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Want to Upgrade Zoom’s Privacy and Security? Use a VPN

The pandemic forever changed the way we connect with friends and colleagues. Video chat apps have now become an even more integral part of our digital world.

Zoom recently peaked at #1 as the most downloaded app globally. Business and home users alike have quickly adopted it.

With that shift came greater concerns about privacy, as confidential information discussed at meetings could be intercepted by malicious users or authorities.

Free Comes at a Cost

Security experts have noted that the free version of Zoom lacks end-to-end encryption, and this is generally frowned upon in the software industry. Theoretically Zoom, the police or FBI could access calls if they wanted to, although the software company denies they would ever do this except if Zoom is used for obvious illegal activity.

Zoom elaborated on the policy in a statement. “Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content, and we do not share information with law enforcement except in circumstances like child sex abuse. We do not have backdoors where participants can enter meetings without being visible to others. None of this will change,” said a spokesperson.

Take special note that just because they don’t proactively monitor calls doesn’t guarantee they won’t do it. So now the question becomes, is taking Zoom’s word for it good enough for you?

A system not requiring trust, made possible with tech, is always superior to believing a company. However, to get that with Zoom you have to pay for the premium version of the app.

The Troll in the Room

Some users have reported a phenomenon called Zoom bombing. This involves uninvited guests gaining access to group chats and dropping slurs, offensive images, etc.

Zoom is addressing this problem, but it’s an ongoing threat. Thus, it raises more concerns about the overall strength of the app’s security.

VPN Upgrade Alternative

Should you stick with Zoom despite these weaknesses? Although video conferencing alternatives with better privacy and security exist, it likely won’t be feasible to convert your friends or coworkers.

Luckily there’s a quick, easy way to upgrade Zoom’s encryption to prevent privacy leaks: simply use a VPN.

A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure tunnel between your device and a remote server operated by a VPN service provider. All online traffic goes through this encrypted tunnel so apps and websites cannot gain access to data such as your IP address, location, and certain actions you take.

If you don’t need the added features of the Zoom Pro or Business plan and want the best privacy and security, a VPN is the best option. A VPN service will give you added privacy with any app or sites you visit.

VPNs that are most recommended here at LetMeBy are below. For more detail, you can check out full reviews of the top 3 VPNs services.

Conclusion

Zoom is a terrific video conferencing app overall. It’s easy to use, as the user interface (UI) is simple and intuitive.

Privacy and security concerns shouldn’t prevent you from using it, as leveraging a VPN or upgrading to a paid plan takes care of the main shortcomings concerning encryption.

How to Unblock Instagram at School or Work

Social media allows us to accomplish diverse tasks: from video chats with friends to spreading the word about your company’s services.

Use of apps like Instagram may be productive and relevant to what you’re doing at school or work, however many people scroll through content to slack off.

So, many institutions have opted to ban social media apps entirely, and network administrators are able to follow through on this by blocking access to URLs like https://www.instagram.com/.

Situations can arise where you need to check Instagram to do your work, but the network won’t allow it. And this is when bending the rules on occasion may be reasonable.

Can Insta be Productive?

Content on Instagram varies a lot and it has evolved considerably from a place to take in beautiful photos or post photos of your road trip. In fact, education, business and self-improvement are very popular topics on the platform.

Instagram can be enriching or a waste of time depending on your habits. It’s important to be mindful of the accounts you follow. While a lot of the photos on Instagram will merely be a distraction at school or work, some of it provides succinct knowledge that could actually save you time.

If used correctly, it can increase your productivity. However, few people have the discipline to pull this off.

The app has a great feature that allows you to limit the time on spend on it daily. To use it, go to “Settings”, then tap on “Account.” Next, tap “Your Activity” and you’ll see reminder and notification settings.

Unblock Instagram

Use Phone Data

If you launch Instagram and can’t view your feed, try turning off Wi-Fi and enabling wireless data.

There’s a good chance this will work because Wi-Fi uses the network which has internet access rules applied by the admin, while mobile data works independently of the local network.

Get a VPN

If you don’t have mobile data or don’t want to use up your monthly bandwidth, you can also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access Instagram.

A VPN service allows you to choose a new IP that is associated with the location of your choice. This provided IP allows you to bypass restrictions set by the network admin while still connecting to the network via Wi-Fi.

It’s the best solution for people that want to hide their identity, location, or unblock apps and websites. You need to be subscribed to VPN service, many of which are fast and affordable.

To get started, learn more about the best VPNs that are recommended here most.

Use Your PC with Tor

If you simply want to browse Instagram and don’t need to post, using your PC is an alternative that is often overlooked.

If the URL https://www.instagram.com/ is blocked on all devices, you may be able to download and install Tor. This is proxy software that allows you to use the IP of another user connected to the Tor network.

Once the software changes your IP, Instagram will be unblocked. It’s free but be warned that it’s not as safe or nearly as fast as a VPN.

Typically, Tor should be a last resort, only to be used temporarily then uninstalled. This approach will only work at small businesses that don’t restrict which software can be installed.

Wrapping It Up

Use these tips responsibly and enjoy your new-found access to Instagram!

As the app can be useful at both school and work, blocking access might not be the best policy. However, it’s best to be as respectful of the restrictions even if you’re forced to bypass them at times.

Concerned About Zoom’s Privacy Woes? Here’s Your Alternatives

The coronavirus crisis has forced businesses and institutions to forever change how they operate.

Due to social distancing measures video conferencing apps got a popularity boost. Zoom in particular is extremely hot. It even reached #1 as the most downloaded mobile app worldwide.

Despite Zoom’s overnight success, experts have been warning users that it might not be the best choice for every situation.

In short there’s a tradeoff between ease-of-use and privacy / security.

Most people that aren’t tech nerds gravitate toward apps with high usability. However, if highly-confidential information is being discussed, Zoom’s convenience factor may not be worth the risk.

So, let’s have a look at the alternatives, as well as the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision based on your needs.

Zoom

The San Jose based company quickly become the new go-to video conferencing app when conducting all meetings online became the new normal in 2020.

Pros:

  • It’s easy to use thanks to the intuitive user interface.
  • Joining a meeting doesn’t require a software download – attendees merely have to click on a publicly shared link.

Cons:

  • Zoom has a history of glaring problems with privacy and security. Users have reported “zoom bombings,” in which hackers gain entry to chat rooms then drop foul, offensive messages.
  • It’s paid for by the number of hosts you need per account, so it can get pricy for larger teams.

Facetime

If you’ve got an iOS device, this great option is built in and ready to launch. It’s often overlooked, but this certainly isn’t because Facetime is a mediocre offering. Rather, it’s because only Apple users have it.

Pros:

  • It’s free and you can use it on any Apple device, from a Macbook Pro to an iPhone.
  • Apple is known to leverage strong encryption, making it generally more secure than other apps like Zoom.

Cons:

  • Only supports 32 users, and you can’t use links to gather the troops, making arranging a meeting less convenient.
  • Software works on Apple devices only, so you need to be aware of which type of phone everyone has when hosting.

Skype

The granddaddy among today’s best options, Skype was first released in 2003, then acquired by Microsoft in 2011.

Pros:

  • Skype is free, and since it’s been around for a long time, many already have an account, and have it installed on their devices.
  • Includes an instant messaging solution. You can leave a message for others to view immediately or at a later date.

Cons:

  • It’s not intended for big gatherings, webinars or enterprise use as a maximum 50 people can connect.

Microsoft Teams

Skype for Business is now called Microsoft Teams. It’s a robust app that enables you to host a video meeting with up to 250 people. It has features not available to Skype users like screen sharing and recording of meetings.

Pros:

  • Included in two different Office 365 plans, making it an attractive option for business users utilizing the Microsoft ecosystem.

Cons:

  • If you don’t work in a Microsoft-centric environment, you’ll miss out on great features and overall convenience.

Google Meet / Google Chat

Formerly known as Google Hangouts, anyone who has a Gmail account has the ability to start video chats. To better serve those who need either a personal or business solution, they split it into two products: Google Meet and Chat.

Pros:

  • Formerly a paid-only product for G-suite users, Google Meet now has a free tier.
  • Seamlessly integrated with Gmail, making it an attractive option if you use it frequently.

Cons:

  • Users that value privacy should be warned using this gives Google knowledge of even more of your data than it currently does.

Zoho Meeting

Those that prefer open-source software may want to check out Zoho Meeting, which allows you to host meetings and calls with up to 100 people at once.

Pros:

  • Highly accessible as users don’t need to create an account to join a meeting; they can connect via web browser, desktop software or mobile app.

Cons:

  • History of some shaky functionality, such as a subpar screen sharing experience, plus video and audio permission issues.
  • Like Microsoft, they offer an Office suite that is nicely integrated with Zoho Meeting, but not many use it.

GoTo Meeting

Like Skype, GoTo Meeting has been around for a long time: since 2004. This is a paid-only app, and they offer different plans depending on how many participants you need to support.

Pros:

  • Flexible plans available, with the ability to accommodate very large groups. The entry-level solution allows up to 150 people to connect, while the enterprise version supports 3,000.
  • Supports multiple meeting facilitators, as well as useful features such as screen-sharing and the ability to record meetings.

Cons:

  • Reports of audio issues that can arise, and the only way to solve it is to restart the app.

Wrapping It Up

Zoom is an attractive choice today as its widely used, so people are familiar with how to use it which is key.

For everyday video conferencing it’s great, however if privacy is important for a particular meeting you may want to explore other options.

Zoom is working hard address privacy and security issues. However, it’s been noted that its weak encryption is not going away any time soon.

There is certainly no shortage of Zoom alternatives, and business-users in particular may be better served by those covered.

Clever Hacks to Get YouTube TV in Canada

YouTube TV launched in the U.S. in 2017. There’s been speculation that they would expand outside of the U.S. and offer their streaming service to Canadians along with others like Hulu. However, YouTube TV hasn’t made an official announcement about this.

So, Canadians that are tired of hoping and waiting may want to grab the bull by the horns. Yes, you can get access to YouTube TV in Canada today! All you need to do is jump through some hoops before signing up and follow the tech savvy steps in this guide.

Is It Worth the Effort?

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and CBS All Access are available in Canada. Thus, one might wonder if getting YouTube TV in Canada is really worth it.

For those who want a comprehensive replacement for cable TV, it is. This a great opportunity to get sports, news, and special interest programming you don’t have access to on Netflix.

Channels on YouTube TV

Google has obtained deals with the five major TV networks in the U.S.: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and The CW. About 40 cable channels owned by the parent companies of those networks are all onboard. This includes content from The Walt Disney Company, CBS Corporation, NBCUniversal, Brave, USA Network, Discovery, CNN, Cartoon Network, Fox Sports 1, BBC, ESPN and more.

Like traditional cable TV, it’s also possible to add additional premium channels. Some of these channels include AMC Premiere, Showtime, and NBA League Pass.

How to Gain Access to YouTube TV in Canada

YouTube TV has a variety of methods to verify if the user is based in the U.S. Therefore, to pass these checks and successfully get a YouTube TV account, you need to ensure their site can’t tell you’re based in Canada.

1. VPN Location Magic

First, you’ll need a VPN. By using a VPN, you can access the web with an IP address associated with a physical location in the U.S.

To do that, sign up with a VPN provider, and choose a plan. These services are very inexpensive these days. And typically, if you’re willing to commit to a plan for a year or more, you can save quite a bit.

Recommended VPNs are listed below. For more details, read full reviews of the top 3 VPN services here.

2. Get a U.S. PayPal Account

If you use a Canadian credit card, you’re rolling the dice. You may be able to rig YouTube TV’s payment system to accept it, but that doesn’t work with every credit card provider.

The most reliable method is to set up a U.S. PayPal account.

To ensure success, be sure to follow these tips:

  1. Before you do anything, enable your VPN. And make sure the service has assigned you with a U.S. IP address. This will give you access to the U.S. version of PayPal.
  2. Use a valid email that isn’t already associated with a PayPal account.
  3. When signing up, put in your real street address and credit card info, as you normally would.
  4. You’ll need to choose a zip code and find the U.S. city that is associated with it. The full process is below.

Your Canadian postal code needs to converted to a zip code. To do this, remove all the letters from it. For example, a postal code of M4B 1G7 is changed to 417. Next, to make it valid, add zeros to the end so it’s five digits. So, your new zip code should look something like this: 41700.

Keep in mind the zip code you got from the above process must be real for it to work. To verify if it’s valid, go to the USPS website and enter it. If it’s invalid, replace one of the zeros with a one. That should do the trick.

Finally, enter the U.S. city from the address found in the USPS link, along with your real street address. Now you should be able to complete the PayPal sign-up process.

3. Create a U.S. Gmail Account

This part is really simple!

  • Go to Gmail.com and click on the option to get a new account.
  • Make sure that you select the United States as your location.
  • Validate your account with your mobile phone number.

4. Change Your Location in Chrome

Although you’re now using a VPN to hide your location, Chrome can still spill the beans and reveal that you’re actually based on Canada.

The final step in hiding your whereabouts is editing the settings in Chrome’s location services.

Important: you’ll need to repeat these steps every time you launch your browser

  • Launch Google Chrome
  • Press ‘Ctrl,’ ‘Shift,’ ‘I’ to open Chrome’s backend framework on a PC. Mac users will want to hit ‘Command,’ ‘Option’ and ‘I.”
  • Click the icon made up of three little dots in the top corner of the new panel that just launched. Go to ‘More Tools,’ and then select ‘Sensors.’
  • You’ll now see an option called ‘Geolocation’ with a dropdown menu next to it. Select a location in the U.S. such as ‘San Francisco’ or ‘Mountain View.’
  • Great, now Chrome will think that you’re in the U.S.

5. Access Your YouTube TV Account

Whew, you’re nearly there. All you need to do is test that everything worked.

  • Go to the YouTube TV website.
  • Sign in with your U.S. Gmail account.
  • Choose to pay for the service with PayPal, then sign in the PayPal account you just created.
  • If all is good you should see a $1 charge and refund in your PayPal account (this is part of the validation process).

You Did It!

Congrats! You now have YouTube TV, just like the fortunate folks in the States.

As the process is pretty involved this guide is intended for PC and Mac users.

If you’re even more ambitious and tech savvy you can also get YouTube TV to work on Google Cast, Android, iOS, and Apple TV. To learn more about support for these platforms check out the guide on MobileSyrup (and scroll to the bottom of the article).

Why Brave Browser is Safe and Secure

Brave has been picking up a lot of steam lately.

The crypto community loves this browser. It’s being quickly adopted because Brave has cleverly integrated blockchain tech to create a totally new ad ecosystem. Both publishers and users are awarded with BAT (basic attention token). Also, underneath the hood its secret power is enhanced privacy.

For users of Chrome, this new browser isn’t much of a change in terms of use. Brave could be described as a privacy-hardened version of Chrome. After all, it’s built on top of Chromium, Google’s open source browser project.

So, Brave has killer privacy features (as explored in a previous article here). But is Brave Browser safe? Is it secure? Let’s jump into it!

Brave Browser Safety

Although not a household name like Google, Brave Software’s leadership has a history of achievement and trustworthiness.

Brave’s CEO Brendan Eich invented JavaScript, a programming language that is ubiquitous on the web. Also, he was a co-founder of Mozilla before moving on to Brave. So, Firefox, another popular and reputable browser is also associated with Eich.

It’s said that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

Studies have proven that people trust their private data with Mozilla more than Google. This is expected as user privacy is a part of Mozilla’s core philosophy. Brave Software was born from the same ideals as Mozilla, so in time Brave browser is likely to gain at least the same high-level of trust.

Success and Trust Go Hand-in-Hand

Software won’t remain safe and secure without the dedication and talent of great developers. And clearly, it’s only possible to gain and hold on to talent when adoption of that software is healthy.

Before Brave came to the scene, those seeking an alternative to Chrome flocked to Firefox.

At its peak nearly half of all web users used Firefox. And it is still more popular than Edge, Safari or Opera according to browser use statistics. Due to the good track record of Firefox, Brave has a real shot at challenging Chrome’s dominance.

Rooted in Chromium

Rather than building a totally new browser and reinventing the wheel, Brave Software took an already great browser and made it their own. Brave is essentially Chromium with added features most people want built-in, and intrusions on privacy taken out.

Google built the codebase of Chromium initially, and as an open-source project, developers all over the globe continue to improve it.

There are two main factors that contribute to the safety of Brave.

First, Google is one of the best software companies in the world right now. That means the code was built from the ground up by top-notch developers. Second, due to the open-source nature of the project there are a lot of eyeballs on the code. This means security issues can be quickly spotted and patched by the community.

Brave Security

With a new update around every 42 days, Chrome is the industry leader in browser security. Inevitably every browser is judged against this gold standard.

And Brave isn’t far behind, which is impressive for a new, growing browser. A new version of Brave is released every 8 to 9 weeks.

The frequency of updates is about what you’d expect from Firefox. So, if you’re a Firefox user, you’ll feel right at home.

The Verdict

Although Brave is new and many still haven’t heard of it there’s no reason to shy away from using it.

As you likely came here questioning if Brave is safe, the fact Brave Software’s CEO was also the force behind Firefox should put your mind to rest.

Mozilla and now Brave Software provide an alternative to browser offerings by tech behemoths like as Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Those seeking the best privacy possible have a good reason to look beyond the obvious choices. Protecting your privacy and turning a profit are currently at odds with one another in the industry.

Download Brave browser here. To add to what you’ve learned, read more about Brave’s privacy benefits.