Stealth VPN – The Protocol That Helps You Bypass VPN Blocking

VPN Services


Stealth VPN is a term used to describe a VPN protocol or server that makes VPN traffic look like regular web traffic through obfuscation, even when deep packet inspection (DPI) is performed on the traffic by a firewall or network administrator. Learn about StealthVPN, the way it bypasses VPN blocking, the available implementations, and the best Stealth VPN providers.

What is the DPI (Deep Packet Inspection)?

Deep packet inspection (DPI) is an advanced technique used to examine and manage network traffic. It employs packet filtering to locate, identify, classify, reroute or block packets with a specific code or data payloads.  Conventional packet filtering can’t detect DPI, as it only looks at packet headers.

Deep Packet Inspection tools

Network administrators often use DPI as a security tool to detect and intercept viruses and other types of malicious traffic. However, they can also use it for disreputable activities, such as eavesdropping.

Deep Packet Inspection is also used to streamline the flow of network traffic. A message that is, for example, flagged as high priority can be sent to its destination before low-priority packets or messages. DPI can also be used to improve network performance by throttling data transfer, thereby preventing peer-to-peer abuse.

DPI has sparked concern among proponents of Net Neutrality and privacy advocates, as it is possible to identify both the recipient and originator from content enclosing specific packets.

What is Obfuscation?

Obfuscating means to make something obscure. When applied to Internet traffic, obfuscating implies that you are trying to hide its real purpose, similar to putting on a disguise. [click to continue…]

3 comments

The Ultimate ZenMate Review [Updated September 2018]

VPN Services

ZenMate is a VPN provider well-known for its proxy browser extensions. ZenMate VPN service offers easy-to-use apps and high speed. Keep reading my (ultimate) ZenMate review to find out more about the pros and cons of ZenMate VPN!

ZenMate review 2018 in a nutshell

Headquarters & jurisdiction  Germany
Website ZenMate.com
Log policy Some logs.
GDPR compliance Yes, according to the support team.
Servers & locations 300+ servers in 30+ countries.
Dynamic & static IPs Dynamic IPs.
Dedicated IPs No.
VPN protocols & security IPSec, L2TP.
Advanced VPN protocols No.
P2P & torrent policy Not allowed.
VPN applications Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS.
Plug & Play Routers Yes, FlashRouters.
Other devices (manual setup) No.
Browser extensions Yes, for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox.
Kill Switch Yes, for the Windows application.
DNS leak protection Yes.
IPv6 leak protection Yes.
Automatically change IP No.
Proxy & SOCKS5 Yes, it offers access to HTTP proxies in the browser extensions (no manual setup). No SOCKS5 proxies.
SmartDNS No.
Simultaneous connections / devices 5 devices.
Free trial Yes, seven days of premium free trial, limited free afterward.
Business VPN Yes.
Pricing From $9.99/month, lower for the annual plan.
Promos & discounts Refer-a-friend coupon, website promo – Get 3 months for free!
Payment methods PayPal, Credit cards, Union Pay, SEPA Bank Transfer, Qiwi Wallet.
Moneyback Yes, 30 days.
Support 24/7 email and support tickets. No live chat.
Performance/speed Very good.
User reviews Mostly positive, complaints about support.
Multilanguage Yes, website and apps.
Pros/What I like Straightforward apps, good speed.
Cons/What could be improved No OpenVPN, no live chat, no bitcoin accepted.

Headquarters & jurisdiction

ZenMate is a VPN provider based in Berlin, Germany. As a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of countries, Germany shares intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. A VPN service provider located in one of these countries might share user data with intelligence services in some instances. You should keep this in mind when using a VPN provider located in Germany.

Update 10/2018: According to recent news, ZenMate was acquired by Kape Technologies, a tech company that also owns CyberGhost.

[click to continue…]

1 comment

Are VPNs Legal? Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal

VPN Services

There are many VPN services available nowadays, so it stands to reason that using one has advantages. The questions are, “What are these advantages?” and “Are VPNs legal?”.  Learn if VPN usage is legal in United States, United Kingdom, European Union, China, Russia, UAE, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Oman, India, North-Korea. Also, are VPNs legal for torrenting, for unblocking Netflix, and for Kodi?

Before we look at the advantages and legality of VPNs, it will help to understand how they work and what they do. A virtual private network (VPN) connection does two things:

  1. It manipulates your device’s IP address, making you appear that it originates from a different place (machine, location, or country).
  2. It encrypts and cloaks your signal, making it impossible for any eavesdroppers to monitor your online activity.

Firstly, is hiding your IP address legal?

Well, that is a tricky question. The answer should be “Yes”, but it is more accurate “It depends.”

In most of the countries, going through a proxy to hide your IP or using a VPN is perfectly legal. You can’t get in any trouble for this unless you are suspected of doing illegal activities while under hidden IP’s.

Advantages of using a VPN

Although a VPN (Virtual Private Network) slows down connection speed by between 25 and 50% percent, there are some excellent reasons why you might want to change/hide your IP address or cloak your activities.

  1. Download and upload P2P files in privacy – P2P is frowned upon by the MPAA and other cinema and music associations. This is detected by eavesdropping on ISP signals, something which a VPN will prevent.
  2. Access streaming content from outside your country – Content streaming services such as Netflix are not allowed to stream content outside the US due to copyright agreements. This is enforced by reading an IP and tracing it to its country of origin. With a VPN, the Netflix block can be bypassed.
  3. Break out of restrictive networks – There are specific private or public networks (or Internet providers) that restrict access to a particular type of content from the Internet. A VPN connection will allow you to break of a restrictive network at school or work and connect to websites and webmail services that might otherwise be restricted.
  4. Using public Wi-Fi with confidence – Public and hotel WiFi is notoriously insecure. A VPN provides a layer of security to the WiFi connection that will protect the user.
  5. Cloak VOIP Phone Calls – VOIP services like Skype are easy to eavesdrop on. A VPN will prevent this from happening.
  6. Bypass a country’s web censorship – Some states choose to impose oppressive internet censoring on their entire countries. A VPN server will enable you to tunnel out of the censorship restrictions and provides unrestricted Internet access.
  7. Watch home-specific broadcasts while traveling – A VPN tunnel connection can be used to force the foreign connection to access your home country as if you were physically there, enabling you to watch local football feeds, TV and newscasts. Don’t forget to read: 7 tips to keep your laptop secure while traveling.
  8. Use search engines without having searches logged – Search engines catalog every web search you perform to customize the advertising and future searches for your computer. With a VPN, this is not possible, and it protects your privacy. Also, you may want to use a private search engine.
  9. Privacy is a fundamental right – If you are a firm believer in personal privacy and the right to receive and broadcast without being surveilled and cataloged by authorities, a VPN or Tor is the way to go.
  10. Avoid reprisals and tracebacks when doing research – If you do sensitive research for your company or don’t want your research details known for any other reason, using a VPN will prevent this.

Are VPNs legal or illegal? VPN is legal in most countries!

In general, VPNs are legal in most countries, but how it is being used will ultimately determine its legality in those countries. There are however many countries where the use of VPNs is illegal, irrespective of what it is being used for. In these countries surfing the Internet may be dangerous, as users identity may be exposed from the activity monitored by governmental firewalls. [click to continue…]

2 comments

Cargo VPN – Personal VPN for Your MacOS and iOS Devices

VPN Services

Cargo VPN is a new VPN service offered by a well-known software producer that you may use on your iOS and MacOS devices. Keep reading the Cargo VPN review to find out what are the pros and cons of CargoVPN.

Cargo VPN review in a nutshell

Headquarters & jurisdiction  Germany
Website Eltima.com
Log policy No logging of user activity, logs number of devices used, some aggregated logs.
Servers & locations 1000+ servers, 52 countries.
Dynamic & static IPs Dynamic IPs.
Dedicated IPs Yes, Personal IP and Personal Server packages.
VPN protocols & security OpenVPN, IPSec, KeepSolid Wise.
P2P & torrent policy Yes, on certain servers.
VPN applications MacOS, iOS.
Other devices (manual setup) No.
Kill Switch No.
Simultaneous connections / devices 5 devices.
Free trial Yes, 24 hours.
Pricing From $9.95/month, $99.99 for three years.
Payment methods App Store (iOS and MacOS).
Moneyback AppStore refund policy.
Support 24/7 ticket and live chat.
Multilanguage Yes (English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Turkish).
Pros/What I like Nice apps, OpenVPN available, dedicated IPs/servers packages.
Cons/What could be improved No Windows and Android apps, no KillSwitch.

Headquarters & jurisdiction

The company that offers Cargo VPN, Eltima Software, is based in Germany. As a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of countries, Germany shares intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. Thus, a VPN provider located in one of these countries might (not necessarily would) share user data with intelligence services in some instances. You should keep this in mind when using a VPN service located in Germany. [click to continue…]

1 comment

The Ultimate Private Internet Access Review [Updated October 2018]

VPN Services

Private Internet Access is a popular VPN service that you may consider as your permanent VPN solution. PIA provides excellent value for the money, but the support is not great. Keep reading my (ultimate) Private Internet Access review to find out more about the pros and cons of PIA VPN!

Private Internet Access review 2018 in a nutshell

Headquarters & jurisdiction  United States
Website PrivateInternetAccess.com
Log policy No logging.
GDPR compliance Yes, according to the support team.
Servers & locations 3500+ servers, 28 countries.
Dynamic & static IPs Dynamic IPs.
Dedicated IPs No, for anonymity reasons.
VPN protocols & security OpenVPN, IPSec, PPTP, L2TP.
Advanced VPN protocols No, but you may use PIA with Tor.
P2P & torrent policy Yes, on all servers (routed to specific locations).
VPN applications Windows, MacOS, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux.
Plug & Play Routers Yes, FlashRouters and Sploitworks.
Other devices (manual setup) DD-WRT, Tomato, Sabai routers, Freebox, Raspberry PI, Boxee Box
Browser extensions Yes, for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox.
Kill Switch Yes, for the Windows, MacOS, Android apps.
DNS leak protection Yes, for the Windows and MacOS apps.
IPv6 leak protection Yes.
Automatically change IP No.
Proxy & SOCKS5 Yes, both HTTP proxies (within the Chrome extension) and SOCKS5.
SmartDNS No.
Simultaneous connections / devices 5 devices.
Free trial No.
Pricing From $6.95/month, lower for annual and bi-annual plans.
Promos & discounts Rarely.
Payment methods Credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, BitcoinCash, Amazon Pay, CashU, OKPay, Mint, Mobiano, Gift cards.
Moneyback Yes, seven days.
Support 24/7 email and support tickets. No live chat.
Performance/speed Good.
User reviews Mostly positive, complaints about support.
Multilanguage Yes (website and apps).
Pros/What I like Excellent price, lots of encryption features, good speed.
Cons/What could be improved Support is not great, a low number of locations (compared to other VPNs).

Headquarters & jurisdiction

Private Internet Access VPN is based in the United States. Not the best location for running a VPN service as the United States is a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of countries that share intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. Also, the US is the home of NSA, the well-known governmental surveillance agency.

However, PIA has a strict no logging policy that was recently confirmed by an FBI investigation. The criminal complaint filed by the FBI shows that a subpoena sent to Private Internet Access resulted in no useful data being revealed about a suspected hoaxer. [click to continue…]

4 comments

The Ultimate ibVPN Review [Updated October 2018]

VPN Services

I am using ibVPN (along with other VPN services) for more than five years. There are many things to love about this VPN service that I consider one of the best. It offers excellent features, helpful apps, and fair pricing. Take a look below at my (ultimate) ibVPN review!

ibVPN review 2018 in a nutshell

Headquarters & jurisdiction  Romania
Website ibvpn.com
Log policy No logging.
GDPR compliance Yes, according to the Privacy Policy.
Servers & locations 180+ servers, 57 countries.
Dynamic & static IPs Both dynamic and static IPs.
Dedicated IPs Yes, upon request.
VPN protocols & security OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, SSTP, SoftEther
Advanced VPN protocols DoubleVPN, TorOverVPN, StealthVPN, ShadowSocks
P2P & torrent policy Yes, on specific servers.
VPN applications Windows, MacOS, Android, Android TV, iOS.
Other devices (manual setup) DD-WRT, Tomato, Sabai routers, Freebox, Raspberry PI, Boxee Box
Browser extensions Chrome, Firefox, Opera.
Kill Switch Yes, for the Windows and MacOS apps.
DNS leak protection Yes, for the Windows app.
Automatically change IP Yes, for the Windows app.
Proxy & SOCKS5 Yes, both HTTP proxies and SOCKS5.
SmartDNS Yes, more than 300 channels.
Simultaneous connections/devices Up to 5 depending on the package.
Free trial Yes, 24-hour trial.
Pricing From $4.95/month, lower for annual plans.
Promos & discounts Anniversary Promo, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Winter & Summer discounts.
Payment methods Credit cards, Paypal, Bitcoin, Perfect Money, PaymentWall, other cryptocurrencies.
Moneyback Yes, 15 days.
Support 24/7 email and live chat.
Performance/speed Depends on the servers and locations.
User reviews Mostly positive.
Multilanguage No.
Pros/What I like Top VPN provider with a lot of features and great support.
Cons/What could be improved More servers in Asia and Eastern Europe.

Headquarters & jurisdiction

As stated on their website, ibVPN (aka InvisibleBrowsingVPN) operates from Romania, an East European country, member of the European Union. Romania is not a member of the Fourteen Eyes group of nations that share intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws. Also, it looks to be outside of the influence of NSA and GCHQ. However, as a member of the European Union, some retention laws may be implemented in the future. But, at this time, Romania seems to be a right place for running a VPN service with no logs policy. [click to continue…]

6 comments

12 Tips on How to Torrent Safely

Torrent Tools

Are you downloading torrents frequently? Then, you must read the tips listed below on how to torrent safely!

As you probably know, the torrent p2p protocol (BitTorrent) is a file-sharing technology that provides users with access to virtually unlimited content. This protocol is one of the most popular for peer-to-peer file sharing in the world. Torrenting is almost completely decentralized, except for trackers that enable users to search and download magnet links and p2p files. Magnet links and torrent files are used to find users on the network who host the needed files, although they don’t host those files.

Torrent users do however face many security threats each time they download or share a file, and before you start torrenting, you should take the time to learn how to safely torrent.

Are torrents legal?

Yes, BitTorrent file-sharing technology is legal. Although the technology is legal, how you use it might not be. Whether P2P downloads are illegal or legal depends on which files are being downloaded, who holds the rights to these files and where you are located. Different laws apply to different countries regarding file sharing and copyright issues.

If a user chooses to download files that are copyright protected, whether or not it is illegal will depend on the country’s laws.

Tips on how to torrent safely

The tips below will show you how to torrent safely.

Tip #1 – Take care when choosing your torrent client

Torrent clients range from the simple, straightforward to the extremely powerful. Many clients, e.g., Vuze, have extra features including add-ons, plugins, and additional functionality. These features do however often mean that performance and security are sacrificed. [click to continue…]

5 comments

5 Best Kodi Streaming Addons That Are Completely Legal

Misc

Kodi is a free and open source software entertainment hub and media player. Among the many media types that can be used with Kodi, Kodi streaming is one of the most popular. No matter how big or small the device you want to use, or which operating system it works with, you can install Kodi addons and enjoy hours of entertainment wherever you are.

Kodi can be installed on Windows, OSX, Linux, Android, and iOS. It also features a 10-foot user interface that can be used with TVs and remote controls.

Keep all your digital media in one place with this entertainment hub that is open source and 100% free.

Although being open source, a vast community and a committed team of volunteers supports Kodi. Extensive Wikis and forums contain a massive knowledge-base with suitable information and help aimed at everyone, from application developers to new users. Kodi can also be customized to get precisely the look and feel you want. View or play Kodi online streaming TV, podcasts, music, most videos and many other types of a digital media file from the internet and network and local storage.

Pictures and images can be imported to a library and then browsed with different views, or as a slideshow. You can also use a remote control to filter and sort your libraries. Live TV can be watched and recorded easily by using Kodi’s powerful user interface. Numerous back-ends including MythTV, MediaPortal, Tvheadend, and NextPVR are supported.

Use the enormous range of skins to change the appearance of the interface to suit your taste and needs. Kodi uses a JSON-RPC based remote interface. This enables the use of 3rd party tools, web browsers, and remote controls to take Kodi to a level seldom seen in any media player. You can control media any way you want with the support provided for hundreds of CEC-compatible TVs, remote controls, or one of the many Tablet and Smartphone Apps.

How to use Kodi addons

Kodi’s real power comes from the vast selection add-ons created by a user. Once you have installed Kodi, you can download and install whichever add-on you want right from the user interface. Add-ons will be updated automatically when new versions become available. Kodi has an impressive catalog and a wide range of different categories for its add-ons:

  • Context menus
  • Game add-ons
  • Information providers
  • Libraries
  • Look and feel
  • Lyrics
  • Modules
  • Music addons
  • Picture addons
  • Plugins
  • Program add-ons
  • Scripts
  • Services
  • Subtitles
  • Video addons
  • Weather
  • Web interface

Video and Audio add-ons allow internet content to be streamed, the look and feel of the interface can be changed with Skins, Services and Programs contain tools that may be helpful, while Web interfaces are used to control Kodi remotely.

Why you should use a VPN with Kodi

When you download any content from the internet, there is always the danger that there is malware embedded in the download, and this has significant security and privacy risks. With premium Kodi add-ons, the ones available in the official repository are vetted before they are released, and the probability that they contain malware is therefore much lower, although it is still not guaranteed.

Even trusted download sources such as Google Play Store occasionally inadvertently release downloads that contain malware, although this happens very rarely. If you do download Kodi add-ons from any other source, the risk increases exponentially.

Downloading addons from shady sources

Apart from the threat of malware, downloading add-ons for Kodi from sources other than the official repository could contain illegal, pirated content. Kodi does not allow any addons that use pirated content to be added to its repository. Some content has limitations on where and by whom they may be used. One example would be BBC content that may only be viewed by users with a valid TV License residing in the UK.

To protect your computer against snooping and hacking, or malware attacks, and to get access to content that is only available in individual countries, you can use a VPN software. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will protect your data and prevent hackers from seeing usernames, passwords and your internet activity. The VPN will encrypt all data going from and to your device. This will ensure that no one, not even your ISP, will be able to monitor your internet activity. Here are some VPNs that we recommend: NordVPN, ibVPN, PureVPN, ExpressVPN. [click to continue…]

2 comments

3 Free Firefox VPN/Proxy Addons That Still Work on Firefox 57

VPN Services

You probably heard about Firefox 57, the complete rebuilt version of the popular browser. Some of the existing VPN and proxy add-ons are no longer available. This post lists 3 (I wish I could find more) free Firefox VPN/proxy addons that still work on Firefox 57.

How is Firefox 57 different?

Firefox 57 (aka Quantum) was launched on 14th of November 2017, and it was presented to be twice faster and more memory efficient. It represents the result of years of development from the Mozilla team that tried to fix the most of Firefox’s previous problems, such as speed and frequent crashes.

Unfortunately,  the new Firefox architecture comes with a price. The WebExtensions API that is now the backbone for all Firefox addons is not backward compatible. Thus, some of the older addons for Firefox no longer work on Firefox 57.

What is a Firefox VPN addon?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) or a proxy is a solution that changes your public/visible IP address while browsing the Internet. Thus, your browsing data is secured, you are protected against some types of cyber attacks, you are able to safely access the Internet, and you can access blocked websites.

As we explained in another post, the term of VPN is not accurate for browser add-ons or extensions. But, as it is largely used I will continue calling them Mozilla Firefox VPN/Proxy addons.

Free Firefox VPN/Proxy add-ons for Firefox 57 

During the last days, I have tested several Firefox VPN/proxy add-ons to identify those that are compatible with Firefox 57. Unfortunately, I was only able to identify three such add-ons that are free or at least expose an open mode, without signup. Read my findings below.

Hotspot Shield VPN Free Proxy

Hotpot Shield Firefox VPN addon is precisely the same as the Chrome extension, and it works like a charm on Firefox 57. It comes with unlimited bandwidth, a lot of extra, security and privacy-related options, like ad-blocker, tracker blocker, and cookies blocker. The default server selection is “Optimal,” but you may switch to manual and pick one of the following countries: Canada, Chile, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, India, Germany, and Singapore. Click to connect in seconds.

ibVPN – Best VPN & Proxy

ibVPN Firefox VPN extension is a pleasant surprise. I use their Windows app on a regular basis and I find it extraordinary useful, even though the user interface is not as lovely as it could be. The so-called Guest Mode of the add-on allows you to enter without signup and connect to servers located in the United States, Netherlands, Germany, and Singapore. The extension automatically disconnects every 10 minutes, and manual re-connection is needed. [click to continue…]

5 comments

How to Setup Your Raspberry PI VPN Connection

Hide IP Solutions, VPN Services

Raspberry PI is a wonderful device: so simple, yet so powerful and useful. As a regular VPN user, you will probably want to setup a VPN connection on your Rasp as well. The process is not trivial, but it can be done without much hassle. Learn how to set up a Raspberry PI VPN.

What is Raspberry PI?

As you probably know, the Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer that was built to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and developing countries. Since its launch in 2015, it becomes very popular (more than 12M units sold so far) due to its cost (between $5 and $35), its simplicity and versatility. Raspberry Pi is now the preferred tool for hobbyists, students, and even hackers.

What can you do with a Raspberry Pi?

Well, you may use it in any project that involves a small computational unit. You may even use it as a desktop PC.

Are you new to Raspberry PI? Here are two articles that may give you an idea what to do next: MakeUseOf – Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners and LifeHacker – Top 10 Raspberry PI Projects for Beginners.

What is RaspberryPI VPN and why would you need one?

If you are using your Raspberry PI as a desktop computer, then you may need VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to: secure your Internet connection, protect yourself from hackers or unblock restricted websites.

As expected, due to hardware and software restrictions, you may NOT use Raspberry PI VPN in the same way you use VPN on a regular desktop or laptop.

How to configure the VPN on Raspberry Pi?

This article covers the way you set up a VPN connection on a RaspberryPI, not the way you install a VPN server on your Raspberry PI device. If you are interested in using your device as a VPN server here are some useful article: [click to continue…]

1 comment

7 Excellent PureVPN Alternatives

VPN Services

Have you heard about the fact that PureVPN keeps logs and you plan to switch to another VPN provider? This post lists 7 PureVPN alternatives for secure browsing and unblocking streaming sites.

PureVPN logging policy

As I have explained several times on this blog, it is hard to tell if “no logging” really means that no (to be read zero) logs are kept for each user or connection. I believe that “No logs” is more likely a marketing strategy and that most of the VPN (Virtual Private Networks) providers are maintaining (some) logs for their protection. Logs that can, in some cases, be handed out to authorities.

A few days ago, the news about PureVPN helping FBI with logs for catching a cyberstalker came as a surprise. The service was advertised as “zero logging,” but it seems that it was not the case.

Was it a surprise?

The PureVPN privacy policy starts with “We Do Not monitor user activity nor do we keep any logs.“, but if you look closer you may find out that “Our servers automatically record the time at which you connect to any of our servers. From here on forward, we do not keep any records of anything that could associate any specific activity to a specific user. The time when a successful connection is made with our servers is counted as a ‘connection,’ and the total bandwidth used during this connection is called ‘bandwidth.’“. Thus, some logs are kept for ALL users. Are these all logs that are stored on the PureVPN servers? Well, who knows?

Anyway, PureVPN did what most of the companies would have done in the same situation: provided the info requested by FBI.

It is debatable if what they did was wrong or not. The question is: what can you, as a PureVPN user, do? And the answer is simple: if you don’t care about logs you don’t need to do anything, but if you do you need to start looking for alternatives.

How to look for PureVPN alternatives?

Take a look at the list below or just search Google. You will find plenty of PureVPN alternatives for surfing anonymously and unblocking restricted websites. Do not jump to the first one that looks good! Take your time and look for user reviews and reviews written by bloggers. These will help you make an informed choice.

7 PureVPN alternatives – Top VPN (Virtual Private Networks) providers

I have selected seven excellent VPN providers that may offer what you need: an extended number of server locations, unlimited bandwidth, excellent support, and good connection speed. Make sure you also read the additional tips. [click to continue…]

4 comments

Is There Such Thing as Free Torrent VPN?

Torrent Tools, VPN Services

Free torrent VPN is not easy to find these days and for good reasons. The costs for maintaining such a service are high, and even some of the premium VPNs ban the P2P traffic. So, is there such thing as free torrent VPN? Let’s find out.

What is a Torrent VPN?

A torrent VPN is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service that you may use for downloading torrents. The main reason for using torrent VPN is anonymizing your online identity and hiding your public IP address. Another reason is to avoid bandwidth throttling and use the full capacity of your regular Internet connection.

It is important to underline that not all VPN providers allow P2P/torrent traffic. Only top providers are willing to spend lots of money on powerful VPN servers capable of handling torrent traffic and providing large bandwidth. Also, torrent VPN providers have to manage DMCA complaints, copyright violations, copyrighted material reports, abuse reports from different organizations (copyright holders) that are monitoring the P2P file downloads. Some of the VPN providers are simply not willing to.

Torrent VPN main features

To be able to use it for downloading torrents, a VPN service has to fulfill several vital requirements.

Downloading speed

Probably the main criteria when it comes to VPNs for torrents is speed. It has to be as high as possible to have decent download/uploads rates.

Unlimited bandwidth

When it comes to torrent downloading, the unlimited bandwidth is vital. Metered VPN services are of no use for P2P file sharing.

Servers nearby

The server locations are important. The closer the VPN server, the higher speed. At least in theory. Anyway, a good (free) torrent VPN provider should have P2P servers on all continents to provide fast speed VPN connections to torrent users all over the World. [click to continue…]

6 comments

No Logs DNS – Free DNS Servers That Do Not Keep Logs

DNS Services

Your browsing activities can be tracked and used by different companies by logging the DNS servers. Learn what a DNS is and why you should use no logs DNS servers.

What is a DNS server?

A DNS (Domain Name Server) is a computer/server that translates hostnames to their associated IP addresses. Thus, when you type in an URL in the address bar of your browser, the browser queries a DNS server to get the IP address associated with the hostname/domain you entered. Next, the browser contacts the web server located to the IP address and starts to download the required content.

When you get your Internet connection installed on your computer you also get a DNS server set up, the one of your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Otherwise, you would not be able to access any web page by entering a URL in your browser. Thus, most of the people get their DNS service from their ISP.

What is DNS logging?

Every time you use a DNS, the server may record your IP address, the domain name you looked up, the current time, and the name of your ISP.

Unfortunately, almost all DNS servers keep logs, meaning that they store the DNS requests received for a period. Thus, someone could take a look at the DNS log records and find out your browsing habits and history. Yes, this is possible!

What do ISPs do with these logs? Officially, they use them to prevent abuses (spam, illegal downloads, etc.), but they may also sell the aggregated info to advertising companies or other companies interested in such data. Just an example of DNS logging: some years ago AT&T was exposed for dredging DNS records and selling the results to would-be advertisers.

What are the alternatives to DNS servers provided by ISPs?

The default DNS provided by your ISP can be overridden and you may manually setup the DNS server to be used by your computer. You may choose the DNS you want from the public and free DNS servers.

Some of the most popular public DNS servers are those provided by Google (8.8.8.8 and, the alternate DNS, 8.8.4.4) and OpenDNS (DNS server IPs: 206.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220). Both are free in the sense that they do not charge you for the usage, but they keep logs and use them for advertising, re-marketing, profiling, etc.

Here is what the admin of UncensoredDNS (one of the free and public DNS services that do not keep logs) has to say about Google DNS and OpenDNS:

I dislike any form of abuse of the DNS system, and OpenDNS’ entire business model is to manipulate DNS. They used to do NXDOMAIN redirection, an advertising trick where misspelled domains get redirected to a search page. Now they make a living blocking malware and other things in DNS. Google runs a decent DNS service but I don’t think it is a good idea to give them all DNS lookups in addition to all the other data they have on everyone.

What to do? Go for no logs DNS servers.

A no log DNS server does not keep any lookup requests. How can we be sure that a DNS server does not keep logs? We can’t. It is all based on reputation. The list of no logs DNS servers that I propose on this post relies on what the server owners declare and on their Internet reputation. It is not a guarantee, but it is probably better than using Google DNS or your ISP DNS.

FreeDNS

FreeDNS is an open, free, public and unrestricted DNS server. The admins claim that no logs are kept. [click to continue…]

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Free VPN for Chrome – Top Extensions for Hiding Your IP Address

Hide IP Solutions

Do you need a lite solution for hiding your IP while browsing the Internet using Chrome browser? A solution that does not interfere with other applications? And, would you like it to be free? Then, install a free VPN for Chrome extension in seconds and get your work done.

What is a VPN Chrome extension?

As you probably know, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a solution that encrypts the Internet traffic between your computer and a VPN server. Thus, your browsing data is secured, and your public IP address is hidden behind the VPN server. It is important to underline that a VPN app encrypts ALL your Internet traffic, for ALL applications, not only for your web browser.

Then, what is a VPN Chrome extension? Well, truth to be told, there is no such thing as VPN web browser extension. For the simple reason that browsers can not set up VPN connections, only proxy connections. Proxies work similarly with VPNs, but they are less secure, and they can be configured application-based (you may set up a specific app to use a proxy and let others un-proxified).

To sum up, the extensions you may find in Google Web Store and that call themselves “VPN” are not using, in fact, VPN technology, but a proxy. Why do they use the VPN term? Probably because not many users know the differences between VPN and proxy, plus both can be used to hide your IP address. It’s only marketing 🙂

Free VPN for Chrome extensions

I have tested several Google Chrome extensions advertised as VPN, and that show up to the top of the search results. Read my findings below.

Hotspot Shield VPN Free Proxy

Hotpot Shield Chrome extension offers an elegant browser extension with a lot of extra, security and privacy-related options, like an ad blocker, tracker blocker, and cookies blocker. The default server selection is “Optimal,” but you may switch to manual and pick one of the following countries: Canada, Chile, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, India, Germany, and Singapore.

The extension is very popular and used in millions of Google Chrome browsers, but don’t install it just yet. You should first be aware that AnchorFree, the company that runs Hotspot Shield, was recently accused of snooping on its users and selling data to an advertising company. True or not, you should use it cautiously.

Betternet Unlimited Free VPN Proxy

Betternet offers a basic, but friendly, user interface with no extra options besides connecting/disconnect and select from the two available server locations: the United States and the United Kingdom. It works smoothly and it can be activated with a single click. You should have it installed on your browser. [click to continue…]

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How to Automatically Change IP Every X Minutes

Hide IP Solutions

Is web crawling and data scraping part of your daily routine? If so, you already know that most of the websites implement firewalls that automatically block repeated requests coming from the same IP address. The solution? Regularly change your public IP address. Learn how to change IP every X minutes and increase your productivity automatically.

Why automatically change IP?

There are two main reasons for changing your IP automatically every several minutes: to increase the level of anonymity or to automate tasks like web crawling or data scraping.

If you are looking for increasing your online anonymity, the automatic IP rotation virtually changes your online identity and hides your public IP address. Thus, tracking your browsing or downloading activities becomes more difficult (unlikely, but not impossible).

For data scraping and web crawling the frequent change/hide IP address is the way to go. Can it be done manually? Yes. Is it efficient? No. The auto IP rotation is the excellent solution to the problem.

Automatically change IP prerequisites 

The auto-rotate IP is not a trivial task, and the implementation depends on your needs. Before you proceed, you need to ask your self the followings: how many IPs you need, on what locations (countries, states) and what is the desired rotating period.

Number of IPs

As mentioned above, if you are in the data scraping business than you need enough different IPs such that you don’t get blocked. How many exactly? It depends on the site you are scraping, on the site firewall, on the scraping frequency, etc. I guess that you need between 20 to 100 IPs for simple tasks, and more for complex data requests.

Number of locations

You may need to change your virtual position with IPs from different parts of the World. Yes, it is possible, but you have to find the proper solution.

Rotating period

How often do you need to have your IP automatically changed? Once every minute, every 5 minutes, once an hour? Some of the solutions to be presented have specific restrictions regarding the rotating frequency, and other are quite flexible. Keep reading. [click to continue…]

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