4x faster than the free plan’s speed
Over 70,000 new IPs each monthOver 70,000 new IPs each month

You can access the premium plan for 24 hours on condition that you join the affiliate program or share the app with friends.

Ease of Use

To start using the free VPN service, download the application from the Tuxler website. Alternatively, get the browser extension for Firefox or Chrome. However, you will have to install the Tuxler application to use the extension on your browser.

Installing the Tuxler application to use the extension on Chrome is easy. The VPN takes about two minutes to connect to a server after installation. You can change the server location later if you choose. On the other hand, installing this VPN on your Windows or Mac device is simple as well.

Tuxler VPN

When using the extension, you can connect or disconnect the VPN at any time. Also, you can pick the location you want to connect to from a drop-down menu.

Tuxler VPN Review

If you want to use a residential location, check the box provided, and select a country. Interestingly, connections through residential locations are slower and less stable.

Locations

A VPN review would be incomplete without discussing server locations. A good VPN provides a wide range of locations for users to enjoy fast speeds. Tuxler’s locations are distributed in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and North America.

Furthermore, the VPN provides over 70,000 new IPs each month and residential IPs from more than 182 ISPs from different IP blocks.

Unlike other free VPNs, Tuxler offers many server locations. For instance, you will have access to servers in India, Israel, Singapore, the US, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Canada, and Australia. If you check the box ‘Use Residential Locations,’ you will have even more locations to choose from.

The VPN constantly refreshes the locations it connects to, allowing it to remain unblockable.

Availability

Tuxler VPN is available for Windows, Mac, Chrome, and Firefox. Applications for Android and iPhone are unavailable but according to the website, the company will release them soon.

Since this VPN is only available for some devices, it excludes users that use Linux. It also excludes users that want a VPN for their TVs and game consoles.  

Security and Privacy

Anonymity is an important aspect of every VPN and Tuxler checks the box on this front. The company also claims that you will get increased anonymity when you use its residential locations.

On its website, Tuxler discusses end-to-end encryption. However, the company fails to say whether their VPN is using this feature.

Tuxler also explains which data they collect when you visit their website but they do not disclose whether they collect any data from users utilizing their VPN.

Is Tuxler VPN Reliable?

Unfortunately for users, you can only communicate with the support team via a contact form. That said, we sent two questions on privacy and security through this form and received a response shortly after. The answers were not as detailed as we would have liked.

tuxler

The customer care representative said that Tuxler does not keep users’ activity logs and that the VPN does, in fact, offer end-to-end encryption. This information should have been easily accessible on the website.

Is This VPN Worth It?

Free VPNs offering features like unlimited bandwidth and many server locations are hard to come by. Also, Tuxler provides anonymity and privacy as any good VPN should. Therefore, we can say that Tuxler is worth it – provided you are only looking for basic features.

If you can overlook the missing information, limited customer support options, and limited device compatibility, you can download Tuxler VPN.

If you are looking for a top-shelf VPN, however, you will have to look elsewhere.

Banned from Discord? Find Out How to Get Unbanned

in Guides
banned from Discord

Getting banned from a digital platform can be a real bummer, especially when it happens without warning. In this guide, you will find out how to get unbanned from Discord and how to avoid a Discord ban in the future.

What is Discord?

Discord Ban

Discord is a free Voice over IP (VoIP) digital platform that brings together gamers from all over the world. As a result, the platform has built a community of gamers that chat, share ideas, create new memories, and make new friends.

The first release of Discord was in 2015. Since then, the platform has attracted about 56 million monthly users.

You can use Discord on a web browser, Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, and Linux. Moreover, Discord allows users to create their own servers about popular games. Servers are communities where members can conduct text or voice chats.

Reasons for a Discord Ban

As with any social platform out there, Discord has a list of rules to guide its users. You can get banned from Discord by server administrators or by Discord.

When a server administrator bans you, you will no longer have access to that server. However, you can chat on other servers. On the other hand, if Discord bans you, then you cannot access the entire digital platform.

Below are some of the reasons that could lead to a Discord ban:

  • Organizing, participating or encouraging the harassment of others
  • Repeatedly sending friend requests or messages to users that have made it clear they are not interested in talking to you
  • Failing to use the Not Safe For Work (NSFW) label on channels
  • Sharing sadistic images and content that displays animal cruelty
  • Selling your account or server
  • Sending spam to other users
  • Facilitating hate speech 

If you violate the published rules, Discord can issue a warning, delete the disparaging content, or remove your account or server. On the contrary, if you violate server rules, you will get banned and will most likely not get a warning. You could also get banned on other servers for violating the rules of one server.

How Were You Banned From Discord?

how to get unbanned from discord

Discord utilizes usernames and IP addresses to track users. Therefore, when you violate server rules or the overall Discord guidelines, you cannot access the services you have been banned from using with your username or your device’s IP address.

Even though you change your username, you still cannot use the banned services because the platform will recognize your IP address thereby blocking it from accessing Discord or a Discord server.

That means that if you are determined to start accessing the banned services, you will not only need a new username but also a new IP address.

How to Get Unbanned From Discord

Fortunately, there are several ways to get unbanned from Discord.

  • Firstly, you can send a direct message or a friend request to the server owner or high-ranking server staff members if you can to plead your case. If your case of misconduct was not that severe, you may get unbanned if you promise to observe the rules. However, according to server owners on Quora and Reddit, violators of rules never get second chances.
  • That brings us to the second option. Because you will most likely not receive forgiveness, your best chance of regaining access to Discord is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The beauty of using a VPN is that you can hide your real IP address and in turn get an IP address of another country.
  • Thirdly, you can change your username to something different from your previous name. For instance, if your username was previously “Smart Rookie” you cannot change it to “Smart_Rookie” because the administrators will notice.

Therefore, with a new username and a new IP address, you can create a new Discord account and no one will ever know that you were previously banned.

Start Using Discord Again

To start using Discord or a Discord server again, here are the steps you should take if you use Discord on your macOS:

  • Close your Discord application
  • Go to Library>Application Support and permanently delete the Discord folder
  • Open your applications folder and permanently remove Discord
  • Restart your computer
  • Reinstall the Discord application
  • Launch your VPN and connect to a server in another country to get a new IP address
  • Open the Discord app
  • Register a new account with a different email address from your previous account. Remember to use an entirely different username
  • Once you have created a new account, you can sign in and join the server you were banned from using

If you are using Discord on Windows, follow these steps:

  • Close your Discord application
  • Go to Local Disk (C)>Users>Admin>AppData>Local. To see the AppData folder, you might need to enable hidden items by checking the “Hidden Items” box under the “View” tab. Open the Local folder to find the Discord folder. Once you find it, hit “Shift +delete” to permanently delete it
  • Restart your device
  • Reinstall the Discord application
  • Open your VPN and connect to a server in another country to acquire a new IP address
  • Launch Discord and create a new account with a different email address and username
  • Access the server you were banned from using

Note that once you have created a new account, you can disable your VPN. This is because you only needed it to create a new account.

Learning Your Lesson

Now that you have gained full access to Discord once again, you should not repeat the same mistakes. Read and observe the rules of Discord and all the servers that you join.

However, it is important to keep in mind that you could follow the rules and get banned because the server owner does not like you. If this happens, you can raise the issue with them without bugging them.

In the unfortunate case that they do not want to unban you, you can let it go and join other servers that treat users more fairly. Alternatively, you can take control and create your own server.

Is IoT Hacking a Serious Threat to Consumers?

in Hacking/Privacy
IoT hacking

Thanks to the internet of things (IoT), it is possible to connect objects to the internet where they can collect and exchange data. While this is progressive and beneficial to consumers, it could also put them at risk.

This guide will explore Internet of Things hacking and answer the question: Is IoT hacking a serious threat?

How Hackers Exploit IoT Devices

Imagine a hacker attacking thousands of self-automated vehicles to harm passengers. This hacker would take over all the car operations allowing him to control functions like acceleration, the opening of doors, and steering. While most cyberattacks will only lead to loss of money and data, such an attack could lead to disabilities and even loss of lives. This is what makes IoT hacking a potentially serious threat.

Hackers exploit firmware vulnerabilities to attack IoT devices. Firmware provides an unprotected attack surface that hackers can use to access a network.

Some of these entry points for hackers include weak authentication mechanisms, debugging systems left behind by product developers, open-source code, and encryption keys.

The Threats of IoT Hacking

The IoT home devices market is growing rapidly. Experts predict that the market will hit a value of $53.5 billion by 2022. This growth is attracting hackers since some homeowners are not practicing safe security measures.

Additionally, IoT home devices are vulnerable to attacks because manufacturers design them with convenience in mind instead of security. Most smart home devices barely have any built-in security mechanisms.

But what would a hacker want with your smart refrigerator, TV, doorbell, security cameras, baby monitor, light bulbs, and thermostat?

Here are some of the ways hackers exploit IoT devices and what they gain from it.

1. Remote Recording of Homes

Hackers can use IoT devices to remotely record the activities taking place in your home. For example, these parents reported a cyberattack on their baby’s monitor, an incident that reveals how risky IoT devices are. Since smart baby monitors have cameras, criminals could use them to watch babies and their routines with ill intentions, such as kidnapping.

Furthermore, criminals could use your home security cameras to plan an invasion, to watch you and your family during intimate moments, and to harass you and your children. Once hackers compromise your security cameras, they could access other IoT devices in your home.

2. Botnet Attacks on Devices

Cybercriminals use botnets to take control of their target’s system and distribute malware or execute denial of service attacks. The Mirai botnet is an example of how dangerous IoT hacking can be. 

College students were behind the 2016 attack which targeted gaming platforms like Minecraft.  In the process of the attack, users on the US east coast could not access sites like PayPal, Twitter, and Amazon. Initially, the US government thought that this was an attack from a hostile nation. 

The botnet infected many unprotected IoT devices, creating an army of routers and cameras ready for exploitation. 

3. Data and Identity Theft

Hackers can attack smartwatches and smart home devices to steal your name, social security numbers, bank account details, and passwords.

They can use this data to register bank accounts and credit cards in your name, steal your money, empty your gift card balances or sell your information on the dark web.

How to Stay Safe 

IoT hacking is a serious threat to consumers. Therefore, homeowners with IoT devices should take precautions to stay safe. Precautions that you can take include:

  • Register your devices with the manufacturer and constantly run security updates to prevent hackers from taking advantage of vulnerabilities
  • Create a secure Wi-Fi network by hiding your network from view, setting up a network name that does not reveal your address and location, and creating several networks with different usernames and passwords
  • Research smart home devices before purchase to find out which security measures the manufacturers offer
  • Enable 2-factor authentication to improve the security of your devices
  • Change the default passwords and usernames on your devices
  • Create strong and unique passwords
  • Limit the number of people with access to accounts
  • Unplug devices that you do not need every day
  • If you are using your smartphone to control your home devices, secure it as well
  • Audit your home devices to find out if you need new models

Unfortunately, it is effectively impossible to make your home IoT devices 100 percent hacker-proof. Therefore, the best way to stay safe is to avoid buying IoT devices period. The reality is, you don’t need them anyway.

How to Send Encrypted Email: A Beginner’s Guide for 2020

in Privacy
How to Send Encrypted Email

Email encryption is a cybersecurity measure that prevents unintended recipients from reading your emails. In this guide, you will learn how to send encrypted email on three platforms.

How Email Encryption Works

email encryption

An encrypted email is a jumbled up message that can only be read by the person holding the decryption key. Email encryption and decryption uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). 

If your friend wants to send you an encrypted email, they can use the public key to encrypt the message before sending it. Since you are the only person holding the private key, nobody else but you can decrypt the message. 

When you want to prove that you are the sender of a message, you will use your private key to digitally sign an email. When your recipient successfully decrypts the message, then they will know that the message was from you.

In the first half of 2019, 4.1 billion records were reportedly exposed. To prevent such data breaches, email encryption is an imperative safety measure.  

Main Types of Email Encryption

The two main types of email encryption protocols are Secure/Multipurpose Internet Email Extensions (S/MIME) and Pretty Good Privacy/Multipurpose Internet Email Extensions (PGP/MIME). The first protocol depends on a centralized authority trust model while the second relies on decentralized authorities.

S/MIME is already built into large email service providers, such as Gmail and Outlook, while you need a third-party encryption tool to apply PGP/MIME.

Additionally, when you use the S/MIME protocol, the key code is created for you. However, the PGP/MIME allows users to create their own key codes. 

Email service providers Yahoo and AOL support PGP/MIME.

How to Send Encrypted Email on Gmail

How to Send Encrypted Email on Gmail

To use the S/MIME email encryption protocol on Gmail, both senders and receivers need to enable email encryption. This feature is only available to users with G Suite products like G Suite for Education, G Suite Enterprise for Education, and G Suite Enterprise.

Below are the steps you should take:

  • Sign in to Google Admin Console using an administrator account
  • Click Apps > G Suite > Gmail > User Settings
  • Go to Organizations and choose the domain you want to configure
  • Click the S/MIME setting and check the box for enabling S/MIME encryption 

Google has provided optional steps for enabling S/MIME that you can consider browsing.

After enabling hosted S/MIME, reload your Gmail account. You will now note that the subject field has a lock icon. When your email is encrypted, this lock will appear green in color. Next, you need to upload the S/MIME end-user certificates. To do this, follow these steps:

  • From your Gmail inbox, go to “Settings” then click on the “Accounts” tab
  • Select “Send email as” then click “Edit info”
  • Click “Upload a personal certificate”
  • Next, open the certificate and enter the password then select “Add certificate”

Now, you can exchange keys by sending an encrypted message to your friend. The digital signature will have a public key that your friend can use to encrypt the emails they send to you. 

Once you have shared the public key with recipients, you can send encrypted emails with ease. To do this, simply create a message as you normally would. Click the lock icon then the “View details” option to change the S/MIME settings if you want to. If you are okay with the level of encryption that Gmail displays as a green lock icon, you can send your S/MIME encrypted email.

Other encryption levels include the gray lock icon that means the email is protected with Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the red lock icon, which indicates that your email is not encrypted.

Email Encryption on Outlook

To send an encrypted email on Outlook, you need to first get the S/MIME certificate from your administrator and then install the S/MIME control.

Next, follow these instructions:

  • Go to the gear menu and select S/MIME settings
  • To encrypt all outgoing emails, choose “Encrypt content and attachments of all messages I send”

When sending a single encrypted email, simply compose your message then go to the “Options” tab and select “Encrypt” from the dropdown menu. Choose “Encrypt with S/MIME” and send your email.

Encrypting Emails on iOS

The S/MIME email encryption protocol is available by default on iOS devices. Here are the steps you should follow to encrypt an email: 

  • Go to “Advanced Settings” and turn S/MIME on
  • Change “Encrypt by Default” to yes
  • Write your email, then click the lock icon next to the recipient field to encrypt the email
  • Hit “Send”

Several email service providers like ProtonMail also allow users to send free encrypted emails. Learn more about these providers in this guide on the top five free encrypted email services reviewed for 2020.

Top 5 Free Encrypted Email Services, Reviewed for 2020

in Privacy
Encrypted Email

If you want to be sure that no one is reading your emails, choosing an encrypted email service is the right move.

In this guide, we take a look at five of the best free encrypted email services you can use in 2020.

ProtonMail

encrypted email services

ProtonMail is arguably one of the best options when it comes to free encrypted email services. It is based in Switzerland, a location that is considered to be much better than locations such as the UK or US. As such, ProtonMail has a strong privacy policy that pledges not to store your IP address or any data that can personally make you identifiable.

As one of the top encrypted email services, ProtonMail is very easy to use. It has a powerful end-to-end encryption feature that protects any email that you send until the recipient opens it. In addition, you and the recipient are the only ones that can view the email. This zero-access build of ProtonMail’s servers ensures that only you and the recipient can open and read the encrypted emails and not event ProtonMail can read the emails.

In the event that your email recipient does not use ProtonMail, you can opt to send them an email that is unencrypted. However, ProtonMail has a feature that can encrypt the message and instead leave a link in the email. The recipient will be able to decrypt the email using a password that you will share with them privately. Moreover, ProtonMail gives you 500MB of storage space with the free option.

Pros

  • One of the best-encrypted email services
  • Has a strong privacy policy with zero-access construction
  • Does not log IP addresses

Cons

  • Free option has limited storage
  • Upgrading is quite expensive

CounterMail

free encrypted email

CounterMail is a web-based encrypted email provider that has its data centers located in Sweden. This encrypted email service is easy to use and very secure. It is designed to provide maximum privacy and security without any unwarranted complexity. Although CounterMail’s website looks outdated, you can be rest assured that their email security is built to handle today’s privacy threat.

With CounterMail, you have access to your email account from anywhere, at any time worldwide. Your account will always remain anonymous and encrypted. Its encryption works transparently and automatically without requiring any specialized computer knowledge or skills. CounterMail uses a strong encryption protocol known as OpenPGP coupled with 4096 bits encryption keys to secure your data.

In addition, one of the features that makes CounterMail stand out from its competitors is the use of diskless web servers. This means that CounterMail is doing everything possible to keep you anonymous as you use their service. They also offer MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) protection, which helps protect your identity. There is a USB-key option that enables CounterMail to be used with your password for increased security. This way, you get better protection against brute force attacks and keyloggers.

Pros

  • Uses diskless servers
  • Data servers are located in Sweden
  • Uses the OpenPGP encryption protocol

Cons

  • Free option only lasts 7-days
  • Outdated user interface and design

Hushmail

secure email services

Hushmail is a Canadian encrypted email provider that allows users to sign up for free and get an account. With the free option, you are only able to get 15 MB of storage with a single address. This means that you will not be able to receive large attachments in your emails and will, therefore, need to constantly delete emails to free up some space. As such, Hushmail is ideal for anyone looking for a free encrypted email service and doesn’t mind deleting emails now and then.

While Hushmail can be used on smartphones and desktop-based email applications, it is not compatible with macOS. In addition, its servers are located in Canada, a country that is not the best when it comes to privacy. However, with the applied end-to-end encryption, your emails will remain safe and their contents won’t be accessible to anyone.

Moreover, the company’s core values are based on privacy, clarity, and simplicity. Hushmail has done a great job of demonstrating this by providing users with a neat design, easy-to-use interface, outstanding privacy features, and protection.

Every email is encrypted using OpenPGP encryption. If your recipient uses Hushmail, they will be able to read their email on their smartphone or computer. However, if they don’t use Hushmail, they will get a link that is attached to the email. This link will redirect them to a website that is more secure after which they will be required to key in a passphrase before they can get complete access to the email. You can also add another extra layer of security that will require the recipient to answer a security question before they can access the contents of your email.

Pros

  • Can be used on smartphones and desktop
  • Has an easy-to-use interface and design
  • Uses OpenPGP encryption

Cons

  • It is not compatible with macOS
  • Its data server is based in Canada

Tutanota

Free encrypted email services

Tutanota is another free encrypted email provider that is easy to use. It is an open-source, web-based email application with its servers located in Germany.

Germany has some of the toughest data privacy rules so you can be rest assured they have got your back when it comes to privacy. What we love most about Tutanota is that with the free option, users get 1GB of free storage with one email address. In addition, Tutanota is compatible with Windows, Android, iPhone, Mac, and Linux.

Tutanota gives you the ability to securely send and receive emails without the use of PGP keys. Instead, they use strong AES encryption with Perfect Forward Secrecy. This means users can a password and a special link system to send emails that are end-to-end encrypted to just about anyone regardless of the service they are currently using. Moreover, this email service is built to strip IP addresses from the email headers. It can also encrypt metadata. As such, you get to enjoy a very secure email service that makes it hard for anyone to track or see the contents of your email.

The only downside worth mentioning is that Tutanota stores some minimal metadata logs for messages sent for five days using the service. This is done to ensure the smooth running of the service.

Pros

  • Provides end-to-end encryption
  • Compatible with all browsers and devices
  • Users get 1GB of storage

Cons

  • The AES encryption is not the most secure
  • Stores some minimal metadata logs

Mailfence

Mailfence

Mailfence is an encrypted email service provider that was launched in 2013. Its servers are based in Belgium, a country that has strong privacy protection laws.

Mailfence believes that ‘privacy is a right, not a feature’. To this end, their service cannot be tracked. Moreover, Mailfence does not have any ads, spams, solicitation or backdoor and is free from government surveillance. Mailfence has incorporated state of the art security features that protect your email privacy at all times. With the free option, users get 500 MB of email storage and 500MB of document storage.

In order to deliver emails that are completely secure, Mailfence uses different methods. One method used to achieve this is OpenPGP end-to-end encryption that ensures that only your recipient can decrypt your email. Secondly, you can also send a password encrypted email. This means that you will need to show a password with your recipient that they will need to key in before they can access your email. Additionally, you have the option of using a digital signature. This works in a similar fashion as a stamped seal or handwritten signature only that the digital signature provides more inherent security.

Unlike other email service providers, Mailfence has an integrated suite of tools, such as calendars, messages, contacts or and documents. With this service provider, you get the freedom to choose which email you want to encrypt. In addition, it is a private, secure and easy-to-use service.

Pros

  • Uses the OpenPGP end-to-end encryption
  • Has an integrated suite of tools
  • Its servers are based in Belgium

Cons

  • Stores some user logs
  • Its paid for plans are expensive

What is a Black Hat Hacker?

in Hacking
What is a Black Hat Hacker

If you keep up with technology and follow the news, then you do know that there are different types of hackers. However, black hat hackers are generally the ones you hear the most about. But what is a black hat hacker?

In this guide, we will answer that question.

Introducing Black Hat Hackers

Black hat hackers use system vulnerabilities to exploit individuals as well as organizations. The aim is generally to make a financial gain at the expense of their victoms.

Hacker types were derived by westerns in the 1950s from the colors of their hats. Bad guys had black hats while good guys had white hats.

Black hat hackers operate as groups or individuals. They aim to gain unauthorized access to networks or computer systems and exploit them for their own malicious or financial gains.

Characteristics of Malicious Hackers

black hat hacker
  • Have extensive knowledge about bypassing security protocols and breaking into computer networks
  • Gain unauthorized access to computer systems and networks and exploit them for their own financial or malicious gains
  • Develop and sell malicious malware that’s used to gain access to computer systems
  • They steal, modify, and destroy data
  • Range from amateurs whose main task is spreading malware to skilled hackers who steal financial information, login credentials, and other personal information

The Hacking Business

Most black hat hackers began as newbie “script kiddies”. They buy hacker tools and use them to exploit security vulnerabilities. However, the upper black hat echelon is composed of skilled hackers who work for criminal organizations or government-backed entities.

Many black hat hackers get their jobs through connections or dark web forums. Some black hats develop and sell their own malicious software while others choose to work through different franchises or make leasing arrangements. Today, the distribution of malicious software is not hard. Malware kits are for sale on the dark web and often include customer service and warranties. This is partly due to the fact that hacking operates as a big business.

Black Hat Hackers Are Global

Cybercrime is a global problem. This makes it very difficult for law enforcement officers to put an end to it as hackers leave little or no evidence. They also use the computers of unsuspecting victims across different jurisdictions.

As such, the best protection is to ensure you keep your firewall on, install all operating system updates, install and run reputable antivirus software and antispyware application.

In addition, avoid downloading anything from unknown sources and turn off your internet to reduce exposure to black hat hackers when not in use.

How to Become a Security Researcher

in Cybersecurity
How to Become a Security Researcher

A security researcher investigates security vulnerabilities in applications, websites, hardware, and internet protocols. As security threats evolve, more and more organizations are hiring security researchers to boost their security and their awareness of cybersecurity matters. 

In this guide, you will find out what security research entails and how to become a security researcher. 

What is Security Research?

Data helps organizations to make informed decisions. This is what makes security research important. As a result, a security researcher will spend hours reading news, academic journals, and listening to relevant podcasts about cybersecurity trends. 

But first, a security researcher has to decide what is worth researching since research is time-consuming. Additionally, you need to know when the research is complete so that you can publish your findings and move on to the next research task.

Security research encompasses discovering new things, raising awareness, and putting misconceptions to rest.

How to Become a Security Researcher

Security Researcher

To become a security researcher, you need a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Network Systems or IT. Some security researchers begin by working in an IT security team or as software developers.

If you are a professional in the IT sector and you are interested in security research, you should take these steps:

  • Start learning on your own: based on what you learn during the research phase, start filling the knowledge gaps. For instance, security researchers should know programming languages like Python, Ruby, C, and C++. So, if you are not familiar with one of these languages, teach yourself. You could also learn assembly programming, web developing, steganography, Linux, cryptography, and hacking techniques. 
  • Specialize in a specific field: since there is so much to learn, it will be easier to study what most interests you. For example, if you want to specialize in vulnerability research, learn how to reverse malware and all the other relevant subjects in this field.
  • Use tools to practice: the best way to learn is through practice. Play around with software as much as you can.
  • Advance your studies: you can enroll for a master’s degree in cybersecurity then advance to a Ph.D. This is important if you want to publish authoritative journals on security research.
  • Stay up to date with cybersecurity trends: you should not wait to get hired to become a security researcher. Assuming that this is a field you are passionate about, carrying out your own security research should come naturally.

Roles and Responsibilities

Some of the roles and responsibilities of a security researcher include:

  • Creating hypotheses, new methods, and techniques to solve cybersecurity issues
  • Reverse engineering malware
  • Helping the company to become more aware of cybersecurity
  • Leading technical projects and teams
  • Conducting tests on protocols, hardware, and security controls
  • Writing reports and presenting findings of your research to relevant board members or teams
  • Researching the feasibility of proposed security products and services

Improving cybersecurity is a team effort. Therefore, being a team player is an essential skill. Also, your employer could ask you to handle other cybersecurity roles like penetration testing. This means that you should acquire a diverse set of cybersecurity skills. 

How to Become a Penetration Tester

in Cybersecurity
How to Become a Penetration Tester

You are probably reading this because you want to become a pentester. But what do you need to obtain this well-paying cybersecurity job? In this guide, you will learn how to become a penetration tester and what qualifications you need. 

What is Penetration Testing?

Hackers are always looking for new ways to exploit systems and networks. Even the most secure organizations are usually not that secure. This is where penetration testing – also known as pentesting – comes in!

A penetration tester executes an ethical hack to exploit the vulnerabilities of a system to find out if an attack is possible. The results of this simulated attack are then used to increase the system’s security. Therefore, a penetration tester has to think like an attacker to improve an organization’s security.

A pentester earns between $75,000 and $130,000 a year.

How to Become a Penetration Tester

penetration tester

Most people begin their journeys in other IT-related jobs such as programming and system administration and later take a certified course in pentesting. This means that you should take Computer Science or IT degree courses that have some cybersecurity programs. Also, you need a good understanding of coding, networks, and operating systems to become a pentester. 

However, some ethical hackers are self-taught pentesters or reformed criminal hackers that now want to use their skills for good.

If you are already in the cybersecurity field, follow these steps to become a pentester.

  • Do your research: read as much as you can on penetration testing and cybersecurity to understand the subjects better. Since you need prerequisite knowledge in networks, hardware, databases, and data analysis, refresh your memory if you need to.
  • Get practical: practice what you have learned by using penetration toolkits like Security Onion. This toolkit offers tools to help you practice pentesting on your own. Also, familiarize yourself with the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES) and OWASP.
  • Get certified: take certification courses in penetration testing, ethical hacking, networking, and security. These certificates will increase your employment chances.
  • Look for a pentesting job: as a penetration tester, you can work within an organization or as a consultant.

Roles of a Pentester

When you get a job as a penetration tester, you can expect to take up the tasks below.

  • Testing networks and applications: this entails running simulation attacks and keeping existing tests up to date. Employers will also expect you to know how to apply penetration testing tools.
  • Testing physical security: your new role will include checking that servers can withstand non-cyber threats such as vandalism and climate effects. 
  • Carrying out security audits: this is another important role for every pentester. Your organization will expect you to examine networks and systems and write audit reports.
  • Writing security reports: you will have to write security reports with metrics and strategies to show your test results and recommendations.
  • Participate in security policy reviews: you will work with the larger security team in handling security policy reviews.

Your role as a pentester will involve reporting your findings and recommendations. Therefore, you need good communication and presentation skills to carry out this role effectively. Project management, problem-solving, and people management skills will also come in handy. 

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