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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Below are some great ones for you to check out!
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.
This add-on is a joint venture project ofTor 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 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.
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.
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.”
“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 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).
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:
TL;DRread 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?
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.
There’s no reason to think this incident is the first or last from PureVPN and WANSecurity.
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.
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 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.
Note: Don’t confuse FoxyProxy Plus with FoxyProxy Standard and FoxyProxy Basic! Support for Standard and Basic aren’t going away!
FoxyProxy Plus, a Firefox extension that we started selling on April 22, 2009 and our only closed-source product for many years, is likely going away. Although we’ve been updating FoxyProxy Plus over the years to stay compatible with Firefox, we stopped selling it some years ago, so this should not affect any but the most die-hard of fans. You can see our current page for it isn’t complete and doesn’t allow you to purchase it.
Mozilla announced in February 2017 that support for legacy addons will be dropped when Firefox 57 is released on November 14, 2017. FoxyProxy Plus is a legacy addon. Due to technical limitations with Firefox 57 and above, it may not be possible to port FoxyProxy Plus to Firefox’s new platform. We are still researching this, but wanted to tell you now so you can prepare for the possible drop in support of this product. You’ll still be able to use FoxyProxy Plus with versions of Firefox older than 57. Mozilla will tell you not to use old versions of Firefox, however, due to security holes that are plugged in every new version.
The two features that FoxyProxy Plus adds above and beyond the other editions of FoxyProxy for Firefox are:
Switch proxies based on your current local (LAN) IP address, rather than the typical URL (website) address.
URL Training. Click a button to automatically add URL patterns for any/all URLs on a page.
Thanks to all of you who purchased licenses of FoxyProxy Plus over the years! We will update this blog when we know if we’ll be able to port FoxyProxy Plus to Firefox 57 and above.
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!
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?
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.)