Image: Shutterstock/Ksenia Zvezdina

My morning routine was interrupted February 24th with difficult news. A Ukrainian business contact wrote to confirm MacPaw, founded and operating primarily within the capital city of Kyiv, was implementing emergency plans necessitated by Russia’s military invasion of her country.

The message assured recipients the company’s emergency plans prioritize safely securing its peers and the firm anticipates no support or development disruptions. MacPaw’s software — which includes CleanMyMac, CleanMyPC, Setapp, Gemini and ClearVPN — and all infrastructure and user data is securely hosted on Amazon Web Services and physical cloud servers outside Ukraine.

In the two weeks since receiving that message, the need for secure connections and communications has only increased in importance. MacPaw’s ClearVPN application not only assists in securely accessing content, enabling encrypted connections and securing online traffic and transactions, but with a recent update the VPN utility now also simplifies supporting Ukraine resistance efforts.

SEE: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect your cybersecurity (TechRepublic)

Whenever the ClearVPN application is open, a new Stand With Ukraine shortcut appears at the bottom of the application window (Figure A). Stand With Ukraine shortcut links provide access to trusted fundraising campaigns, petition-signing initiatives, activist efforts and media outlets.

Figure A

The ClearVPN program now includes a shortcut users can click to access a trusted list of Ukraine military and humanitarian efforts needing support.

Amid Russia’s invasion, MacPaw is urging others to support Ukraine as it fights for its freedom and democracy. Toward that end, and to empower digital safety for users in Ukraine, the firm is making ClearVPN free for everyone in the country, while also providing free CleanMyMac licenses (which includes OS protection features) for media covering the war.

For others requiring a secure VPN and the ability to circumvent geo- and content-restrictions, ClearVPN is included within MacPaw’s Setapp software subscription. Alternatively, the VPN utility is $12.95 a month, while a one-year subscription is currently discounted to $59.95, versus the regular $155.40 price. Up to six devices—Android, iOS, macOS and Windows—are supported using a single license.

SEE: Destructive “HermeticWiper” malware strikes Ukraine (TechRepublic)

Using AES-256 protocols for connections, ClearVPN provides an easily navigated and simple interface for securing online communications. You do not need to be a technical expert to make sense of the program or enable secure, encrypted connections. Further empowering privacy, the company states it maintains a zero-logs policy, meaning it does not store, share or collect information regarding online activity, personal information or IP addresses.

The app enables circumventing local network restrictions and even content bans by using shortcuts to create and activate connections. These shortcuts permit bypassing geo-blocking and online censorship activities that may be occurring in the user’s location. Many preconfigured shortcuts are also included for common activities, including accessing WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram.

To create an encrypted VPN connection using ClearVPN on a Mac, after opening the application click the Activate button within the Browse Securely & Privately shortcut (Figure B), then click Allow within the resulting macOS window stating ClearVPN would like to add VPN configurations. macOS will then create an encrypted connection, which can be viewed and monitored within the Mac’s Network System Preferences (Figure C). Once activated, ClearVPN updates its app window to show the VPN is operating and lists the elapsed time (Figure D).

Figure B

Click Activate to enable a ClearVPN shortcut-encrypted connection.

Figure C

Activating a ClearVPN shortcut triggers creating a VPN within a Mac’s Network System Preferences.

Figure D

ClearVPN tracks the amount of elapsed time a VPN has been active.

Secure connections are also supported, of course, using Android-powered devices, iPhones, iPads and Windows computers. Just as with its Mac counterpart, ClearVPN is as easy to set up and configure using portable devices.

Suspending an active ClearVPN session, meanwhile, is also easy. Just click the app’s corresponding Deactivate button, which will suspend the VPN session.

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