One of the problems with standard VPN and proxy programs is that although they add a layer of security in most cases, they also raise a red flag for anyone who looks at their data. To understand this concept just think of a standard log in your local ISP for an ordinary internet user. The log will contain a list of all the websites that user visited, files downloaded, servers contacted. Much of this data is readable, but some will be encrypted such as communication completed through an SSL connection such as banking sites. However the locations and addresses of the web servers will all be visible.
What’s Different about the Logs of VPN Users?
There’s fundamentally two distinct differences between the logs of a standard user and those of a user who accesses the internet using a VPN service.
- Data is encrypted. All the logs of a VPN user are encrypted, so there is no visible data which is readable by anyone looking a the logs. This is of course one of the primary reasons people use VPNs to ensure that their communications are private and not accessible by any intermediate such as an ISP or other intermediate with access to this data.
- Destinations are hidden. The log for a traditional user will contain all the server addresses and names that they visit. However for the VPN user there will be only a single address visible – that of the VPN server that is being accessed.
There’s nothing wrong with this situation however the second point means that in some ways the VPN users data will stand out from the rest. The repeated requests for a single unique address will mark out that connection as related to a VPN or proxy. In some ways this is exactly the opposite effect that the VPN user desires, they still have more privacy than a non-protected user but their data is highlighted because it all travels through a single location. There is a further issue that if anyone wanted full unencrypted logs, these would be accessible from one single location – the VPN server (although it should be highlighted that most of these servers don’t store the logs anyway).
So what are the options for a VPN user how can they stop their data from standing out and protect against the fact that it is all potentially available from a single source. Well what a few of the more secure VPN providers have done is incorporate the best proxy switching software into their connections, like Identity Cloaker which offers the ability to switch the servers used automatically. Identity Cloaker has a proxy switcher feature which automatically changes the server used for the VPN connection. It can be triggered automatically, to switch between different servers, countries or physical locations after a specified duration.
This means that you could configure your connection to switch from a VPN server in the UK after ten minutes to switch to a US server, then a French one and so on. Your data would never be accessible on a single location and the logs although still completely encrypted would now look much more like any other user with different connections being made to different servers over time.
For years people have been using proxies and VPNs not only for security but to bypass the increasing number of filters and blocks that exist online. In the internet’s early days, these didn’t really exist – if you put up a web page you allowed everyone to access it. Obviously there were some exceptions but on the whole most sites were accessible to all, irrespective of your location. Those days have long gone now, with Government’s increasingly operating their own filters and censorship ranging from the ridiculous total block of North Korea to the lighter touch of Western democracies.
In fact, most filtering is now done by the websites themselves usually in the cause of profit maximisation. Most of the world’s biggest media sites for example will analyse your physical location before deciding what you can access, the internet is pretty much multi-tiered. Which is why being able to bypass these artificial restrictions is so important to many people – and why Netflix blocking proxies and VPNs is upsetting so many people.
You see, for years people have been paying for a Netflix subscription in countries where it’s technically not available. There were an estimated quarter of a million Netflix subscribers in Australia years before it was even launched there, people just fired up an American based VPN and access the US site instead. They all paid, they all had valid subscriptions except without a VPN they’d have had to fly to the US to use them. Now Netflix has launched in many more countries, except there’s still a problem – the quality and quantity of movies available varies widely. For example none of the regional versions of Netflix are anywhere near as good as the US one despite the costs being pretty much identical. So the VPN was still used to access the preferred version of Netflix not the one foisted upon you due to your location.
Unfortunately in the last few weeks this has changed and the vast majority of VPNs and proxies no longer work with Netflix – they are blocked almost completely. Netflix have adopted a different approach to most media companies who try and individually block VPNs, they have blocked all commercial IP addresses – just watch this quick video.
As you can see to bypass Netflix’s blocks you must not only use a VPN service but it must also originate from residential classified IP addresses – the one’s that are normally assigned from your ISP. These are unfortunately much more difficult to acquire than commercial addresses which is why most VPNs topped working as they were all based in commercial datacentres. Everyone using a VPN or a proxy would receive a warning message instead of being able to access the Netflix site.
It is quite an aggressive move though and many more people use commercial IP addresses without intending to bypass any blocks. Lots of corporate laptops for example use a VPN as standard simply because of the added security, anyone trying to watch Netflix from their work PC will also be blocked. IN fact Netflix is in some ways stopping the use of what is actually a sensible and secure way of accessing the internet. Using a VPN is pretty much essential for people who want to access secure sites while travelling for example.
How many of these companies are able to adapt to using residential IP addresses is unclear at the moment. Overall Netflix has currently succeeded in stopping access from the vast majority of services, there are a few like Identity Cloaker which have updated their infrastructure but it is a costly experience.
In days gone by, the search for proxies was a legitimate one – there were lots around although once found most soon became overloaded. It’s a similar situation today, you can still search for new proxy sites 2016 but in reality if they’re free they’ll be fairly useless and utterly slow.
So why do people still search for new proxies online? Well to some extent it’s misinformation – thinking that proxies can bypass firewalls, content filters and the ubiquitous region locks that most internet media sites enforce. You think you can access the US version of Netflix using a proxy or download BBC shows to your hard drive – think again, those days are long gone.
Proxies are now fairly useless in all these instances, virtually every media site can detect and block them automatically and even the most antiquated content filter will detect and restrict them and they offer more security risks than benefits too. On the client side, there’s very little point in using a proxy in 2016 although they still have value on the server side. To take control of your surfing you really need something a little more advanced such as a SSH tunnel or VPN.
The problem is that although proxies were freely available, mostly left open by accident, VPNs take time and effort to configure and support. They also cost a significant amount of money – so there are no free VPNs available (beware some pretend they are, but reuse your connection to fee paying customers like Hola). Unfortunately those days of grabbing a bunch of free proxies to access Facebook at work or streaming the BBC Olympics to your PC while lazing next to a Spanish swimming pool.
In fact you even need to take care on choosing which VPN you use, because even when paying many won’t even work for bypassing even the most simplistic region locks. If correctly configured they are still difficult to detect however many of the basic VPN providers don’t do this correctly – failing in the basic configuration steps required to maintain the anonymity of a VPN.
So it’s probably not worth anyone’s time searching for proxies any more, if you need to bypass a block or access a site – start checking out VPNs and SSH tunnels as these are what’s required. Remember they cost a lot of money to run and must be configured properly, so there are no free ones available. Any that look free are either subsidized by advertising which is fine, or some re-use your connection while you are connected which is a very, very bad idea.
It seems that the days of proxies are numbered at least as far as bypassing geo-blocks from the big media sites are concerned. Slowly but surely they have introduced proxy detecting technology which blocks the use of straight forward proxies from accessing their sites. This is of course, very annoying for owners of blogs called newproxies.com and for the many people who access these sites from a corporate or educational network which normally use proxies to reduce load on their networks (proxies are great for caching).
Try and access a site like Hulu, Netflix or even the BBC iPlayer using a proxy to hide your real location and you’ll be found out. However fear not, there is hope in a very familiar format the VPN (Virtual Private Network) service of which you’ll find many. These are more advanced versions of the simple proxy server which both encrypt and hide your location much more securely, more importantly the big media sites are unable to determine whether a VPN is being used.
What About VPN BLocks?
SO if they can’t detect a VPN in use, why is there so much chatter about sites like Netflix and BBC declaring war on VPNs and blocking them from accessing? Well the simple fact is that although Netflix and others can’t actually detect a specific VPN connection being used, they can create blacklists of suspected VPN IP addresses. It’s not that hard to do, look for some simple patterns and multiple connections (sometimes many thousands) occurring from a single IP address and you’ve likely got a proxy or VPN server.
On the other side of the battle, the VPN providers simply need to swap out their IP addresses to new ones that aren’t blacklisted. This is the situation we are in now, with VPN services being blocked then working again as the addresses are switched. Much depends on how many resources are put into detecting and blocking VPN addresses, at the moment Netflix are being extremely aggressive with many large providers being blocked en mass.
So how do you go about finding the best VPN for Netflix, well for a start it’s best to look for a low key security service rather than a VPN service which advertises the TV watching potential openly. These are the ones that legal departments will target, companies who openly promote the facility to watch things like Netflix and BBC iPlayer – they are the most likely to permanently put out of business. What you need is those who market themselves as security providers, remember there’s nothing particularly different between a security VPN than one marketed as a TV watching service. The fact is that the security companies will not be targets, although there IP addresses will still be registered when they connect.
The next bit of advice is to contact the company, are they committed to switching IP addresses out if they get blocked from services. Alternatively just try a trial or short subscription first and see how it works out, if your access is being maintained under the current barrage they should be a safer bet for a longer subscription. Feel free to add a comment on any service that is still working ok with Netflix.
For Other Best Netflix VPN Options – http://thenewproxies.com/choosing-the-best-vpn-for-netflix/
From something that’s basically designed to improve security, privacy and confidentiality – it’s often surprising that this question is asked so often. The problem I suspect is not so much suspicion about the technology but merely that often people have no idea how a Virtual Private Network actually works. Currently the numbers of people using this technology is rising at an exponential rate for a variety of reasons which include the following:
- National/Political/Government Filtering – increasingly even moderate governments and security services are seeking to control access to internet sites to their populations. All across the world governments are using advanced controls to filter or block access to specific sites. From the extreme examples of North Korea and China to less obvious examples like Turkey and Australia, millions of web sites are blocked from various countries across the world. In most situations a secure VPN bypasses these filters.
- Corporate/profit Maximization – companies seek to maximize profits online by operating something called price discrimination. This involves trying to sell the same product or service at the maximum price possible to different markets. This means that the same product will be offered at vastly different prices depending on your physical location. Users obviously don’t like this and using a VPN located in a different country will often allow access to the cheaper prices.
- Licensing/Copyright Issues -similar to the above example thousands of websites restrict access based on your location due to copyright restrictions. Unfortunately this is due to a licensing model spread across the world which is simply not compatible with the global, internet enabled world. Pay for your Netflix subscription and then see it blocked or cut when you travel to another country, try and watch the BBC as a license fee payer and watch your access being restricted online because you happen to be on holiday abroad. Again a VPN bypasses these restrictions by hiding your true location.
This list is not complete, in fact there are many other reasons why people use VPNs including the desire for some basic privacy from the huge surveillance efforts of the world’s security efforts plus the risk from cyber thieves using similar techniques to steal your personal information. It is not surprising that the demand is rising, but is a VPN safe – here’s a video.
So what are the risks? Well most of the issues with using a VPN lie with the supplier in both technical and legal competence. Unfortunately it is relatively easy to set up a VPN service and to sell that service onto to other users. However setting up a secure and safe VPN requires a high investment in infrastructure particularly in the servers that operate the network and technical knowledge to both set up the services securely and support them.
Remember when a VPN is enabled you are routing all your network traffic through those specific servers, potentially trusting your entire connection through the company who runs the VPN. Mostly this is not a problem but you should do your due diligence and ensure you’re dealing with a proper business rather than a group of college kids messing around with their University data centres.
A fast, secure VPN service provides a high level of both privacy and security online as long as it is configured and run correctly. It ensures that all your data is encrypted and also hands you to the ability to hide and control your digital location. Whether you just want to watch a different version of Netflix or watch your home News station online while travelling then a VPN is for you. A VPN is not insecure to use, in fact it’s exactly the opposite as long as it’s run correctly.
When travelling abroad, you’ll often find people going to extraordinary lengths to catch up with news from their home. Years ago it involved buying three day old copies of crap newspapers at ten times their face value just to find out the football results. The internet has of course changed all this, meaning that you can find out this information anywhere which has a wireless or phone signal.
However the global information network of the web has not solved all these issues, although it has undoubtedly changed the way we can access information like this. The problem is not now that the information is not there, it’s just sometimes you get blocked from accessing it depending on your location.
Take for example my friend, who hales from the beautiful city of Cork in Southern Ireland – who works in several European countries in a shift rotation. He is a huge Gaelic football fan and will happily watch any match between any team whenever he gets the chance. Unfortunately this particular form of football is not widely followed outside Ireland and the only real coverage is available from the Irish broadcasters like RTE and TV3. No problem, you’d think as both these broadcast companies operate extensive web sites and rebroadcast most of their shows online. Except, the moment you leave the Republic of Ireland, then these shows mostly become inaccessible.
Again it’s our old friend, geo-targeting where web sites determine your location before deciding what you can see. Like most large broadcasters this means, that RTE and TV3 block most of their content outside Ireland – unless you use the very same technique most of us use to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland .
So suddenly, location becomes immaterial again – simply fire up a proxy in the correct country and you can access whatever you like online. So my friend would simply start the subscription service he uses, connect to an Irish based server and then visit the RT3 site for instance.
Because the website would not see the real location, only that of the proxy server then nothing would be blocked at all. My friend could sit in a hotel room in Sweden and happily watch the latest Gaelic football thriller as if he was at home in County Cork.
Have you ever noticed that all the free stuff on the internet is becoming harder to find? The web used to be awash with all sorts of wonderful content available to everyone, no restrictions and costing absolutely nothing. It epitomised the free sharing ethos of the internet and there were some incredible resources made available to anyone in the world. Perhaps it’s my older, cynical side but that really doesn’t seem to be the case any more. Sure there are still some great, uncensored and filtered sites available but they seem to be coming rarer by the day.
Even for those sites which weren’t always accessible for whatever reason, there was usually a quick and simple alternative or workaround. Take the following situation, I had to spend a few months in Australia last year and after a few weeks watching Aussie TV began to miss the BBC and the other UK TV stations. Now although the BBC iPlayer is normally blocked outside the UK there were usually methods to access BBC iPlayer in Australia. Ok, so some of these were a little underhand but there were even legitimate, official options.
For instance you could hop over to the official BBC iPlayer Global channel on YouTube which had lots of great content, although now you’ll just find the following message –
BBC Global iPlayer is is now closed. We would like to thank all of our subscribers for using the service.
Yep the miserable so and so’s have closed that YouTube channel and stopped posting programmes there. You could also find lots of ahem ‘unofficial’ copies of shows posted on YouTube as well, these have all mysteriously disappeared in a swarm of copyright infringement notices. No worry there’s still options, you can fire up a proxy server or buy a VPN online for a few bucks and your problem was solved, again that’s now not nearly as simple.
The reality is that in common with most of the big media sites online, free unfettered access to content is a thing of the past. The BBC iPlayer is following the trend and spending a lot of time and effort in restricting access to their site from anywhere outside the UK at least without paying lots of money first. There are commercial versions of the site being launched of course but usually cut down versions with high subscription costs. The BBC are now even actively blocking commercial VPN services something that they have always turned a blind eye to previously. Now many of the more high profile commercial ‘watch TV’ VPN services are locked in a seemingly never ending battle with the people who run the Beeb’s IT infrastructure. They block the IP address of the VPN services, and then the VPN companies desperately switch servers to try and avoid the restrictions for their customers.
In reality this battle is one that you can probably avoid by making sure you pick a more low-key VPN service which doesn’t advertise BBC and TV watching as their primary use. All the VPN services will allow access to the BBC if they’re not blocked so just find a ‘security’ focussed one and you should be good to go. Who knows where it will end though, the reality is that these services can still be blocked quite easily if the techies start looking at numbers and figures of users connecting on specific IP addresses.
For years, the BBC has been one of the few companies that didn’t seem that bothered about blocking non-UK access to it’s online content. All the big media sites of course restrict access based on your IP address, but some seem to enforce these restrictions more than others. Hulu for instance has always had quite an aggressive stance towards people hiding their IP address to watch from outside the US. This has attitude has slowly seen the simple proxy become less and less useful for bypassing geo-blocks. Most systems now can automatically detect the use of a proxy server and will block this directly.
The BBC has now changed it’s stance completely and now is actively blocking these tactics and a simple proxy server will no longer suffice. This is presumably linked with the BBC having to become rather more aggressive with it’s commercial efforts due to a cut back in public funding. THe BBC has opened a new ‘online store’ where you can buy much of it’s content and downloads individually so allowing millions to watch for free is clearly not in that interest.
But fear not, there are still options and in some cases it’s probably for the best. The problem with proxies were that they were extremely easy to set up but very difficult to secure properly, which meant that the internet was awash with badly configured proxies often installed on hacked servers. To use the hacked servers particularly was extremely risky as they were often used to steal users credentials and data. A VPN is a different story and there are now a whole range of inexpensive, fast VPN services which offer the chance to both secure your connection and bypass geo-blocks. Here’s a simple introduction into one of them on this video – Streaming UK TV from Anywhere.
The program demonstrated is a secure VPN (although can run in different modes) which means that it cannot be detected by all these media sites. You should remember though that nothing is completely undetectable, even when the VPN cannot be detected – they can detect when multiple connections are streaming to specific IP addresses. Most of these VPN services share IP addresses with users because the costs would be much more to provide exclusive addresses to each user.
Like everything in life, with computer security you get what you pay for. Unfortunately most people don’t look at things like this and usually pick based on the nearest to free that they can get. Take for example Anti Virus programs, there are literally millions of people who use free or very cheap services who have about as much chance of stopping your computer being infected with malware as my grandmother does of setting up a wireless access point (i.e none whatsoever). This attitude will only really change if they suffer the extreme hassle both in time and money of having their computer infected and possibly their personal accounts raided too.
It’s the same using a VPN (virtual private network), people think that they are all the same and if you are using a VPN then your internet connection is both secure and private – which is a long way from the truth. Have a look at this video for some introduction – Most Secure VPN Service
The points are important, logging (or lack of it is crucial), if you use a VPN which doesn’t deal adequately with the logs then you are safer without using them. Worst still VPN costs lots of money to run and support, some free proxies and VPNs are not run by some wealthy, benevolent technology company (surprise, surprise). They are run on hacked servers by cyber criminals who offer the service because it’s a simple way to steal all your credentials and help them selves to your bank accounts or identity.
VPNs do offer security, they do offer a level of protection that is unparalleled on the internet but only if they’re on properly configured hardware and run by technically competent staff- which of course costs money. Before you connect to that free proxy or VPN ask yourself this –
why is this company or person paying thousands of dollars a month to provide me with a completely free secure VPN service?
Hopefully if you’re over 15 then it might occur to you that there’s another agenda. Stay safe, don’t use free proxies and VPNs they could end up costing you big time.
Of course on the internet there is a temptation to look for the cheapest version of something, however when you’re talking about VPNs and proxies then this is almost certainly a huge mistake. Whatever the reason you’re looking for one, then VPN speed and security are of paramount importance.
Consider these two thoughts:
- A slow VPN/proxy will make everything you do online happen at a snail’s pace.
- An insecure VPN/proxy could put you at risk from identity theft.
The simple fact is that the moment you connect through a proxy or VPN server, anything you do online is routed through that server. That is everything, every user account, email, password – whatever you do online it will be going through that server.
Which is one the reasons there are so many free hacked proxies and VPN servers around on the internet. You may think that the cost of using one of these servers is speed, after all it’s free so it will be slow but the real cost is you are paying the price with your identity.
First of all the speed – look at the impact a normal fast VPN like this will have on your connection.
The impact that a fast, well configured and maintained VPN has on your connection is negligible – in fact often they can speed up your connection by compressing the data. Of course free services are never going to do that, it takes time and money to host and run fast servers like this and the majority of free proxies are on cheap unmanaged hosting with adverts to support them or are on hacked servers and financed in a more sinister manner.
Imagine you’re a cyber criminal who has just hacked into a network of servers at a community college in the US. How can you make money from these servers before they are discovered? Well one of the easiest options is to set them up as free proxies or VPNs and then let them loose on the internet. Wait until people start using them and then simply log all activity on the servers, sifting through the transactions looking for email addresses, usernames and passwords.
Pretty soon you’ll have a host of account names and passwords to all sorts of sites including home banking, paypal, ebay and hotmail. Any of these can be used to steal money and goods very easily, all from the comfort of the thieves desktop. It’s a pretty good model for cyber crime, relatively safe from getting caught and potentially hugely lucrative if you get access to a few bank and paypal accounts. Some people have had thousands drained from their accounts in this way simply because they are often completely unaware it’s happening until it’s too late.
So remember using free, unregulated proxies and VPNs to do anything online is a huge risk to both your privacy and wealth.