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 or use a Turkish Proxy.  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.

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.

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.

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.


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 –

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, VPN or Smart DNS service, 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.

Turkish Internet Censorship – The Future

Turkey has for many years shown a very strong desire to heavily censor the internet.  They have frequently blocked access to many of the major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.  Normally these blocks have been short lived due to public and international pressure.

The recent protests in Turkey though have perhaps given as an insight into the views of their government – with the Prime Minister, Recep Erodogan making this ridiculous quote –

“Social media is the worst menace to society”

Of course if you’re incredibly unpopular and are trying to forcefully implement a religious agenda into a secular country then social media is not likely to be your best friend. The reality is social media is merely a form of communication nothing more and nothing less.

I fear that if the Prime Minister in Turkey continues in power, his aggressive mobilisation of the police against peaceful protesters will be followed soon by some serious ramp up in internet censorship. Two years ago a plan was proposed to impose huge restrictions on Turkish internet users.

The idea was that all users would have to select one of four content filtering packages. These were labelled – family, children, domestic or standard – so basically you chose which amount of filtering was applied to your web browsing. The very worst part was that you would never know to what extent you had agreed as the blocked web sites in each list would not be made public. The web sites would be assigned by the Prime Ministry’s Information Technology Board (BTK) and you can be assured that there would be many thousands of sites in these blocked lists.

Update – There are reports that both Twitter and Facebook have been blocked (03rd June), am going to verify this using my Turkish proxy server.

How to Find a Turkish Proxy

The internet used to be one big happy family, where we could all go to the same websites and see exactly the same. However this is not the case anymore and many web sites block or restrict access based on your location – here’s how you can use a Turkish proxy to access web sites restricted to people in Turkey only.

You might not think there are many sites which only allow access from Turkey like this but you may be surprised, many Turkish banks, TV stations, online newspapers and YouTube videos are accessible only if you have a Turkish IP address. Of course there’s only two ways this can happen –

  1. You’re in Turkey
  2. Using a Turkish Proxy or VPN to hide your real address

Where to find a Turkish Proxy

Now you can find free proxy servers online, but you’ll be struggling to find a Turkish one that isn’t going to infect your PC with malware and allow the administrator to run off with your account details if you try and log in to anything. So you’ll be left with one of the paid VPN or proxy providers, although there’s not many that supply a Turkish server.

The one I use is called Overplay and they have been around for many years. Here’s the interface of the connection program –

Using a Turkish Proxy
Select a Turkish Proxy

All you do is scroll down the list and select the desired country, in this case Turkey then press connect.  From this point in all your traffic will be encrypted and  routed through the Turkish server and you will appear to be connecting from Istanbul (where the server is located).  It’s definitely the easiest way to get Turkish IP address assigned to your connection.

You can see from this screen shot now when I visit Google I actually get redirected to the Turkish version –

Turkish Google

It’s important to remember this that when you choose to connect you’ll browse with Turkish IP address irrespective of your actual location.
When you have finished you merely select deselect, or if you need to access content in another country then connect through a different server.  For example if you’re in Turkey and want to access the BBC Iplayer you would choose a UK server.  If you needed to access some American only sites like Hulu then choose one of the US servers.

It can be a challenge finding Turkish proxies to use however, you won’t find any free ones and some sites charge a lot of money for them. It’s certainly way more challenging than finding a US web proxy for example but even then you can rarely trust the free ones. Fortunately for anyone looking for specific proxies like ones from Turkey, then Overplay have the biggest proxy/VPN server network anywhere and they only a charge a small subscription fee to cover all their servers which you can cancel at any time instantly.

I can thoroughly recommend them – Overplay VPN Service.

Edit – after recent events in Turkey from Erdogan thought this might be relevant – Turkish Block Twitter

Privatisation of Censorship in China

Here’s a new lucrative, money making profession that could be creating a few millionaires across the globe over the next few years.  It goes under various names like internet scrubbers, online reputation management or image repair – and firms are making lots of money especially in China.

Firms and wealthy individuals are paying specialists to  ensure that any mentions that appear online are all positive and that any negative comments are removed from view.  In China one of the biggest firms of this sort are called Yage Times and are fronted by Gu Genda a 30 year old entrepreneur from Beijing.

In China the number of firms like this are growing.  They work something like this, a big company or person may be receiving bad publicity online – perhaps a rumor or potential scandal is being talked about online.  Of course this is perfectly natural but in a very connected online society like China this can have a huge impact on a company or individual’s reputation.

So they hire someone like Yage Times to ensure that negative content and discussions are removed or at least fade from view rapidly.   This can be very complicated and extremely costly but many firms are willing to pay the price.

Unfortunately it’s not always easy to do this.  There are of course ways to make online pages and posts slowly disappear from view by affecting their ranking in the search engines.  But if a negative story appears on a popular and high ranking news site or block it’s not going to fade away easily – at least not until it’s been viewed by millions of people.

So what can you do?  Well apparently the initial attempts to remove unwanted stories involves bribing the publishers to remove or modify the items.  For bigger sites this wouldn’t always work so Yage Times consultants would then forge Government documents enforcing the removal of specific content from their site.

As the Chinese government actively censor huge sections of the web this would rarely come as a big surprise.  In fact many Chinese people routinely connect via a US or UK IP address to avoid these filters. It’s another huge growth area ironically because of all the restrictions that have been put in place by the Chinese authorities – here’s one that’s extremely popular – best VPN software.


These tactics have ensured some big profits for companies like these, but not surprisingly the Chinese Government were not impressed – Gu Genda and about 10 others are now in custody awaiting trial for various charges including bribery.

Censorship of the internet is rife in China, but it seems the state would rather keep the monopoly.  The story was raised by a Chinese magazine called Caixin.

It is not without irony that many comments and responses to the Caixin story have been deleted or censored shortly after publication!