Happy Holidays! Save 50% Off EVERY IronSocket Subscription

Happy holidays and welcome 2016! We’re kicking off the year with one of the last big 50% sales for a LOOONG time. This sale is for everyone – current and new subscribers.

Use the coupon code “NEWYEARS2016″ during step 3 of the checkout process, or just click this link right here.

For existing IronSocket subscribers wanting to use this coupon, login to your account by going to https://ironsocket.com/pricing and pay like you normally would, using the coupon “NEWYEARS2016” on Step 3 of the payment process. Once paid, please contact customer support and they will manually add the additional time to your current subscription. Subscribers can also use this coupon now and have the time added to your account so you save money on your next subscription payment when there is no coupon.

We wish the best holidays for everyone! Stay tuned, big exciting news is coming soon from IronSocket in 2016!

***UPDATE*** You didn’t miss out, you still have a chance to save big! This sale has been extended until January 31, 2016!

Save 50% Off VPN and a Chance to Win a Free IronSocket Subscription

It’s that time again! The annual Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale and giveaway is here. This time, we’ve decided to start a little early.

Starting now, you can save 50% off any IronSocket subscription using the coupon code “2015SALE” (or just click the link and we’ll apply the coupon for you.)

Along with the huge 50% discount, we are offering everyone the chance to win a FREE IronSocket VPN subscription. This year though, we’re giving away 5 FREE yearly subscriptions and 5 FREE 6-month subscriptions. We’re also using the help of Gleam to manage the competition.

Existing IronSocket subscribers can also use this coupon. While logged into your account, just go to https://ironsocket.com/pricing and pay like you normally would using the coupon “2015SALE” on Step 3 of the payment process. Once paid, please contact customer support and they will manually add the additional time to your current subscription.

The ways to enter the contest are easy for everyone:

– Visit our Facebook Page
– Visit our Google+ Page
– Retweet our Tweet
– Follow us on Twitter
– Tweet with the #IronSocket hashtag
– Comment on this blog post (click the title to access the Disqus comments)

Everything will be available to join the competition, for free, using Gleam below.

(The contest has ended, the winners have been notified, and now the sale continues until December 10!)

IronSocket Free VPN Giveaway


Windows 10 remains a privacy nightmare

Windows 10 LogoMicrosoft’s much anticipated new operating system, Windows 10, was released at the beginning of August, receiving initial praise from many. It is indeed a fine Operating System, it could be the best iteration of Windows to date. Unfortunately, since launch, a number of reviewers have raised numerous well-founded major privacy worries.

Cortana and Bing

Central to the new Windows 10 “experience” are Microsoft’s integrated Cortana and Bing search features, many of which are made possible only by collecting large amounts of user data.

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, and uses an online connection to Microsoft’s systems to provide advanced speech recognition capabilities. In order to improve accuracy, this requires that personalized (although claimed-to-be anonymous) speech data is collected and stored.

As an important aside, you are probably aware that Microsoft acquired Skype, the hugely popular online communication application offering voice, video, IM, file transfer and more. Given the rewriting of Skype’s terms and privacy policies to allow for greatly expanded rights to retain data (more on the specific Skype language below), and when considered within the full context of Window 10 and Microsoft’s greatly expanded new privacy language, topped off by the invasive functionality of Cortana and Bing et al, we suspect there is probably absolutely nothing ‘anonymous’ when you use Windows 10, Skype, Cortana and Bing.

Even more worrying is that in order to provide “a useful service able to respond to your needs”, Cortana by default incorporates your address book contacts, calendar entries, location data, text and touch input, and more, into the heuristic algorithms it uses to predict what information you find useful.

If Microsoft only used personal information and personal data to improve a user’s experience, many of us might accept the trade-off between functionality and privacy. However, Microsoft goes much further. It uses the data it collects to generate a unique advertising ID for each user on each device, which can then be used by developers and ad networks to profile them.

Here are a few reprints of worrying language contained in Microsoft’s new privacy policy statement. In the “Reasons We Share Personal Data” section alone it clearly states that it Microsoft has the right to access all personal details should it feel the need to do so:

We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to:

  1. Comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies;
  2. Protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone;
  3. Operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
  4. Protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.”

Similar themes are echoed in the Skype privacy statement, which reads:

“Some Skype products may be offered via a partner company’s website and/or supported through a partner company that may use your data subject to the terms of its own privacy policy. Microsoft may access, disclose and preserve your data (including your private content, such as the content of your instant messages, stored video messages, voicemails or file transfers) to provide the service or to assist its local partner or the local operator facilitating your communication to comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies.”

In other words, Microsoft has decided to collect and retain massive amounts of personally identifiable information and to use it for commercial gain and to hand over to 3rd parties (both private and governmental) whenever it feels that it is in its best interest to do so. The only good news we see in any of this for privacy advocates is that Microsoft provides some ability for users to disable the most egregious ways in which Windows 10 collects personal information.

Unfortunately, a technical analysis performed by Ars Technica shows that, even when privacy-threatening settings have been disabled in Windows 10, Microsoft continues to collect information!

Ars founds, for example, that even with Cortana turned off (Settings -> Privacy) and Bing Integration in the Start Menu disabled, whenever a user opens Start and begins typing, a request to www.bing.com is still sent to a file called threshold.appcache, which contains Cortana information. Windows 10 also continues to communicate with Microsoft servers (although the nature of this communication is not clear.)

There is, unfortunately, not much that can be done about this for the time being, although if enough public outcry occurs, then Microsoft may be persuaded to modify its course. Using a VPN religiously may help confuse geolocation telemetry on devices that do not include GPS or 3/4G capabilities (i.e. most laptops and desktop PCs), but this may negatively impact your user experience of Windows.

Windows 10 self-installing

There have also been rumors floating around the internet about Windows 10 automatically downloading as a regular update, and then self-installing itself. These are not true as such, but almost certainly refer to a series of recent updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x that add the data collection features found in Windows 10 (discussed above) to earlier versions of the Operating system.

The updates are:

KB3068708 – “introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded.” (This update replaces the earlier, similar KB3068708)

KB3075249 – “adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.”

KB3080149 – “updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded.”

If you have set your system to install updates automatically, then you probably have these privacy-busting updates installed already. To uninstall them go Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> View Installed Updates History. Search for the relevant updates and delete them, then go to Control Panel -> Windows Update -> Change settings, and select one of options that disable automatic installation of updates.

When Windows Update asks to reinstall the update, right-click on it and select “Hide Update” to prevent Windows installing it again.

Returning to Windows 10, the Home edition installs Windows Updates automatically, and there is no way to turn off this feature except by upgrading to the Pro version. This has understandably caused some alarm among privacy advocates, and to add insult to injury, the Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO) system used to download these updates is performed using P2P.

This is great for Microsoft, as it allows the company to distribute large numbers of files simultaneously without putting strain on its servers, but, as with downloading via BitTorrent, this can severely slow down users’ internet connection. Fortunately this “feature” can be disables by turning off “Updates from more than one place” in Windows Update -> Settings.

Wi-Fi Sense

Windows 10 Wi-Fi sharing feature Sense has caused a great deal of uproar as it appears to share your Wi-Fi password with all your Contacts by default. This is something of a red herring, as although Wi-Fi Sense is enabled by default, you must explicitly share every network you join with your friends/social networks.

However, because Wi-Fi Sense is an all-or-nothing affair (i.e. you cannot specify individuals or groups of friends), sharing your network password with friends means sharing it with all your friends (in the same contact group):

You can’t pick and choose individual contacts. You can only share with groups of contacts. For example, if you share password-protected Wi-Fi networks with your Skype contacts, all your Skype contacts will have Internet access over the networks you share.

This could be a major security risk for the many of us who accept Friend requests from people we do not know well (or at all!)


Windows 10 seems to be a good operating system, and provides many compelling reasons to upgrade. However, those concerned about privacy should be very careful about jumping on the bandwagon until the many of the privacy issues that have been raised by the new operating system are addressed by Microsoft.

In fact, as the update adding Windows 10 telemetry functions to older versions of Windows demonstrates, even holding back from upgrading may not be sufficient protection against Microsoft’s desire to access your personal data. For those more serious about their privacy, now may the perfect time to consider upgrading (or dual booting) to an open source operating system like Linux.

What the whole business amply demonstrates is that internet security is highly complex issue, and one that requires being continually aware of dangers, and of being responsible about how you use your computer and what information you put on the internet.

VPN is a fantastic technology for providing privacy on the internet, but offers little protection when logging onto Facebook (or other websites) and voluntarily giving away personal information to the internet in general, and when your own Operating System is ratting on you to its manufacturer… so please stay aware and up to date with your devices, websites, and operating systems you are using. As usual we’ll keep you updated with the latest developments on Windows 10 and more.

Happy July 4th! Win a Macbook Air with IronSocket and BestVPN!

IronSocket and BestVPN Giveaway
To celebrate America’s Independence Day, IronSocket is teaming up with BestVPN.com and giving you 25% off every new IronSocket subscription between July 4th and August 4th. Not only this, BestVPN is also giving you the chance to win an Apple MacBook Air. To find out more, head over to their BestVPN Coupons page.

IronSocket has been featured in many of BestVPN’s “top 5 best” lists as an international leading VPN. You can read their independent and unbiased review of our service here. They have also reviewed our DNS proxy service and found it outstanding. We are very proud to have BestVPN consistently rate us as a rock solid VPN provider and a great internet freedom solution.

Singapore downloaders targeted by copyright lawyers

VPN use in Australia has recently soared, at least part in thanks to a high profile Federal Court ruling forcing ISPs to hand over the details of over 4,700 customers accused of pirating the movie Dallas Buyers Club.

Despite concerted attempts by ISP’s to defend their customers’ privacy, a similar situation has developed in Singapore. Recently the Singapore High Court sent most of the city-state’s ISPs a demand to hand over the details of some 500 individuals whose IP addresses have been identified with allegedly downloading the Oscar winning movie.

ISPs that have received the court order currently include M1, Singtel, and StarHub. It is understood that these have (or will) comply in full. On Saturday, ISP MyRepublic told ZDNet that it had not yet received such a demand, but that if it did, then its options might be limited,

While the privacy of our subscribers is of paramount importance to us, we will need to understand the court order first–should we receive one–before assessing if we will comply.

An interesting aspect of this case is that, as Australia has just done, the Singapore government is proposing mandatory data retention laws that will oblige ISP’s to log and store exactly the kind of information requested by Dallas Buyers Club’s producer, Voltage Pictures, LLC, in this case.

How did they get caught?

The accused individuals allegedly downloaded Dallas Buyers Club using the BitTorrent protocol. This person-to-person (P2P) filesharing protocol is a very efficient and decentralized way to share files (such as movies) between users, but a clue to its weakness lies in the terms P2P and filesharing.

Because files are shared, all users sharing a particular file, whether downloading (leeching) or uploading (seeding) – both usually occur simultaneously and are necessary aspect of the technology – can see the IP addresses of everyone else sharing the same file. This makes identifying the IP addresses of downloaders almost trivially easy for copyright enforcers.

So what can I do about it?

Using a good VPN service protects downloaders in two important ways:

  1. Because a user’s internet connection between their computer and the VPN server is encrypted, their ISP cannot know what they get up to on the internet
  2. Anyone tracing the IP address of a downloader from the internet (as in the above picture), will only see the IP of the VPN server, not the users true IP address.

What will happen to those caught?

If events in the United States are anything to go by, accused could face compensation demands of up around $7000 USD to avoid threats of further legal action (this practise is known as ‘speculative invoicing’, and has become something of a scourge in the US).

What should I do if caught?

Those unlucky enough to receive a compensation demand from Voltage should probably not panic. According to Wendy Low, “a lawyer from Rajah & Tann who has been contacted by some alleged infringers for legal advice”, it is unlikely that Voltage will pursue matters in court due to the high legal costs involved,

The damages recoverable may be pegged to the price of a licensed movie download or a DVD, and this may outweigh the legal fees and investigation costs involve.

Matt Pollins, digital media lawyer at Olswang Asia, was more cautious, warning that accused who simply ignore the demands may do so at their peril. He notes if Voltage did pursue the accused into court, the result remains very uncertain,

Some customers certainly will argue that they were not the ones who downloaded the movie, but whether this argument succeeds or not remains to be seen. Some may argue they were not responsible for the downloading or uploading via their IP address and that it was a neighbor or friend. Ultimately, this would be a matter for a court to decide… This is a ground-breaking case in Singapore and there is no real benchmark for what the level of damages would be.


These developments in Australia and Singapore are likely to be deeply troubling to committed BitTorrent downloaders, and our hearts go out those caught up in the furor. We also strongly advise all downloaders to protect themselves with a good VPN service if they wish to avoid becoming victims of Voltage and its ilk, as this is a practice that is only likely to continue in developed nations that bow down to respect restrictive Western IP laws.

Because we care about our friends in Singapore, we are offering a 40% discount for all subscriptions, using the coupon code: SING40

Click [here] to take advantage of these huge savings, and to protect yourself online.