You’re in a Parisian café booking the next train for your Europe trip on your laptop. Then you wonder if that long-haired Bohemian at the next table could actually be a hacker. Can he access your passwords and steal your credit card and other sensitive information?
If you’re like us, you’ve probably thought more than once about whether your computer use when traveling is safe.
So we were intrigued when asked to try out the free Cocoon Browser and write a Cocoon Browser review.
What is the Cocoon Browser?
Hotels, airports, airplanes, coffee shops and other places with public WiFi are unfortunately all prime spots for digital theft.
Enter the Cocoon Browser. It’s a tool that helps keep you safe when browsing the Internet on unsecured networks.
Specifically, it’s a cloud-based browser for your computer. Instead of using Chrome or Safari, you use the Cocoon Browser.
How does it work?
Your browser is the gateway to your computer.
When you use the Internet, you’re constantly being tracked and followed. “Cookies” are normally left on your computer; they pass on information about you and your browsing behaviour to websites. And you’re always under threat from viruses and malware. (Hopefully you have a good anti-virus program!)
The Cocoon Browser works by putting Cocoon’s servers between you and the Internet. They act as a proxy or intermediary between your computer and the Internet. When browsing, your information and web traffic goes back and forth through Cocoon’s secure servers. And all your information, passwords and browsing history are encrypted.
Maybe you’ve heard of a virtual private network? It effectively works like a VPN. Usually VPNs are paid services, but like we said, the Cocoon Browser is free.
Proxy servers (which make your Internet activities look like they’re coming from Cocoon’s location in the U.S.), encryption and commercial anti-virus/anti-malware all help protect you so you can shop, check your bank statements and pay your credit cards online without worrying.
Our Cocoon Browser review: How do you benefit when traveling?
One feature we like is that Cocoon automatically deletes all cookies after each session.
Yes, it’s a bit of a pain because each time you log on to Booking.com or other websites, you have to enter your passwords again.
But the upside is that sites won’t know your previous searches. And this can be a BIG upside.
Have you ever noticed when looking for flights that sometimes prices jump the next time you enter the same search data? That can happen because the site knows you’re interested in particular flights. (We’ve thought of using the “incognito” feature on our Chrome browser, but never seem to do it, because it’s a forgotten extra step.) Anyway, when using Cocoon, you can be sure websites really do show you the lowest price (since they won’t have any tracking information on you).
2) Accessibility in restrictive countries:
Another plus is that you can access Facebook or Google in countries like China that block these websites.
Your access to information won’t be censored – you can post pics of yourself walking along the Great Wall of China and read “real” news.
If you’re a Netflix fan, you’ll find this appealing.
You can watch all those fabulous U.S. Netflix shows no matter where you are in the world. So don’t worry if jetting off to Australia for a month that you’ll forget what happened in the last Breaking Bad or The Tudors episode you saw (Netflix Australia doesn’t offer these shows) – you can still binge on your favorite U.S. Netflix shows in the Land of Oz, even Mozambique (if you have Internet).
We’re always a little jealous of our American friends who get to watch so many more shows on Netflix than we can watch here in Canada, where Netflix’s offerings are more limited. So it was fun when playing around with the Cocoon Browser to discover that we can now watch shows like Versailles (not available here on Canadian Netflix).
On a 13-inch laptop via Cocoon, our viewing experience was the same as watching other TV shows through Chrome, i.e., high-def resolution and no buffering.
Is Cocoon reputable?
It did occur to us before delving into our Cocoon Browser review and downloading the browser that we might be downloading something shady. So we first did some checking on Virtual World Computing, the company behind Cocoon.
Upon Googling, we learned it’s been around for a while (since 2008) and they’ve been written up by CNET, Laptop Magazine, PC Magazine and PCWorld.
We also noted the company has some impressive advisors, like Shopkick co-founder Aaron Emigh who is an expert in information security. He’s also a member of the US Department of Homeland Security Identity Theft Technology Council and the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force. (We figured if he’s onboard, the Cocoon Browser would be safe for us to download!)
How to download the Cocoon Browser
Getting Cocoon onto your laptop is quite easy. Go to the Download page, and follow the steps.
The only thing that stumped us for a few minutes was trying to figure out how to log in to the Cocoon Browser and use it after downloading it. So we went to Cocoon’s Support tab and found the answer under “How do I sign in?”
You have to click the little power button to the left of the word “Cocoon” at the upper left of your screen. Then you can enter your email and log in to your Cocoon account.
Happy and safe travels!
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Disclosure: Virtual World Computing asked us to write a Cocoon Browser review. The research we did and the words and opinions expressed here are completely our own, however. As is our satisfaction at coming across something to protect us (for free!) when browsing online during our travels…