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Using a Proxy to Watch Hulu

Have you ever watched Hulu – it’s wonderful, apparently it’s one of the most popular sites on the entire internet.   However very soon after the site was released they restricted access  based on location, you can’t even access Hulu in Canada!

Anyway at first it wasn’t too much of a problem using a proxy server you could change the IP address you connected to. So you just had to use an American one, a Hulu proxy if you like and you were allowed to access the service.   But then Hulu got wise to this and was able to detect the use of them, so free proxies and methods like HotSpot Shield stopped working altogether.  People are still using proxies for some media channels – for instance a German proxy server will still unlock most sites in Germany but in most instances VPNs are needed now.

Currently the only way to watch Hulu from outside the US is to use some sort of VPN (Virtual Private Network) which creates a tunnel from your client to a VPN enabled server.

There’s a few of these around commercially or if you work for a multinational company you may find you have access to a US based server that you can connect to.

Remember the idea is simple – your browser or computer is irrelevant, what’s important is that  your connection and IP address needs to appear to be from the USA.  Here’s the software I use – it’s called Identity Cloaker.

 

There’s a few hundred servers in all different countries but for Hulu we obviously need one based in the US.  When I click on an American server it sets up a SSH connection to the US which all my internet activities will be tunneled down.  This means that when I connect to Hulu it will see the IP address of the server (which is American) and allow me to access Hulu wherever I happen to be.

Works like a dream and comes recommended – test with the trial account first  at Identity Cloaker.  There are quite a few others that work well too – but remember you need more that just a proxy server for Hulu (although a proxy still works for BBC Iplayer from outside the UK).   You’ll have a selection of different countries available, they concentrate on the US and major European countries though – if you want something a little less usual like a Japanese or Turkish proxy – check out the rest of this site for alternatives.

Good luck

 

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Choosing a VPN Service

When I first looked for a VPN (virtual private network) service online about 8 or 9 years ago, there wasn’t much to choose from. There were only a couple of services available, and to be honest they weren’t very good. In fact I never really used either for very long, they were slow, always breaking and not really worth the bother. As was usual in those days it was easier to set something up for yourself either using a rented server or through your home PC. VPNs were common enough but normally linked to a company or academic server, if you worked for a large company and travelled to any extent you’d almost certainly use a VPN to download documents or access the company email account.

These days both the demand and the choice available have grown exponentially. Over the years, those one or two providers have multiplied and now there are literally thousands of companies providing VPN/Proxy services usually on a subscription basis. Unfortunately the quality has not increased, the vast majority of these VPN providers are little more than an IT guy with a website and a dedicated server hosted somewhere obscure. This is fine if the only users are him and a dozen customers, but if you start taking in lots of new customers – you need some serious infrastructure and knowledge to cope with it – which normally doesn’t happen!

This is the sad reality, that the vast majority of these services are hopeless – something you’ll probably be aware of if you’ve tried any number of them. There’s normally two real issues with these servers – firstly they are badly set up and configured, the other is they’re overloaded. Both are serious issues for variety of reasons.

It’s important to remember that when you use a VPN or a proxy, you are in fact trusting the provider with all your web traffic. Your connection consists of an encrypted tunnel (well hopefully) back to the VPN server down which all your web and application traffic will flow. It’s therefore essential that this server is secure and well configured in order to protect your data.

The other issue is of course – speed, it wasn’t such a problem years ago but nowadays most of our online activity consists of video, multimedia and hi resolution images – browsing the web on a slow connection is a painful experience. It is of course why many people use VPNs in order to access content on sites like BBC iPlayer, ITV player or Hulu which are normally restricted to their home countries. This is a useful demonstration of how a high speed VPN should work.

The video demonstrates that the VPN connection has virtually no effect on the speed of the internet connection. It should be noted that in that video the user is based in the UK and using a UK VPN but it’s still a worthwhile check. The speed will almost certainly diminish slightly when routed through a US, Australian or German proxy server for example, but should still be reasonably fast. As alawyas the only true test is the one you run your self, so if you subscribe to Identity Cloaker or another VPN solution then make sure you test it using a short term trial/subscription first.

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Turkish Implement Twitter Block

The Turkish block of Twitter this week, is such ill conceived madness that it sometimes is hard to comprehend that these guys are politicians who are supposed to understand people.  When they follow the example of dictators like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and decide the best way to stop people saying bad things about you it to try and stop them talking completely – true genius.

It’s not even as if Turkey has the first idea about how to block access, they’ve been actively filtering the internet for years now and there still using the baby/first steps blocking  technique.  Look around certain places in Istanbul and Izmir for example and you’ll see posters of Erdogan with DNS server addresses pasted all over them.  That’s how the country is blocking the site by rerouting DNS requests, so by switching to another of the many millions of DNS servers available across the planet you can bypass the blocks.

In fact  there are many ways to completely sidestep these restrictions and when you’re Prime Minister has threatened to crush the social networking sites and demonstrate the power of the Turkish Republic, you really need to come up with something better than a very amateurish attempt like this.  In fact it’s looking like Twitter use in Turkey is rocketing after the ban has been implemented – circa 17,000 Tweets from Turkey every minute at time of writing.  I’m afraid it doesn’t make Erdogan look strong or powerful, more like clueless and inept.

Here’s one the many ways you can bypass the Turkish ban on Twitter -

The more the numbers spiral out of control, the more ineffective both the ban looks and also how powerless the leader who implemented it appears.  It also adds your name to the list of others who have attempted to do the same,  hugely successful leaders in places like Iran, Iraz, Egypt, Syria and North Korea.  Of course when we say leaders, the list is actually one of dictators, democratically elected people don’t generally try and repress free speech.  It is widely expected that the Prime Minister is intending to continue his tirade against these sites, so you may need a Facebook unblocker in Turkey as well soon.

The block will only really affect people who don’t use Twitter anyway, and have no real desire to use one of the workaround.  Although human nature being what it is, probably many will suddenly sign on to see what they’re not supposed to see.  Many think this could be the beginning of the end for Erdogan, not only has he attempted to repress talk of corruption but he’s done it badly – making himself look completely impotent and powerless in the process.   He also is starting to look as guilty of hell with his rantings of moral outrage at the evil forces of erm Twitter and Facebook.  A great country, with fantastic friendly people for the moment stuck with a dodgy, shifty leader – they deserve better.  Especially  Berkin Elvan, the young boy killed by the Turkish security services firing on protesters, whilst he went to buy bread.

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From a Russian (Proxy) With Love

I’d noticed that my favorite security program Identity Cloaker has recently introduced a range of Russian proxies for us all to use. So just to clarify when you’re using these servers your IP address is listed as being from Russia, and any web site which looks up your location (which the majority do) will be told you’re based in Moscow.

So why do people want to route their traffic through Russia? Well for a start remember if you do use these servers, there are going to be some implications – for instance many spammers, hackers and other dodgy characters route their traffic through Russia. Because of this some web sites, forums and secure sites will often block access to Russian IP addresses, so accessibility isn’t going to be a great reason for using them.

My son pointed one great advantage, in that one of the games sites he uses is called Steam and charges different prices according to your location. It turns out that games purchased from places like Russia and South America are much cheaper than those from the US or Europe for example. So in theory you could connect up with your Russian IP address, buy the game and download it hence saving yourself some cash. I haven’t tried this though and I don’t know if you’d get your license key revoked or anything like that.

Anyway here’s the servers in action in this video announcing the Russian proxy

Other attractions are obviously the security, anyone who is concerned about privacy may prefer to route their connection through Russia safe from the democratic nations spying and internet monitoring programmes like PRISM. Although I’d steer clear of free Russian proxies because of the high risk of criminal usage and issues.

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A German Proxy Server – How to Get One

So why would anyone want such a thing, why would anyone need a German proxy server?  The reason is that if you have access to such a server then you are able to change your computer to have a different IP address.   This basically ensures that any website you visit will consider your location to be in Germany, and for many sites this makes a huge difference in what you can see.

Here’s a simple demonstration of how your IP address will affect what you see online.  When I’m in the United Kingdom and using a British IP address, this is the version of Google that I see when I fire up a web browser.

UK IP

Now I am going to use a program called Overplay to change my IP address to a German one, like this – simply by selecting one of the German based proxies from their list.

german proxy

From this point I now appear to be somewhere in Germany, simply because of the IP address I have been assigned.  You can see now if I start up my browser and go to Google it will redirect me to the German version of the search engine.  This is because while I am connected to the German proxy server then all my traffic is routed through this server – Google doesn’t speak directly to my PC any more.  The relative speeds to different countries will vary greatly depending on your location – you should use the fastest one available in the country you require.

German Address

It’s really that straight forward and in my opinion, having the ability to switch and mask your IP address is becoming more and more important. We’ve mentioned Overplay here, but there’s another extremely sophisticated program called Identity Cloaker which has a vast array of features including the ability to encrypt individual applications and even specific browsers. Here is a video uploaded to Youtube demonstrating how to use German Proxy Server

So Why Would I Want a German Proxy Address?

Which is great, but why would I specifically want the ability to switch to an address in a different country like this?  Well the main reason is that many German based sites are only accessible to those people based in Germany itself.  Many  TV stations, big media channels like Zattoo, Das Erste, Arte or even  Sky TV can only be viewed by people with a German IP address.  It’s kind of like requiring you have a Berlin postal code, before allowing you access,  it would never bother someone actually living in Germany.

However imagine you are a businessman from Berlin travelling abroad or perhaps a student studying in a different country – all your familiar home channels would be blocked to you by default. Perhaps you are an Expat living away from Germany and wanted to access the German DSF channel.  There are loads of reasons and by using a  proxy server like this then you can gain access from anywhere.

If you do need to get yourself a German IP address, I can definitely recommend the company Overplay, they have a huge range of different servers across the world all included in the same subscription – useful for watching different sites in the USA and UK for example.  The software is very easy to use and the cost is much cheaper than most other  proxy/VPN servers.

Updated – 19/11/2013

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How to Watch TVN Player – Via Polish Proxy

Do you need to access a Polish only TV site? Where I live in the UK there’s a large Polish community, which was established in the second world war. Consequently I have lots of Polish friends and acquaintances, who live nearby. Wherever you go you’ll see specialized satellite dishes on houses which people use to access TV stations in Poland. However most of these stations are also available online also. Unfortunately there is a problem, just like the majority of media sites – most stations are only accessible online when you’re in the same country. So if you try and access TVN Player, a popular Polish TV station over the internet you’ll get blocked.

Anyway it’s quite simple to circumvent this problem if you have the right tools! Here’s a video showing the process of bypassing TVN Player’s blocks by using a Polish proxy server.

As you can see it only takes seconds to switch your location using Identity Cloaker, which effectively frees up the internet from filters, blocks and restrictions. If you do use it, remember to turn on the encryption when using any unknown connection such as a hotel, airport or cafe wireless connection. It’s especially important when connecting to important sites like banking,paypal and webmail for example.

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Bah Malware Attacks – This time it’s Cryptolocker

A few practical precautions can help minimise the possibilities of a CryptoLocker attack. What exactly are our top tips?

Don’t leave it linked to your own PC if you’re not backing up, if you are using an external hard drive. If you’re uncertain check with your own supplier.

– Create files within the Cloud and upload photographs to on-line accounts like Flickr or Picasa (although NSA and MI5 will copy all your stuff!)

– Change to your spam- and virus filtered email service. (It also doesn’t enable you to really send them).

– Do not go to on-line porn sites, which are generally the source of many malware downloads. When clicking on adverts; never open Twitter website links and attachments from those that you do not understand or trust take care. Heh but really this is the internet – go find porn, it’s fine ;)

- – Install the most recent versions of upgrade addons and the internet browsers including Java and Adobe Flash.

– Get reputable antivirus software and make certain you update it often.

– Act fast. Bear in mind it’s likely to take a little time for the encryption to occur, should you inadvertently download a dodgy attachment. Before all of your files are encrypted should you instantly download and run an antivirus programme, like the complimentary antivirus toolkit available from Sophos, it might destroy the CryptoLocker – nevertheless, you’ll forever lose affected files.

– Encrypt the files you specially need to stay private, including records including your passwords or private information, to prevent criminals from reading what is in them. Read this useful “Ask Jack” post to the Guardian technology site to discover more about encrypting your files.

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Feeling Down About Prism and the NSA?

Completely unrelated and about 30 years old – but you might remember it and raise a smile…….

Outside the UK – it will probably seem odd…..

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Germany Most Spied Upon Country in Europe

Over the years, many of us have laughed and poured scorn on the rise of the surveillance societies.  We have made fun of those countries like North Korea, Iran and Thailand who go to great lengths to monitor and intercept communications made over the internet.    How we giggled at the stupid Chinese internet police who appear on posters in internet cafes reminding people that they’re being watched and telling citizens how to report suspicious or subversive behaviour online.

Chinese Internet Police

EU nations regularly criticize countries like Turkey about their levels of content filtering and human rights issues like accessing the internet.

Yet lately the revelations from Edward Snowden are starting to reveal a much broader scope of surveillance particular in North America and Europe.  The Western democracies of course have strict privacy and data protection laws to protect their citizens from intrusive monitoring, however intelligence agencies like the NSA and GCHQ have discovered a  route around this – they simply ignore legislation and ‘Carry on Spying’.

The latest revelation is that in the NSA spying table, Germany actually come in pretty highly.  The figures come in at an amazing half a billion German telephone calls, emails, web and text messages recorded every month by the American Intelligence services.

This level of surveillance means that the US monitors German citizens on a similar level to China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  A huge invasion of privacy on a country which is not only and ally but has some of the most strict data protection and privacy laws in the world.  This legislation however seems to count for pretty much nothing if you’re a secret service wanting to keep tabs on electronic communication.

Just as the revelations have revealed that the UK intelligence service have set up a surveillance section based in the middle east, the level of snooping that is being conducted by projects like Prism and Tempora is literally breathtaking.

Of course all this surveillance is justified using terms like national security and terrorism.  The huge loss of privacy is therefore deemed a ‘price worth paying’, although the results and effectiveness of this mass surveillance is never identified.

Many advocate international laws being put in place to try and protect people’s privacy, yet it looks unlikely that even these would ever be respected by  the NSA, GCHQ and the other security services across the globe.  Their attitude would seem to match something the Stasi would have come up with to deal with electronic communications.  It seems wrong on many levels that the NSA feels it has the wholesale right to spy on the German citizens simply to protect itself.

 

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Speeding Up Your Connection, Using New Proxies

Most people who use new proxies wonder how much it’s going to slow down their connection.  They’re probably trying to visit a website without being logged or downloading from a website that’s blocked in their country and just need a British IP address.   Most people also associate proxies with the free overloaded ones you can get online – so  they presume all proxy servers run at one speed – very, very slow.

But this isn’t always the case, a well configured, well maintained and secure proxy running on a fast server will rarely slow your connection down at all.  In fact some of the more sophisticated security programs can actually speed up your connection considerably.

Here’s the feature in my favorite security program – Identity Cloaker -

optimize proxy speed
How to Increase Download Speed Using Proxy

As I hope you can see all you need to do is to enable the ‘optimize speed in non-enc mode‘.  Non-enc refers to when Identity Cloaker is running in Non-encrypted mode which you can enable/disable from the main screen here.

Boost Speed by Disabling Encryption
Boost Speed by Disabling Encryption

To disable encryption you merely slide the button down to the left hand side and select ‘None’.   This means that your connection is still routed through  the server and country you select but Identity Cloaker doesn’t encrypt your data by default.

When the connection is decrypted and the above setting selected, the program will attempt to open multiple connections and stream your data across all of them.

Why Would I Use Non-Encrypted Mode?

Well if you’re using something like Identity Cloaker in a benign environment – perhaps a UK resident trying to access Hulu, or somebody just wanting to watch the BBC Iplayer from outside the UK to download and watch videos then there’s no real need to encrypt all your data.  There’s little need to encrypt a video stream of the latest episode of The Simpsons and as encryption has some slight overhead it makes sense to turn it off in these situations.  In this mode Identity Cloaker is able to focus on optimizing the speed of your connection, which will be important if streaming video especially in HD.

The result in some situations can be very dramatic with very substantial speed boosts – however there are a lot of variables to this scenario.  Some people see incredible speed increases using the ‘optimize mode’ whilst others alas barely notice the difference.    There are also some ISPs who block this behavior in order to limit your download speed – BT seem to be doing this at the moment as if you browse using this optimize mode – you’ll get the message – “maximum number of connections reached”

You can find some more detailed information on this YouTube video.

If you need to boost the speed of your internet connection, want to access sites like Hulu, Pandora, Netflix and such like this mode is perfect.  However I urge you to try out the 10 day trial version first as the speed boost won’t work for you if your ISP is blocking multiple connections from the same device -

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Ukraine Proxy – Private VPNs

There is actually quite a demand for proxies and VPNs from the former Soviet Union countries and it can be quite a task to find one. Although some of the demand is probably from natives  who have left countries like Ukraine  and want to connect back using a IP address. The majority of demand is from people who value their privacy and would rather not have their personal data and web history logged at their local ISP.

The idea is that if you route your connection through a proxy or VPN server, then you gain some level of anonymity.  This is true to some extent, for a start the web site you visit will have no record of your real address only that of the proxy server.  Also in your ISP logs your connection will only list the proxy server and not the actual web site you visit.  This of course all depends on the proxy server being correctly configured and the logs being deleted instantly otherwise it’s actually a pointless exercise.

So How Can I Find a Ukraine Proxy

With some countries, you can occasionally find a free VPN or proxy server for a few hours, it’s not that easy with Ukraine though.  If you do find a free one floating about on the internet I would strongly avoid it !! There are quite a few Carders, identity thieves and hackers operating out of Ukraine for obvious reasons – they set up servers to catch account names, passwords etc from the cheap, stupid or gullible!

There are of course lots of commercial VPN and proxy providers but not that many with Ukrainian servers. Of the popular, trusted providers I’ve used only one can supply a Ukrainian IP address and proxy and that’s Overplay.

There are servers in 48 different countries everywhere from the US, German proxies, a couple of Turkish proxies and one is based in Ukraine as you can see from the drop down list. Their subscription (starts from $4.95/£3.20/EUR3.80 a month) all include every one of the servers so you can switch from one to another whenever you like.
ukrainian server

Of course, many use the Ukranian based proxy/VPN servers for privacy – so it’s also important to know that Overplay don’t keep any logs at all of sites visited, transactions, downloads etc.

Here’s what happens when I connect to Google using their Ukranian proxy -

Google with Ukranian IP

I get the Ukranian version with all the search in Russian, if i look for a local plumber then I’ll find one in Ukraine not my real location :) So obviously you have to remember this, that your surfing is often customized to your location i.e. in this case Ukraine. Of course there are benefits as well including being able to switch at will to watch the BBC with a British IP address or an American only site like Hulu using a US server.


The company is run by some networking professionals based in North West, England – they really know what they’re doing and have the largest network of secure proxies and VPNs anywhere on the net. Try them – Overplay, you won’t be disappointed.