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The benefits of VPN for Mac users.

A security and privacy software company, entered the Mac market with the launch of Steganos Internet Anonym VPN for Mac OS X on June 4. The service provides Mac users with a secure and anonymous Internet connection, whether at home or at Wi-Fi hotspots, Aston Fallen of Steganos told .Web sites viewed and any data up or downloaded are protected from eavesdropping, he adds.

Steganos (http:/www.steganos.com), a security and privacy software company, entered the Mac market with the launch of Steganos Internet Anonym VPN for Mac OS X on June 4. The service provides Mac users with a secure and anonymous Internet connection, whether at home or at Wi-Fi hotspots, Aston Fallen of Steganos told .Web sites viewed and any data up or downloaded are protected from eavesdropping, he adds.

A VPN (virtual private network) is a private communications network often used by companies or organizations, to communicate confidentially over a public network. VPN traffic can be carried over a public networking infrastructure (such as the Internet) on top of standard protocols, or over a service provider's private network with a defined Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the VPN customer and the VPN service provider.

Wireless connections, in WLANs or at hot spots, pose a risk of data interception, particularly when users piggyback on unsecured connections whose owners are unknown. It’s equally possible that a message could be intercepted on its journey across the internet. This new Steganos product eliminates these risks to privacy, according to Fallen.

The new Steganos service works discreetly in the background, without requiring any change to browsing software and without causing delay. Internet activities like surfing, blogging, instant messaging, e-commerce and use of filesharing networks are encrypted and anonymized. Webmail connections are also encrypted to prevent emails sent and received being intercepted. An icon in the task list indicates when the secure connection is activated.

Steganos Internet Anonym VPN works by creating an encrypted tunnel between a user’s computer and one of the Steganos VPN servers. This tunnel uses SSL encryption, which is best known for its use in online banking and e-commerce, to protect all data from interception, even from the customer’s internet service provider, says Fallen. The Steganos server relays the user’s requests to the web and returns responses, so that only the Steganos server is visible to website operators. The end user’s anonymity is assured and any messages intercepted are protected by encryption, Fallen says.

Steganos uses its own farm of high capacity servers and adds new servers as required to ensure that users can surf without delay, even during busy periods, he adds. The Steganos servers only keep a record of the packet sizes for billing purposes and do not store any information about the user’s activities or online behavior.

Steganos Internet Anonym VPN 25 covers 25GB of traffic in a month and costs US$14.95 per month. A discounted annual license, Steganos Internet Anonym VPN 300, is available for $99.95 (covering 25GB per month x 12 months).

 The used and available data volume is shown in the main window of Steganos Internet Anonym VPN. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 and at least 50MB of free hard disk space. Internet Anonym is Universal Binary so runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel Macs. If all goes as planned, it's just the first Stegnaos product that will come to the Mac.

"The VPN product line will, hopefully, allow us to come in and build a line of products for Mac users," Fallen says. "We're looking for feedback, and hope to open up other products in our line to Mac users, as well. We've been looking for opportunities to come into Mac environment for some time."

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