There is no doubt that the Internet is a dangerous place for the ignorant and complacent who do not protect their systems with anti-malware and anti-virus software. In recent years hacking has become more prevalent and not just from cybercriminals but our own governments. This has become about because of Edward Snowden who exposed the dodgy practices of the National Security Agency and its allies worldwide. In the UK a report by David Anderton QC is highly critical of the Government’s “snooper’s charter” but the Government has shrugged these criticisms off. You do not have to be a terrorist to not want any Government or cybercriminal hacking into your system, who what can you do? The answer just might lie in Disconnect, a Lifehacker recommended multi-tool security package.
Released on a freemium system, the basic free version provides some basic protection from what Disconnect terms malvertising and tracking but for £5 a month – in the UK that’s less than a pint of beer in a poncy London pub – you get some serious protection for your desktop PC, plus two other devices which for me covers my smartphone and tablet.
This is what Disconnect’s press release has to say about the new version which has recently been released.
Disconnect, a certified public benefit corporation and maker of popular open source privacy and security software used by millions, today announced the launch of the next generation of their award-winning software. The new Disconnect offering combines powerful protection, beautiful design, and ease-of-use in an integrated single application available for iOS and Android devices, as well as Mac and Windows computers.
Disconnect will launch its new software at the Privacy Identity Innovation conference in Palo Alto, CA.
The new Disconnect software is a cloud-based technology that offers real-time protection from hackers and trackers, who are increasingly able to access users’ identities and sensitive personal information. The product includes the following core features:
- Visualized tracking: see the invisible tracking and unsecured connections on websites you visit and apps you use.
- Encrypted Internet: route all traffic through Disconnect’s encrypted tunnel to prevent wireless eavesdropping, secure your connections, and protect sensitive personal info from privacy invasive tracking, including mobile and desktopsupercookies.
- Safe browsing: prevent malvertising, block 5000+ malicious trackers, sources of malware and other identity theft threats with Disconnect’s virtual private network (VPN) technology.
- Anonymous search: search privately and securely using your favorite search engine.
- Location control: defeat Internet censorship and access content freely without revealing your true location and IP address.
- Privacy icons: at a glance, easily understand the privacy policies of 1000s of sites, plus other details about how your data is collected and used.
“The technology powering our new software allows us to protect users from more threats than ever before,” says Disconnect CTO and ex-NSA engineer Patrick Jackson. “Moving our logic to the cloud means we can adapt in real-time to counter new attacks, and simultaneously offer this protection across all the major platforms and devices.”
“Founded in 2011 by former Google engineers and a consumer-rights attorney, Disconnect’s goal has always been to create powerful privacy and security tools that are simple to use and don’t break or slow down the Internet.
“Identity theft and unwanted collection of sensitive data is a major concern for most of us,” says co-founder and CEO Casey Oppenheim. “This revolutionary product makes it incredibly simple for people to protect themselves and their loved ones across all their devices without sacrificing usability or convenience.”
“The new Disconnect product allows users to visualize invisible tracking connections for free, and offers premium protection that covers up to 3 devices for $5 a month, or $50 a year. Downloads for Mac, Windows and Android are available from the Disconnect website, and the iPhone and iPad versions are in the App Store.
Google Play Ban
“Notably, Disconnect will not make the Android version available in the Google Play Store. In September, Google controversially banned Disconnect’s anti-malvertising application because the app interfered with advertising services, including Google’s own ad network. The new Disconnect app includes an even more robust anti-malvertising filter, which protects users from ads that look legitimate but may contain malicious tracking or malware.
“Based on communications with Google there’s no point in submitting the new application to the Play Store at this time, as they’ve made clear their decision to put advertising profits ahead of consumer safety and choice,” says Oppenheim. “We’re hopeful Google will reconsider, especially because their own ad network has been repeatedly hacked, and suffered a major breach over the past few months that allowed criminals to expose millions of users to malware using a malvertising attack that our apps protect against.”
Doing a IP check the VPN does what is says on the packet and although it is early days Disconnect seems to block tracking software well. The way Disconnect displays where the tracking threats are coming from is also impressive – see photograph on the left which shows trackers from the Daily Telegraph site.
The slight downside is that the deeply cynical will note that Disconnect is based in the US and one of the development team is a former NSA employee so what happens when the men is slick suits come knocking at the door?
The company’s own FAQ has this to say:
“Does Disconnect prevent the US government from seeing my Internet activity? ↑
No. And you should have a healthy skepticiscm about any company or organization that says they can prevent the US government from accessing your online activity. Disconnect focuses on preventing companies from accessing your online activity, not the US government.”