Friday, 24 August 2018

I read the news today, oh boy...

You'd think they'd be headlines.

Russia shuts down Telegram

Cameroon blocks the internet from English speaking population

India cuts access to the internet for 177th time in five years


But they aren't. Oh sure, sometimes a major world newspaper like the New York Times mentions them. But are they discussed by the shouting heads on Western cable news channels? The American CNN seems to talk of nothing but the tweets of their president. The BBC is not much better about its own political Yoricks. In many African countries, they aren't allowed to talk about these things at all, and in others, the political soap operas dominate the conversation.

Yet, the entire world is facing a sort of existential crisis when it comes to the very freedoms we all agreed human beings should have when we joined the United Nations. Granted, the internet was not invented when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed, but then again, most people in the world did not even have televisions and we seemed to figure out that television was a part of free speech and such. We use the term "internet shutdown," but that is a generic term that encompasses many actions. A shutdown can range from blocking a single website or app to creating an alternate country- or region-wide intranet to cutting off access to the entire internet. We should add to that the issue of net neutrality, a sort of "evolved" version of an internet shutdown that makes it seem like it's all in the name of "business" or "jobs" but it's really just another means to control information and political power. It's all the more dangerous when telecommunications are controlled by only a few corporations with a large dollar stake in who is in power in a government.

Let's be real. An internet shutdown is censorship, no matter what form it takes.

And here we are, a small company from Africa, shouting into the darkness, with little name recognition and limited resources to do something about it compared to the Microsofts and Googles of the world. We do what we can.

The large, well-funded American organizations who fight for causes like ours have recently been busy with their own declining internet freedoms and creeping authoritarianism. They are getting a taste of the poison we have been dealing with in large doses since the internet started to spread in the
"developing countries." The EU countries are trying to figure out just what GDPR is and if it goes too far or not far enough in privacy protection. Those Western countries we looked to as ideals for freedom of speech and press are fighting the same authoritarian impulses that Africans have known since before they were born.

What has the internet done to us all?

 Do you ever wonder if people ran around at the time of Gutenberg acting all crazy like this?

So what we are doing here is providing some tools to fight censorship and trying to call attention to the missing headlines. These tools are open to the whole world, but we focus our attention on countries where oppression is severe and where people may not be able to afford a VPN subscription. When we're blocked by a country, we find solutions to make it work for the people there.  We have millions of users across the globe, but especially in regions like the Middle East and Africa where censorship is normal.

Why not try us out? Download SumRando VPN, Messenger, and STASH at https://www.sumrando.com.


Friday, 29 June 2018

Protect journalists

Rob Hiaasen. Wendi Winters. Gerald Fischman. John McNamara. Rebecca Smith.

Yesterday, these people went to work in the morning. They never came home.

They are the 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, and 34th journalists and media workers killed this year in the line of duty. Telling the truth is a deadly job, with more than 1300 journalists losing their lives since 1992. This time seems a little different, though. While people in the many parts of the world are sadly used to hearing about the deaths of journalists, these five people were sitting in a newsroom in the United States of America.

We can argue about the merits and hypocrisies of U.S. foreign policy all day long, but one thing that the world has never had to question was the commitment of the U.S. to the principles of press freedom. Just three days after the current U.S. president used authoritarian language in calling journalists "enemies of the people," a man shot up a newsroom. Americans of a certain political persuasion wear t-shirts that call for the murder of journalists. Rightwing personalities actively have called for vigilantes to gun down those who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of truth.

The world weeps for you, America.

Here at SumRando Cybersecurity, we are committed to do our small part in protecting journalists from the sociopaths who would do them harm. While we can't provide physical security, we offer encryption tools to help protect their identities and information online. SumRando Messenger is a secure messaging app that also gives you the ability to destroy your messages forever, even on the phone of the person you sent it to. SumRando STASH is a secure file transfer service where you can exchange documents anonymously. SumRando VPN protects your online privacy and security. We currently offer journalists a year of unlimited VPN data for $20.18, nearly $50 off the regular price.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

World Cup - not all fun and games

Finally! After four years of waiting, it's time for the World Cup! It's a time to wave your flags, shout until you have no voice, and maybe skip out of work. There's nothing like it in the world, this global celebration of sport, when half the world tunes in to watch with friends and family and cheer on the best players in the universe.

Unfortunately, for some people, it isn't all fun and games. For LGBT fans, it can be downright dangerous, especially in Russia.

The St. Petersburg based LGBT group Coming Out has set up a hotline for LGBT football fans visiting Russia in response to the oppressive environment created by the Putin regime - including recent discriminatory legislation - and threats from homophobic football gangs roaming the country. Violence against LGBT in Russia is not uncommon.

We invite LGBT football fans in Russia to use SumRando Messenger to communicate safely and privately during the World Cup. Our end to end encryption is top notch and is under the Russian radar, unlike some of the more trendy messenger apps. (For example, the Russian regime has given thumbs up to hacking WhatsApp and Skype as part of its plan to monitor all internet traffic in the country.) Even better, SumRando Messenger gives you the ability to destroy your messages forever, even if they are on the other person's phone. Leave no trace of your communications. Leave no "evidence" for oppressive governments to exploit should you be arrested for simply being you.

SumRando Cybersecurity is a proud supporter of LGBT rights. Time moves forward, not backwards. It's time for humanity to move forward as well. Until then, we'll continue to provide the tools to keep LGBT and any oppressed group safe from the hateful wrath of oppression.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

It's the economy, stupid.


This tweet struck us yesterday as the perfect microcosmic example of the consequences of internet shutdowns.

India is by the worst culprit in shutting down the internet, with 177 known shutdowns since 2012. African countries are doing their best to compete, with Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Chad among the guiltiest parties.

Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion USD in 2016. That's a lot of supplies not delivered, a lot of orders not taken, a lot of bills unpaid, a lot of products unused.

While a VPN can't help you when an ISP or a government completely turns off internet access, it can help when only certain websites and apps are blocked. Why not take advantage of our limited time offer of one year of unlimited VPN data for $20.18 USD?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The pettiness of internet censorship

There's a story by the Russian author Fyodor Sologub called The Petty Demon about a vindictive, paranoid man and a vindictive, paranoid town. The main character, Peredonov, is obsessed with achieving material success, no matter whose life he has to destroy to get there. About Peredonov, Sologub writes, "He didn’t like people, he never thought about them other than in connection with what benefits or pleasures he might derive from them." His hostile treatment of others is a reflection of his egoism, a trait that has emerged in our modern world's obsession with materialism.


Peredonov's obsessions lead to paranoia, and he begins to see a little demon everywhere. In one scene, he cuts out the eyes of the royals in a deck of cards because he thinks they are looking at him. Everyone is out to get him and prevent him from obtaining the object of his desire - a position as school inspector, which would come with wealth and power. (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't end well for him.)

Is this not an accurate description of Vladimir Putin?

Putin's recent ban on the messenger app Telegram is just the latest in a long list of assaults on online freedom and freedom of expression. As recently as 2014, Russia was ranked "partly free" on Freedom House's annual Freedom on the Net report. Since 2015, it has been ranked "not free."

This devolution has come as more Russians gain access to the internet. In 2004, only 8% of Russians had access. As of December 2015, 70% had access. Powermongering, paranoid Putin won't let Russians have access to the real internet because people might be able to spread information about protests and ways to elect opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny. Democracy and freedom are Putin's petty demons.

But - Russians can bypass Putin's censorship with SumRando encryption tools. Replace your Telegram account with SumRando Messenger. Download SumRando VPN for Windows and Android to access blocked websites. Visit www.sumrando.com for more information.