Category Archives: Uncategorized

And Now a Moment of Delight

Enjoy a nice thing today

 

Good Morning!

Pretty much all commerce these days is digital, isn’t it?  It makes things move faster, sure, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that there’s a human (we assume) behind the transaction.

Case in point, this delightful note we got with an enclosed check paying for our service.  Posted with permission, of course!

 

It reads:

“Thank you for your past services. I love your services and help.

PS enclosed is a check for two more years of service.’

Thanks, this genuinely made us smile.

 

And in other news!

We’ve ordered some t-shirts with our very own fabulous fox on them, and they’ll be arriving very soon for future giveaways and other fun stuff. Interested? WATCH THIS SPACE for more details!

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

 

 

US Secret Service Subpoena and Our Reply

TL;DR read one of the subpoenas we’ve received from the United States Secret Service and our response to it (“We have no documents or records…”)

We Don’t Log Your Activity and We’ll Prove It

Some people think that VPN companies in the United States can’t possibly keep you private. That’s simply not true: companies in the US have the freedom to say to the government screw off when subpoenaed for information they don’t have. And that’s what we do at FoxyProxy.

We get many subpoenas from various government agencies — some from the US federal government, some from US state governments, and some from governments outside of the US (most recently France). Our response to these subpoenas is always the same: we have nothing. And that’s because we don’t log anything about you. How can we provide information about our customers’ activity when we don’t have it?

We can do this because there are no data retention laws in the US, unlike in the EU and many other countries.

To prove it, we’re sharing a subpoena and our response. This one is from the United States Secret Service, July 2017, with our response in September 2017. We’ve redacted names and phone numbers to, ironically, maintain the privacy of the Secret Service agent and prosecutor responsible for the subpoena 🙂

Click the image for the complete document and our response.

Some VPN Companies Lie

Some of our competitors, like PureVPN and WANSecurity, thinks it’s ok to lie to their customers about their privacy policy and then share tracking information with the FBI:

The logs showed how within the span of minutes the same VPN IP address had logged into Lin’s real Gmail address […] PureVPN was later able to link the stalking activity with Lin’s home and work IPs. The information in the affidavit may shock some PureVPN customers, as the company boldly advertises on its privacy policy page that it does not keep any logs.

As of this writing, PureVPN’s privacy policy page still says, “You are Invisible – Even We Cannot See What You Do Online. We Do Not monitor user activity nor do we keep any logs. We therefore have no record of your activities such as which software you used, which websites you visited, what content you downloaded, which apps you used, etc.”

There’s no reason to think this incident is the first or last from PureVPN and WANSecurity.

Another VPN provider, HotSpot Shield, is dealing with a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission alleging they collect data and intercept traffic… a contradiction of their privacy policy to “never log or store user data.”

What Can You Do?

There are many websites that tell you to choose your VPN provider based on privacy and logging alone. That’s not enough. They forget to compare VPN performance, customer support, and native access (connecting to your VPN provider without having to install their proprietary software–which often has malware, advertising, or tracking).

They forget to tell you who is the real customer for most VPN providers: the venture capitalists. The investors. The people who financed the company. They want their money back, and with interest. The VPN company can give that quicker and bigger if they monetize you.

Since our inception in 2006, FoxyProxy has had no investors. We’ve had many such opportunities and passed them over: we won’t compromise our customers for a dollar. We don’t need the money and we don’t need to sell out our loyal following.

 

Bye for Now to Our Firefox Browser API

Similar to our earlier announcement about end-of-life for FoxyProxy Plus For Firefox, we’re announcing the end of our Firefox Browser API, at least for now. This includes the javascript API, the proxy:// protocol, and the command-line interface.

These changes will take effect with the next major release of FoxyProxy Standard, Plus, and Basic for Firefox, likely in August 2017 but definitely before Firefox 57 in November 2017. This is because WebExtensions are going to be the only supported way of developing Firefox add-ons by November 2017.  And WebExtensions do not yet support the capabilities we need for our API.

This API was the only one its kind offered by any proxy add-on, for any browser. Among other things, it enabled websites to manipulate your proxy settings (with your permission). For example, with the proxy:// protocol, you could click a link on a webpage and have your Firefox proxy settings changed automatically–no tweaking on your part. This was commonly used by websites that published free proxy server lists… click a link, change your proxy server. Don’t like that one? Click another link on the webpage to change your proxy server again. But no more.

With the javascript API, a website could build an entire proxy and URL pattern editor and allow you to instrument FoxyProxy right from a webpage. But no more.

With the command-line interface, you could change which proxy was enabled/disabled right at start-up browser start-up. This was perfect for use with PhantomJS or Selenium. Again, no more.

Once support for these features return to Firefox add-ons, we’ll re-implement them.