Keeping your data safe, secure, and protected is a top priority for us. Over the years we have pursued tools and methods to this end. This week the United States congress passed a bill expected to be signed into law. It allows every internet service provider (Comcast, Cox, SBC Global, Verison, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc) to store & sell your activity without your consent [read more]. Most people have 3 or more ISPs they use: their home internet, work internet, and mobile phone.
With the delicate nature of many nonprofit projects this is of deep concern to us. I want to take a moment to explain what this means as a user of Fresh Vine.
Encrypting All your Traffic
Our servers only allow encrypted connections. Every time you open a url, file, or image it’s encrypted. This makes the majority of your request (what file, what url, etc) hidden to everyone except your browser, and our server. An encrypted request only has the end address (the IP address of our servers), and a few other details visible. This ensures that the contents and purpose of every request is a secret between us.
Your ISP, and anyone they sell your data to, will be able to tell you access Fresh Vine. They will be able to tell that everyone receiving your email campaigns accessed Fresh Vine (to load images). They will not be able to tell which account/organization you are a part of.
You can imagine Fresh Vine as a massive skyscraper. Every request you make only has the street address of our building on the outside. Once we receive your message we take it inside the building to open it. Only once opened do we know which organization you are requesting information from. A package is put together with your requested information, sealed, and labeled back to you. It is then brought back outside of our building and sent back to you.
The diversity of organizations we serve all over the world makes it difficult to know who people affiliate with.
Additionally having all our traffic encrypted will keep your ISP from: injecting ads into Fresh Vine, or redirecting traffic to their own services. These are things ISPs have done that they were fined for – which are now legal.
Taking more Steps
As a service there is not much more we can do. As a user you can take steps to protect yourself. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows all your traffic to be encrypted to point elsewhere on the internet. Then it becomes public as its routed to the destination. This has the affect of masking and hiding your traffic amongst every other user of that VPN service. Assuming that VPN is not logging your requests, this can be a good step to take. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good VPN guide.
You can also change browsers to TOR Browser. This browser uses a complex global network to route your traffic. The downside is that it is very slow, and can cause issues with some services that use IP location as a source of verification. We don’t use your IP address or location to verify your session between requests.
Within Fresh Vine we use Google Analytics. This is a service provided by Google which helps a website understand how the site is being used. We use the data from this service to understand which modules are used or ignored. It helps us prioritize our development timeline. In the next release we will give you the option to disable Google Analytics for every user with your organization. You can read the Safeguarding your Data page about Google Analytics if you are interested in disabling this service. Google Analytics does not store the contents of pages viewed, or personally identifiable information.