Cloak: Super-secure Net connections without the hassle

Network security is a topic that makes many people's eyes glaze over, and I can't blame them. We all rationally know that we should make sure our information is secure, but for most of us actually doing so is probably one step below flossing, or keeping track of our receipts.

That's why I'm so fond of Cloak. And I'm not alone: Macworld gave the app, which recently released its second version, a Best of Show award at Macworld/iWorld last month. The app and its attendant service make sure that your communications remain secure--and, best of all, they do it with little intervention on your part.

What Cloak does is straightforward: You designate certain networks as "trusted"--i.e ones where you're pretty sure that people aren't snooping in on your communications. For most people, that's their home and office networks, as well as perhaps a few others. When you've defined which networks you trust, you can tell Cloak to automatically secure your connection whenever you're not on one of those trusted networks.

How does it secure said connection? That's where Cloak the service comes in. It relies on Virtual Private Networking (VPN), the same technology that many of use to connect to our work networks from outside the office. Since the VPN is encrypted, all the traffic routed over that connection should be free from prying eyes.

If that were all Cloak did, it would be a pretty solid app. But there are a few extra features in the mix that ratchet it up. For one, as I mentioned before, all this happens automatically: Once you get past the initial setup, you don't really need to muck around with Cloak. If you'd rather be a little more hands-on, you can choose not to have Cloak automatically secure your connection on untrusted networks; you can also choose whether or not it treats cellular networks as trusted or not. (They tend to be less susceptible to interception than Wi-Fi networks.)

Cloak also syncs your list of secure networks and preferences between all your Apple devices, both iOS and Mac. So once you've updated your preferences on one device--say if you're adding another trusted network--all you need to do on your other devices is tap a few buttons to sync those settings. Plus, Cloak's interface is friendly and simple, letting you know via color-coded icons what your current network security situation is.

But perhaps my favorite feature of Cloak is an ancillary one. It's a feature dubbed Transporter, which allows you to log in to a secure server in a different country. Why might you want this? Well, if you've ever had a hankering to try out BBC's iPlayer, only available in the UK, or you're a Canadian resident--or an American traveling abroad--who wants to watch the U.S.-locked content on Hulu or Amazon Prime, Transporter's the way to go. Eight countries are currently available, including the U.S., UK, Netherlands, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, and Australia, and you can toggle between them at will. Plus, your connection is still secure.

Despite my generally positive feelings about Cloak, there are a few improvements that I'd like to see. For one thing, I'd love an option to have my iPhone prefer joining a trusted network over an untrusted network if both are available. For another, it'd be handy if a few more of the options were available within the app itself, such as using Transporter or disconnecting from the VPN while on a trusted network. But some of those may be limitations of iOS itself, which may themselves be lifted in time.

Cloak itself is a free download, and it works on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later. You will, however, need to pony up a bit for the service (servers aren't cheap, after all!), which offers two subscriptions: an unlimited data plan for $10 per month or a mini plan (limited to 5GB of bandwidth) for $3 per month. All plans work on multiple devices simultaneously, so even if you're using it on an iPhone, iPad, and Mac, they can all be secured at the same time.

If you only need Cloak for a limited period--you're on a business trip, for example--you can also purchase a weekly, monthly, or yearly pass for $4, $10, or $100 respectively. And, if you want to try it out before you buy, the company offers a 30-day free trial.

Given how much of our daily life and business is conducted online, the question isn't really if you can afford to sign up for Cloak--it's if you can afford not to.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Wi-FiiosNetworkingsecuritywirelessOS Xsoftwareoperating systemsWLANs / Wi-Fi

More about Amazon Web ServicesAppleBBC Worldwide Australasia

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Dan Moren

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place