All posts by Brooke Welty

FoxyProxy Employees Endangered in China

 

 

TL;DR As of August 15, 2018, we sell only proxy services in China, not VPN. Available services are HTTP/HTTPS proxy servers, SSL proxy servers, and SOCKS5. This goes against our core values of uncensoring the internet, but two of our employees are at risk.

Normally in a blog post, we come at you with a little snark and a bit of humor. That’s not going to happen this time around, because the topic deserves a serious tone.

A Statement from FoxyProxy on Censorship

Internet censorship is something that many people are aware of, but haven’t directly experienced for themselves. For some, it’s limited to the annoyance of geo-location blocks keeping them from watching their favorite foreign shows or keeping up with sports teams back home.

However, censorship goes so much further than that, and has real world consequences for many.

A year ago, in August 2017, China announced a ban on VPN companies selling VPN service. Enforcement was to begin in February 2018. At FoxyProxy, we weren’t immediately affected, even though others were arrested and even sentenced to 9 months in prison:  it seemed like enforcement would focus on Chinese developers of VPN mobile apps intended for the domestic Chinese market.

Earlier this week, one of our vendors had their office raided by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) after the CAC detected VPN services on servers hosted by that vendor.

The office was raided, the servers were taken, business shuttered, and the owners are being interrogated and charged.

One of our employees is a Chinese national living in America who, along with another employee, makes yearly trips to visit family back home. A recent trip included a visit to the office of the now defunct vendor, where tea and hospitality was enjoyed.

Our employees are now wondering – will they be able to visit home again? Will they be detained or questioned by Chinese immigation? Will their family be harassed by authorities? These are all very real questions being faced.

We must do everything to protect our employees, even when it goes against our core mission to provide uncensored internet across the globe.

We have other vendors in China. We received a notice from one of them yesterday, warning us to disable VPN services on our servers. It’s unclear why this vendor was not harassed to same extent by the CAC.

In any case, we have decided to discontinue VPN services in China at this time, as the risks are too great to real life people involved. Hopefully this is just a temporary setback, and if things go well we will be able to provide VPN service again. Proxy services in China are unaffected. As usual, we will continue to offer HTTP/HTTPS proxy servers, SSL proxy servers, and SOCKS5 proxy service in China. Such service is not illegal in China.

We are offering pro-rated refunds or credit to anyone with FoxyProxy VPN service in China who does not want to use proxy services. Thank you for understanding – please wish luck to our Chinese American employees and the affected vendor.

New Servers, Oh Yes Indeed

This handsome little guy is a Corsac Fox, found in Central Asia

We Can Do That For You

Something you may not know about us is that we love filling custom orders. If the country you need isn’t listed among the 96 we currently offer,  let us know and we’re going to do our best to get a server there for you!

Recently, we added three new countries to our list, all from client requests.  We’ve been in business for 12 years (that equals about 35 years in ‘Tech company years’) because we pride ourselves on delivering what our customers need.

Do you have a special request? Get in touch!

Check out our newest server locations below! 

KYRGYZSTAN

Seriously, just look at this place

Kyrgyzstan is home to astounding natural beauty, millennia of history,  and legendarily hospitable people.

RÉUNION

The prettiest island you probably never heard of

Réunion is a French owned island to the east of Madagascar. Full of volcanic mountains and a rainforested interior, this little paradise is perfect for a getaway.

 

KAZAKHSTAN

Not a still from Blade Runner

Ninth largest country in the world, Kazakhstan is full of gleaming modern cities, and beautiful open wildernesses.

Ready to book your trip yet? 

 

Yes, You’re Being Listened To and Recorded.

YES, THEY ARE LISTENING

It’s no secret that smart home devices and personal assistants such as Alexa and Google Home record your voice when you give them commands.  They do this for practical reasons, and it’s part of how they work so well.

While a lot of people just sort of accept that your web usage is being tracked, mined, and recorded (Unless you take steps to circumvent that) some folks are understandably weirded out by the idea of your voice recordings being stored somewhere.

Apple users have less to worry about, as the questions they ask Siri aren’t accessible. They are logged differently, using a string of random numbers instead of a user name, or other identifiable data, and Apple erases the connection between those queries and the numerical codes after six months.

WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED? 

Everything you have asked a Google powered assistant can be accessed and listened to by you. This includes the home assistant, as well as on your phone or laptop.  Just head on over to https://myactivity.google.com/ while logged into your Google account and you can hear all those things you asked it when you needed an answer right away.

Yes, you really do sound like that. Weird, isn’t it?

Alexa users can find a list of all their questions by going into Settings > History in the Alexa app. If you use more than one Alexa device, each one will have its own listenable recordings.

SO YOU WANT TO CLEAR YOUR HISTORY?

Have no fear, Dear Readers. The wonderful nerds over at Popular Science have compiled a series of how-to guides on how to go about doing just that.

The Wired Magazine article linked above also has some handy hints on how to stop them from recording you at all, though doing so on a long term basis will turn a smart speaker into essentially a pricey paperweight.

Well there you have it, Dear Readers, a little bit of control over the data that flows into all the things that make your life convenient!

Sneaky Like A Fox

 

Concerns about online privacy are nothing new. From tracking cookies and invasive ads, to spyware and data mining, your information and browsing habits are a juicy prize sought after by more than just marketing companies.

But how do you keep prying eyes off of your data? Well, there are a lot of simple steps you can take.

VPN USAGE

First up, get yourself a good VPN service. May we suggest our own? Not to toot our own horn (toot toot) but we’re pretty great at offering you top notch VPN service, and we’ve been doing it for over 10 years.

More and more people are realizing that VPN service is a strong step towards privacy. The many-tentacled and omnipresent Social Media behemoth more commonly known as Facebook has been pushing its own VPN service, Onavo. Unsurprisingly, it’s bad.

Stick with the folks whose main purpose is privacy, rather than a nebulous beast which feeds itself on your private data, daily growing more all-seeing. Your best interests are not in mind there.

 

BROWSER ADD ONS

Browser add ons and extensions can be a really easy and effective way to take steps towards privacy. Invasive ads, tracking cookies, and unsecure websites can be a giant pain to anyone hopping onto the ol’ Information Highway.

Surf the web with all the confidence of Brent

Below are some great ones for you to check out!

  • PRIVACY BADGER 
    Privacy Badger is a great, simple to use  anti-tracking web browser extension which our friends over at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched. It blocks tracking cookies and spying eyes while browsing.  Privacy badger  also builds a blocklist and watches the bad behavior, and block certain sites, activities, and cookies.It is pretty light weight, and has a simple green/red/yellow system so you can control what gets blocked.
  • HTTPS EVERYWHERE
    This add-on is a joint venture project of Tor browser and EFF. It rewrites the requests and directs you to secure sites with HTTPS. When the extension gets installed it establishes a connection to SSL and locates the most secure versions of the websites you visit. With a pedigree like Tor and EFF, it’s a great and easy step to ramp up your privacy while browsing.
  • UBLOCK ORIGIN
    uBlock Origin is great because it gives you  easy to use overall control, letting you decide what to block or allow.  If you’re more comfortable doing more in-depth controls, it also lets you deep dive into specifics regarding blocking and allowing.

 

STORING YOUR INFO

If you’ve ever done any sort of shopping online or filling out of forms, you’re familiar with the ‘HEY DO YOU WANT US TO STORE YOUR INFO?? EH?? IT’LL MAKE IT EASIER NEXT TIME, WE PROMISE!’ routine.  No doubt you also get asked about saving your passwords. (Full disclosure: your blogess here saves hers. Just can’t remember them otherwise, and I just never think to do a password locker thing.)

There are pros and cons here, honestly. It really can make things a lot easier if you frequently need fields filled in, or make a lot of regular purchases online.

However, since all browsers now synchronize this info to the cloud (so that, when you are using multiple devices, the CC info and passwords you store on one device is accessible on the other devices) — are they storing it securely? It’s undoubtedly a huge attractions for hackers, so what happens if that info is revealed? Is it sufficiently encrypted such that even quantum computers or computers can’t decrypt it with a lot of time and energy?

If you do choose to store your credit card and password info, make sure that you lock your devices when stepping away. Doing so will help make sure that if someone snags your device, they won’t have instant access to not only your 1528 embarrassing selfie attempts, but all that important password info.

Just do us a favor – DO NOT USE fingerprint unlocking on your phone or other device–that is not protected; a judge can compel you to unlock your device using your fingerprint but cannot compel you to reveal your password(s) — at least in the US. While some judges are challenging this, better safe than sorry.

Stay private, FoxFriends.

Free Accounts for People in Iran

We searched for ‘Iranian Foxes’ and this is what we got.
IRANIAN PROTESTS

As many of you likely know, thousands of Iranians have been holding anti-government protests over the past week. We won’t be getting into the why’s or discussing Iranian politics in our post today, but we will be touching base on the Iranian government’s decision to block access to many social media apps as well as VPN access in order to quash protests.

We have decided to offer free accounts to people in Iran in order to help them communicate during this time. 

Some words from Eric Jung, FoxyProxy founder:

 “We hope protesters from all backgrounds can unite and create real change in this regime of repression. We offer free accounts to all Iranians in order to bypass the censorship imposed by their government during this time leading up to revolution. Blocking social media and communications only infuriates citizenry, and we hope it backfires.”
Because the Iranian government has blocked VPN access, SSL Proxy servers are needed to get around this censorship.  Happily, all FoxyProxy accounts come with VPN + SSL, HTTP, and SOCKS proxy server accounts.
           Chrome and Firefox users can contact support to help get our SSL proxy servers working, as there is a trick to getting our SSL proxy server to work with Chrome and Firefox, as we are still using unsigned SSL certificates (that is something we are slowly changing and the rollout should be complete within a month). We will soon be putting an article on our help page to help you through it.
If you’re in Iran and wish to get a free account, get in touch. 

‘BEEF WOMEN’, Hermione cried.

 

The Tibetan Sand Fox is judging your irrational fear.

WE REALLY DON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT AN AI TAKEOVER ANYTIME SOON

While it’s a staple of sci-fi stories, an AI uprising isn’t something that you shouldn’t be losing sleep over, for a number of reasons. Things like Siri, Alexa, and Hello Google (which really needs a better name. We suggest Kevin.) may give the illusion of conversation and intelligence, but there’s really nothing there but algorithms and bad jokes written by someone else. That hard to define spark of Consciousness is still absent in any AI we currently possess. (FOR NOW…)

Will The Machines take over and enslave humankind, leading to Terminator or Dune-like futures? Eventually, maybe, but not any time soon. Much has been written about both sides of the argument, by people much more skilled than your blogess at writing. If this is legitimately an avenue which your mind enjoys wondering down, it’s certainly worth spending some time reading up on. Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warn us about the dangers of AI, while other sources such as LiveScience  and Tech.co assure us we have nothing to worry about for a while.

 

LET’S LAUGH AT ROBOTS

In an effort to calm any fears, let’s just take a few minutes to remind ourselves that AI and Robots are still pretty stupid, in so far as being ready to take over the world.

This past week, a chapter of Harry Potter written by a predictive text keyboard program splashed across the internet, inspiring this very post. It’s peppered with gems like:

“He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family. Ron’s Ron shirt was just as bad as Ron himself.

‘If you two can’t clump happily, I’m going to get aggressive,’ confessed the reasonable Hermione.”

and :

“They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was ‘BEEF WOMEN,’ Hermione cried.”

Another constant favorite is the failures of the Boston Dynamics family of occasionally terrifying murder-bots.

 

And here’s a compilation of robots taking a fall at a robotics challenge.

So, sleep tight, and anytime you start to worry, Youtube is ready with endless Robot Fail compilations for your delight.

The Internet of WE ARE WATCHING YOU.

IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

The Internet of Things (an actual term used to refer to the ever growing list of internet connected gadgets populating our homes) seems like a good idea. I, your blogess, love the idea of walking into a room and commanding it to tend to my environmental needs, like Picard dictating his favored ambient temperature, light level, and music selection all at once before ordering a nice mug of Earl Grey (hot).

I also dance like this

However.

We just aren’t there yet, as much as I wish we were. It seems that daily, we see another story about ‘Smart’ devices recording, watching, listening in. Here’s a short list of Smart Things which have betrayed their users:

Printers
Teddy Bears
Sex Toys
Refrigerators
Baby Monitors

Some companies are starting to realize that consumers are becoming more aware of this problem. Mozilla has come out with a gift guide for the privacy minded  to help consumers navigate their options.

F-Secure has developed a router designed to offer your Internet of Things protection against hacking, and you can easily find guides online to help you take the steps to up your IoT security.

In the end, it makes sense to take all the security steps you can. Assume that if it has a camera, a microphone, or is wi-fi enabled that someone, somewhere, can listen in.

After the xbox began greeting my husband when he waked into the room, we took this lo-fi approach

 

 

Fun With Staff Profiles: Bartas Edition

Welcome to our newest staff member! **not an actual photo of him
Welcome to our newest staff member!
**not an actual photo of him

Welcome Bartas!

We’d like to welcome to our team Bartas, who will be taking on the roles of  technical support analyst and programmer.  We thought this would be a great time to start doing some staff profiles so that you, our beloved customers, can get to know the people behind the proxies. 

We asked Bartas a few questions as the inaugural profile. Here’s what he had to say!

 

The actual Bartas, overlooking his new career
The actual Bartas, overlooking his new career

Where are you from, and what’s the best thing about your home town?

Well, I grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado. The best thing about that town is it’s smallness and cuteness. It had all these nice little shops and there were only a few thousand people living there. There was this true small town feeling. I also remember spending all day jumping from rock to rock in the river that runs through the middle of the town on a hot summer day. And in the winter during the ski season, you could hear the “booms” of the dynamite the avalanche control crews used on unstable snow pack way up above the treeline.

What drew you to FoxyProxy? Were you a user prior to joining the team?

I remember using the original FoxyProxy extension for Firefox a long time ago. What drew me to FoxyProxy was speaking with Eric, the founder and CEO of FoxyProxy, and realizing that we were on the same page on many issues such as privacy in computing as well as a commitment to excellent customer service.

How long have you been interested in computer programming?

But really I first got into programming when I was 10. My parents bough me a toy computer. It was sophisticated enough to have Basic, but too sophisticated for me to understand everything at once. From then on, my driving question in terms of computers is, “How does this thing really work underneath it all?” I’m pretty handy with C (erm, pointers ftw), and I just dived into javascript.

May or may not apply to 99% of the FoxyProxy team
May or may not apply to 99% of the FoxyProxy team

You’re something of a baker, according to your bio. Do you have any feelings on The Great British Bake Off’s ‘Brexit’ from the BBC? (I also love baking, and this broke my heart.)

You know, I love baking, but I have to say I haven’t seen The Great British Bake Off. But now it’s on my list of shows to watch.

What’s an interesting hobby you have that people might not expect from you?

A few months back I heard about the health benefits of broccoli sprouts. I just started, but they are already germinating and soon I won’t have to pay five dollars for a handful of sprouts from the store!

Have you got any pets?

My one pet is a snuggly Australian Cattle Dog/American Bulldog. He’s really sweet, inquisitive, and loyal.

Star Trek or Star Wars, and why?

First of all as a disclaimer, I have only seen a few movies from each universe, not to mention the other media both universes have produced. Based purely on feel and my uneducated judgement on the subject, I’ll have to go with Star Trek. (this is the correct answer. – ed.) 

picard_clapping

It’s Weird Out There.

Winter. It's coming.
Winter. It’s coming.

We’re here for you

Look, it’s a weird time right now. The world is going through some stuff and no matter what area of the globe you occupy, chances are that things are happening which are making you say ‘This is weirder than usual.’

This is weird. Funny, but weird.
This is weird. Funny, but weird.

But we’re here, as always, bringing you proxy and VPN service from across the globe and the top notch customer service that goes along with it. We have paid services, and do-it-yourself options. 

We’re here if you want some escapism and need to watch a highbrow costume drama on BBC.

Handsome brooding men absolutely counts as highbrow
Handsome brooding men absolutely count as highbrow, and I won’t believe otherwise

We’re here if you live in a part of the world that restricts the internet freedom of its citizens.

We're looking at you, Turkey. Among others.
We’re looking at you, Turkey. Among others.

Speaking of the internet and how private we humans are while using it, Firefox just released a privacy focused browser for iOS users.  It will probably come in handy for our friends in the UK, after their own government just quietly introduced some very heavy handed surveillance legislation.

 

The bottom line is, we’ve been here for 10 years with the goal of keeping information flowing over all parts of the world. We fight for Internet freedom. We advocate for privacy, free speech, free press, government transparency, sensible copyright and sensible DRM.

We’re members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Democracy and Technology, FreePress, Stop Watching Us, and the Mozilla Foundation.

We’re not going anywhere.

 

 

Recent Outage Complaints!

We have been getting a flood of complaints about accounts not working in the last 12 hours.

We hear you!

Our servers are actually up and have been up this whole time. Our suspicion is that there is another DDoS attack on the internet causing general internet problems, like that big one that happened recently. You may have read about the recent attacks in the last week since it affected millions of people. Here is one story about it

These problems affect some geographic areas but not others. They also affect some websites but not others.

That is not something we can control, but please know we are investigating the situation and looking for remediation.

We will keep you updated!