Author Archives: Steve Turnbull

The Great Firewall of China takes on VPN’s

The Great Firewall of China takes on VPN’s

The legendary Great Firewall of China is a thorn in the side of any businessman or tourist wishing to get online when within the borders of what is a fascinating and commercially important country. Created by the government to block access to content deemed subversive or unsuitable for Chinese nationals, it has long troubled users wishing to use Google, Facebook, YouTube and more, although those with a little inside knowledge have been able to bypass restrictions by installing and using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN like HideMyAss Pro! VPN…

Cracking Down on VPN’s

The Great Firewall of China takes on VPN’sThe Chinese authorities have been aware of the growing popularity of VPN’s for some time, and have recently launched an initiative to crack down on their use. Although not illegal, they are frowned upon by the powers that be in China, and some users have found they were no longer able to access popular Western sites using their service. However, some services – notably Hotspot Shield among them, which is one of the more popular services – have reported that they have not been blocked. Quite why is unknown, although experts have discovered some interesting factors regarding the blocking methods being used.

OpenVPN Protocol

It has been discovered that the Chinese may be a step behind in their censorship technology, as it is believed they are blocking sites that use the less sophisticated OpenVPN protocol. This is as opposed to L2TP and PPTP protocols, which are more up to date, and services that use the above two can still be accessed within China. For business users, and personal users, being able to circumnavigate the firewall when in China makes things a lot easier, and it remains to be seen whether the Chinese will be willing to open their doors to such commercially beneficial aspects of the internet.

Boom in Business

What is interesting is that, thanks to the media coverage of China’s latest censorship exploits, interest in VPN technology has rocketed, with the main players in the market reporting a notable increase in users in recent weeks. The publicity given to the situation has in turn acted as publicity for the product, and the resulting demand is a welcome boost for the industry. If you need to use a VPN in China look or one using the more sophisticated protocol, and make sure you choose a server in the likes of Hong Kong, the USA or Europe for more chance of connection.

Watch YouTube Anywhere in The World

Just how annoying is that ‘content not available in your location’ message on YouTube? We’ve all seen it: you try and watch a video only to be found that, for whatever reason, it’s not allowed to be shown where you happen to be. You could be at home or in a foreign country, it could be thanks to copyright laws or you may be in a country where the content is banned, but either way it’s an irritating thing to find you can’t watch the video you want to. What do you do about this? It’s simple – you install a VPN.

What is a VPN?

Watch YouTube Anywhere in The WorldA VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way of accessing the internet that allows you to enhance your privacy while browsing and also to bypass geographical and copyright restrictions. How does it do so? It’s a simple yet innovative idea: generally, restrictions are imposed by location. When you access a website you do so via a series of servers; these are in various locations, and they identify where you are in the world. In some countries, China for example, the government apply restrictions on the content that can and cannot be viewed. By using a VPN like you can choose the location of the server that sends your information, and hence overcome the geographical restrictions that may be imposed.

Is it Easy?

Installing and using a VPN is very simple; there are many to choose from, and they come with simple online instructions for use. Download the service and it takes just a couple of clicks to start using your VPN. Not only do you overcome the geographical restrictions that stop you from watching that YouTube video, but you also enhance your security by hiding your location, your identity and by encrypting information that you send over the internet. The importance of this cannot be stressed too much, and you will be able to browse quickly, quietly and with greater security, even when using unsecured public WiFi hotspots, and all for a few dollars a month. It’s worth it, so give it a go.

Unblock Content on The Move

Here’s the scene: you’re on holiday in an exotic location, you decide you want to watch your favourite TV on show on one of the many streaming channels, and yet you find that your content is unavailable in that country. It may be that it is banned by the authorities, or that copyright restrictions mean it cannot be shown there. Either way, it’s annoying and spoils your fun. Did you know, however, that there is a cheap and simple way of overcoming these restrictions, and one that is entirely legal? It’s called a virtual private network – or, more commonly, a VPN.

Overcoming Restrictions

Unblock Content on The MoveYou may be wondering how these restrictions work: quite simply, when you log onto the internet you are given an identifying number unique to you. This number tells the servers, machines that transfer information from one to another, who you are, where you are, and what you are trying to access. If they detect that you are trying to access information that is restricted where you are, the server will block it. You can overcome this by using a VPN like IPVanish, which allows you to choose a server in one of many countries; in other words, you fool the server into believing you are somewhere that the site you want is allowed to be accessed. It really is that simple.

Easy & Affordable

You may have read the above and think that things sound a little complex; in fact, using a VPN could not be easier. You simply follow the instructions on a website – there are many to choose from, but be advised to look for one that is established and not a less reliable free version – and then you are ready to go; it’s as easy as installing an app, and will cost you noting more than a few dollars a month. That, we are sure you will agree, is a small price to pay for the added benefits of browsing wherever you may be, as well as the enhanced online privacy and security that a good VPN provided. Why not have a look now and see what a VPN can do for you?

Take Care With Public WiFi Hotspots

The benefits of a public WiFi hotspot are many; being able to access the internet when on the move is something that you have probably forgotten could not be done just a few years ago. Nowadays just about everybody carries either a smartphone or tablet, each of which has powerful capabilities, and we are so used to being able to log on in, say, a café, library or even a bar or shop that we take it as done. However, there is a more sinister side to public WiFi hotspots, and it is one that needs to be considered carefully. Your network at home or in the office will be protected by security measures; a public hotspot is largely unsecured.

Using a VPN

Take Care With Public WiFi HotspotsThe fact the hotspot is unsecured means that it is easy for everyone to access; everyone, it should be remembered, includes those who are less than honourable in their intentions. You may bank online, or shop using a credit card, and if you do then you need this information to be kept safe and secure. On an unsecured network it is quite possible for people in the know to steal this information, and your security could be compromised. The best way to protect yourself against such actions is to use a virtual private network, or VPN; this is a service that, rather than transferring information via the dedicated server the hotspot uses, has its own servers in a range of locations that you can choose to use.

Protect Your Identity

Another major benefit of a VPN is that it will shield your identity; while your own network will allocate you an individual IP number which identifies you and your location, the VPN encrypts everything and will allocate you a random IP number, this keeping your true identity and location secret. Although it is not possible to promise 100% security online, this does enhance your security to a great degree. A VPN is cheap and easy to install and use, and if you’re not already using one, you really need to consider it as a serious option.

How to Watch Netflix in China

It’s one of the most popular streaming channels of all; Netflix, a viewing revolution that has given us all a chance to watch what we want, when we want. With a choice of great movies and fantastic TV series, Netflix has opened up our viewing capability like never before, and is cheap too. However, did you know that there are some countries in which you cannot access Netflix and other similar channels? China is a good example of a country where the internet is heavily censored. For those of us who travel abroad regularly this can be a problem, but fortunately there is a way around it.

Benefits of a VPN

How to Watch Netflix in ChinaIf you have not yet heard about the benefits of using a virtual private network (or a premium DNS service), then now is certainly the time to be catching up. A VPN is a way of accessing web content without having to use the dedicated servers that your information would normally be routed through. It is these servers that recognise where you are and, in the event of content restricted by your location, will automatically block it. With a VPN you can choose from a range of servers in many different countries; for example, if you are in China you can choose a server that is in the USA or Europe. By doing this, you are able to access content that is otherwise restricted.

More About VPN’s

Further benefit of using a VPN is that it enhances your online security. All information sent using a reputable VPN service will be encrypted, so will become harder for unscrupulous persons to interfere with or steal. Your identity cannot be uncovered, and the added benefits of this are hard to ignore. For a small monthly fee you can protect your identity and information, and also get by such powerful restrictions as the legendary Great Firewall of China. The more you think about it, the more you wonder why you have never used one before – it really does make a lot of sense to use a VPN, and make sure you are as invisible as you can possibly be.

The Truth About Internet Privacy

These days it seems as if barely a day goes by when there is not a report of internet accounts being hacked or targeted, and the worrying thing is that it is mainly big corporate outfits that are the victims. Of course, they have more to lose, but shouldn’t they be covered by the very best in internet security? The truth is that, in many cases, they are, which begs the question: if they are vulnerable, how safe are we? It’s a worrying thought, and one that is hardly pacified by the ongoing problems we read about all the time.

How Much Information is Out There?

The Truth About Internet PrivacyIt’s all too easy to adopt the ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude; most likely it won’t, but what would happen if somebody did manage to gain unauthorised access to your private and sensitive online information? Think about what is on there: no doubt you have bank account and credit card details online; your address and contact information will be on there; your date of birth and further information – all of this can be of interest and use to persons who want to take advantage of your online identity.

Protecting Your Online Data

There are some simple things you can do to enhance your online security: the first is never to give away details of your passwords or even online purchasing activity to even your closest friends. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are great fun and useful, but they are also a gold mine for personal information. You should change passwords regularly – it is often nigh on impossible to know that you have spyware on your machine – and make them difficult to crack. If you are a regular user with many instances of sensitive information, invest in a VPN like HideMyAss VPN Pro! This is a virtual private network that encrypts all your information and makes it extremely difficult for hackers to identify you. Ideal, in fact, for when you use WiFi hotspots, which tend to be largely unsecured for convenience.

The trick is, most of all, to be very wary of anything you did not expect, and to be extra careful, as it could happen to you.

Geo-Restricted Content in China

China is one of the most important economic powers in the world today, yet it is an odd commercial entity in many ways. A basic culture that is far removed from that familiar to us in the west makes much of China’s domestic and international ethics seem alien to us, and visitors from the likes of the USA and Europe find the strong media censorship shocking. This is never more apparent than when trying to use the internet, for the Chinese authorities take a dim view of persons using it for free speech purposes or for accessing western content.

Internet Censorship

Geo-Restricted Content in ChinaThe internet is heavily censored within China thanks to the famous ‘Great Firewall’, a government initiative aimed at halting the use of various chat forums and websites by political subversives who post anti-government comments. They also choose to censor content that they believe to be unsuitable for Chinese nationals, and this can mean that visitors to the country, whether for business or pleasure, can be troublesome. Even giants such as Google have fallen foul of the strict internet restrictions, and visitors will find that streaming sites such as Netflix are heavily censored. However, there is something you can do to get around the Great Firewall, although it may take a little trial and error: invest in a virtual private network or premium DNS service.

Using a VPN in China

With more than 600 million internet users in China it is clear the government has a difficult job keeping them away from all the content they do not want them to see. However, there is no doubt that the authorities do a thorough job, and even Google has found it hard to circumnavigate the restrictions. Many inside the country have taken to using a VPN – this is not technically illegal but certainly frowned upon – to access content and chat boards where they can express their views. This is the best method for Westerners to access content as it allows for them to use a server that is beyond the firewall and therefore unaffected. However, be sure that the Chinese government will continue to move the goal posts in an effort to keep censorship strong.

The Trouble With Public WiFi Hotspots

The availability of public WiFi hotspots, in a range of locations, has pandered to our love of browsing the internet when on the move in no small fashion. With sophisticated and powerful hand held smartphones and tablets it is possible to access all the information you need from a cafe, bar or even a store, and the convenience of this cannot be overstated. Indeed, hand held devices are now among the most popular for getting online, and it is no surprise. However, consider this: security on public hotspots is never going to match that in your home or business network, and for good reason.

Security in Hotspots

The Trouble With Public WiFi HotspotsThe idea behind public WiFi is to provide quick and convenient access to anyone wishing to browse the internet or send emails and messages. For this reason, security is not as stringent as in a standard network. For example, you may be asked to set up an account with a password, but that will be it. There is no other security measure in place. What does this mean? Put simply, it means that the information you are sending or receiving over the internet is vulnerable to anyone with the know-how to break into your connection and steal it from you. Good advice is to think twice before using your online banking when in a public place, and to be careful of anyone watching when you type your password.

What Can be Done?

At this point we should reiterate – no information transmitted digitally is ever 100% secure; the networks do their utmost to protect you, but 100% is not possible. One way to enhance your privacy when using a public hotspot is to use a virtual private network, or VPN. This will not only direct your information via secure servers, but will also encrypt all information and keep your identity secret. A VPN is becoming a very popular method of keeping information and identities secure: cheap, fast and effective, it is strongly advised that you use such a connection when browsing in any public place, as well as being vigilant in watching for those who may be watching you.

What Can You do About Hacking?

The subject of hacking has been in the news a great deal of late, especially in relation to the chaos created on the Xbox and Playstation live networks over Christmas. This act of deliberate sabotage, as well as the alleged attack on Sony by North Korea, has brought to the fore the very real dangers of potential disruption with malicious intent for major corporations, so where do you, the individual, stand? The truth is that you may be more at risk than you think.

Protecting Personal Data

What Can You do About Hacking?Take a moment to think about this question: how much personal information do you share online? We’re not talking only about information you pass to others about your name, address, and other information, but about data that you may share across the internet without a second thought. For example, how often do you shop online? When you do you will undoubtedly use a payment method, perhaps your bank account or a merchant account. Are you certain this is absolutely secure?

The company concerned will make every effort to ensure it is, of course, but you need to make an effort too. Then there are your passwords: how many are the same? Are they identifiable by your name, date of birth, pet, or anything you may share on Facebook, for example, without thinking? You would be surprised how many lax passwords are a direct invitation or a hacker,

Added Protection

You can do several things to protect your information further: use different passwords that are absolutely random and include letters, numbers and both upper and lower case; take extra care when using a public WiFi hotspot as it will be largely unsecured; use a virtual private network, or VPN, when browsing, especially in public. The latter is becoming a popular method of protection as, for a small fee, it provides not only anonymity, but encrypts the information you send and delivers it via secure servers that are far more difficult to hack than those used by the major providers. Most of all, be very careful who you give your personal data to, and never share any of your passwords.

Lizard Squad & Christmas Chaos

The highly publicised hacking of the Xbox and Playstation live networks, which left millions of players unable to use their connections over the Christmas period, served only to highlight the very real problem of internet security and privacy. While not strictly a hack – the team used a Denial of Service or DoS attack, which, put simply, bombards the servers with fake requests and renders them unable to complete the transactions required – it brought down a system run by major organisations very quickly and easily. The question raised is: if this can happen to these people, what damage can be done to the average business, or individual?

Protecting Your Online Identity

Lizard Squad & Christmas ChaosWhile there is little that can be done to prevent a DoS attack, there is plenty that both commercial entities and individuals can to do ensure their online security is up to date and as strong as can be. One of the best methods of giving yourself the greatest level of online security is to use a virtual private network, or VPN. The benefits of a VPN are many: first, it enables you to overcome any geo-restrictions that may be in place in certain countries, but perhaps more importantly, a VPN helps protect your online identity and the information you send across the internet.

Using a VPN

Your ISP provider, the company that supplies your internet connection, will use servers operated by itself to transfer information to and fro. These are generally quite secure, but problems come when you use the internet from a public WiFi hotspot, which is fast becoming a very popular way of logging on to the internet. It should be remembered that public hotspots are not protected as your personal or commercial network will be, and you information is therefore at greater risk. A VPN diverts all information via servers operated by the VPN provider, and also encrypts all information that you send across the wire. It is a safe, secure and affordable method of giving yourself the best possible protection against those who wish to steal you information or identity, and should be a primary consideration for anyone using the web on a regular basis.

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