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How to stay safe on the Dark Web

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The Onion Router (Tor) network or the dark web allows users to access Internet sites that would normally be censored. Doing this though does come with its perils. NordVPN gives advice on how to use the Tor network safely.

The Tor (The Onion Router) network is also called a “dark web” since it provides access to completely uncensored online experience. Tor keeps growing in popularity with an estimated 2,5-million users daily, with over 1-million per month using it to access Facebook alone.

Although many government leaders have expressed their concerns over Tor’s existence, some acknowledge that it would be “technically impossible” to shut down. It is the ultimate expression of Internet freedom, and besides a small percentage of people using it for illegal activity, Tor Network is widely used by whistleblowers, activists, human rights fighters and journalists, and is easily accessible by simply downloading Onion browser.

Tor allows accessing uncensored Internet in countries where it¹s censored ­ for example, in Iran, where Facebook is blocked.

While the dark web is easy to use, its users should take special precautions to keep their identity and activity safe, since it¹s a completely unregulated online browsing experience. When people access Onion websites, they should be careful not to fall victim to some attractive offers they can find there, as they can never be sure who is on the other side of the line.

The same rules apply to Tor Network safety as any other Internet marketplace /network: for example, not volunteering personal information, and avoiding deals that look too good to be true. Users should always have VPN turned on when surfing the dark net in order to protect their information, and should delete/ disable cookies after each session.

NordVPN, a VPN service provider, offers a special Tor over VPN feature, which makes users¹ browsing activity completely safe.

When using TOR over VPN solution, user’s data first goes to NordVPN server where it gets encrypted. Then the data travels to TOR Network where the data packets are randomly transmitted to multiple servers inside the TOR network and the data is encrypted again and sent out through different TOR exit nodes. After all this process, the request reaches the Internet.

Basically, it’s such a safe privacy tool because user’s online activity becomes routed into an encrypted tunnel, and their IP address is not an exit node anymore – it¹s NordVPN¹s server that becomes the exit node. Tor over VPN feature by NordVPN is very user friendly and easy to configure – the user doesn¹t have to do much in order to access Onion websites – one click of a button will get them there.

When precaution becomes priority, then users can take advantage of all that Tor has to offer, for example, Wiki Leaks, CircleServices, TorPM, hidden search engines, and more. Tor can also protect user¹s anonymity from marketers, hackers or identity thieves. The network helps out activists report from abroad on bad labor practices or share sensitive information, and helps journalists write from countries where content is blocked.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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