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

Top Tips for Shopping in the Pre-Christmas / Black Friday Sales

Aerial, satellite dish, installation, home entertainment, TV hanging, TV mounting, TV wall hanging, smart home, smart home automation, smart home security, security, security devices, home security, home security camera, house alarm, business alarm, business security, home automation, environmental control, smart lighting, smart lights, smart home system, cable installation, fibre optic installation, fibre installation, fibre repair, fibre optic repair, fibre data, fibre broadband, wireless data, wireless broadband, internet service provider, isp, wireless internet service provider, wisp, worthing, arundel, angmering, hove, littlehampton, south coast, sussex, UK,Because an actual ‘Black Friday’ isn’t really a thing in the UK many shops and online retailers are currently engaging in “Black Friday Month” with ongoing discounts on many selected lines. Unfortunately many of those lines were previously available at the same low price before the promotion began, they’re selling unpopular products which won’t move otherwise, or in the case of some tech goods, they are so old that there is little or no software support left.

So, before you rush out onto the high street, or start prefixing all your searches with ‘Black Friday’ hoping to get all your Christmas shopping done on the cheap, check out these top tips for finding the real bargains, and avoiding spending good money on bad products.

*1* Research the products before you buy.

Buying something just because it looks handy, and it’s cheap doesn’t necessarily make it a bargain. Would you want it at full price? A low price might be mitigation, but look at product reviews, customer reviews and feedback on sites like Amazon and Ebay before making your decision.

*2* Never heard of it? Don’t touch it!

Generic brands aren’t market leaders for a reason. Cheap copies of established technology are likely to be made from inferior materials, lack the performance, or cut corners on security or software. You might think you’re going in with your eyes open, it’s dead cheap so you don’t expect it to last for ever, but if you’re looking at IoT connected goods, as so many are today, you could be bringing a Pandora’s box into your home, plugging it in, and switching it on before opening it. Read more

New £10m Fines To Ensure Smart Home Devices Are Secure

secure Smartwatch Photo courtesy of Smartpixel.netThe British government are showing how seriously they are taking smart home security by introducing laws to protect consumers from poor smart products.

With many generic manufacturers using apps which are vulnerable to hacking or scanning and Black Friday deals which see some less scrupulous retailers attempt to sell off old tech which has a very limited period of ongoing software support, (as well as offering “deals” on goods which have been the same price for weeks prior to the sales) the government is putting responsibility for basic security protocols onto shops and makers by ensuring that insecure devices are not put up for sale.

Manufacturers, importers and retailers will face fines of up to £10m if they fail to comply with the requirements. While that seems like a huge fine for what is to many simply a software issue, it demonstrates how seriously security for consumers is being taken. It also reflects the size of the market in smart home devices, as only a fine this size can act as a deterrent for businesses who continue to make or sell substandard home automation. 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

Can You Make Your Kitchen ‘Smart’ Without Brand New Appliances?

Modern white kitchen with white marble counter top and pendant lighting.Smart devices around the home are a boon, of course, but they can be especially helpful in the kitchen. The oven that already knows how to cook the perfect chicken, the fridge which you can peer into to see if you need milk while you’re actually in the dairy section of the supermarket, and the bin which updates your shopping list when you throw packaging into the recycling certainly make keeping ahead of the housekeeping easy.

But can you do it without investing in brand new white goods?

If you’re refitting your kitchen with a raft of new appliances it is certainly tempting to buy those which have all the Smart Tech available already installed: Fridges with built in cameras, ovens which are programmed to know the cooking times of all your favourite meals, along with cameras and sensors which know when your roast has reached the perfect shade of brown, even bins with barcode readers which can order grocery deliveries for you because it knows you through your rubbish.

But what if your budget doesn’t stretch that far? Or you want to Smarten up your kitchen, only you don’t want to junk all your old appliances just yet? Can you get the same usability without buying the latest goods? Read more

Buying Tech Presents Early During The Black Friday Sales

wireless, smart home, home automation, smart speaker,We, like you hate the encroachment of Christmas into months where it doesn’t belong. Yule is at the far end of December, and if it’s to remain special, that’s where it should stay. Mince pies becoming part of Halloween fare indeed! BUT… But with the supply chain problems that many retailers are currently experiencing, for whatever reason, it may be worth getting a few of the presents which are going to be most in demand early, rather than trusting Santa to deliver a little Christmas magic nearer the time.

So how do you decide which presents it’s worth buying now, and which to leave until Christmas Eve when you can rush around the High Street in a blind panic? (You know who you are!)

On the one hand shopping for kids is pretty easy. They like toys and sweets. They don’t like clothes, books, or educational games. To find out what your, or any child wants for that matter, just watch an hour of kids’ TV with them. You’ll be subject to so many ads and characters from favourite TV shows that you’ll find that you want them as badly as the young ‘uns do!

But buying for a discerning teen or young adult is a trickier proposition. I bet secretly they’d love some Octonauts or Alphablocks merch, but not from you, that just wouldn’t be cool! Instead they’re going to want something beautiful, or practical tech. Both if you can find it. Read more

World’s Great and Good Victims of Cyber Security Data Heist

Information is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable assets we have. Businesses, governments and criminals all seem to be keen to get their hands on our data, either to find out what we think, influence what we think or not really caring what we think, so long as they can use the information they have about us to fleece us out of our savings.

The more we find out about Facebook the more it makes us wonder how safe we are online. When an innocuous site which is meant to let us keep in touch with our friends and family is accused of being instrumental in spreading hate speech, fake news and propaganda, and are giving as much as 5 times more value to Angry reactions than Likes, Loves or Care reactions, meaning that other users and group members are much more likely to see posts that cause fury than they are to see those that are touching or simply agreed with.

But this isn’t a blog about the ongoing tribulations that Facebook, aka Meta is currently experiencing. Rather this is a blog about data being taken and used as a hostage to blackmail retailers who depend on discretion to attract their customers. Read more

Smart Doorbell Owner Receives Fine For Neglecting GDPR

ring, ring smart doorbell, smart doorbell, access controlMost of us either get on with, or are completely oblivious to our neighbours. When we get home after a hard day’s work we’re not really interested in hearing from the people next-door’s kids or from the student flat across the street at half past two on a Sunday morning.

 

Most of us like a quiet life where we live in mutual, amicable ignorance of our neighbours. We say ‘hi!’ or nod in recognition and go on about our day. So keen on avoiding any kind of friction are we that we make accommodations for our neighbours, because letting things slide is SO much easier than the awkwardness and potential for embarrassment that confronting them over their inconsiderate behaviour presents.

However, this week a county court had to decide in the case of a neighbour who’s Smart doorbells overlooked a neighbour’s property. And because he wasn’t neighbourly, he now faces a maximum fine of up to £100,000.

He probably won’t have to pay that much, but there are other things he should have done before it ever got to the county court. (The fact that it was a county court means that no legal precedent has been set, so if you own a Smart doorbell you won’t need to be hiring a solicitor just yet!)

The case revolved around an audio-visual technician in Oxfordshire who installed Smart doorbells and some dummies as he wanted to deter thieves from returning to his property after it was broken into. He set one to watch from the front door, covering the street and the approach to his house. Others were pointed at a shared parking space, the drive leading to that car park and a portion of his neighbour’s property, including a window. The neighbour who brought the case brought it on the grounds of harassment, nuisance and breeching data protection legislation. And it was mostly on not fulfilling his obligations as the data controller that the defendant lost his case. Read more

Starting Out With Smart Home Tech? A Smart Plug Is Your Easiest In

smart plugOne of the handiest and easiest Smart Home devices to set up is the Smart Plug. Because it’s either off, or on, it’s easy to get to grips with and will allow you to familiarise yourself with the principles of how Smart devices work. This week you’ll be connecting your smart plug, next week you’ll be securely installing and enjoying a complete Smart Home environment!

They’re handy because they allow you to control all the little devices you have around your home which wouldn’t normally be smart or be controlled remotely. So if you have floor lamps, desk fans, electric heaters, or a radio or TV which you’ve had for years but don’t need to be replaced, you can at least make them on-and-offable via a phone app, smart speaker, or home hub.

Each Smart Plug manufacturer is different, but the idea behind the settings on your new Smart Device remain the same, so if your device isn’t exactly the same, you should be able to figure out how to get the same results from your device notwithstanding.

Step 1, Download The Smart Plug App

First of all, it needs something to connect to, so download the plug’s user app to your phone or use a universal app which can detect and control any number of different Smart Home devices. Once you’ve got the software choose ‘add a new device’ from the menu and you’ll be offered a range of different items which can connect via the app, all other devices that the manufacturer makes. Choose the Smart plug and then plug the plug into the wall. The plug will tell you, usually via a blinking LED that it is in pairing mode. The app on the phone should detect this as well and you can now connect them. Once the smart plug is connected to the app you will be asked to give a name to the device. Don’t call it ‘Smart Plug’ but instead call it the object you want to control, and remember whenever you unplug the device, unplug the Smart plug to, or things will get VERY confusing! (You’ll likely have to pair your Smart Plug to your app each time you remove it from the socket, so best to decide where you want everything to stay before you start installing a raft of new Smart Plugs!) Read more