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Spotflux: Finally, A Free VPN

Spotflux: Finally, A Free VPN

on March 22nd 2013

Cloak is a fantastic little VPN that protects your privacy and allows you to browse the Internet safely on your Mac. Unfortunately, you must pay a price for quality.

Or must you? The team at Spotflux doesn’t think you should pay for privacy, so they have developed a great little VPN that works on Mac, Windows, iOS, and soon Android. As with anything that’s free, there must be a downside, right? Let’s find out.

Bare Bones VPN

Spotflux is enabled upon launch.

Spotflux is enabled upon launch.

Spotflux has two main features: security and privacy. In other words, if you’re on a WiFi network that has no encryption, it’s the perfect way to ensure your sensitive information isn’t easy to access wirelessly. Any ill-doer could intercept your information if it’s being transferred over a public network. For the sake of your security, it’s worth using a VPN at the local coffee shop or library.

As with most companies these days, Spotflux says it’s using “the cloud” to protect your data. Since that’s now the generalized term for all computing on a remote server, this is indeed so, but it’s mainly a marketing technique. You can also run things through a proxy and then through Spotflux if you like using that additional server. However, the actual service is quite good on it’s own. You can choose between using it as just a VPN or with added functionality using filters.

Filters Block Ads, Malware, and Tracking Code

Spotflux has one very unique feature: filters. Instead of using an ad blocker like I do, you can just switch on the VPN and it will remove them from the pages for you. I didn’t find it as effective as some of the browser plugins out there, but it’s definitely useful when browsing the Net.

Use filters or keep them disabled.

Use filters or keep them disabled.

There are other filters, too. The service tries its best to stop malware from downloading to your computer. With a Mac, this isn’t as much of a problem, but it is nice to have that extra layer between the virus’ server and your computer. Lastly, the app blocks tracking code, or “cookies” as they’re more commonly known. I personally don’t need any of these “filters” — most people don’t, and they might even break some web apps — but they do act as an extra layer of security and not a whole lot of resources are used to have them running.

Regarding Reliability

For a free service, you can’t expect perpetual uptime. It’s good to want consistency, but never complete reliability. Spotflux, thankfully, is one of those services that maintains consistency. I did experience some random disconnects, but overall daily usage has been very smooth. My only complaint is that when I’m downloading a file, it stops and I’m unable to start it at that point. Since it takes a good 45 seconds for Spotflux to switch back on after a disconnect, things can sometimes become inconvenient.

What About This Whole “Free” Concept?

Lately, a lot of services have started out by being unconditionally free. From the perspective of a user, this is a great trait to see in an app or company. And it’s evident that, when the consuming party gets what it wants, all is well in the eyes of everyone else. Sadly, when you take time to look at the core, things are falling apart.

Apple's banner on an App Store promotion.

Apple’s banner on an App Store promotion.

As Michael Jurewitz explained in an editorial related to the matter, the free mindset that developers have can be harmful to the company, and even sometimes end user. The problem is that, while beginning well, the process of a free business model goes downhill due to one flaw: most companies don’t want to be non-profit. That’s why Twitter took the sponsorship approach, Facebook went crazy with advertisements, and App.net was born. It is possible to offer a service for free, but the price is one that users must pay.

Spotflux has it's money on mobile.

Spotflux has it’s money on mobile.

With Spotflux, I found it very hard to understand what the company would do for revenue. To help things along, I spoke with Chris Naegelin, co-founder of the service. Naegelin said that Spotflux is currently only free on the desktop; if you’re using a mobile device, the service is paid. “We also monetize during the install process if a user opts-in to one of our bundle partners such as Dashlane,” he noted.

Thankfully, the co-founder said that the company “[plans] to always have an unlimited free tier”. There will be a “premium” version available on the desktop later this year, but currently the free option is all that’s offered as a sort of starting point.

I asked Naegelin what the company’s plans for the future are and, while he said that most of them are confidential, he made it a point for users to know that there will be much more focus on safe and private browsing.

Simple and Functional

Spotflux is a great app. You won’t easily find another truly free VPN out there that’s the quality of this one. There’s not a lot in the app to go on about because it’s really quite simple. It’s not like the average user needs more in a VPN than what this one offers. The privacy features and malware protection are really nice and the servers have always been speedy enough for my needs. As for the moments of downtime, they’re not that bad — it just takes longer to enable the service.

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Spotflux showcased at RSA Conference

February 25, 2013 – San Francisco – Spotflux, the leading global cloud based security and privacy service provider for PC’s and smart mobile devices, was selected as one of 10 finalists in the RSA Conference, Innovation Sandbox.

The need for proactive defense against a wide range of threats that can assault a computer or wireless device (PC, tablet or smartphone) is coming into acute focus. The rising sophistication of the criminal element, access to inexpensive signal interception hardware (~$25) and unwary public, create an environment for significant, widespread fraud. Spotflux’s simple and elegant security solution has gained the recognition of the RSA judges and has the honor of being a finalist in the 2013 Innovation Sandbox.

Spotflux was founded with the mission to address the imminent threat to anyone using a device that connects to a public network or an unsecure connection to any network. Integrating Spotflux into your PC and mobile devices provides two powerful benefits: 1) preempting the hijacking of your connection which exposes you to a wide range of threats from merely annoying to truly catastrophic and 2) protecting you with real time privacy filters and analytics.

Through a simple download of an application to a PC or Mac (and soon to smart mobile devices) consumers will have a direct, protected channel through the internet directly to the destination they wish to go.

Importantly, Spotflux was designed to compliment / augment the antivirus software most computer owners have already installed on their PC’s. Unlike this kind of software, which is “reactive” (i.e. it reacts to a threat once it has entered the PC and then neutralizes or quarantines it), Spotflux “proactively” defends against threats before they reach the PC – think of it like a “deflector shield” for your PC. Together, Spotflux and antivirus software provide a formidable, multi-layer defense. As if that were not enough, in the unlikely event that a virus or other malicious code does evade the Spotflux “deflector shield” and the antivirus software and starts exporting your sensitive personal information, the Spotflux “shield” has a second chance to review the data being sent and put a stop to unauthorized exfiltration of your data.

Altogether, these features of the service combine to provide our users the freedom and confidence to use the internet to the fullest extent, born from the knowledge that a world class security firm is protecting them and that they now have control over who and what they will allow to find and reach them.

However, as innovative as this service is, it is the underlying business model that completes the total innovative package: it’s Free. Spotflux believes that by offering the initial PC-based level of service on a complimentary basis to consumers will be able to sample the product and experience the benefits first hand. “Our fastest path to growth rests on the advocacy of our users and we will do everything right by them to earn that support” said Chris Naegelin Spotflux, CEO. Upon earning customer confidence, additional features and services (i.e. coverage extension to smart mobile devices) will be available for a reasonable fee. “Our initial PC based product is our first deposit into the ‘relationship bank’ with our customers. It is an investment we are willing to make because we plan on having our customers for life”, said Naegelin.

The company’s confidence in this approach is validated by adoption of the service by over a million users worldwide in less than 12 months of its launch and vociferous demand for the mobile and other features.

About Spotflux

Spotflux, was conceived and launched by a team of passionate software visionaries who anticipated the evolution of increasingly sophisticated scams that would emerge in the wake of exploding wireless internet availability on powerful mobile devices compounded by the adoption and usage by an unwary mass market consumer. Spotflux is the only proactive security solution that averts scams and threats by disguising and insulating your internet traffic and personal information from interception, capture and misuse by others. Since its launch in March 2012 the service has acquired over a million users around the world, mostly by word of mouth. Go to www.spotflux.com and download the app for free and see for yourself what we are doing right.

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Rash Guard

Rash Guard

Protect Yourself While Surfing Open Wireless Networks with Spotflux – by Netted by the Webbys

Someone once told us that using free Wi-Fi is the same as shouting everything you’re typing out loud. Which is definitely frowned upon at Starbucks.

With Spotiflux, a free download for Mac and PC, Internet usage is protected even when sharing a connection with total strangers.

Once logged on to the wireless network, flip on Spotiflux and browse as you normally would. The service encrypts your internet traffic, blocks malware and viruses, and hides your IP location to keep you anonymous.

It’s perfect for use in airports, hotels, and that cafe around the corner where struggling artists work on their novels.

They’re probably harmless, but better safe than sorry.

http://spotflux.com

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CES: FCC’s Genachowski Calls Net-Neutrality Lawsuit ‘Distracting’

Verizon Is Challenging Agency’s Authority to Impose Internet Regulations

By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 1/11/2012 6:20:19 PM

Las Vegas — FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said Verizon Communications’ lawsuit challenging the agency’s network-neutrality regulations was “distracting” and could create uncertainty and confusion in the market.

Genachowski, in his third appearance at CES, primarily used the stage Wednesday to stump for his favorite issue — pushing TV broadcasters to auction off their spectrum to be used for wireless broadband.

On network neutrality, Genachowski said he was proud of the outcome, which he claimed has not hampered investment in broadband networks and applications.

The FCC’s network-neutrality regulations, which went into effect Nov. 20, require Internet service providers to disclose network management techniques and forbids them from blocking or degrading specific content or applications.

Genachowski, who was interviewed by Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro, said the FCC was “tempted to focus on other things” but that he felt he needed to take action on network neutrality to bring about a détente between network providers and technology companies.

“I thought we had to bring peace to the land,” he said. “I’m proud of the result — our goal was to see increased investment in the broadband economy.”

About 80% of companies supported the FCC’s network neutrality rules, according to Genachowski. Alluding to Verizon’s lawsuit, which argues that the agency does not have authority to regulate the Internet, he said, “It’s a distracting lawsuit that runs the risk of creating uncertainty, unpredictably and confusion as we move forward.”

On the “spectrum crunch” issue, Genachowski repeated his call to repurpose TV airwaves for mobile broadband. He said voluntary spectrum auctions would generate $25 billion in cash for the U.S. Treasury, and — more important — make additional capacity available for new services.

“My message today on incentive auctions is simple: We need to get it done now and we need to get it done right,” he said.

Congress is to make a decision on a law enabling the FCC to proceed with incentive auctions by March 1. “At stake is U.S. leadership in mobile,” Genachowski said.

Genachowski noted that New York City has 28 full-power TV stations. “I grew up in New York and I don’t think anyone can name 28 TV stations,” he said. “What’s the right number for New York?… The beauty of incentive auctions is, the market will decide.”

In terms of future initiatives, Genachowski acknowledged that the Communications Act of 1996 “should be updated,” but he didn’t get into specifics and said a reform to the law is “not something that is actively being considered.”

“I’ve been very careful to focus on the things I really want to get done,” Genachowski said.

In his prepared remarks, Genachowski marveled at the broad range of products on the CES show floor: “Where else can you find a USB stick that is also a bottle opener?”

“Virtually every product on the CES floor is fueled by broadband Internet,” he said. “If you shut off the Internet, virtually nothing on the show floor would work.”

Shapiro cited the 2012 presidential election, pointing out that if a Republican beats President Obama, Genachowski could be out of a job. Asked by Shapiro what Genachowski wanted to be his legacy, the chairman identified focusing the FCC on broadband and working to unleash wireless spectrum. “We have a lot of work to do in 2012,” he said.

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