Are You A Virgin Media Customer Looking For A Better Deal?

virgin price rise 2022Are you a Virgin Media customer looking for a better deal following their price hike announcement?

Virgin have announced that on the first of March they will be increasing the prices of their broadband packages across the board, affecting people both in current contracts and those who have been with Virgin for more than 18 months and continue to pay their legacy pricing.

If you’re in a contract reports suggest that you could end up paying £56 per year more for your data, while those who never changed after their contract expired could face increases of up to 45% depending on what package they were on when they were in contract.

Virgin put a price freeze on their broadband prices in 2020 to help people adjusting to Coronavirus as we all needed to use broadband for work, school, entertainment and news, but this increase is the second since then. Because Virgin doesn’t have an annual price increase clause in its contract there is a way out if you’re affected by those price increases and you’re not happy. Virgin are giving their customers until February (some reports say the fifteenth, some the eighteenth, so we’d suggest acting before the fifteenth to be on the safe side) to cancel their contract without incurring a cancellation fee. Read more

What Happens If You Stream Pirated Moves Via VPN?

home cinema, tv hanging, tv mounting, tv wall hanging, tv wall mountingYou’ve got your VPN set up to protect your anonymity online, now should you use it to watch pirated streaming movies?

First of all, of course not! That would be illegal and, as we all know video pirating is killing the entertainment industry.

But… As there are so many foreign language streaming sites out there which only give you the title of the film in English you might have absolutely believed that you were on a legitimate website right? And of course the VPN (Virtual Private Network) disguises your location anyway, so IN THEORY nobody would know it was you in the first place.

The purpose of a VPN isn’t to protect you from unwanted advertising, nor stop your web browser from tracking your visits and keeping cookies, and won’t stop anyone you live or share a computer with from seeing your history. So while there are many VPNs available, free or subscription based, using browser extensions or apps, they’re not necessarily the best, and certainly not the only option for more secure video streaming.

VPNs Protect Your Private Information And History From Hackers, But Don’t Erase Data

According to Yael Grauer over at Consumer Reports, VPNs aren’t an impenetrable “anonymity cloak” and can in some circumstances adversely effect your online security.

VPNs work to protect your privacy in three ways which make it impossible for hackers or cyber criminals to find out any details about you, your location, your IP address, or anything since there is no way of tracing the connection between the server the site you visited is on and the server which your computer used to access the internet.

The first way a VPN conceals your internet access data is by use of encryption. The VPN conceals your data from anyone outside the chain between you and your destination site.

Secondly the VPN encrypts the Domain Name System (DNS). If hackers can’t find out the domain that was being accessed, they can’t find out what the user was looking at.

Lastly the VPN conceals your IP address, the unique number associated with your own computer or internet enabled device. When you use a VPN you replace the IP of your device with that of the VPN.

The overarching purpose of a VPN is to conceal your IP address from anyone outside who might be looking for it, while simultaneously concealing your online behaviour so nobody is able to track it by monitoring your connection. This may sound unfeasible and incredibly targeted, but consider: online fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry and those responsible have the resources to design software which can monitor and track as many internet users as they want.

So why isn’t a VPN a complete Cloak of Online Invisibility?

VPNs work by concealing your data, but there’s very little they can do to protect you from the cookies you download yourself. Cookies being handy little bits of data which your computer stores to tell websites who you are when you visit it more than once, automatic log in details which Google, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera use when you see that dialogue box which asks you which social media account you want to log in with. Most cookies have a limited life so they aren’t kept forever, and you can delete all cookies on your computer, but that means logging into everything from scratch every time. Tedious.

As well as that, your browser history is kept too, so anyone with physical access to your computer will be able to see that, while online purchases will all be stored by the retailer and your bank. Naturally you can trust your bank, but trusting the ethics of a site which hosts pirated videos and music might not be such a wise decision.

So, if you want to keep people who can actually see your computer from knowing what you’ve been watching, a VPN isn’t going to be much use. Instead you should be deleting your browser history, and using an incognito browser when searching as they won’t keep a history.

Why pay for a VPN if free alternatives are available?

Naturally some VPNs are more reliable, and therefore trustworthy than others. That’s not to say that any of them are traps just waiting for you to input all your details before springing shut and scraping all that data from you. Some simply work better than others. Some conduct third party audits while others don’t. Some do in fact store your data, making it easier to log on and offering a wider range of services, but that in itself could be a security factor if they themselves got hacked. Some VPNs have a kill-switch which closes the internet connection immediately in case there’s an interruption to the security they’re providing, while others don’t.

In fact, many free VPNs only give the illusion of protecting your data. For many of them their business model depends on inserting their own tracking cookies, or actually selling your information, precisely the opposite of what you were intending.

Depending on what you want to block outsiders from seeing, there are several options.

If you’re worried about advertising tracking, where ads relating to your search history and site visits follow you around the web, try one of these tracker blockers.

If it’s malware such as viruses and trojan horses, then these malware removal services are for you.

You also have the option to choose anti-tracking browsers which protect you from intrusive unwanted ads. These include Brave, Opera, and the latest iterations of Safari. Even AVG, the well known anti-virus software manufacturer now has its own browser. But remember, browsers only protect you while you’re browsing within them. Using site apps to view movies won’t stop your activity being tracked.

Briant Broadband offers a fast broadband, super fast broadband and ultra fast fibre broadband deals for people living in and around the Worthing and Adur region. Call us on 01903 221999 to arrange your new wireless broadband or fast fibre broadband supply now. No contracts, no hidden costs, just good old fashioned local customer service and great value internet data.

Getting the most out of your Google Assistant

google assistant, smart home assistant, smart home automationGoogle Assistant can help with almost anything these days, including looking up your old photos, helping you find new podcasts to fall in love with, and finding your phone.
If you’re forgetful or absent minded and you’ve got a Google Assistant then you’ll most likely already know how to use your Google Assistant to remind you to do things but there’s a whole world of things your Smart Assistant can help with.

Making lists and notes

First of all you’ll need to add an app such as Google Keep, Any.do, or Bring to your Google Assistant. Keeping things on brand will probably cause the least friction, and Google Keep is a great resource for keeping everything online you want to read, listen to, or watch later in one place. Even before you start adding your own lists or sheets to it, you can identify any websites you find with labels of your own, making them easy to organise. Read more

How Changing Broadband Providers Always Gets You A Better Deal*

broadband speed, ISP, internet service provider, wireless data, fibre broadbandThe benefits of switching broadband provider, energy, and phone company can’t be overstated. Many suppliers offer outstanding deals with new contracts, but have standard contracts which are so bad they almost appear to penalise customer loyalty. You don’t get discounts which are available to new sign-ups, the customer service you receive is often rubbish, and in the case of broadband customers, despite paying more than newer customers you’re stuck with an old router which was never top of the line in the first place, meaning that you simply aren’t getting the speeds new customers do.

Shopping around means that you’ve putting yourself in line for those great deals. Many broadband providers depend on complacency and laziness among the majority of their customers. If it’s too much of a faff to shop around for a better deal, and when you find one, it’s difficult to get out of your contract, or migrating over means losing your phone number unless you pay a fee, then you’re likely to stay with them despite a better deal being within reach.

But if you’re out of your minimum contract period and you’re just paying a rolling fee to keep getting data, why not see what other deals are out there? Better prices, brand new hardware and better customer service are all ripe for the picking! Read more

Briant Broadband’s Quick To Understand Internet Jargon Buster

internet, broadband, data, computer, Just as with any industry, we internet service providers are prone to using jargon which we understand perfectly, but most of our customers wouldn’t. So if you find yourself staring blankly while people talk about their ISPs, Mbps, and FTTPs this glossary should help you make sense of what is going on, and also help you make better, more informed decisions the next time you’re shopping for a new internet data package.

Broadband: It may seem obvious, or it may not, but broadband just means a lot of data which is always available. You may remember when we used to have to use dial-up modems to access the internet. It was painfully slow and inconvenient since it would mean that the phone line was tied up the entire time you were on the net. Broadband means being able to instantly access the internet without interruption or inconvenience.

Cookies: By now everyone’s heard of cookies, but many still don’t know what they are or what they do. Cookies are little bits of data which you load onto your computer when you visit a site. They can handle a number of different processes which you’d find annoying if they didn’t. Cookies help websites remember who you are, so, for example, if you use Facebook from the same computer you don’t have to log in again every time you visit. Cookies also keep a record of things you’ve shopped for, which is why you’ll often keep seeing adverts for things you may have already purchased. Read more

Looking For a Luxury Lifestyle? Try Living In A Smart Home!

Touch sensitive digital heating control panel mounted on a light coloured wall.Smart Home Technology offers a level of convenience and control which most home-owners haven’t seen for over a hundred years, when it was common for the affluent to have housemaids and servants living in the house. Instead of having people hovering around waiting for your commands, now we have technology such as Smart Speakers, Home Hubs and a slew of other devices which can all be controlled from a central station or an app on your phone or computer.

But at what cost? All that convenience which is afforded by connectivity comes at a price. If privacy is a big deal to you then the thought of having devices which have been shown to use recordings of consumers without their permission always listening is anathema. If you shop regularly online, or pay bills over the phone, as many more of us are doing all the time, then the thought that your data or conversations could be stored and shared, revealing your financials and personal information would put you off of investing in any kind of Smart device. Read more

Switching Broadband Providers Is Going To Get Much Easier

image courtesy of https://unsplash.com/@magellol - broadband, changing providers, switch, digital switch, isp, wisp, As with many services, such as your bank, energy or water supplier, the rigmarole, hassle and mistakes which can occur when switching are often the most common reasons people give for not wanting to switch. That is true for broadband data too, or at least it will be until April 2023 when Ofcom introduce the “One Touch Switch” (OTS) service for broadband consumers. OTS, which is currently modelled on the template available to landline phone users takes all of the bother out of the process of switching from one ISP to another, so it will certainly be welcomed by digital data users looking for a better deal.

Currently it’s necessary to deal with both your new and old internet service provider, you’ll be setting up one account and making sure there is as little overlap as you leave your old provider, while also making sure there is no service gap between leaving one and starting with the next either.

Instead the OTS system means that all you will have to do is contact the company you want to have a new contract with and they will arrange the rest.

Depending on which service you want to take up, switching can currently be very easy, provided you are moving from a like to like service with the same infrastructure. Problems arise though when you want to switch to a company which is on a different physical network from the one you’re currently on. As a broadband data provider we, and Ofcom, feel that switching should be as easy and transparent for you the consumer as possible. You don’t care about infrastructure interface, Code Powers, or Physical Infrastructure Access, you just want to get better broadband as quickly as possible. It’s our job to care about that, and then to get you the fastest broadband data as quickly and efficiently as possible. Read more

Get More From Your Broadband Data, Even With Data Hungry Visitors

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadbandA simple way to protect many of your Smart Home devices is to attach them to a guest network rather than the Wi-Fi network you use your broadband to connect with the internet. It’s more secure to connect your smart devices in this way as they are less vulnerable to hacking or scanning, where an outsider looks at the online devices, and scans them for usernames and passwords which haven’t been properly secured. They’re not absolutely invulnerable, but keeping them off of the network which you use to connect your computer to the internet reduces the risks of them being easily accessed.

There are plenty of other very good reasons to set up a guest network on your router as well. For guests, for example.

Make Your Broadband Easy To Use, For The Right People

When you have visitors who all want to connect their phones or laptops to the internet the easiest thing is to make your network password free. Clearly a terrible idea! Instead, the wisest and best thing would be to create a guest network that they can connect to instead of the one you use to connect to the internet. They can connect using a basic password which is easy to remember, and in no way similar to the long, complex passwords you use for your own devices. Making the password easy to remember means that you won’t have to keep re-sending it or resetting it because someone is always forgetting it. Another feature of a guest network is that it prevents those on it from accessing shared folders, printers, and any wireless storage devices which you keep on your regular Wi-Fi network. What that means is that you can keep on doing all your usual stuff on your ‘Home’ network without having to worry about people who’ve access to the ‘Guest’ network seeing anything they shouldn’t. A guest network means you’re able to do that without having to go about changing and adding additional security to all your personal stuff. Read more

Staying Connected While Enjoying The Great British Outdoors

outdoor wireless, internet extender, digital extender, wireless extenderLast week we looked at setting up a temporary home cinema in your garden. But what if you want to extend your Wi-Fi internet into the garden as well. You might want to do this for any number of reasons, and not just so you can work on your tan and stream live feeds from Love Island, the Olympics and the Big Brother house at the same time!

No matter how good your router is, or where you put it, there’s very little chance that you will be able to get good enough reception from it to your phone, tablet or laptop once you go more than a few metres outside. If you’re going to use the internet outdoors you need to think about proper solutions instead of making the best of a technology which wasn’t designed for the purpose to which you’re putting it. However, once you do get Wi-Fi internet in the garden it opens up a great deal of new opportunities which you may not have thought about before.

Taking your Wi-Fi internet outdoors doesn’t only mean that you can watch TV on a mobile device without eating up all of your contract’s data allowance. It means you can convert an outbuilding into a home office or connected workshop, handy if you’re working off plans you need to download or 3D models you need to look at as you’re working. It also means that you’re able to secure these buildings far more easily and effectively than might have been possible before. Security cameras, sensors and alarms which operate wirelessly over Wi-Fi can be located anywhere if you’ve got enough bandwidth in the garden, so you can keep an eye on outbuildings, barns, gates, fences and reverse angles of your home itself instead of being limited to where you can put those devices by the distance you can install a cable.

If you’re interested in taking Wi-Fi outside there are a number of options depending on how you intend to use the internet once it’s out there. Read more

How Likely Is It Your Smart Home Will Be Attacked By Hackers?

smart home, iot, hacking, connected devices, automation, automated homeDon’t imagine that it’s only the unlucky few who get caught out by hackers penetrating their Smart Home Automation security protocols. Rather than being a rare occurrence, hacking is a huge and ongoing problem, especially for anyone who relies on default settings to keep them safe.

Consumer magazine Which? installed a number of Smart Home devices, enough to adequately reflect those of a well equipped home, and found that in a week they had more than 10,000 scans or hacking attempts made. While scans aren’t necessarily malicious, they just look to see what products are being used where, there were more than 2,435 specific hacking attempts, which adds up to 14 attempts by a hacker to force their way in to (what they believed to be) someone’s Home Automation Environment every hour for an entire week.

Revealing Discoveries

During the trial it was found that an Epson printer and an ieGeek security camera were most often targeted by hackers. The attempts at the printer prove that it’s not always the most obvious devices which get the most attention, but those which are the least likely to be properly passworded because they’re innocuous and need to be available to the whole family. While the printer’s default password did stand up to the hacking, the camera did less well and someone was able to take control of it, giving them access to the images and allowing them to change settings. (the ieGeek camera tested has now been withdrawn from sale by Amazon following Which?’s investigation. Amazon had championed it as their Amazon Choice after more than 68% of its reviews were five star on their platform.) Amazon representatives said “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.” Read more