Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

VPN Support coming to Linux apps on Chromebooks

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
space-19070.jpg

It seems everyone has jumped on the VPN bandwagon these days. On Chromebooks, we can use VPN extensions, but these don't protect Android apps. We can use Android VPN apps, which protect the entire ChromeOS (including Android apps but not Linux apps).

So what happens today? Even if you have an Android VPN running, the Linux apps go our via your origin IP bypassing the VPN network adapter. If you need to use a VPN with the Linux container today on ChromeOS, you have to install a Linux VPN client in the container itself.

In Chrome 76, Google will finally fix this issue and app Linux traffic will also flow through the VPN (extension of Android app). You can test this today if you have the developer or Canary versions of ChromeOS installed on your Chromebook.

We expect ChromeOS 76 to be released to the Beta channel June 13-20 and to the stable channel around July 30.

Other cool features coming with the ChromeOS 76 release will be

  • "Picture In Picture" support for most video platforms

  • "Web Share Target Level 2" which will allow any installed application to receive a file share (using a manifest)

Comparing NordVPN and ExpressVPN

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
vpn-4056382.jpg

This is not a sponsored post, and none of the links are affiliate links?

Readers regularly ask me to compare NordVPN to ExpressVPN

  • "Can you compare NordVPN to ExpressVPN?"

  • "Is NordVPN better than ExpressVPN?"

  • "Is ExpressVPN faster than NordVPN?"

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are considered to be top of the line premium VPN services. Both offer similar premium services and functionality such as:

  • reliable connectivity

  • fast connection speed

  • well designed strong encryption

  • 30-day money back guarantee

  • 24/7 technical support

  • No log policy

  • Kill switch to prevent leaking of your true identity or location

If you want a VPN to watch geographically locked streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, BBC then ExpressVPN is probably your preferred choice. ExpressVPN seems to be one of the only services that has not been blocked by the Netflix proxy filter. In addition to successfully working around the Netflix proxy filters, ExpressVPN offers the fastest performance; therefore you are less likely to get buffering or lag.

Although NordVPN has had some issues with various streaming services blocking them, the support team works quickly to work around these issues so you should have access to most of your shows most of the time. NordVPN isn't as fast as ExpressVPN but is close enough for most users. NordVPN now has more than 5,092 servers which is an amazing amount (more than ExpressVPN).

NordVPN also offers a feature called DoubleVPN. DoubleVPN is a technique called VPN chaining (called on ProtonVPN). The concept is that they encrypt all the traffic once (standard VPN functionality) and then pass it through a second VPN server (encrypting again) before finally exiting to the internet. SoubleVPN will improve your security posture but will reduce your connection speed.

Conclusion

In summary, ExpressVPN offers better and more reliable access to streaming services and faster VPN speeds. NordVPN is good but not as good as ExpressVPN. NordVPN's claim to fame is the price.

NordVPN offers one of the best VPN services available today at a price that is significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN (especially with a multi-year subscription).

NordVPN-3Year.PNG

With a 15 month ExpressVPN plan, the service costs $6.67 a month. On a 3-year plan with NordVPN, the monthly price is $2.99 (less than half).

Regardless of what service you choose, make sure you check for deals (which can discount as much as 50% sometimes).

Send large file via the internet securely and for free

Edward KiledjianComment
businessman-2108029.jpg

I wrote about the original test version of the free Mozilla Firefox Send service in July 2018.

FF_Send.PNG

Mozilla Firefox Send is a free service open to any user, accessible with any browser, that allows you to securely send a large (up to 2.5GB) file to another internet user. The process is very simple, you upload a file, they provide a unique link that you share with the intended recipient.

The file can be expired after one to one hundred downloads or 1 to 7 days.

FF_Send2.PNG

You can also protect the file with a download password

FF_Send3.PNG

There are other services but most charge for add on features like download password protection or expiry configuration. Firefox Send is completely free and comes from the fine folks over at Mozilla that we trust.

Mozilla Firefox 67 will allow letterboxing to protect your online identity

GeneralEdward Kiledjian2 Comments
fingerprint-2904774.jpg

September 2016 I wrote an article entitles “Your browser will betray your identity” that discussed the various techniques legitimate (marketers) and illegitimate (threat actors) use to keep track of your identity even if you aren’t logged into any of their sites.

The purpose-built TOR version of the Mozilla Firefox browser has (for a while) implemented a technique called letterboxing to protect users from this type of nefarious identification through browser fingerprinting.

Most browsers allow a site to send client-side javascript code that detects the display size of the browser. This technique is used to create dynamically generated webpages that are optimized for the device size you are using. This is why modern well-designed websites render correctly on large 24" desktop screens and 6" smartphones.

Would you be surprised to learn that this can be one dimension threat actors or marketers can use to start deanonymizing you?

The privacy team behind the TOR project goes to great lengths to maximize your privacy while using their anonymizing network by minimizing your data exhaust while browsing the web. We have seen the Firefox team backport some of these privacy enhancements back into the mainstream Firefox. This backport initiative is called TOR Uplift and started in 2016.

In release 67, expected in May, Firefox will bring letterboxing into the mainstream version (from the TOR one). Letterboxing is a technique of rounding the actual size of the browser window (height and width) down to a multiple of 200 pixels for width and 100 pixels for height. This means more users will have the same window size value making deanonymizing more complicated. Firefox will add grey bars on a side that needs to be padded if the rendered page isn't a perfect fit. If you are more concerned about looks, you will be able to turn off this additional protection technique using a Firefox flag.

In the Bugzilla tracker, Mozilla wrote "Window dimensions are a big source of fingerprintable entropy on the web" & "Maximized windows reveal available screen width and height, excluding toolbars; and full-screen windows reveal screen width and height. Non-maximized windows can allow a strong correlation between two tabs".

Here is a demo of letterboxing while resizing the browser window. Notice the grey added around the rendered page.

The letterboxing feature won’t be turned on by default. Users wanting this extra layer of protection will have to open about:config and enter “privacy.resistFingerprinting” in the config search box and change the setting to “true”.

Smartphone chargers just got a powerful upgrade

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
technology-2752109.jpg

This is NOT a sponsored post.

Anker Atom PD-1

Capture.PNG

At first glance, the Anker PD-1 may seem unremarkably normal looking. After all, it looks like the small wall charger that came included with your iPhone. It is almost the same size as that iPhone charger, but it delivers a full 30 watts of USBC power (it’s 35-40% smaller than the equivalent MacBook charger).

Ravpower 45W PD Charger

Capture2.PNG

Ravpower have taken the same technology to greater heights by designing a slim (14mm) 45 watt USBC charger .

Tell me how this is possible

The go to foundation for many electronic components is silicon. Silicon is in everything from computer processors to chargers, but we needed something better to improve charging speed and efficiency.

This is where gallium nitride (GaN) is making an entrance.

  • GaN has a theoretical ability to conduct electricity 1000x more quickly than traditional silicon.

  • GaN also doesn’t get as hot as silicon which means the electricity, not being lost to heat, is used to charge your device faster. It also means we can save 15-20% of worldwide power consumption if all electronic devices switched to GaN.

  • Since GaN chargers are smaller, they require less material, less packaging and are therefore cheaper to ship.

Why Anker and Ravpower?

What makes the Anker and Ravpower so remarkable is that they are the first major brands to release GaN-based chargers. These are first-generation products so we can expect much power powerful GaN chargers in the future, at a much lower price. Anker and Ravpower are charging a premium for these smaller and lighter devices. As the technology becomes more widely available, expect prices to drop dramatically.

Other uses

2019 should be the year where GaN chargers become commonplace. An optimized iPhone and a GaN charger could charge your device 6x faster than today, in a package the same size.

Like many of you, I travel a lot, and a battery backup is critical. Charging a traditional 9000 mAh battery can take 3-5 hours. I recently started testing the Apollo Pro from Elecjet which is a graphene-infused battery that is capable of fully charging in 20 minutes with a 60W USBC charger. Being able to charge your backup battery while you enjoy a coffee is incredibly freeing. Now imagine what will happen when smartphone manufacturers adopt faster charging graphene batteries paired with faster charging GaN chargers. It will be an unbeatable combo.

We likely won’t see any major brands adopting these two techs for their 2019 models, but I am willing to bet you will see a bunch in 2020, probably starting with the Samsung Galaxy S11.