VPN

9) A Strong Option for a Personal Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you’re in the market for a strong way to connect securely to multiple web pages and internet services, look no further than…

https://www.expressvpn.com/

Their VPN is fast, pain-free, and easy-to-connect. Also, they deliver a companion app for mobile devices that is super-easy and strong. Their prices are just a tad on the pricey side, with annual plan costs hovering around $100, but the service seems dependable enough that it just might be worth it. Check it out!

3) Get A VPN To Surf Anonymously & Guard Your Privacy

We’ve mentioned before — using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is different than using antivirus software or a firewall. A VPN serves as a kind of shroud around your computing — so outsiders can’t see what you’re seeing. With a good VPN, it’s like you’re able to look through a tunnel at the information you need to see. This not only offers better security for web-browsing, it also protects your email too — and keeps outside eyes from seeing sensitive data. Curious about which VPN is better? Consider, for example, …

https://www.vpnanalysis.com

Brigada participant, Brandon, concluded that “PureVPN gained much attraction due to its spectacular features and add-ons such as split tunneling, DDoS protection, NAT firewall and kill switch.” What’s YOUR conclusion? See Brandon’s pick at…

https://www.vpnanalysis.com/purevpn-review/

5) Discover from What IP Address You’re Connecting

ipchickenDid you ever wonder from which IP Address you’re connecting to the Internet? This becomes particularly important if you’re using a VPN and you’d like to confirm that your VPN is indeed working. (You might want to appear to be using an IP address in another country, for example, so you can see content unavailable in your host country. VPN’s let you do so.) One of the easiest ways to reveal this fact is with…

http://ipchicken.com/

All you have to do is go to IPChicken before you sign on to your VPN, make a note of the active IP, then log on to your VPN, then refresh the screen at IPChicken. If your VPN is working, your VPN (and maybe your COUNTRY) will be different.

10) Cool Tools: Secure Your Email —

If you’re using Gmail or the equivalent (seems like almost everyone has switched), you’re probably good to go. Many vendors (like Gmail) are fairly secure now, if you’re logging on to their server (and you trust their staff). Look for the “padlock” or “https” address in your browser’s URL web address box. We previously recommended Hushmail — and while it’s still a great option, in spite of a few recent interface polishes, Hushmail is looking a bit old-fashioned compared to Gmail. And Gmail seems always to stay ahead on the secure online storage offered for free — remind me again why we’re paying for Hushmail? :-)

For my own purposes, I refuse to switch to a web-based email solution like Gmail as my primary email client because I want to be able to even when I can’t find a source for Internet. I realize I’m probably in the minority these days, but for my life, it still makes sense. If yours is similar, make sure you’re logging on to a secure email server. Check yours and take the necessary action. Or surround your entire computer with a secure “wall” by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). StrongVPN

http://www.strongvpn.com

and

https://www.witopia.net/

are both great solutions. StrongVPN seems to have better customer service. Not only will a VPN keep prying eyes from seeing your internet (as it leaves your computer all the way to your VPN-provider’s server), but it will also likewise secure your web-browsing as well. Find out where your VPN is based (for example, Sweden or Vancouver). If a secure route out of your sensitive field is all you need to “get into the clear,” then you’re golden. If you need end-to-end encryption with your home or office, look for a tech that can hook you up with a home-brewed VPN. Be prepared to manage the extra technical needs. As with everything else, sort all this out before you board the plane.

10) Cool Tools: Secure In Your Email

If you’re using Gmail or the equivalent (seems like almost everyone has switched), you’re probably good to go. Many vendors (like Gmail) are fairly secure now, if you’re logging on to their server (and you trust their staff). Look for the “padlock” or “https” address in your browser’s URL web address box. We previously recommended Hushmail — and it’s still a great option, but we have to admit, Hushmail is looking a bit old-fashioned these days compared to Gmail. And since Gmail offers 10 gig of secure online storage for free — remind me again why we’re paying for Hushmail? :-)

For my own purposes, I refuse to switch to a web-based email solution like Gmail because I want to be able to even when I can’t find a source for Internet. (As I write this item on the road in Haiti, internet is nowhere to be found. Using Gmail or another web-based solution, I’d be dead in the water.) So I still use an email client like Outlook, queue my messages, then send them later when I’m near Internet. I realize I’m probably in the minority these days, but for my life, it still makes sense. If yours is similar, make sure you’re logging on to a secure email server. Am I wrong, or can I assume that all IMAP servers are typically “https” secure? Not all POP3 servers are. Check yours and take the necessary action. Or surround your entire computer with a secure “wall” by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). StrongVPN

http://www.strongvpn.com

and

https://www.witopia.net/

are both great solutions. StrongVPN seems to have better customer service. Not only will a VPN keep prying eyes from seeing your internet (as it leaves your computer all the way to your VPN-provider’s server), but it will also likewise secure your web-browsing as well. Find out where your VPN is based (for example, Sweden or Vancouver). If a secure route out of your sensitive field is all you need to “get into the clear,” then you’re golden. If you need end-to-end encryption with your home or office, look for a tech that can hook you up with a home-brewed VPN. Be prepared to manage the extra technical needs. As with everything else, sort all this out before you board the plane.

4) Automate Your OpenVPN Start-up —

If you’re like I am, you have grown a bit weary of typing in or copy-and-pasting in your user name and password for your OpenVPN. Granted — by automating this process, you’re giving away a slice of privacy. After all, if your laptop is active (and not password-protected in any way), and your VPN-related files are accessible, then you’ve not only given away your own private information, but also, potentially, sensitive files for your entire organization. So if you’re going to automate opening your OpenVPN, better secure your computer with an overall access password and never again leave it open on a table at your favorite coffee shop. So — having been forthright about the disclaimers, here’s an easy way to automate the opening of your configuration of OpenVPN:

 

http://www.brigada.org/automate-your-openvpn-opening

12) The Backpage: Trouble In Vpn-City

I just returned tonight from a trip to the Middle East, primarily in a country that filters Internet access through a national proxy. None of the hotel rooms (that I stayed in) had in-room Internet… so it was Internet cafes for me in each stop. You’ve heard us say before on Brigada — the only way to safely access POP3 email at an Internet café is to shield your communication in a secure software tunnel referred to as a virtual private network (VPN). There *are* solutions for encrypted email (like Hushmail), but none of them allow you to use a simple POP3 box with a client like Outlook. For example, I *was* able to access my Hushmail account, but … it’s just not as quick and easy. Plus, it’s not very dependable off-line (I’ve had annoying glitches keeping the Outlook IMAP3 plug-in to stay in the running with Hushmail.) So… for convenient POP3 email *and* for secure web-browsing to the site of your choice, you really need a VPN in any country which would misunderstand your good intentions… or anytime you’re exchanging information about sensitive finances.

In the old days, a VPN might have raised your profile; not so any more. Every business man that passes financial information uses (or ought to use) a VPN. You usually wouldn’t have to carry around a hardware device to run a VPN. Many “software” versions are available, usually by running a “client-side” application on your laptop — which, in turn, talks to a VPN “server-side” mother-ship application, either on your own server back in your homeland, or, alternatively, via a server maintained by the company from which you buy or rent the VPN service. Some companies will offer a VPN for free (usually with other, more powerful services sold for pay), while other charge a nominal fee per month.

One thing I noticed was that it seemed there was no consistent result with the VPN that we hand out to our workers going to sensitive fields. We use Cisco and we oversee the “dashboard” for this VPN ourselves, so it’s really easy to maintain. But, not in this particular land. For example, at the first Internet café I visited on the opening day of this trip, every time I logged on to the VPN, the connectivity to the Internet would vanish. (Have you encountered something similar to that in other instances? If so, please click on “comment” below this item and give your testimony — completely anonymously if you desire.) That night, I tried Wytopia, HotSpotVPN, PublicVPN, and a handful of other VPN suppliers. *Hushmail* worked (without the VPN), but, as for my POP3 mail, I left empty-handed that night. I wasn’t willing to download it into the open. Now later in the week, I went back to that same café and tried again — and this time it worked! (Have you experienced that too?) I wondered later… if I had rebooted, would it have reset some routine that allowed it to connect? Either way, let’s start a list below of our favorite vendors for VPNs, along with anything to beat the problems. Here are the issues we seem to be battling, in the “real-world testing” department:

*** Some internet cafes seem to have blocked the port that the VPN uses?
*** It seems inconsistent; it’ll work sometimes and not work other times.
*** The VPN would sometimes just drop… like… if the wireless radio in the coffee shop had a hiccup, the secure-conduit would drop. (Sometimes when I’d try to launch it again, it wouldn’t have exited cleanly, so I’d have to reboot first. Hassle. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind all the hassles in the world, if they help us do this stuff securely. I’m just wondering if there’s a better way out there.)

Maybe we’ll find an obvious lay-down best VPN in the world? :-) Or maybe a satellite solution has leap-frogged the old technology and now we don’t even need internet cafes anymore?

20060122 Brigada Today

In this issue…

  1. CHECK OUT COVENANT COLLEGE
  2. HOW TO LOWER YOUR INSURANCE RATES
  3. HAVE YOU SEARCHED VIVISIMO? MSNSEARCH?
  4. WHAT’S CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY TECHNICAL SERVICES?
  5. DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL
  6. A VPN THAT MAKES YOU MONEY?
  7. ELIJAH COMPANY MISSIONARY TRAINING
  8. EVANGELICAL TRAINING DATABASE
  9. ACTING ON AIDS SUMMIT
  10. YAHOO “WEB BEACONS” NOT SO BAD?
  11. GO TO THE NATIONS… AS AN ENGLISH TEACHER
  12. “IMAGINENATIONS” MISSIONS CONFERENCE
  13. OMF BAY AREA MISSION CONFERENCE
  14. THE BACKPAGE: DOUG ON THE WARPATH ABOUT SIGNING OTHERS UP
  15. CLOSING STUFF

  1. CHECK OUT COVENANT COLLEGE — Hats off to the people at Covenant College:

    http://www.covenant.edu/

    They are great friends of Brigada (They just sent a $600 gift to say thanks for the students we sent their way in 2005. Whoa.) In particular, check out the Chalmers Center:

    http://www.chalmers.org/site/index.php

    They specialize in community economic development, giving you practical training that equips you to implement programs in your church or community that truly empower the poor. The Institute offers you a choice of 3-5 1/2 days of courses in both the 2/3 World and U.S. contexts, taught by real-world practitioners. I notice they have video and DVD material and a full distance learning program. Cool. Think about a degree in Economics and Community Development. They even have men’s *and* women’s soccer.


  2. HOW TO LOWER YOUR INSURANCE RATES — Jeff and Doug at Good Neighbor Insurance can get quotes from eight different international health insurance companies for international health and life insurance, short- term, long-term and short-term team mission trips. Get group insurance quotes for small and large groups, plans for non-Americans coming to the USA and Americans living in most USA states.

    http://www.gninsurance.com/brigada.asp

    Jeff and Doug have pledged to give an offering to Brigada from every new sign-up. They really are “good neighbors!”


  3. HAVE YOU SEARCHED VIVISIMO? MSNSEARCH? — Thanks to Dale for giving us the tip. I’m ashamed to say — I don’t think I had ever been there before. He suggested I try searching for “Emerald Hills” there (remember our item a couple of weeks back? :-) ) I put in the search criteria “Emerald Hills” (without the quotes) at:

    http://www.vivisimo.com

    and lo and behold, a cluster about Team Expansion’s retreat center ranked as #12 in the list. So… pretty impressive that it had figured out relevancy that quickly. Interestingly, if you put the same words in at:

    http://www.msnsearch.com

    Brigada’s future new home (Emerald Hills) is *first*. Whoa. Cool. :-) Not sure what that proves, except… that maybe they have good taste in trees? Either way, it’s worth bookmarking both of them. :-)


  4. WHAT’S CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY TECHNICAL SERVICES? — Sure looks interesting. Thanks to Tony for tipping us off on their website:

    http://www.cmtsministries.org/

    They apparently arrange loaner cars for missionaries and, in general, just try to procure hard-to-obtain items for missionaries in general. Let’s remember to check ’em out, next time we can’t find something we need. Again, thanks Tony.


  5. DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL — Are you seeking greater intimacy with God and a taste of cross-cultural missions? If you are age 30 or more, or a family with children, enroll today in the Crossroads DTS at Youth With A Mission, Lebanon, PA, USA. This 20-week dynamic journey includes 12 weeks of life-changing teaching covering Christian world missions, the Father heart of God, how to hear God’s voice, intercessory prayer, spiritual warfare, and godly relationships. Students travel to Crimea in Ukraine for 8 weeks to work among an unreached Muslim people group. The lecture phase is April 19-July 14, 2006 with outreach to Ukraine, July 17-September 8, 2006. Find details and application forms at

    http://www.ywampa.org

    or email ywampa(at)comcast(dot)net or call (717)274-9010 [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  6. A VPN THAT MAKES YOU MONEY? — Do you frequently check email in hacker-infested locations such as hotels, airports, or cafes? Are you a missionary who works in a high security country? Does your missions agency need to offer secure internet access? If you said “yes” (even once) a Virtual Privacy Network (VPN) service may be your most affordable *and* comprehensive solution. HotSpotVPN.com’s service is reliable and if you register for affiliate status, you can even earn the small commission on your own purchase! Or, if you don’t want to hassle with becoming an affiliate, consider using this link to sign up for an account:

    https://sales.hotspotvpn.com/info.asp?rid=b2b&pid=2&tc=1

    In addition to securing all your internet activities, you’ll be helping support missionary work in an Islamic country.


  7. ELIJAH COMPANY MISSIONARY TRAINING — Here are four days focused on preparing people to go to the mission field. They’ll give simple steps people need to move forward on their call. Study relational skills, cultural principles, spiritual issues and practical teaching such as developing a prayer and financial support base. Over 165 people have been trained in MTC in just the last five years. Already, 51 are now on the field somewhere in the world. Furloughing missionaries and missions leaders have also found this time to be of great value for resolving difficult issues. Find the Elijah Company manifesto and training info at

    http://www.elijahcompany.org

    You can get more information and applications by writing to elijah(at)elijahcompany(dot)org or call (757) 226-3507. [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  8. EVANGELICAL TRAINING DATABASE — Ian of the Missionary Training Service reports, that, by God’s grace, they are making good progress with the Evangelical Training Database. Hopefully launching in English and Spanish in February this year, all evangelical institutions world- wide will be invited to put information about their courses on the website, so that those who need training will be able to find out what is available in their country and language. This is an ambitious project aiming to run simultaneously in all major languages. It is committed to being a free service to both providers of courses and those searching for them, though they hope that people will make donations to the project. Find more information at

    http://www.missionarytraining.org/news.htm

    or write coord(at)missionarytraining(dot)org [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address, please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  9. ACTING ON AIDS SUMMIT — Acting on Aids (AoA), a national collegiate movement among schools within the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities will hold its 2006 Leadership Summit at Taylor University (Upland, Indiana) February 2-4, 2006. The Summit will be a chance for students to be together in the same place to collectively learn about the global AIDS pandemic from HIV/AIDS experts. Acting on AIDS is a program started by Christian college students to create awareness and activism of the global AIDS pandemic at colleges and universities across the nation. With the support of World Vision, Christian college students have formed a network of Acting on AIDS chapters which seek to change hearts on campuses, create awareness in communities, and advocate for those impacted by the global AIDS pandemic. In addition to learning about prevention, advocacy and care, students will share with their peers about the work they’re doing on their campuses and work together to find new ways they can get their campuses, communities and local churches involved and invested. For registration information visit

    http://www.actingonaids.org

    or email aoa(at)taylor(dot)edu [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  10. YAHOO “WEB BEACONS” NOT SO BAD? — I received several emails from Brigada participants who observed that the “web beacons” we mentioned an edition or two ago (“YAHOO IS TRACKING GROUP MEMBERS” in the Jan. 13th issue) probably weren’t as bad as we imagined. First, they apparently only track us while we’re in the Yahoo system of shopping sites and groups. Second, apparently web beacons are much more pervasive than we imagined:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_beacons

    (thanks for the site, David). So I guess we should at least be glad Yahoo is man enough to admit it. :-) It’s still perfectly wise to opt out, since we’re given the opportunity to do so, however.


  11. GO TO THE NATIONS… AS AN ENGLISH TEACHER — Here’s an exciting and intensive 4-week TESOL course equipping you with effective English teaching techniques, sponsored by Youth With A Mission in Lebanon PA USA. The dates are March 13-April 7, May 8-June 2 and June 19-July 14, 2006. Get a certificate upon completion. Find details, application forms, and alternate dates listed

    http://www.ywampa.org

    or email ywampa(at)comcast(dot)net. [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  12. “IMAGINENATIONS” MISSIONS CONFERENCE — PenrithCLC in Sydney Australia are about to launch their 10th annual first priority missions conference. Senior Pastor Jack Hanes is well known for his ability to release finances for world harvest and stir a passion in Christians for the lost. Each year the Conference aims to inspire a passion for mission and see the releasing of finance into world harvest by challenging the church for local and world evangelisation. ImagineNations is 100% missions and runs from 19 to 24 February. To see who the guest speakers will be, view their promotional movie and register for the conference simply go to

    http://www.penrithclc.com/imaginenations

    or call PenrithCLC on +61 2 4736 3000 or email the conference team at missionsconference(at)penrithclc(dot) com. [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  13. OMF BAY AREA MISSION CONFERENCE — On April 28-29, 2006, in Redwood City, CA, you can catch this conference with the theme, “Planting Christ’s Church in Asia!” at Peninsula Covenant Church. Dr. Patrick Fung, OMF’s new General Director, will speak. There will be 10 church planting workshops, children’s Win Our World program and fellowship with visiting missionaries. Check out the group and individual registration rates (discounts for students and seniors). Download the conference brochure and speaker schedule from our site:

    http://www.us.omf.org/northwest

    Or contact Julie omfconference(at)yahoo(dot)com or call 925-459-0734 in the USA. [As a means of preventing spam for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .]


  14. THE BACKPAGE: DOUG ON THE WARPATH ABOUT SIGNING OTHERS UP — I’m am *sooo* tired of the way the Internet allows others to sign me up for mailing lists. Those folks at DARPA who designed the original architecture of the Internet had no idea what would come of their brainstorm. I think they must have thought it would mostly be military- types who would use this network. Because they gave us precious little control over our address. Virtually anyone can sign us up for a newsletter or mailing list. And what’s more, just about anyone can “hijack” our address and use it as a “from:” address to send a virus or attachment. For this reason, we ask that everyone follow the simple courtesy — please, please, please don’t sign others up for regular mailing lists. It’s outa’ hand. Feel free to send someone the invitation — but unless they specifically ask (or unless they work for you or are on your team :-) ), for goodness sake, please don’t spam them. Here’s a “warpath” letter I sent to Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) this past week. Who knows if a human even saw this. I received no reply. :-( — To the Asst. to Chancellor/Chief Operations Office Reformed Theological Seminary RTS.edu Tel. 601-923-1600 EXT – 655

    Dear Mr. Bailey,

    Someone from your school seems to have added me to your newsletter mailing list without my permission or without my request — and without my approval. To you, sir, with all due respect, this must seem like a very small thing. To me, this is happening over and over again by well- intentioned marketing folks.

    In case you’re wondering, I did go to the trouble to unsubscribe. But even that’s a hassle. Because your instructions say “click here to unsubscribe”, rather than giving me the actual link to use, I had to go through the trouble of opening your email in a browser window, then viewing the source code, then copying and pasting that source code into my browser “URL box” manually, then going to the unsubscribe webpage. Why did I have to go through all that? Because so many email “worms” are spread by asking people to click on a link in the email that — readers in my situation are now scared stiff to click on any link in an email. We don’t know, any more, if the link we’re clicking on is actually a true site from your seminary, or if this is a contrived email with a fake “Phishing” link– or worse yet, … some pornographic online service that’s going to try to install malware of some kind on my machine. So even your attempt to make it easy for me to unsubscribe (from something to which I never wanted to subscribe) is a hassle, is misguided, and shows your seminary’s insensitivity to email users across the board today. Yes I’ve unsubscribed… but a) I shouldn’t have had to in the first place, and b) you made it harder for me than it had to be.

    In addition, now I’m setting my anti-spamware to reject anything from your domain. So even if your marketing department *does* try to contribute an item to Brigada Today in the future, now I won’t even see it. Except for one sole address — yours… I’ll leave it open, just in case you have a moment to write back. And if you do, I’ll happily consider publishing your reply too. It’s only fair. (Note to all the others who subscribe us to your prayer lists or newsletter lists or whatever lists, without our permission: Now you see why we aren’t publishing the items you later try to send in to Brigada Today. We’ll never see them… because we’ve black-listed your address in our spam prevention software.)

    Please, please change your practices and begin living by the same laws by which our commercial businesses are supposed to live. Don’t spam us.

    Sincerely, and wearily,

    Doug Lucas Editor, Brigada Today

    >…IN THIS ISSUEIssue#3 -January 24, 2006 … — [end] (Note: I’m sure that’s more information than he wanted to see… if his spam software even let him see my reply. :-) )

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