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Proxy ARP Protocol

One of the most common requests that a router will get on a busy network are ARP requests.  They can easily overload hardware so it’s important to have facilities which can share the burden.  Proxy ARP allows a router to answer ARP requests on one of it’s networks for a host on another network.    This involves fooling the sender or the ARP request into believing that the router is the destination host where in fact the destination host is actually on another interface of the router.    The router is effectively acting as a proxy agent for the destination host relaying packets across adjacent networks.

One of the best ways to illustrate proxy ARP is by means of an example.  Imagine a system connected to ethernet networks.  They may look connected but in fact they’re not merely connected by a router operating on two different subnets.  The router will perform the hardware ARP requests across both of the networks which means that they will appear as a single entity.  You can even cross country borders and hide two networks for example a French and a UK proxy like this.

The router will perform complex calculations in order to determine which networks the datagrams need to be sent to.  At the core of the calculations are the network IDs which are essential in order to keep track of source and destinations of the network data.  The router will build up a large table of the various hardware addresses across all connected networks.  Then it can use this information to effectively route data through the most efficient interface like a fast VPN.

You can use various tools to troubleshoot both ARP and proxy ARP functions. One of the most useful is obviously the arp command which will list the various addresses stored in the table, use it with the -a switch for easy reference.  You can usually pick up the communications that will commonly take place when proxy ARP is being used fairly easily.

Other commands that are useful include the ifconfig command which can list IP addresses for ports and interfaces.  You can also reconcile hardware addresses, serial links and interface information using this command.  Effectively though you can understand proxy ARP by the simple fact that it tries to hide two physical networks from each other.   IN fact when it is configured correctly you can actually have a single network id to represent two distinct networks.

 

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EU Web Proxy for Grown Up Internet Laws

Many areas of the world are of course obsessed with making rules and legislation that cover the internet.  Unfortunately much of it seems to be focused in specific areas:

  1. Allowing large companies to make more money.
  2. Allowing large companies to buy, sell and trade personal data.
  3. Allowing Governments to access all your personal data.

There genuinely seems to be a bias, there seems little legislation which works the other way.  Nothing which protects privacy or makes using the internet safer and fairer for private individuals.   There’s a billion dollar industry set up simply on farming your personal data in order to sell you stuff or influence your political opinions.   The countries we usually look for a lead in democracy such as the USA and UK again seem set more on the above three areas.

Fortunately there are some options we can take, which are well worth exploring.  For example – what is a web proxy?  Until recently this would be a simple option to at least hide your web browsing history from being logged at your ISP.  Although this will work to some extent, there’s little point in looking for a free euro proxy for any real sense of privacy.   The reality is that if you use a web browser then unfortunately most of your browsing happens in clear text registered quite visibly against your ISP allocated IP address.  Which unfortunately means that you have virtually no chance of keeping your online activity private.

EU Web Proxy

It’s hardly surprising then, that people feel the need to use VPNs and proxies to take back a little bit more control and privacy online.   In facts it’s one of the only steps you can take to genuinely keep some of your online activities a little more secure. Yet even then there is an issue, these EU proxies and VPN servers have to reside somewhere so where is best to choose?

Use an EU Web Proxy

Well most of the major VPN services allow you to select which country you wish, so fortunately we do have a choice.    Of course, often this is controlled by other considerations such as geo-location – you want a BBC VPN then it’s going to have to be in the UK.  The same with lots of other media sites, pick the country that gives you the best access.  Speed and privacy are essential and you’ll unfortunately definitely need a paid service, alas there are no super fast proxy sites in existence anymore.   IN fact it’s been a few years since there were any reliable fast proxy sites for video streaming simply because they are easily detected and blocked.

If you’re not restricted like this, then it’s sensible to look to the European Union.  Yep a EU Web proxy is likely to be the most secure and protected by decent and fair privacy laws.   In fact any of the best paid proxy server companies will have numerous servers available across the European Union and an extensive choice in their Eu proxy list.  What’s more some of the EU countries servers are more likely to be quicker and less populated than US and UK servers (although yes the UK is still in the UK at the moment, it does have poor privacy laws).

It’s of course tempting especially if privacy is your main aim, to look for a fast proxy server IP address in somewhere a bit more remote like Russia.  However this is not always a wise move,  you might think your data there is more secure yet corruption is rife there. That high speed proxy server which is supposed to be secure might be exactly the opposite if there’s a small bribe involved, don’t expect much help from Russian authorities either.  Certainly for security an EU web proxy seems the safest option.

The EU does seem to be at least making an attempt to create a sensible digital market place which looks out for both sides.   For instance it is currently implementing some changes that stop European digital providers from blocking access based on their location.  So a German user cannot access their German Netflix account currently when they happen to be in another European country.

At the moment they too need to use a specific VPN in that country to do this.  Just like you do for the BBC, Netflix and most other media companies of any size – it does get complicated simply to watch the BBC abroad as you can see.  Perhaps the new legislation being implemented will stop this forcing digital providers to ensure access across the single market.  It is hoped that this will happen in 2018 and from then Netflix will no longer be able to block access across European borders, although they’ll probably still do this for the rest of the world.

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Hey How do I Hide My VPN Connection?

The problem with being a super sneaky ninja surfer and using a VPN is that anyone with a little IT knowledge and access to ISP logs can see that you are using one.   For the ordinary user, internet logs are a myriad of calls and get requests to hundreds of different web servers and IP addresses.  However if you’re using a VPN then it all get’s channeled through a single IP address, that of the VPN server.

hide my vpn
Of course, it’s all encrypted and hidden so your actual web activity is hidden.  However signalling the fact that you’re using a VPN does kind of decrease the feeling of privacy somewhat.  So is there a way of becoming a little more discrete and hide VPN connection from various nosy people?   Well it depends on which VPN service you’re using but the most secure services have configuration options that enable to make the fact you’re using a VPN almost invisible too.

Even the best proxy server isn’t going to have these options at least not unless you’ve full administrative access .  However a few of the proper secure VPN download for PC have customizable interfaces that allow you to configure these security settings.

Hide My VPN – Demonstration

Here’s a video explaining the options in Identity Cloaker – entitled Hide my VPN, where you can see how to make VPN use invisible.

The key factor in hiding the use of a VPN or proxy is to make your browsing look similar to everyone else’s and that involves rotating your internet addresses that are used. If your connection simply uses a single IP address all the time it’s fairly easy to identity it’s a VPN or Proxy server being used. However if this IP addresses is rotated slightly then your connections will sink back into the shared anonymity of the logs.

Identity Cloaker also allows you to configure some applications to be encrypted and redirected whilst others operate as normally. For instance you can configure one browser like Firefox to be encrypted and routed through the VPN server, whilst Chrome operates like a normal insecure browser. You then switch to the secure browser when you want some privacy and to hide your browsing whilst everything else is normal. Activists use this technique to just switch to their secure browser when posting on social media or making controversial posts.

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The Return of US DNS Netflix

It’s been a few months now since Netflix instigated it’s comprehensive and extremely effective VPN and Smart DNS block.  Overnight literally millions of people found that they were blocked from accessing their Netflix version of choice as suddenly their VPN or US DNS Netflix solutions simply stopped working.  When they connected to Netflix by using one of these methods instead of being redirected to their selected version as soon as a movie or video was played – this was the message most users received:

US DNS Netflix

Most people used these solutions to access different versions of Netflix, generally the US, UK or Canadian versions simply because they are much bigger and better.  The US version of Netflix for example has thousands more movies and TV shows than some of the smaller countries have access to, despite the subscription cost being fairly standard across the world.  For expats or travellers this was even more inconvenient as their US Netflix subscription suddenly was inaccessible and they were redirected to whatever the local version happened to be.

It looked like the media giant had won and the internet had got a little bit smaller again.  However there is hope, we’ve already written on these pages about one residential VPN system which now works after some serious upgrade work.   Now there is a Smart DNS solution too, implemented by the company . .   I believe it is the only US DNS Netflix based system which currently works with Netflix and it works very well indeed.

Smart DNS systems are actually preferred by many users because they don’t require any software and you can install them on all sorts of devices.   They work by only redirecting part of your internet connection and only when you’re using a region blocking media site like Netflix.  Remember though they provide no real anonymity, so if that’s a requirement you’ll need a VPN.  All you need to do is to use the Unblock-US DNS servers instead of your normal ones.  They’ll work normally until you visit a website like Netflix at which point you’ll be redirected through a server in the country you have specified.

usdnsnetflix

Here’s the screen where you specify which country to be routed through.  In this example I’ve chosen Canada as Canadian Netflix has some great shows not available on any other Netflix regions, although I usually leave this set to US Netflix.  If you’ve changed your DNS settings, that’s all you need to do – simply specify which region you wish to use.  You can use this on virtually any device as long as you are able to access the DNS server settings – including phones, smart TVs, media streamers and games consoles. You can even assign these settings on devices which restrict access to the network settings like the Roku. However it can be a little trickier as you have to assign the DNS settings via a DHCP allocation if your router or access point supports that facility.

You still need a valid Netflix subscription of course, but it effectively gives you access to any version of Netflix instantly from anywhere in the world.

However don’t take my word for it, simply click here – . and try it for yourself.   Remember all you need to do is to change your DNS server address and select your Netflix Region and that’s it.

 

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Anonymous Torrenting – What’s the Best VPN in 2017

When you join a swarm of people happily downloading the latest blockbuster or best selling album, it’s kind of easy to feel pretty safe.  After all you’re hiding behind a piece of software built for anonymous torrenting, right?  You don’t need to know how to hide ip address when downloading, do you? Well no that’s wrong and for the clue you only have to take a little look in the menu of most torrenting software – here’s a useful screenshot to illustrate the point.

anonymous torrenting

See those details?  Those are the IP addresses of your fellow down-loaders, their location and which client they’re using.  So if you’re downloading a pirated version of some movie – you can see everyone else who is downloading that movie too.   Is it a big deal?  Should you hide IP address utorrent or any other software.  After all you’re not likely to use that information as you’re doing the same thing so do you need anonymity?   Well imagine that information is available to any legal or copyright holder simply by attaching themselves to the download.

What they can produce in seconds without any skill or knowledge is a huge list of IP addresses who are infringing the copyright on a particular download.  Which will include you unless you have some ip address protection.  Worse, those addresses can easily be turned into real names, addresses and phone numbers with a letter or legal notice to your ISP.   It’s worth thinking about that sitting in your ISP is a log with full details of everything you’ve downloaded via torrents for anyone to see, the logs are usually kept for up to two years although that varies on local laws.   Sure some will be false addresses perhaps one or two from a public anonymous proxy, but the vast majority will be real addresses and names.   The name that will be associated with the download will be whoever pays the bill for the ISP – makes you think doesn’t it, is an anonymous bittorrent solution only for the paranoid – definitely not.

So what’s the risk, well there is a financial cost if you get caught often set at a low cost per infringement – but $20 per download can get expensive if you get caught for 20 songs or movies.  What’s worse it can rise to thousands if they decide to make an example by taking legal action.  The costs of even the best ip blocker quickly becomes fairly irrelevant compared with these sort of numbers. It’s a false economy to search for the best free IP hider because there really isn’t one that is reliable and safe. It can also be kind of embarrassing to being prosecuted if your downloads are of the adult entertainment variety, especially worrying if your parents or wife pays the bill!

The risks are so extensive and the likelihood of getting caught so significant that maintaining your anonymity whilst downloading torrents is  not just advisable but arguably essential.

Methods of Anonymous Torrenting

There are a few options, some much more technical than others.  The free methods using online anonymous proxies or things like Tor are covered online but involve some technical skill and lots of patience as your download speeds will plummet.  They’re covered extensively online but make sure you check you have implemented them correctly, it’s very simple to think you’re using an anonymous proxy but you’re really not!  Just selecting an Proxy EU service doesn’t guarantee privacy although using a paid service is usually a good sign as companies will normally delete all their logs.

Safety and speed really relies on using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider to both encrypt your download and shield your IP address from any prying eyes.   The best VPN for  anonymous torrenting depends on a variety of reasons including speed and security.  Most of these are pretty easy to use, simply click a button to connect then start your torrent client and everything should be protected.

There are some important caveats though:

  • The IP address of the VPN provider will appear associated with the torrent so any DCMA notice could be forwarded to them (with a request for your identity) – make sure that your VPN provider doesn’t comply with these or better still doesn’t log any data which means they can’t identify you.  There are a few providers who do this.
  • Use only a professional service.  A badly set up VPN connection simply won’t hide your identity and worse will make you look more guilty, choose an established provider who knows what they’re doing.
  • Torrents devour bandwidth – make sure your VPN provider allows this, many don’t.

It’s not complicated to keep your torrenting anonymous but it doesn’t happen without action.  Sitting and downloading torrents in the clear has a real chance of getting you into real legal problems.  Even if it’s just a $150 DCMA infraction notice, is it worth the hassle.   If you do want to take the risk use an random, anonymous internet connection from a cafe or hotel.  Also it’s well worth avoiding downloading the latest blockbuster as these high profile films are often monitored and people downloading aggressively prosecuted.

Try IPVanish for the best VPN for anonymous torrenting,  they don’t log, allow torrent services and you can even pay in bitcoins if you’re really cautious.

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Residential VPN – A New Era of IP Addresses

In this article we will introduce the concept of using a VPN and their updated counterpart the residential VPN for bypassing the various blocks and filters you’ll encounter online.

The war waged on VPN services by the media companies has been going on for many years but it’s lately developed a new twist.  Virtual Private Networks are now used by millions of people to bypass internet filters, censorship and region locking.   The latter term refers to the practice of restricting access based on your location, usually to due with some sort of licensing restrictions.  It’s very common and for anyone who travels a lot or lives abroad can be a real problem.

For example a US citizen spending some time in Europe will get barred from accessing all their home media services – their Hulu and HBO accounts for example will not be accessible.   This is because they won’t have a US IP address and will ultimately only have access to media resources in the country  they are located in.   Even more global service like Netflix will redirect you to a localized version which can be a problem if you don’t speak that language well.

Years ago you could use things like a netflix proxy free version or even some simple dns-trick software to bypass these blocks, alas no longer.  They are all blocked apart from the new generation of virtual private networks.   Some companies are more aggressive than others, for example I tried viperdns solution with ITV hub and it works but not for most of the larger US media firms like Netflix.  In fact they are the most aggressive and the the days of using a Netflix proxy chrome extension are consigned to history.

So VPN services have been extremely popular as they stop this sort of filtering. You simply connect to a VPN in the country you wish to access and everything should work fine, so you can choose which is the best VPN for Netflix for instance.

residential vpn

Blocking these services for the media company is actually very difficult to do, simply because the actual VPN connection is very difficult to identify.   The method usually applied is to try and monitor simultaneous connections from the same IP address or manually locate the addresses of these service providers and add them to a black list.  Both work but are extremely time intensive to operate and the reality is that the IP addresses can be rotated very quickly anyway.

Introducing the Residential VPN

However Netflix has moved the battle significantly with it’s latest blocking move, by actually restricting access to specific categories of IP address.  The media giant has blocked access to it’s servers from any commercial based IP address, and given that 99% of VPN servers sit in data centers with commercial addresses this move has wiped out the majority of VPN access to Netflix.

Here’s a residential VPN solution that still works however –

This is a big step and arguably will signal the end of many of the simple VPN companies especially if other media firms follow suit.   The companies who merely rent a few dedicated servers and install some proprietary software simply weren’t prepared for this move.   The simple fact is that it’s extremely easy to obtain commercial IP addresses but much more difficult to obtain residential addresses.

The fight has moved on however and some of the VPN companies like Identity Cloaker are now expanding to offer – different VPN services which are assigned residential classified IP addresses rather than commercial ones.   These can be more expensive but are currently the only way you can access Netflix servers by using a VPN to hide your real IP address.    It’s too soon to be certain whether this will become more widespread, although it does seem to be the simplest way to enforce region locks.

It was first attempted about six years ago when a few TV streaming services blocked access from non-residential addresses.  It was just as successful then and in some ways surprising that the practice didn’t become more widespread.  There are problems of course, when you block access from commercial IP addresses you potentially block many legitimate users too.

For example anyone connected from the workplace through a corporate proxy or using a VPN for security would be blocked too.  Imagine how many people use the BBC in their office and you can see the potential dilemma for these companies.  Perhaps for a pure media streaming company like Netflix it’s more straightforward, after all many employers will already block sites like these purely because of the bandwidth they use.

Whether all companies are going to be able to provide the sort of residential VPN  that is needed to bypass these blocks remains to be seen.  At the moment these domestic classified addresses are hard to get hold of for anyone who isn’t an ISP – some companies like Identity Cloaker have incorporated them but they are the exception at the moment.