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.

Have a Banned IP Address?

Well if it is banned then it could be time for a change.  The simple truth is that your IP address is increasingly being used to control what you are allowed to access to on the web.    Every time you visit a web site, a forum or social networking site your IP is registered, recorded and sometimes even blocked.

Have you ever clicked on a video on YouTube and been told – “I’m sorry that video is not available in your area” – it will be due to your location, or more specifically the location of your IP address.  It might be that a video that is accessible in one country and blocked in others – the decision is made automatically , you may have a banned IP address for that video.

There are many other circumstances where your IP address may stop you accessing or viewing a web site.  I have a friend who has an obsession with several computer games (mainly WOW and COD), when not playing the game he spends lots of times on various forums related to the games.

Unfortunately he has rather a big mouth, and also a tendency to logon to these forums late at night when he’s had a couple of drinks. This combination has led him to being banned from multiple forums due to a particular outburst and he gets quite upset about this.

keepout-ip address

Anyway after trying to create a few new accounts and failing,  he realised that the ban was based on his IP address and asked me to help him change it.  He knew I was very interested in security and online privacy and thought I could help him.

You may be able to change it simply by resetting your modem, some ISPs will assign you a new address each time you logon.  Just check your IP address on your modem or router before resetting your connection, leave it off for a few minutes then reconnect.  You might find you’ve been assigned a brand new address, it should be enough to get you passed a forum IP ban.  However it won’t help with country address blocks like YouTube, Hulu or the BBC iPlayer I’m afraid, for those you’ll need an address in the specific country i.e. a British IP address for BBC, and American one for Hulu etc.  The other option which may help is to use a method like this just using DNS – http://dnsproxy.co.uk/

If you need to reliably switch between different Ip addresses at will, the reality is that it’s very easy to do.   In my friends case I merely pointed him at the security product I use called – Identity Cloaker.  All he had to do was select a server to use and he connected through a private proxy/vpn server – the forum was unable to detect his real IP address and he was able to register a brand new account.  Here’s an example screenshot – there are about hundreds of IP addresses to choose from spread across about a dozen countries.

Claoking IP address

Of course there are other methods of achieving this.  You could ask your ISP for a new IP address, or perhaps swap ISPs altogether.  If you’re getting lots of problems it might be worth doing this as sometimes IP addresses just get a bad name and get blocked in lots of situations.

It’s a pretty basic method but millions of people now use security products – the best proxy program I’ve used is Identity Cloaker to have complete control over their privacy and to enable them to switch IP addresses when they need to.

Proxies and Protocols

Many people use proxies for a variety of different reasons.  Some use them for security, basically using the proxy server to hide their identity(and IP address) from the web site they are visiting.   Others use them to bypass blocks which are based on IP addresses.  these could include if your IP address is banned from a forum or site for some reason or when it’s blocked because of it’s location .  This is surprisingly common and major sites like the BBC, Hulu, ABC and YouTube block access to millions based on their location.

So it’s not surprising that so many people use proxies for these reasons, but most people don’t have much of an idea of how they actually work.   For instance if you start filtering all your traffic through  a proxy then you are effectively expecting it to handle all sorts of different protocols.  If you filter through a foreign country perhaps through a German or Turkish proxy or maybe a UK TV VPN  then you’ll also appear to be located here.

So How Does A Proxy Handle all These Protocols?

Well to be honest some don’t, if you use any of the free ad financed web proxies you see online they’ll frequently fall over or fail to connect.  But a well configured proxy should be able to handle most of the protocols you send through it.  This is because the proxy operates at the Application Layer of the OSI Model.

This means that to some extent a proxy server can actually understand what is happening.  The proxy has two basic ways of dealing with the traffic – it can either proxy or tunnel the protocol.   If it understand the protocol you can do neat things like filter it, perform advanced logging and even operate access control to deny or allow access.

If the proxy doesn’t understand a protocol then it will just act as a dumb tunnel and forward and receive the data between the client and server.  For instance you’ll find that the vast majority of web based proxies have no support for SSL as they don’t understand it.

Proxies will normally be able to handle protocols that also operate at the application level like HTTP, Gophur and FTP for instance.  When using a proxy server though remember you are entrusting it with all your personal data that you are sending through your browser – take care using proxies that you know nothing about.  The reality is that setting up a free proxy server is a great way of stealing peoples usernames, passwords and other identity related information.

 

Looking for a List of Free Secure Proxies?

Well don’t.  Seriously think about it, do you honestly expect to find a nice up to date list complete with loads of totally free secure and high anonymity proxy servers?   Is this the way the world works?  Thousands of benefactors paying huge bandwidth charges for these proxies, whilst teams of highly skilled IT administrators work for free making sure they’re safe to use and all the data and logs are secure.

Of course you won’t, you will find lists with new proxies of course – some nicely formatted classifying open proxies as secure, highly anonymous and rubbish like that.    These lists are all over the place,  all they do is list open proxies – none of them are secure, not even close and I’ll tell you why.

So What Are all These Proxies – Do They Exist?

They do exist,  but the vast majority are not left open intentionally.  Many free proxies are badly configured servers which have accidentally been left open and accessible from the internet.  They might be webs servers in colleges or Universities, PCs in companies or businesses that simply have been set up badly.

Many applications install web components like proxies automatically,  administrators often have no idea that they are running proxies on their servers until they start to notice the bandwidth costs or see their application server running like a three legged dog.

Of course you might have no problem using a proxy server that some dozy administrator has left open accidentally (although I can assure you it is illegal in the UK at least – Computer Misuse Act 1990).  But if it’s not been configured properly all your data and web traffic will be at risk.

Risk from anyone using the server and setting up a simple packet sniffer like the one below.

This could be run by anyone who gains or possesses access to the server.  Remember in many cases the proxy has been left open accidentally – so it’s highly unlikely to be configured in a secure manner.   One of the most insecure configurations you can run a proxy server in is by allowing the service itself to run in the context of  the ”root” account.  One little bug, vulnerability or configuration error then effectively puts the whole server and all data stored on it at risk.

Before you think there might not be much to see in your data logged on a proxy, think again – account names, passwords, email addresses and messages could all be visible.  Even those encrypted with SSL can be intercepted if you have admin access to the server.

It’s quite simple if you need a safe, secure, highly anonymous proxy server then you have a few choices.   Pay someone you trust to run it properly or  set one up yourself and ensure it’s configured properly.  There are some highly secure proxy and VPN services available for minimal cost, just search online.  Whatever you do thought don’t risk the free proxies they’re just not worth it.

 

Identity Thieves – So Many Opportunities

I’ve just finished installing a monitor and a few cameras in a friend’s takeway.  He’s convinced that one of his staff have their hands in the till but it not sure who it is, so he rushed out and bought a few cameras and a monitor then had no idea how to set them up. So he called me….

I’m no expert on these things, but it wasn’t very difficult to set up and I even got the internet enabled  bit working.  Yep the camera’s he chose were also accessible from the internet.  So the upshot is he spend half his time fueling his paranoia and watching these cameras looking for foul play.  Seems to spoil most of his holidays looking at his shop and staff on his phone and laptop as well, so far no evidence of criminal behaviour detected!

Anyway it’s interesting, these are not expensive cameras but offer a very detailed video feed and you can even move them remotely over the net using the admin interface.  It’s just another opportunity to be spied on….

The internet is becoming a digital heaven for all the stalkers, snoopers  and more worryingly the identity thieves.

Here’s an example –

Fire up a Google session and type the following in the search bar

index.of.dcim

 You’ll get returned a huge list of directories containing digital photographs.  These have been dumped onto computers, servers, web space  all which are accessible from the internet with no restrictions or security on the vast majority.

So it’s just a Duck !

So here’s one I picked from a directory entitled ‘personal pictures of family – ok it’s just a duck with a weird hair do,  I didn’t want to post their actual pictures even if they are easily accessible.  The vast majority of the photos are just normal everyday stuff  of a family based in France, but contained in their directories are lots of photos of the family, especially the kids.  If you look through the other directories on this web site – just by clicking around (not hacking) then you can find out their address, occupation and all their names.  This took five minutes – imagine what a professional identity thief could achieve in an hour with specialist tools.

But don’t take my word for it, try it out – click through the directories and the thousands of photos and ask yourself this question –

Did the owners intend for all these photos to be accessible to everyone on the internet?

I’m pretty sure they didn’t, just like my friend was altogether impressed when he found out that not only him but anyone could access his shop cameras online as well (the reason the admin password was blank by default).

Here’s some other searches which will show you online video cameras accessible on the internet.

camera – user login”

inurl:”Viewerframe?Mode=”

SNC-RZ30 Home

These are popular online cameras from Toshiba, Panasonic  and Sony – have a click through the results and see what you think.  Many of these cameras are intended to be public as a service or just promotional but do you think all of them?  Many of them inside offices or back entrances of secure properties or residential houses.

People are simply unaware of how much of their lives ends up online – which is pretty scary.  Often an online theft will start off from one of these little trails of information – combine this with all the other information sources the bad guys are using – yes I include the thousands of new proxies that arrive on the internet every day which are nothing more than hackers honey pots !

Why Do People Search for a New Proxy Site?

So why do people waste so much time looking for a new proxy site constantly?  Often the reason is that they’ve heard that free proxies will make them surf like a web ninja and be able to bypass all the blocks and filters that currently exist online.  Alas both of these are  very far from the truth.
new proxy sites
The problem with these proxies is that firstly many of them are extremely insecure (lots are actually run by criminals who want to steal usernames and passwords),  the other is that they are  slow and unreliable simply because they’re overloaded and not configured correctly.  Free proxies sound good, but nobody who know anything about the risks would ever use them.

But first of all it’s best to define what exactly is a proxy server. Often people have a completely false idea of what it entails.

In a practical context a proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between a workstation and the internet.  So instead of a request for a web page going directly to the site, the request first goes to the proxy server which downloads the web page and forwards it back to the client.

This has two main implications –

  • The Web server has no record of the workstation’s IP address.
  • The proxy server handles all web requests for the client.

These are the main reasons, proxies are used to enhance your online privacy.  They effectively add a layer of anonymity to your web browsing ensuring the web site you visit has no record of your location.

So a New Proxy Site is Safer?

Unfortunately it’s not that clear cut and the main issue that many people forget is that in some senses you are actually adding a layer of risk to your browsing.  The reason is that although your IP address is not logged on the web site you visit (which should only see the proxy)  it is logged on the proxy server itself.  In fact the proxy server potentially holds a complete and total list of your entire browsing history.

This is the reason that hackers and cyber criminals set up free proxies online and let anyone use them.  It’s not some sense of free spirit or egalitarian ideals, it’s because the owner of a proxy is potentially able to intercept all the user’s web transactions.  So they become a handy source of usernames, account details and passwords from the unsuspecting users of the proxy.

Of course not all the free proxies available online are run by hackers and thieves, some are just accidentally left open or occasionally even set up for no gain.  These however soon get flooded with users and hence people find themselves locked into this constant search for the latest free proxies which have not yet been overloaded.

When a new proxy server initially  appears online, it is pretty quickly well known and very well used – within hours it will be overloaded and too slow to use. Hence the search, if you find a proxy quickly you can get a few hours use of it.  What’s worse the scourge of geo-targeting means that people will often need a server in a specific location, perhaps a US one or a German proxy site dependent on what they want to access and their current location.  The bigger countries usually have lots of servers and options available but if you’re looking for something like a Polish proxy that can sometimes be a little more challenging.

The reality is now that basic proxies aren’t enough any more, even commercial ones.  Many of the big media sites can detect the use of simple proxy sites.  To stay secure and to bypass geotargeting on the BBC Iplayer, Hulu, Netflix and Youtube you need to include a level of encryption too.  So you’d be best moving on from simple proxies with all their inherent risks and look at security products like Identity Cloaker which offer a secure VPN solution which keeps all your browsing private and encrypted whilst allowing access to all the world’s top media channels.