Internet security and privacy must be taken seriously now more than ever. With millions of people using the internet, wide-scale cybercrimes are also likely to happen. This includes fraud, hacking, identity theft, scams, and malware attacks, to name a few. And if you do not have an added protection over your internet usage, you could be the next victim. This is not to scare you but rather to emphasize how these cyber criminals work. They will use every opportunity and it doesn’t matter who you are.
This is where a VPN can help you.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s an extra layer of protection that allows users to create a secure connection to a different network over the internet. This means that everything you do over the internet will be encrypted. No one (not even the government) could track your online activities. Additional benefits of a VPN is that you can access websites that are restricted in a particular region.
So the next question is: Who should get a VPN?
Back in the day, big companies are the common clientele of VPN providers. But as we’ve mentioned, the number of individual internet users surged over the years. It goes without saying that the rate of cybercrimes could go up too.
10 Best VPN for 2020
If you Google ‘free VPN’ right now, you will be overwhelmed with hundreds of providers to choose from. It is tempting, but we do not encourage free VPNs. Frankly speaking, these do not guarantee a high level of protection. Thus, our list only includes paid VPN providers that have passed our high standards.
In the last 6 years, NordVPN’s team of engineers, designers, and system administrators worked hard to create a tool that will bring them closer to their vision – Having a more open, yet private and secure internet.
With NordVPN, you can safely transact online even on unprotected Wi-Fi. Your online activities won’t be tracked as well because basically, it’s nobody’s business. And since they have more than 5600 servers in 59 countries, you can access your favorite websites, streaming services, and messaging apps anywhere in the world. The best part is, it works on all devices.
We recommend that you take advantage of their 3-year plan where you get to enjoy the VPN services for only $3.49 per month. In our opinion, it’s a cheap price given its features.
Aren’t you interested to see Netflix libraries from other countries? SurfShark has 15 different libraries to choose from. But of course, there is more to love about SurfShark.
With them, just one subscription can cover unlimited gadgets in your home. They also have more than 1700 servers in 64 countries.
Let’s not forget their Kill Switch option wherein your connection will be automatically disabled when your VPN drops. Talk about protection all the time.
They have a very affordable package for only $1.99 per month if you get their 24-month plan.
PrivateVPN allows their users to enjoy geo-restricted websites and it will only take you one minute to unleash the internet. With them, expect lightning-fast streaming services and excellent website experience.
The PrivateVPN’s team is particular with their customer service. It’s one of the things they are proud of. For issues, you can directly talk with their in-house developers and it will be resolved the fastest time possible.
To date, they have 100 servers in 60 different countries. You can get their services for $3.82 per month as long as you choose their 13-month plan.
ExpressVPN is almost in every top VPN list. That’s not surprising considering the quality of service you can get from the provider. They have a huge global network in 94 countries, and that means you can expect nothing less from them. You can even use the VPN in most devices and gadgets! It’s pretty hard to pinpoint what’s not to love about it.
What we personally like about ExpressVPN is their split tunneling where you can route some of your app traffic through the VPN while others can be directed to the internet.
Get their 1-year plan for $6.67 per month. This might be a bit steep but considering that ExpressVPN is one of the leading and most trusted providers, the price can be justified.
CyberGhost has 15 years of experience under its belt. We recommend this if your online activity involves heavy streaming and torrenting. With one subscription, you can cover and protect up to 7 devices. Their customer support is also available through chat and email.
As of the moment, they have 6400 servers in over 90 countries. In addition, CyberGhost uses 256-bit military-grade encryption which can protect your data all the time. Get their 18-month plan for only $3.15 per month.
IPVanish provides its users access to over 1400 anonymous servers. You are guaranteed with fast and unrestricted internet access practically from every corner of the globe.
What’s good about IPVanish is that all its services are managed internally and there is no middle man. Having said that, your information and data will be kept safe and confidential.
Lastly, they offer SugarSync which provides file management and encrypted data backup for various devices. It also has a wipeout feature in case your device gets stolen. For $3.25 a month, you can get all of these and more from IPVanish.
UltraVPN boasts its fast internet connection where you can watch continuous videos without the need to pause. Right now, they have more than 50 server locations across the globe.
UltraVPN gives you the access to unlock social media, watch sporting events that are restricted in your region, or check out videos that are only available in certain countries. UltraVPN can give you that power and limitless internet connection that we all deserve.
You can use the VPN for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and even for Fire TV. Get their 1-year plan for only $3.75 per month.
ZenMate is easy to use with its one-click connect feature. But even with its simplicity, it delivers an optimal experience to its users. With a rating of 4.7 out of 5 from more than 360 reviews on Trustpilot, it is beyond satisfactory. Currently, it has 3800 servers in more than 74 countries.
Affordable rates are also waiting for you. Their package starts at $2.22 every month under their 18-month plan.
9. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is known as the fastest VPN and this has been verified by experts. In fact, the company’s outstanding services bagged them a number of recognitions including ‘the 2019 Most Innovative Security Company’.
To date, they have more than 740M downloads and the number continues to grow. You can install Hotspot Shield in 5 devices, and it detects more than 3.5M malicious websites. For their 3-year plan, you just need to pay $2.99 every month.
Last in our list is PrivateInternetAccess. It has more than 3300 servers in 45 countries. With their services, you can block unwanted connections – thanks to its advanced firewall and filtering features of the Netfilter Project. Without a doubt, it is one of the best VPN providers today.
Its layer of security includes IP cloaking, encryption, firewall, identity protection, and unblocking websites, to name a few. Choose their yearly subscription and only pay $3.33 per month.
If security and privacy matter to you, we encourage that you get the best VPN right now. Think about it. Most of us pay monthly subscriptions for Netflix, Spotify, and other online services. It seems logical that you pay for protection too. Most VPN providers we’ve included in the list offer a money-back guarantee. Use that lead time to decide before actually paying for the services. It’s definitely a win-win if you ask us.
Best Apps for Blogging
Internet Live Stats estimates that there have been more than 400,000,000 blogs written this year. You can expect more bloggers to publish more posts to add to the growing number of blogs each day. While blogging platforms have made it accessible for writers to post their blogs, apps have also become necessary to their blogging efforts. But which apps should you use when you write, publish, and even promote your blogs? Check out our list below.
Blogging Apps: Writing, Editing, and Reading
Grammarly should be every blogger’s best friend. Before you publish your blog, it’s important to edit it for your readers to enjoy. You want to publish a well-written blog for your readers, and with Grammarly’s help, you can do that. Fortunately, the editing software isn’t only available on the desktop. You can download the app and edit anytime when you’re out.
Plus, one of the best things about Grammarly on your phone is it has a built-in keyboard. You can edit as you write.
Download the Grammarly app here.
- Premium (starts at $11.66/mo)
- Pro (starts at $12.50/mo)
Sometimes the writing muse comes at random times, and you don’t have a pen or paper to write down your thoughts. Fortunately, you can use a note-taking app without getting stressed over finding a pen or paper. While a built-in app could do the trick, what if you download an app that will sync your notes anywhere? That’s where Evernote comes in. You don’t need coherent thoughts when you jot down notes. Let them all flow, and access your notes again on your computer when you’re ready to write them down.
Get the Evernote app here.
- Premium ($7.99/mo)
- Business ($14.99/user/mo)
3. Pocket Thesaurus
Another blogging utility app you should have on your phone is a pocket thesaurus. Sometimes, when we write blogs, it can be challenging to find the correct word. And you should have a thesaurus ready to help you find the best words for your blog. With the many thesaurus apps available on any app store, the Pocket Thesaurus is a must-download. You can access this offline. Plus, it’s not heavy on storage since the app is less than 20 MB.
Get the Pocket Thesaurus here.
Any blogger knows that reading is essential when writing. Not only will it make you become a better writer, but it broadens your knowledge about a particular topic. Pocket is one of the best apps you’ll download on your phone. Not only will it curate the topics you need, but you can save articles that you would have no time to read in a snap. You can even listen to articles as you go.
Add Pocket in your smartphone here.
- Premium – Annual ($44.99/yr)
- Premium – Monthly ($4.99/mo)
One of the many techniques bloggers use to find topics is through Quora. You can find relevant questions there and get inspired by what users post on the site. Who knows, their next question can become your new blog post? Perhaps you’re writing a blog post and need to source answers from other people. You can go there and possibly use their responses as the content for your blog.
Get the Quora app here.
Organize your blogs by using a kanban board like Trello. You can monitor your blogging process by moving cards to different lists on one board. But, if you want to get more out of Trello and integrate apps on it, you can upgrade to their plans.
Get the Trello app on your phone here.
- Business Class ($12.50 billed monthly; $10/mo billed annually)
- Enterprise (ask for a quote here)
Distractions can hinder our blogging. Whether you have a deadline or need to publish a new blog soon, a Pomodoro timer can keep you motivated. This one by Focus-to-Do isn’t only a timer, but it’s also a to-do list. Here you can list down the tasks you need to do for the day. From there, you can start the timer and focus on completing that task. Plus, to make sure that you’re blogging, you can even block apps that distract you.
Focus on writing your blog by downloading the Pomodoro timer here.
Automate your blogging efforts by using IFTTT. Let IFTTT work its magic because, in one click, you can let IFTTT publish and promote your blog. Write without any distractions as IFTTT helps automate other processes that might take time when done manually.
Make blogging easier by downloading IFTTT here.
- Pro ($3.99/mo)
9. Google Drive
Bloggers may not know it, but cloud storage is an essential app for blogging. After all, you don’t want to store your documents, but you might need to upload photos that you’ll use when you upload your blog. And one of the best cloud storage applications out there is Google Drive. All you need is a Google account, and you’ll get 15GB worth of storage. Plus, you can access your Google Drive anytime and anywhere you’re writing.
Get Google Drive here.
- Free (15GB only)
- 100 GB – $1.99/mo
- 200 GB – $2.99/mo
- 2 TB – $9.99/mo
If taking notes isn’t your favorite thing to do, you can record what you want to write on the Rev Voice & Audio Recorder. Your phone will have another voice recorder, plus the app has a transcription service available. You will have to pay for it, though. But if you need your thoughts transcribed before writing your blog, it’s a nifty feature when you don’t have the time to transcribe on your own.
Download the Rev Voice & Audio Recorder here.
Price: Free (Transcription service: $1.25/minute)
After publishing your post, you should promote your blog so readers from other platforms find your blog. What’s great about Hootsuite is it has a free option, where you can connect three social media apps. You can even schedule up to 30 posts on the Free plan as well.
Promote your blogs by downloading Hootsuite here.
- Professional ($19/mo)
- Team ($99/mo)
- Business ($599/mo)
- Enterprise (Custom pricing)
Images are important to your blogs. In fact, any blogs with images get more views than those that don’t. And you need a design app on your phone like Canva. You can edit photos, choose royalty-free images, and create graphics for your blog.
Download the design software here.
- Pro ($9.99/mo)
- Enterprise ($30/mo/person)
You can also check out our list of the best Canva alternatives.
Lincoln Project Co-Founder Accused of Online Harassment
John Weaver is widely known as a longtime Republican strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project. However, at the moment, he’s also known for online harassment. According to 21 young men, Mr. Weaver sent them provocative messages online, often mixed in political talks.
For anyone, it’s a great feeling to be noticed by the person we admire, not until the conversation makes us uncomfortable. In this case, a prominent figure messaged his young followers, offering help to work in politics. That sounds great. Not until he makes sexual remarks to the young men. If that line is crossed, it’s time to raise red flags.
‘Victims’ Comes Forward
Several young men confessed they felt preyed upon after experiencing an exchange with the influential older man. It turns out Mr. Weaver sent sexual messages to at least ten young men. In a more explicit message, he would offer professional and personal assistance in exchange for sex. A message shows Mr. Weaver wants to “give advice” in exchange. He says, “you help me … sensually.”
Last summer, social media posts surfaced about Mr. Weaver being involved in relationships with men. However, John Weaver, who has a wife and two children, denied the claims. After the allegations gained public attention in mid-January, Mr. Weaver released a statement acknowledging “inappropriate” messages that he had sent. He also apologizes to the men for the uncomfortable experiences.
However, John Weaver says that he believed all of the interactions were consensual. He further added that he wouldn’t return to the Lincoln Project from the medical leave that began in the summer. Despite Mr. Weaver’s claims, his online behavior based on interviews with the young men and screenshot was not “consensual.” In many cases, it only shows aggressive and unwanted messages.
Different Encounters with the Influential Lincoln Project Figure
One of Mr. Weaver’s solicitations involved sending messages to a 14-year-old, asking questions about his body while in high school. This exchange continued for four years, turning into more pointed comments after he turned 18.
It all started when Cole Trickle Miele was 14 when he followed John Weaver on Twitter in 2015. Colin admits that at a young age, he was interested in politics. At that time, Cole supported the Republican Party. After following Mr. Weaver, he quickly received a direct message. Cole admits he was semi-starstruck when John Weaver engaged in a private conversation with him.
During that time, he did not think of anything suspicious. But as the exchange between them continued, he became uncomfortable. The conversation often involves Cole’s looks or body. However, in March 2020, when Cole was 18, Mr. Weaver sent a message about wanting him to come to vegas. The older man offers to buy Cole dinner and drinks, wanting to “spoil” the boy. He also asks Cole to resend him his stats, or he can guess for “fun.”
Another case involves Cody Balts, a recent college graduate looking for a job in politics. It also started on Twitter, where he replied to one of Mr. Weaver’s tweets. To Cody’s surprise, he received a direct message in return. Their conversation involves traveling to Chicago and mostly politics. But at some point, Mr. Weaver asks Cody what he does in his spare time.
After answering, he ran in marathons, Cody received a suspicious reply. Mr. Weaver replied, “at least whatever we end up doing, you do it multiple times in a row.” For Cody, the exchange felt like he was exploiting his power.
Kyle Allen shares that his exchange with Mr. Weaver includes questions about his weight, height, clothes, and whether he’s circumcised. This type of conversation started from 2016 to 2018. Mr. Weaver also kept repeatedly pushing for an invitation to speak at the University of Ottawa, where Kyle was studying. Also, he would often use sexually explicit language to express his desire to visit.
According to Kyle, he always tries to steer the conversation to politics. However, he says that John Weaver would always find ways to bring the conversation back to “sexual stuff.”
Work Offer in Lincoln Project
At least two cases involve Mr. Weaver’s offer to work with Lincoln Project as he mixes in suggestive messages. One of the men, Anthony Covell, said that Mr. Weaver started messaging him last July 2019. The exchange gradually lessened, but two weeks before the Lincoln Project was announced, Weaver invited him to join the initiative.
Anthony says that John Weaver was looking for young people who were “creative” and “invested” in the coming election. This offer got Anthony interested. However, Mr. Weaver suggested that Anthony post a “thirst trap” or send him a pic. He also asked the young man to call him for more details on the project.
After receiving those kinds of messages, Anthony shared that something was telling him that this setup was sketchy. In the end, he decided not to call.
To Wrap It Up
After receiving specific questions about the allegation, Mr. Weaver repeated his previous statement. He says that he’s so “disheartened” and “sad that he brought discomfort to anyone.” He further commented that he thought those were mutually consensual discussions.
John Weaver also shared that living in a deeply closeted life, he allowed his pain to cause pain for others. He expressed his apologies to the men involved and for “letting so many people down.”
As for the Lincoln Project’s reaction, the initiative released a statement condemning the co-founder. In the statement, they say that Mr. Weaver is a predator, liar, and abuser.
For other interesting content, explore Owner’s Mag!
Black History Month: 10 Black Fortune 500 CEOs
If you think there aren’t enough African American CEOs around, you’re not mistaken. According to statistics, only one percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are black. And, in addition to that, the trend has been plummeting down over the past ten years, in contrast to the rising numbers of Asian-American and Hispanic CEOs.
With more attention being paid to diversity in the workplace, why aren’t there more black CEOs in various industries? There are several factors at play.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, former Black CEO of Aetna Ron Williams says the opportunity is not equally distributed. According to Williams, there are many promotions that are informally decided even before the jobs are even posted. As a result, other talents, including Black employees, don’t get a fair chance to compete.
This Black History Month, let’s take a look at some of the influential African American Fortune 500 corporate leaders.
1. Roger Ferguson Jr.
Roger Ferguson Jr. is the current President and CEO at TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization. Being an executive of the leading provider of retirement services in academic, medical, research, and cultural fields is not easy. Still, Ferguson has been doing a great job at it since 2008.
Ferguson is also the chairman of The Conference Board. He also serves as a member of several boards. These include Alphabet, the Institute for Advanced Study, General Mills, International Flavors and Fragrances, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
2. Kenneth Frazier
Kenneth Frazier is the chairman of the board and the Chief Executive Officer of Merck since 2011. Frazier’s leadership guides the firm as it continues to be one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
According to Merck’s website, its current CEO has substantially increased the business’s investment in research. In addition to that, he has also refocused Merck’s efforts to launch and grow products that benefit society. Frazier joined the firm in 1992 and rose from the ranks. He held positions including General Counsel and President on his way to being the top executive. And for that, he earns a spot here at our list of CEOs for Black History Month.
3. Marvin Ellison
Marvin Ellison is the current President and CEO at Lowe’s Companies, Inc. and has been so since 2018. Prior to being Lowe’s chief executive, he has also served as the chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney Co. from 2014 to 2018. During his time at the firm, he guided the team to deliver sales growth, reduce debt, and earn adjusted earnings per share.
Ellison has also held senior-level operations roles in big companies within the retail industry. His experience includes stints at Home Depot Inc. and Target Corp.
4. René Jones
René Jones is the chairman and CEO of M&T Bank and has been so since December 2017. Jones takes pride in leading a firm that aims to make a difference in society. In the same vein, he strives to lead the bank to play an active role in making communities better places to work, live, and grow.
In his LinkedIn account, Jones described M&T Bank as “a community bank and a bank for communities.” He guides the firm to be a “glue” that binds people and fosters social change and progress.
5. Jide Zeitlin
Jide Zeitlin was appointed CEO of luxury goods firm Tapestry in September 2019. Also the chairman of the Board at that time, Zeitlin led the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman backed by his over three decades-worth of experience in the global financial industry.
Not even a year in the position, however, Zeitlin left the corner office in July 2020. He resigned as chairman and CEO following misconduct allegations.
6. Kenneth Chenault
Kenneth Chenault served as the CEO of American Express from 2001 to 2018 and was one of the first African Americans to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Initially joining the multinational financial services firm in 1981, he worked his way up to Chief Operating Officer and President in 1997 before becoming the CEO in 2001. Chenault’s hard work landed him on the C-suite at a time when most companies are yet to exert efforts to address employee diversity.
7. Ursula Burns
Black History Month and Women’s History Month come one after the other, and Ursula Burns is the perfect person to recognize for both. Serving as CEO of Xerox Holdings from 2009 to 2017, Burns was the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 firm.
Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a summer mechanical-engineering intern, back when she was taking up her master’s degree at Columbia University. She rose from the ranks, and when she finally reached the C-suite, she helped the firm generate $18 billion in revenue.
8. Don Thompson
Don Thompson was the CEO McDonald’s Corp from 2012 to 2015. Thompson held the reins at such a challenging time. When he sat down as CEO in 2012, he had to face the challenge of leading the company to add to almost nine years of sales gains at established stores. However, just two months into the job, the firm reported same-store sales to decline with various issues at hand, including political troubles in Europe and food safety concerns in China.
9. Rodney O’Neal
Rodney O’Neal served as the CEO of Delphi Automotive from 2007 to 2015. O’Neal’s time at the helm was not an easy ride – he took charge of the firm halfway through its massive restructuring in federal bankruptcy. Despite all the hardships, he was able to lead the firm through. Delphi got out of exited bankruptcy, returned back to the stock market, and grew sales at 45 percent during O’Neal’s final year.
10. Clarence Otis Jr.
Last but not least on our Black History Month CEO list is Clarence Otis Jr., who served as the CEO of Darden Restaurants from 2004 to 2014. For the most part, Otis led the company’s growth that owned Capital Grille, Olive Garden, and LongHorn Steakhouse.
While restaurant operator top execs typically come from the food and beverage industry, Otis’s background is unconventional. Before working for Darden as a treasurer in 1995, he was a securities lawyer and a JPMorgan Chase manager.
For other business related stories, you can read more here in Owner’s Mag!