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Interview with Steve Ongaro

About Steve Ongaro

Steve is an informed cybersecurity expert with a unique ability to combine his technical knowledge and effective written communication techniques. He is a reliable and dedicated professional writer with more than five years of experience in the field. Moreover, Steve has amassed a distinguished and proven track record of expertise of technical manuals, white papers, scientific presentations, and complex documents.

Steve Orango
Steve Ongaro, Cyber-Security and VPN Expert

Steve is an honors degree in information technology and is an expert in covering cyber-security and internet freedom trends. He’s mastered the art of writing guides, reviews, and hacks about VPNs, Kodi, software and other tech security topics. In particular, Steve is always amazed by the constant change in security trends and loves reviewing the breakthroughs.

Q: Can you tell us about yourself? Why did you pursue your career?

AI  decided to use my Honors Degree in Information Technology to perfect my profession in tech-security and software journalism. I’ve always been fascinated with the evolution of internet security trends. I spent my last 5 years, advocating for cyber-security and internet freedom, sharing my ideas through various media outlets. I love reading and writing about a variety of tech & software topics, and drooling over new devices and security trends.

Q: What is the importance of using a VPN service? How does a VPN service work?

AHow does a VPN work?

A VPN – Virtual Private Network – is an internet software tool that allows you to access the internet through its virtual servers to keep your online presence concealed.

Here’s how a VPN works on your connected device. You launch the VPN client app of your preferred VPN service. The client software encrypts your personal information/ traffic, even before local ISP or internet provider can set eyes on it. Your traffic is then redirected to a secure tunnel and sent to a VPN server you  are connected to. Your destination site sees your traffic originating from the VPN server, and its virtual location – not from your actual location and physical computer.

A: What is the importance of using a VPN?

While connecting to a VPN will slightly slow your speed by say, 25-50% there are several benefits that VPN can offer to you. Notably, the percentage by which a VPN slows down your connection speed is dependent on the server distance from your actual location.

Here’s why you need a VPN:

  • A VPN cloaks and secures your network signal, making your online presence absolutely illegible to encroaching eavesdroppers.
  • A VPN masks your actual IP address and replaces your connection with a new, shared IP, which makes your identity hard to track.
  • A VPN gives you access to censored media content, by connecting you to a server located in a region where the same content is readily available.
  • With a VPN connection, you can connect to any public WiFi, or hotspot and enjoy surfing without having to look over your shoulder.
  • A VPN will allow you to privately download and upload P2P files with confidence.
  • A VPN uses its strict no-logs policy to ensure your entire online activity is not logged.

Q: In what ways can we maintain our privacy and protection while browsing online?

Each day we browse the internet, we generate huge bites of data, with some analytical reports suggesting a record 26,875 GB every second. And in this huge trove of online data, we often slip and expose  a significant amount of personal information. With information like our cloud-based photos, data we enter on various websites we open, cyber attackers finding it easier to rummage through our information. Here’s what you can do to stop them:

Keep your browser up to date

Updating your browser provides more value than just accessing new features and bug fixes. You’re also ensuring that you have better protection from major security threats. Always look out for new releases – set automatic browser updates, if you can – to ensure your data safety.

Only surf HTTPS-secured sites

Most high authority sites are HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) secured, which is safer than those using the default HTTP certificates. HTTPS certificates have the capacity to encrypt your browsing activity on that particular site. However, this security certificate is not often enabled on every site. You’ll need to enable it every time before considering staying on the site. And if the practice turns out to be tedious, then opt to use the HTTPS://Everywhere, a browser add-on that will automatically add an extra layer of security – activating an HTTPS connection.

Browse on Incognito mode when using borrowed machines

Whenever you’re trying to access the internet at a local cyber, or want to research at a public library, or simply want to check your email from a friend’s PC, make it a habit to switch to incognito mode before you proceed. You can do this, by navigating to settings options and selecting ‘browse privately/ in incognito mode’. The advantage of this practice is that your browser history won’t be kept. However, data like downloads will remain, so it’s best to manually delete that too.

Install the correct extensions

Try and delegate some of the security precautions to browser extensions. Installing the right security extensions like Ad-blockers and script-blockers is a good place to start. Some of these extensions will block malicious scripts, ads, and block tracking of any kind.

Pay attention to suspicious ads and links sent your way

Most malicious attackers use attractive ads and enticing links as bait to get to your personal information. I strongly advise you to look before you click on anything sent to you, even from a friend you seemingly trust.

Always use a VPN

Connecting to a VPN before browsing the internet, should be a priority. A good VPN will encrypt your data, by redirecting your traffic to a secure tunnel, concealing your online presence from eavesdroppers and prying eyes of governments and local ISPs. Besides, a VPN will give you options to change your physical location to anywhere in the world – as long as the VPN has coverage in your target location.

How does it help user privacy protection?

When you use a VPN service to unlock streaming sites, your data is well encrypted and your traffic is redirected to a secure tunnel – meaning your local ISP will lack the capacity to keep tabs on you. The VPN server acts as a third party and connects you to the streaming sites on your behalf. Here’s how it solves privacy and security hiccups:

  • The target site will only see the VPN server as the origin for your traffic, and not you.
  • No government, ISP, nor any intelligent agency can identify your machine IP address. They will only see the VPN server information.
  • All your traffic is encrypted, so even if they manage to get to it, they won’t make meaning of the details. What’s more, there will be no logs to act as prove you visited the streaming site.

Q: Can VPNs be used for parental guidance to protect kids on the internet?

Yes, VPNs can be used for parental guidance to protect kids while they’re using the internet. Here’s how:

Protection from online predators and bullies

While cyberbullying can lead to disastrous outcomes for the young generation of users, using a VPN will certainly stop that. Most cyberbullies tend to target specific users they know, or would like to torture – especially if they discover it’s a kid. A VPN will conceal the online identity of your kid, making it hard for stalkers, bullies and other predators from tracking your kids’ progress.

Protection from harmful links and phishing

Hackers and phishers operate by harming/ gathering information from internet users they know and can keep tabs on. It gets worse when they discover it’s a kid and can use their innocence to get to the parent’s crucial information. Often, these attackers can get to family financial records, medical and other family records that they can use against them. A VPN will keep the online presence of your kids, both private and secure.

Q: What is your opinion on jailbreaking streaming devices (like Amazon FireStick) to access online streaming services? Do you know about apps like Kodi? Tell us about the legality of such devices as well.

My opinion on jailbreaking; is it a legal practice?

With the current internet age, a high percentage of users depend on the internet for everything. Home entertainment, learning, working, news, shopping, and many more. Denying users these essential services can be gruesome to most. In a world that’s moving everything to the cloud, there’s a need for software tools like VPNs to help bypass blocked content and access to censored material. VPNs work by allowing access to all these restricted, or blocked content.

For instance, entertainment outlets like Netflix, e-commerce sites like Amazon, news sites like Bloomberg and social platforms like Facebook have all censored online content they offer to some regions. Therefore, in a quest to advocate for internet freedom, there is a need to always use a VPN service to gain full access to this hidden information.

Elsewhere, using services like Kodi and other XBMC services is not exactly illegal. I believe once a service is meant for public consumption, then it shouldn’t be restricted – making it seem illegal to try and get to it anyway. Services like Kodi and VPNs give us access to these services, thereby promoting internet freedom.

Kodi, for instance, is a streaming service that gives you access to movies, TV shows, games, and live matches. The service uses various add-ons that are each designed and optimized to offer a certain service.

While countries like China, Russia, Iraq, and North Korea have banned the use of these services, the rest of the world hasn’t flagged them as illegal. Therefore, it is safe to say you can use these services, but I would advise you to always access them via a VPN.

We want to be clear that we do not condone any illegal practice with VPNs, Kodi, or any streaming service. That is simply not OK.

Is a good VPN service worth the investment? What are the alternatives to using a VPN service?

Is a good VPN service worth the investment?

Yes, a good VPN is worth every penny if the service ends up serving its purpose. Premium VPNs have always been known to offer the best services, including a rich availability of server locations to choose from, military-grade encryption techniques, secure connection protocols, ultra-fast speeds, strict no-logs policy, access to geographically censored/blocked material, their ability to mask your online presence from prying eyes. I’ll say, if a single VPN can offer you all these perks, then don’t hesitate to pay for the generous services.

What are the alternatives to using a VPN service?

If you’re unable to get a VPN connection, then you can resort to use these services. And while your privacy and security won’t exactly be guaranteed, at least they help instill some level of assurance to your safety. Here are the services to consider:

An Antivirus

Antiviruses work by filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic, ensuring that sensitive information is not leaked, and malicious data doesn’t come through to your network or machine. You can install an antivirus either on your entire network or on your machine.

Proxychains

While it’s not easy setting up proxychains in a network, but once you’re done with the configurations, you can be sure your company can’t share your data with anyone else.

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