How to gift Bitcoin this Christmas

ExpressVNPHow to give Bitcoin as a gift

Need a belated, last minute Christmas present on the fly? ExpressVNP has you covered!

Bitcoins don’t exist in physical form (some say they don’t exist at all!). In practical terms, they are just numbers in a distributed ledger called The Blockchain.

Nonetheless, everyone is talking about them. From financial newspapers to the daily news, Bitcoin surely is creating a lot of buzz. Everyone has their own story of how they got in, out, or feel they missed the frenzy.

So why not give Bitcoin as a gift? This guide tells you how.

Step 1: Create a Bitcoin wallet

If your contact already has a Bitcoin wallet, and you know their address, gifting Bitcoin is trivial. You simply need to send the Bitcoins to the address given to you. Done.

But most of the time your friend or family won’t have a Bitcoin wallet, and you’ll have to create one for them.

Look for a wallet that might suit them—if they have an Android phone, you might choose from our list of best Android wallets. If they use iOS, we have a list for that too. If they use a PC, or you do not know their platform, you may opt for Electrum wallet or Copay.

Name the new wallet after your friend and generate the backup seed.

This seed, typically 12 or 13 words, can be written on and gifted in a great greeting card!

Step 2: Explain how Bitcoin works and how to redeem the Bitcoin gift

It is never a good idea to generate Bitcoin private keys on behalf of someone else. It is a security risk and requires people to put trust in each other’s information security, which is unnecessary and increases the attack surface for anybody trying to steal your money.

Instead, the beneficiary of your gift should create their own wallet on a platform they like and trust, redeem your Bitcoins, and transfer them to a wallet of their own.

To do that, you may need to write up the steps necessary to redeem the Bitcoins, which may look something like this:

  • Download the Bitcoin wallet app they intend to use
  • Create a new wallet and back up their new seed phrase
  • Download the wallet you used to create the gift
  • Restore the gifted wallet from backup
  • Transfer the Bitcoins to the newly created wallet in an app of their choice

Should you give a gift with conditions?

Admittedly, many of your friends and family may think Bitcoins are worthless, a tulip mania, or a bubble due to collapse shortly.

Often, when Bitcoins are given as a gift—especially when it’s a small amount—the beneficiary forgets about it or keeps the coins in an insecure place (like their email inbox, dropbox, or an online note-keeping service).

However, when the price of Bitcoin goes up, they will remember your generous gift only to discover it to be lost, or stolen. The disappointment and frustration will probably turn your gift into a stressful experience that you wish you had not made.

Instead, it’s a good idea to create ‘conditions’ to the gift. For example, you might state that the beneficiaries only have 2-12 months to redeem their Bitcoins, after which you will take them back. And their loss (bah humbug)!

If you do threaten to recall the Bitcoin, it’s very important to explain how keys work, and how you can ‘take back’ the Bitcoins you gifted. Otherwise, it may seem very strange to gift an uncensorable irreversible cryptocurrency and be able to take it back.

Use Bitcoin to buy a real gift!

If you want to talk about Bitcoin, but also want to gift something real, consider buying something with Bitcoin.

But you can still casually mention that you bought it with Bitcoin, of course. If your friends or family want to talk about it, they will surely ask you about your experiences, all without the pressure of having to deal with the technology and the risks directly.

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5 videos you can watch before the holidays to become an internet privacy expert

ExpressVNPholiday privacy videos

It’s that time of year again! All across the globe, people are returning home to celebrate the holidays with their families. Tipsy grandpas will divulge terrible secrets, harried mothers will botch festive pies, and all the hungry people are waiting at the dinner table will get…competitive.

As some Russian authorprobably meant to write: “All apathetic families are the same; each competitive family is competitive in its own way.” Some families play Monopoly, some play charades, and others just sit around trying to be smarter than each other.

Here at ExpressVNP, we have a novel suggestion for how to one-up your loved ones: Prove that you know the most about internet privacy. To give you a leg up, we’ve even compiled a cheat sheet in the form of five ExpressVNP videos you can binge watch on any train, plane, or automobile on your route home. That way, you can spout interesting privacy-related things as soon as you waltz through the door.

1. Public Wi-Fi is dangerous

Hackers can get your password over public Wi-Fi, even in some instances where sites use HTTPS. Watch below and see how Natalie learned that the hard way. Jeepers!

2. Web proxies aren’t as great as you remember

Were you one of those kids who used a web proxy to access Facebook (or MySpace or Xanga) from the school computer lab? As it turns out, proxies haven’t aged well, especially when compared with modern VPNs.

3. No, split tunneling is not some terrifying dental procedure

Contrary to popular belief, split tunneling is not something you have to worry about as your gums age. It’s actually a super cool feature for VPN routers and apps.

4. Law enforcement should stop requesting backdoor access to smartphones

A number of high profile criminal cases have prompted law enforcement to ask tech companies like Apple to give them backdoor access to smartphones. As ExpressVNP explains, that’s a bad idea.

5. Even your Instafamous little cousin has a reason to think about internet privacy

Apparently young people barely use Facebook anymore—instead, they opt for visually driven platforms like Instagram or Snapchat. However, creepers always be creepin’, so it’s a good idea for the kids to keep privacy in mind as they publish their lives for the world to see.

~

Which of the videos was your favorite? Are there any topics you think the folks on the ExpressVNP YouTube channel should tackle in 2018? Share in the comments below!

Also, happy holidays!

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Net neutrality: what the repeal means and how a VPN can help

ExpressVNPWhat is net neutrality?

Despite millions of pro-net neutrality comments flooding the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) website and despite the near-unanimous outcry from public officials and tech experts, on December 14th, 2017, the FCC ignored the will of the overwhelming majority of the public and instead went ahead with dismantling net neutrality.

A principle that has governed the internet for most of its existence, net neutrality was created to promote and foster a free and open internet. It’s the principle that all sites and services—no matter how big or small—be treated the same, and late last week the FCC killed it.

What will happen once net neutrality is reversed?

By moving the internet’s regulatory power from Title II back to Title I, the FCC is now giving internet service providers (ISPs) the ability to throttle, prioritize, block, and radically reshape the internet in any way they see fit. As long as they disclose their business practices, ISPs in the U.S. have free reign to market their services however they want, which means consumers, once again, will be left at the behest of their ISP.

The repeal is likely to affect internet users in other countries, too. As the U.S. is traditionally seen as a pioneer in internet technology, this decision sets a precedent from which other nations are likely to take cues. The U.S. is also the most popular source of content consumed internationally, and the influence ISPs now have over the fates of content creators and distributors like Netflix or Spotify is bad news for the whole world.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg; the long-term ramifications are still too early to tell.

How a VPN can help net neutrality

While a VPN can’t protect you from all of the effects of the net neutrality repeal, it can help lessen the sting. For starters, a VPN can help users avoid ISP throttling, which means if your internet service provider decides to slow down a certain service like Hulu while not doing the same for a competitor like Netflix, connecting to a VPN server can help avoid any intentional ISP throttling and allow users to browse and stream normally.

A VPN can also help users unblock restricted sites. A recurring argument against the repeal is the belief that ISPs will now be able to blacklist certain sites—either *** them unavailable or only accessible to users who pay a fee. By connecting to a VPN server outside the ISP’s jurisdiction, users can essentially bypass blacklisted sites and browse freely.

A VPN returns control to users by allowing them to browse the web anonymously—while simultaneously taking comfort in a secure, encrypted connection. After all, an ISP can’t discriminate against certain sites or services if it can’t see which ones you’re using.

What a VPN can’t do

Unfortunately, a VPN won’t be able to help users match the speed of prioritized sites or services. For example, if an ISP were to make Hulu content stream faster than Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, connecting a VPN won’t allow the user to bring Netflix and Prime Video up to Hulu’s speeds.

Another area of concern is how ISPs will handle zero-rated sites. When an internet provider decides to promote a website by excluding it from a consumer’s data plan, it’s called a zero-rated site because the data used on that service doesn’t count towards one’s overall data limit. With net neutrality protections repealed, ISPs now have more control over how they handle zero-rated services. Using a VPN could in theory level the playing field by bringing a zero-rated site or service back into one’s standard data plan, but given that there’s little incentive for consumers to do so, zero-rating will still have a negative effect on competition on the internet.

The fight is far from over

It’s estimated nearly 83% of Americans oppose the FCC’s stance, and even though the FCC has voted to end net neutrality, the repeal won’t come into effect for another few months. Therefore, there’s still time to make your voice heard.

Visit https://www.battleforthenet.com/, a campaign led by our friends over at Fight for the Future, and urge Congress to stop the repeal and enshrine net neutrality principles through legislation.

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BestVPN.com Awards gives ExpressVNP top honors

ExpressVNPExpressVNP won the overall best VPN in the BestVPN.com awards

Over the last few weeks, people have voted at BestVPN.com for their favorite VPN service—across a host of different categories.

Well, we’re very proud to announce that (drumroll)…

ExpressVNP won the best overall VPN and fastest VPN awards!

ExpressVNP is the BestVPN.com Awards Overall Winner

There are a lot of VPN services out there, so ExpressVNP is delighted that you voted us as the best VPN provider.

As BestVPN.com put it:

“…the best providers offer outstanding privacy, great customer support, a seamless registration process, easy to use tech and the ability to unlock websites from around the world.”

ExpressVNP won credit for pioneering features which have become industry standards, like a 30-day no-quibble money-back guarantee and 24/7 live chat support.

Voters scored ExpressVNP highly across all categories, with the Support Team and privacy standards, in particular, receiving high praise. Said BestVPN.com:

“ExpressVNP scored consistently well in all the metrics we used to assess the overall performance of each VPN.”

A big thank you to all who voted!

BestVPN.com Awards: Best overall VPN and fastest VPN

ExpressVNP voted the fastest VPN in the BestVPN.com Awards

In a previous, independent review, BestVPN.com tested 15 VPN services in a series of controlled speed tests. The test confirmed ExpressVNP as the fastest VPN.

Scientific research is one thing, but it’s perhaps more important to hear directly from discerning users that their real-world experience reflects the data. That’s why we‘re incredibly pleased that VPN users agree with BestVPN.com’s test and rate ExpressVNP as the fasted VPN.

In BestVPN.com’s own words:

“…ExpressVNP is the clear overall winner.”

What are the BestVPN.com Awards?

The BestVPN.com Awards aim to recognize the many outstanding VPN services on the market and increase the transparency and standards across the whole industry.

Robust criteria, measured in an objective and scientific a way as possible, were applied to several key factors that make an excellent VPN service. Respected members of the security industry joined the testing process to ensure objectivity and transparency.

A big thank you to all who voted for ExpressVNP!

Not to get all weepy like an Oscar winner, but it’s quite lovely to know that you guys and gals like what we do.

So a super heartfelt thanks for rating ExpressVNP as the best and fastest VPN service.

Sniff. I think I have something in my eye.

Also published on Medium.

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Is your VPN protecting your privacy and security? Check for yourself with the new ExpressVNP Leak Testing Tools

ExpressVNPTry the new ExpressVNP WebRTC leak tools.

With cyber attacks and hacks, government surveillance, and big data mining all on the rise, more and more people are turning to VPNs to protect their privacy and security.

But how can you be sure that your VPN is providing the protection it promises? It can be difficult for even technically adept users to truly assess VPN services and separate the good from the bad.

That’s why ExpressVNP is releasing a suite of tools that allow you to check your VPN app for any potential leaks. The tools will work with any VPN service, not just ExpressVNP, so you can better assess any privacy and security risks to which you could be exposed.

Originally developed by the crack team of engineers at our Privacy Research Lab for internal use, the ExpressVNP Leak Testing Tools are now available open source under the MIT License.

More internet users are relying on VPNs for online protection than ever

Privacy and security are leading reasons that internet users are increasingly adopting VPNs. In a recent GlobalWebIndex study of 34 countries, 1 in 4 internet users said they use a VPN.

A November 2017 study of over 1,000 American adults conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of ExpressVNP found that more than a third cited cybersecurity protection when using public Wi-Fi as a top reason they’d use a VPN. Furthermore, almost a quarter of people would use a VPN to prevent their internet service provider (ISP) from seeing their browsing activity, and another 15 percent would use a VPN to protect against government surveillance.

How does a VPN leak impact privacy and security?

VPNs protect users from privacy and security risks by sending their online traffic through a secure, encrypted tunnel and hiding their IP address. Using a VPN helps prevent hackers, ISPs, and others from viewing your personal data, compromising your online accounts, seeing what sites and apps you use, and tracking your activity across the web.

Leaks occur when a VPN application fails to fully secure a user’s traffic, sending some or all of it outside the secure tunnel.

ExpressVNP Leak Testing Tools

The ExpressVNP Leak Testing Tools cover a wide range of potential leaks a user may encounter, including:

  • Having their IP address—which third parties can potentially use to link personal identities—revealed through a WebRTC leak
  • Having their browsing activity or data exposed when they change network connections, e.g., switching between Wi-Fi and a wired connection
  • Leaking unencrypted data when the VPN software crashes or can’t reach its server

To learn more about scenarios where leaks could be affecting user privacy and security, as well as how the tools help test for them, visit the ExpressVNP Privacy Research Lab website.

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It’s official: ExpressVNP is number 1 for speed

ExpressVNPExpressVNP is the fastest VPN

In an independent review, BestVPN.com tested 15 VPN services in a series of controlled speed tests. The test confirmed ExpressVNP as the fastest VPN, beating 2nd place by nearly 4 Mbits/second at the time of writing.

ExpressVNP tops the speed chart ExpressVNP tops BestVPN.com speed test report.

Scientific speed test methodology

BestVPN.com connected to several VPNs via data servers in the U.S., UK, Australia, and Hong Kong). Identical data packets were transferred between the servers using different VPN services, and all transfer speeds were monitored and averaged.

The ongoing speed test is designed to prioritize consistency in VPN speed and establish a benchmark to compare all VPNs on a level playing field. Using static and controlled data transfers ensures an accurate speed result, BestVPN.com’s test removes temporary variables from the testing process which could affect internet speed—such as home and office Wi-Fi connections and locally cached data.

So far, BestVPN.com have completed over 18,500 individual tests, and more run every day. For those interested, BestVPN.com updates the results daily.

Who is BestVPN.com?

BestVPN.com is a review site that aims to highlight the best VPN services through thorough reviews and testing. As part of this goal, they’re currently hosting awards which allow the public to vote for their favorite VPN.

In addition to reviews and speed-testing, BestVPN.com creates content to inform users about security issues and the benefits of privacy.

The speed you need, whenever you want it

At ExpressVNP, we know that, alongside privacy and security, VPN speed is a top issue for internet users.

A premium VPN should amplify your internet experience without affecting your ability to do the things you want online, such as:

  • Fast browsing
  • File sharing
  • Ultra HD video streaming

ExpressVNP averages 39.48 Mbits/s over 7 days, which is more than fast enough for even Netflix’s Ultra HD streams.

  • 0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
  • 1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
  • 3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
  • 5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
  • 25 Megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality

We continuously test the ExpressVNP apps and servers to ensure the best speed for the things that matter, so you can enjoy the internet as it should be.

Get the fastest VPN on the market

If you want all the security and location benefits of a VPN, ExpressVNP is consistently the fastest VPN out there with speeds that let you go about your internet business as usual, with VPN protection.

Feedback for us?

Used the ExpressVNP apps recently? We’d love to hear about your experiences with speed or the service in general. Leave us a comment below or contact a real human via live chat!

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Zero-knowledge proofs explained Part 2: Non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs

ExpressVNPNon-interactive zero-knowledge proofs example: Sudoku and playing cards

In part 1 of our zero-knowledge proof series, we explained how a zero-knowledge proof could work when the verifier and the prover interact with each other.

An interactive zero-knowledge proof has the advantage that only the verifier can be absolutely convinced that the prover has the knowledge. But this can also be a disadvantage.

If bystanders and observers can’t verify the claim, the prover then has to interact with every verifier independently—which takes time and is resource intensive.

In this, part 2 we will look at non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs.

Non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs

The reason for non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs is to allow a large number of observers to verify the proof efficiently.

We do not always need to make zero-knowledge proofs non-interactive. Often enough it is possible to find a trusted verifier, who vouches for the integrity of the proof.

Non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs example: Sudoku and playing cards

Sudoku is a game with varying difficulty but relatively *** rules. Each of the 9 rows, 9 columns, and 9 sectors (as indicated by the thick black line) must contain each number from 1 to 9 exactly once.

Imagine that the solution to a sudoku puzzle is particularly hard to obtain, and takes days for even a supercomputer to compute.

But somebody (the prover) claims to have the solution to the puzzle and is willing to sell it for a price. How can they prove they have the solution—without revealing it—so the verifier is prepared to make payment?

The proof:

The prover needs 27 playing cards (of any suit) numbered 1-9—243 in total.

Now, the prover puts three cards with the number corresponding to the correct Sudoku solution in every box. E.G., if the correct answer for the box is 7, the prover will put 3 playing cards with the value of 7 in it.

On a Sudoku table, some answers will be visible. On these, answered boxes, the playing cards are placed face up. On the Sudoku boxes that are empty, the cards are placed face down.

To prove the facedown cards are all in the right position (without revealing the solution), the prover must:

  • Take the top card from every row and make 9 piles
  • Take the top card from every column and make 9 piles
  • Take the remaining cards from every sector and make 9 piles

Applications for Zero-knowledge proofs

Each pile is then shuffled and turned around.

Every number between 1-9 must appear in every Sudoku row, column, and sector. So if every pile of the prover’s cards (from the row, column, and sector piles) contains each playing card valued 1-9, we know that they must have the solution.

Applications for Zero-knowledge proofs

Admittedly, the relatively young field of zero-knowledge proofs has not yet found the acceptance that it may deserve. They might, however, prove to be highly valuable.

Many mathematical problems are similar to a Sudoku puzzle (for example the Graph Coloring problem). If we can use the above principle and successfully apply it to a variety of problems, we might be able to use and trade computational resources and mathematical problems more efficiently. Or perhaps solve mathematical quandaries quicker.

Kudos to Ronen Gradwohl, Moni Naor, Benny Pinkas, and Guy Rothblum

Also published on Medium.

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