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Alert: Hola VPN is Putting You In Danger

Alert: Hola VPN is Putting You In Danger

Millions of people around the globe use Hola Better Internet to connect to websites that aren’t available in their home countries. That might change, thanks to new evidence revealing a huge hole in the security of the popular service. For those who are unaware, Hola is a VPN, which people can use to temporarily change their IP addresses. So, if I were in Europe, I could use a VPN like Hola to make it appear as though I were connecting to the internet in the United States.

The problem with Hola is this: since it is a free service, the company must use a peer-to-peer system to reduce costs. This means that when you use Hola, you are essentially using someone else’s IP address and connection. For example, if you are using Hola to acquire a German IP address, you are literally being routed through an actual German person’s internet connection. This is all well and good, unless your own IP address gets used for some nefarious purpose.

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Hola cannot control what its users do, so if someone using Hola in another country acquires your IP address/connection and does something illegal, the consequences may fall on you (at least initially). For that alone, I suggest removing Hola from your browser immediately.

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Second, and perhaps even worse, Hola sells user’s bandwidth through a company named Luminati (which they own). This means that someone with malicious intent can buy and utilize the bandwidth of Hola users however they see fit, which actually did happen recently when one person launched an assault on a popular anonymous message board, disrupting its service. Having to deal with Hola’s peer-to-peer system is one thing, but having your bandwidth sold to the highest bidder is perhaps the more egregious offense, especially since Hola users have no idea what their connections will be used for.

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While it could be said that Hola is just trying to find a way to fund its “free” service, I don’t think that you should give them the benefit of the doubt. They were dishonest, doubly so given the fact that they didn’t even inform users in their FAQ about their intention to sell bandwidth until recently. For now, look for alternatives. Going with a VPN that you have to pay for is better than possibly having your internet connection commandeered by some questionable third party.

Featured photo credit: Computer Hack/ Global Panorama via flic.kr

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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