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The Role of DNS in Region Locking

It might seem quite strange to think that the Domain Name System, actually plays a role in filtering and region locking however it is actually true. In fact DNS has been used extensively on both sides of the battle both for blocking access and bypassing content filtering. It’s most extensive use is historically as a very blunt weapon to block access to websites.

Many countries still use DNS poisoning/spoofing in order to block access temporarily to specific sites. Turkey for example still periodically uses DNS to stop people accessing social media sites, supposedly in the ‘national interest’. It’s quite simple to do, you just modify the DNS records of the sites at the major ISPs in the country. So instead of Facebook resolving to the true IP address it is routed through to a government server instead. It’s a simple method and fairly effective although easily bypassed by using a trusted DNS server instead of the modified ones.

smart-dns

However on the other side of the coin, perhaps more surprisingly you’ll find DNS used to bypass region blocks.  What happens is that you use ‘Smart DNS’ servers to effectively make decisions to route traffic.   For example many people use a Smart DNS Netflix system to enable access to different regions of the Netflix media sites.   All the server does is route the connection through the appropriate country before accessing the Netflix website.  SO if you want to use American Netflix you’ll be routed through a US based server – through a British one for UK Netflix and so on.

The advantages of using DNS in this situation is that you only route when absolutely necessary unlike a VPN.  The other significant bonus is that it’s simple to modify DNS settings on any device, without the requirement of installing software on the client.  This means you can use Smart DNS on TVs, Tablets, games consoles and media streamers simply by accessing the network settings and specifying the modified DNS servers.

Further Reading

Return of US DNS Netflix, Techno Press, 2015

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US IP Address for Netflix

For our American readers this might seem a bit confusing, after all Netflix now operates in over 160 countries now and the number is rising all the time.   So why would anyone need a US IP address for Netflix when they can probably already access it in their own country.

The problem is that although the Netflix subscription is pretty much global and indeed is roughly the same cost all over  the world, the service is far from equal.   In fact in some cases it’s not even close, the UK version of Netflix for example is often thought to be one of the better localized versions (which it is) but it doesn’t come close to the US version for quantity and quality of content.

netflixusipaddress

If you connect with an American IP address to Netflix then you will currently have access to some 6300+ movies and films, back to the UK version and there’s about 3700!  These figures change all the time as licenses expire but you get the picture the USA Netflix has nearly double the UK version.  Compared to some of the more local versions of Netflix then this disparity is even greater – for example check out the comparisons with Australian Netflix or Canadian and you’ll find it’s much worse.

The simple reality is that licensing all these movies costs big money and because of the antiquated way much of these rights are handled – Netflix has to pay on a per country basis which means that the bigger markets get all the best films – i.e the US version of Netflix.   Which is why if you’re sitting there watching some small rather underwhelming version of Netflix you’re likely to feel a little jealous.

The Benefit of Using a US IP Address for Netflix

Is in fact, quite simple, if you access the Netflix site with an American IP then you’ll get redirected to the US version of Netflix complete with it’s massive movie catalogue. However before you rush off and pay for a cheap proxy or VPN to hide your real IP address then you need to be aware of another twist in the story. The vast majority of proxies and VPNs that are perfectly capable of supplying a US IP address will be blocked by the media giant. IN fact there’s hardly any of them that work anymore.

Proxies have been blocked for some time, Netflix is capable of detecting all of these automatically – see here Using a Proxy for Netflix. VPNs were the solution for some time, in fact before Netflix went global millions used them across the globe to access the media site. Unfortunately Netflix have started a crackdown against the VPN services too – in a slightly sneaky way by blocking any address that originates from a commercial service (all IP addresses are classified either commercial or residential).

This has caused havoc for the many users who use this method and effectively 99% of the VPN providers cannot be used to access Netflix anymore. Fortunately these is a solution and although Netflix block VPN services has almost been 100% effective the ban is not completely total.

A select few of the VPN providers like Identity Cloaker have been able to bypass this block by incorporating residential classed IP addresses into their infrastructure which are not able to be blocked. However this solution is difficult to implement and expensive so it’s likely not many VPN companies will implement these solutions.

Further Reading:

James Hamilton, BBC Block VPN Services, Waber Press, 2016

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Netflix Block VPN Services

There are literally millions of people who use Netflix through a VPN service, yet over the last few weeks they’ve had real problems. Although these people obviously have to subscribe to Netflix, they use VPNs to hide their location and gain access to different version of the Netflix library. The reason is simple, although the subscription cost is similar wherever you are, the US version of Netflix has much more content that the other locales – if you use a US based IP address then you’ll be able to access that version irrespective of your actual location.

netflix-block-vpn

Unfortunately not any more, recently Netflix block VPN services across the board using a new technique not used previously. Many of the online media giants try and block people using VPN and proxy services to access their content, with mostly mixed results. This is because it’s virtually impossible to completely detect the presence of a VPN, so the usual tactics involving manually locating these services and their addresses, or monitoring for multiple connections on single addresses – then adding them to a block list. It’s very time consuming and resource intensive, also it’s easily countered by simply rotating the addresses used on the servers.

So How do Netflix Block VPN Services Now?

It’s pretty sneaky but devastatingly effective as people have found out. It’s all to do with the classification of IP addresses and being able to detect them automatically. As well as being classified by location IP addresses are also tagged with another label – residential or commercial. This is an important piece of information that Netflix have used, instead of trying to identifying individual connections, they have merely blocked any commercial IP address from connecting.

Virtually every VPN server resides in a data center somewhere and hence will be tagged as a commercial IP address. The residential addresses are mostly assigned by ISPs directly to individual users and are allowed to connect without restriction.   The resultant effect – Netflix block VPN services virtually across the board and lots of very unhappy subscribers.

Any VPN/Proxies Still Working?

There are a couple of services still working but not many,  there are not many residential VPN services that may change as the service providers change.   The solution is to ensure that any connection used to stream content from Netflix comes from a residential IP address and not a commercial one.   The problem though is that these IP addresses are much harder to come by than the commercial ones, they also cost significantly more to run servers on due to the bandwidth requirements – at time of writing there is for instance only one US DNS Netflix solution which is working.

One provider that has instigated a novel solution is Identity Cloaker who have designed a system where only traffic routed for the Netflix servers is rerouted through a bank of residential IP addresses.   They already have a very low key approach to accessing media sites, they never advertise the functionality, currently it’s one of the very few VPN services still working with Netflix.

Try out their Trial Account Here

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Browsing with a French IP Address

Your IP address can seem to be located in any country you like if you have the resources to change it. For example to access many sites based in France you must have a French network address or you’ll simply be blocked or filtered. It follows that anyone might easily acquire a French IP address by using a VPN to hide your location. The simplest solution to access French resources is to receive a VPN that supplies a French IP Address. All that really needs to be done in order to bypass the region locking during registration or access is always to utilize a web proxy or VPN from France.

Another of the fastest methods to hide your IP address is with a proxy site. You’ll get significant browsing speeds along with a high degree of anonymity. It is probably the top choice in regards to hide your real IP address, but they’re not free. The actual fact is the fact that if a site is absolutely intent on blocking all and every non-local visitor, they will be able to do this. However an increasing problem is that proxies now can be detected relatively easily and can be blocked automatically.

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You’re learning English and urge to surf the Internet as though you are located in the uk. You’re learning French and urge to surf the Internet as though you are located in France. Very wide selection of entrepreneurial and company uses. Therefore, if somebody would be to access any neighborhood French chat program from outside of France he will need to obtain a French IP address as a way to achieve that. The important dilemma of web proxies may be the speed that is considerably low. However it is an excellent site and has every one of the top US and European shows in addition to some French stuff.

If you’re searching for a comparison of VPN providers within the French language, you are going to find Meilleur VPN an outstanding website. VPN will usually provide you with a lot of choices to choose IP from. The main aspect is to pick out a provider who offers a huge variety of available servers. There are plenty of VPN providers all over the world. It is a hassle to get legitimate services and take lots of effort on your own part. In my experience Identity Cloaker is the first out of many VPN providers available on the market, for a good service and the top value for the money.

There are a couple of simple and simple steps which you want to follow as a way to receive a French IP address. You need to select the server that is nearest to you. If you’re located somewhere outside France and you’re in need of the French IP address it can readily be arranged. The further away you’re from the remotely located server the increased impact to performance you’ll start to see. To be able to possess the French IP a massive part of this may be unavoidable.

Ultimately, complete bibliographic info, for example, size of the electronic file in addition to a neighborhood call number is contained within the header of the electronic text.
Agreeing with the research, young individuals are leading the way in regards to VPN usage, with almost 1 third of individuals between 16-34 having used a VPN. The list might be filtered by a lot of attributes which include the port number of the proxy, country of origin of the proxy, and the degree of anonymity of the proxy. It turned out, however, the option wasn’t visible enough for users.

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Why Do I Block My IP Address

Although I’ve worked in IT for many years, for much of that time managing IP addresses wasn’t really that much more than an admin task to be completed. In my earlier career many corporate network administrators didn’t really trust or use DHCP and assigning IP addresses individually was typically very common.

This led to a huge lead in time for assigning anything new on the network, you couldn’t just plug a PC onto the network and it would work – no forms needed to be filled in and requests for IP allocation had to take place, often from a huge IP address spreadsheet. Nowadays this wouldn’t really work, there are so many devices on most networks that managing the addresses manually would take forever.

When the internet arrived in the early 90s of course, IP addresses became much more important – simply because each and every device needs a unique address to communicate. Suddenly the IP address took on a whole new significance, it was now your unique identifier and it could be used to monitor how long you spent online, what you downloaded and web sites you visited.

Not only that but your address is recorded in all sorts of places and people to customise, monitor and effectively control your online activities. Take for example something as simple as visiting Google and searching for something – have you ever noticed how your web results display local results? This is because Google is recording your location and using that information to tailor your search results. Of course this is useful but your address will also be used to block access or filter content too.

So it’s not surprising that some people get unnerved by this surveillance and use devices like I use in this video – How to Block my IP address

Of course using a system like this whilst stopping your address being logged will also have other effects. For example if you’re hiding behind a US IP address and are based in France you’ll get redirected on that basis. It can be a pain being directed to US sites by default, when you really want the French version. So it’s best to try and use a VPN server in the same country unless you want it to bypass geoblocked sites like BBC and Hulu.

These are among the many thousands of major media sites which will block access based on your location. However switching countries can in this circumstance work to your advantage, use a UK one to watch the BBC online, a US one to access Hulu and etc.

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How to Get an Irish IP Address

The internet has enabled lots of people who are far from home to keep in touch with their local news, events and culture. If you’re thousands of miles from home and in a country where you can’t speak the language that link can help a lot if you’re missing home.

Of course, you can access local newspapers and websites but there’s no substitute for watching the local news, sport and gossip on the TV. Nowadays most of the media and TV sites are available online, many of them even broadcast live on the internet as well as on terrestrial TV. However there is a problem that many Ex-Pats face when trying to watch their home TV stations online from abroad – most are simply inaccessible.

Switch to an Irish IP Address

Take for example the two main Irish TV stations – TV3 and RTE. Both have extensive web sites and broadcast many of their shows both live and ‘on demand’, you can effectively turn your browser into a TV set and watch from anywhere you like. Except there is a problem, as both RTE and TV3 operate the same restrictions as many of the media giants – you can watch only in the country of broadcast.

Although you can access the web sites of TV3 and RTE when you try and watch any of the shows you are redirected to the ‘international versions’ of their web sites – these normally offer a few clips of their main content but little else. If you try and access the Irish version of the media player pages from outside Ireland you’ll simply get blocked or redirected back.

Fortunately there is a solution for all those people who want to watch RTE and TV3 from outside the Republic Of Ireland – you just hide your real location online. The simple fact is that all these websites do to determine whether you can access is to check the origin of your IP address. If you have and Irish address then you can watch TV3 Online everything on the site without restriction.

This is how you can use an irish proxy to watch any of the Irish TV channels online.

It’s very easy to use, in the example above you just use the software to relay your connection through a server based in Ireland. Then when you visit say the RTE web site it will see an Irish IP address (from the proxy server) and not your real one – the end result is that you’ll have full access to the site.

Not surprisingly these services have become incredibly popular over the last few years and many consider them an essential purchase. Most of the popular service like Identity Cloaker and IP Vanish have servers in many different countries meaning you can use them to unlock content all over the world.

There are some points to remember though if you’re looking to purchase one of these services – remember most of the media sites actively try and block these working. Mostly proxy servers won’t work any more, they are simple to detect and are usually blocked – you’ll need a VPN or SSH tunnel like the ones on this site.

If you are particularly interested in a certain channel try and access through a trial account first, some media channels have been adding other restrictions other than IP address and you’re best to test first. For example quite a few US and Canadian web sites now also require your Cable ID in addition to verifying your location.

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BBC iPlayer Blocked VPNs

It’s a move that’s been greeted with shock by expats across the world, the BBC have begun to actively block access to iPlayer from outside the UK. Apparently they have been doing this for many years, but to be honest their efforts have looked a little half hearted up to now.

People generally bypass these content restrictions by hiding their IP addresses by using proxy or VPN servers based in the country they need. So for example a user in Spain could connect to a UK VPN server as a simple means to get a British IP address. Then they could watch all the ‘UK only’ content like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and so on, all the sites would simply see the VPN server’s address.

Here’s an example –

What is more some of the more sophisticated services, now offer the chance to switch to different addresses at will – meaning you could change for a British to an American address whenever you wanted to watch Hulu or a US only site.

It was so easy that literally millions of people use these services to watch all sorts of previously blocked channels. You can even use them to swap versions – I use a US VPN to watch US Netflix from the UK which has way more stuff than the UK version.

Most of the big media sites have been trying to block these services for years with moderate success. For some years most of them have been able to detect and block simple proxies, but for VPNs it’s a matter of identifying the addresses and blocking them one by one – extremely time consuming considering the thousands of services that exist. The BBC have had a rather ‘laissez faire’ attitude by occasionally blocking a high profile service but usually leaving most alone – this has now changed.

Over the last few weeks however the BBC has blocked thousands of VPN services. In a move widely believed as a precursor to the BBCs paid streaming services which will be announced next year. The reality is that people who have been using a VPN to watch the BBC online for years suddenly have been cut off.

There is hope, unless the BBC have developed some sort of system for detecting and blocking the use of VPNs automatically – something which the Chinese haven’t even figured out yet – then it’s likely that this will be short lived. Most of the VPN providers will simply switch IP addresses and re-establish connections. It’s probably worth avoiding any high profile service and those that heavily promote the TV as a ‘tv watching’ (which they all are) – Identity Cloaker is worth checking out as it is very low key and keeps a low ratio of user to IP address – so far it has not been affected by the blocks.

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How to Change DNS on Smart TV

Smart TVs are getting smarter, that’s for certain, the days when your TV would simply display a few channels received from a television aerial are long gone. Today’s Smart TV are multimedia powerhouses which can access and display all sorts of content from a variety of different sources.

For example a standard Smart TV will be able to use applications to access internet based sites like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, ITV player, Netflix, Youtube and a host of others. Just plug your TV into your network and you can access all sorts of resources that previously were only accessible from your home computers.

However with this new power comes the annoying restrictions too, geo-locking technology that blocks access to different sites on computers has the same effect on our TV sets too. Our Netflix is locked to the crappy version we normally get and millions won’t be able to access things like BBC iPlayer or HBO online unless we start shipping or TV with us internationally. The blocks work in the same way as they do on computers, your IP address is checked and location noted then you’re allowed access or blocked depending on where you are.

BUT WAIT – IP Address on my TV, it’s not a computer?

Well a Smart TV is pretty much the same as a computer at least if it wants to access the internet, any network enabled device needs an IP address to function online. Which also means it needs a host of network settings to allow it to talk to your router or access point and ultimately use internet based resources.

So does that mean you can also use USA proxies and VPNs (see here) to bypass these blocks like millions already use on their computers? Well it’s possible but usually a little tricky simply because you’ll only have access to basic functionality on a Smart TV – it’s much easier to use a system called Smart DNS.

Here’s the one I use, after testing about 10 of them earlier last year.

They are called Overplay and to use on your Smart TV is actually quite simple, all you need is the cheapest service – Smart DNS. Once you’ve enabled your account, by visiting their registration page from any computer, phone or tablet on your network then you just need to enable it on your Smart TV. This process will vary depending on your TV but you’re basically looking for the Network Settings page.

Start Here.
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Then Find this….
networksmartdns

Leading on to this page……
smartdns-settings

Which is where, all you need to do is to input your new Smart DNS server in the DNS server settings. This turns your Smart TV into an international traveller able to adopt a disguise whenever needed. When you click through to the Netflix Application you’ll be able to access the US version, play BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world or in fact any UK Television stations. The Smart DNS server will apply a little disguise to your connection wherever you need it to. No software, no VPN, the SMart DNS server will do it all for you without rerouting your connection.

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Is Speed Important for a VPN Service?

Years ago, I had a very exciting job installing a VPN client from IBM on thousands of laptops in a Pharmaceutical company.  They took security very seriously, the stakes are high with regards drug and research – many of these laptops had direct access to all sorts of confidential data.  All the laptops were secure, all had full disk encryption multiple authentication requirements and if they were lost they could be remotely locked too.

For many years, the company refused to allow access to the internet using company laptops citing the security issues.  However over the years the pressure became greater, people got fed up of carting two laptops every where and the tablet wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as they are now.  Eventually they gave in and allowed people to use both the internet for personal reasons, but also remote access into the corporate network.  There was much expense involved and the laptops were about as secure as they could possibly be in those circumstances using the technology available.

One important concepts was the VPN, first it allowed access to the corporate network and secondly it allowed another level of protection for communication online.  The IBM client software I installed would look for the nearest company VPN server and connect through to that, all the individuals were supposed to use this method every time they went online.  It all looked great in theory although many in security still maintained there ‘no net is safer’ stance.

The problem was, the super secure VPN service was very slow, despite supposedly trying to connect to the nearest VPN server – sometimes this didn’t work very well and the client software would pick some remote server on the other side of the world.  Also some of the servers just ran very slowly across certain connections, in many cases this was due to routing and hardware issues not related to the servers themselves. For the people who used these laptops, the decision was quite simple – fire up the VPN and suffer tedious waits, buffering and delays or forget to start the VPN and surf normally at super fast speeds that are often available in hotels and remote locations.  The reality was very few people ended up using this expensive, global network of VPN servers unless they really had to.

Speed is Important in a VPN

Although it’s primary purpose is arguably security, a fast VPN service is something that is essential if it’s going to be used.   As we can see from this video:

A VPN server will always have some impact on speed simply because it’s adding an extra hop on any route. However a fast, well configured VPN service can minimize this extra lag – in fact there are compression technologies that can severely reduce the effect and sometimes they can even speed up a connection slightly.

When you are looking at choosing a VPN service make sure that you test relative speed carefully especially before taking up a long subscription. There are a variety of speed tests sites available online and what you should do is baseline your connection without the VPN enabled and then check the impact of using the tunnel. Make sure you check the specific countries you need, for example if you use a VPN to access UK TV sites and media – then ensure that you test the UK servers. Often popular countries are overloaded with requests whilst other servers may run much more quickly because they’re underutilized.

Further Reading Here

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Do I Really Need a VPN to be Safe Online?

You’ll get some very different answers depending on where you ask this question. If you happen to frequent security, technology or hacking groups or forums then there’s little point asking the question, the answer will be a resounding yes. On the hacking forums, there will be much ridicule too for even asking whether you need a VPN in the first place. The general opinion of the technically savvy would be firmly in the ‘yes’ camp.

Other’s are likely to see less of a need, many still believing the mantra – ‘I have nothing to hide’ so what’s the point. The problem is that anyone who uses the internet for any purpose almost certainly has something to hide – anything from their credits card numbers to a personal email address (which gives access to lots of other services). This of course, refers to the many internet baddies who are utilising the web to build huge criminal enterprises with all the cash of traditional activities but without the inherent risks.

The other aspect of the question is ‘who’ you’re thinking to be safe from. Almost all of us want to keep our details safe from the cyber crooks, but how many of us care that the authorities can see what we do online? Many people feel that the police and investigation services need access to our email and web histories in order to catch terrorists and criminals. Other’s think that it’s unacceptable to spy on an entire population in order to catch a few baddies.

First a video which reference the subject – Is VPN Safe?

Of course, it’s up to the individual to decide on the whether they do need to use a VPN. What is worth considering though is the plain facts of what happens when you use the internet without one.

  • The vast majority of your web activity happens in clear text (SSL excepted).
  • ISP Logs contain every web site we visit, everything we download and message we send.
  • Every web site you visit can record your identity.
  • When using an untrusted network anyone can steal any of your details used when online.
  • SSL is no protection on untrusted networks (simple MITM attacks)

For me ultimately, it’s the ease in which it’s possible to steal online without using some sort of encryption method.  The fact that it’s relatively simple to steal credentials that give access to email, online banking and paypal accounts and steal thousands makes me incredibly wary.   I suspect if many knew that this was technically possible they would also be equally as paranoid as the guys in the hacking groups.

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