Google Adds Always-On VPN to its Project Fi Cellular Service

I have been an enthusiastic customer of Google’s Project Fi cell phone service for more than three years. I also always have a VPN (that I pay for) running all the time in my cell phone. You can read my past articles about the Project Fi cellular service by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+%22project+fi%22&t=h_&ia=web.

I received a pleasant surprise today when I learned that Google is now offering a FREE VPN to all users of the Google Fi cell service and the VPN will be enabled all the time, whether connected by a cellular service connection or a Wi-Fi connection.

All phone calls, text messages, and data will be encrypted for privacy purposes all the time. The always-on VPN will need to be turned on in the Project Fi settings, where the feature is called “Enhanced Network” and labeled a “beta.”

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Police Decrypt 258,000 Messages After Breaking IronChat Crypto App

Your public servants at work: spying on you.

Police in the Netherlands said they decrypted more than 258,000 messages sent using IronChat, an app billed as providing end-to-end encryption that was endorsed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. In a statement published Tuesday, Dutch police said officers achieved a “breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication” in an investigation into money laundering. The encrypted messages, according to the statement, were sent by IronChat, an app that runs on a device that cost thousands of dollars and could send only text messages.

“Criminals thought they could safely communicate with so-called crypto phones which used the application IronChat,” Tuesday’s statement said. “Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. As a result, the police have been able to watch live the communication between criminals for some time.”

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Skype Now Offers End-to-End Encryption

Skype users can now make encrypted voice calls and text chats. The end-to-end encryption used by Skype means that your chats are encrypted from one end to the other, ensuring eavesdroppers can’t intercept your messages or listen into your conversation. It has taken a while for Skype to offer the feature, but it’s better late than never.

However, be aware that encryption is an OPTION. Unfortunately, the default remains the same as it has always been: unencrypted. Your calls are not encrypted unless you manually choose the option to encrypt the call. If you want a truly private and secure video call or messaging, use Signal or Wire.

If you really do want to use Skype, check out the article at https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/skype-end-to-end-encryption/.

Skype Alternatives

Skype is a telecommunications application software product that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches via the Internet and to regular telephones. It is one of the more popular methods of making voice calls (emulating telephones) over the Internet.

Microsoft purchased Skype from a privately-owned company in May 2011 for $8.5 billion. At the time, Skype was very popular, primarily because of its high audio quality and ease of use. Skype also was believed to be very secure at the time. While never officially stated, the advertising for Skype hinted that conversations between two Skype users (not traveling over public telephone lines) could not be wiretapped in its distributed, peer-to-peer network.

In the years since the acquisition, the ease of use in Skype has gone away, replaced by a very awkward user interface that is obviously designed for corporate use. The audio quality remains rather good. The original peer-to-peer network has been replaced with a more-or-less standard network that uses Microsoft servers to establish connections. The new network appears to be less secure than the previous peer-to-peer implementation.

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NSA says Searches of Americans’ Data without a Warrant Spiked in 2017

Do you feel like someone is spying on you? Your hunch might be correct. An article by Zack Whittaker in the ZDnet web site says, “The agency collected a staggering 534 million domestic phone records last year, up threefold on the year earlier.”

The article also states, “According to the figures [released on Friday], 7,512 Americans had their calls and messages searched without a warrant, up by 42 percent on the year prior” and “… it also sweeps up large amounts of data on Americans, who are constitutionally protected from warrantless surveillance.”

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Perhaps the Most Secure “Burner Phone” of All?

Politicians, business executives, movie stars, professional athletes, and anyone else concerned with their personal privacy might want to have a second cell phone in addition to their primary phone. The second cell phone often is called a “burner phone.” It can be used to hide sensitive information from news reporters, overseas hackers, government agencies, business competitors, law enforcement personnel, Border Patrol, or from a curious spouse!

See my earlier article, Michael Cohen had 16 Cell Phones Seized by the FBI, at http://bit.ly/2rbKx3l for one person’s example. See http://bit.ly/2jjfWh4 for hundreds of other articles about “burner phones.” However, I will tell you about what I consider to be the best burner phone of all as well as one of the cheapest, and I don’t think it is mentioned in any of the other articles.

My candidate as the best burner phone off all is the Apple iPod touch. “Hey, wait a minute!” you exclaim. “That’s not even a phone!”

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Michael Cohen had 16 Cell Phones Seized by the FBI

I’m jealous! Security experts often advise politicians, business executives, movie stars, professional athletes, and others to always have a second cell phone in addition to their primary phone. The second phone, sometimes called “a burner phone,” should receive little use. The owner is advised to use it only when he or she might want to hide something from law enforcement personnel or Border Patrol or perhaps is in danger of having news reporters or business competitors snooping through the person’s affairs. In fact, another good use might be to hide something from a curious spouse!

If the owner’s primary phone is later examined by someone else, the text messages, installed apps, and recent phone call information contained within the burner phone will not be found. Hiding a second phone that is used only for highly-sensitive purposes can be a big help when it comes to keeping secrets.

However, we may have a new record in burner phones! Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, reportedly had as many as 16 cell phones when the FBI raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room!

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