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Posts tagged ‘proxies’

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Switching Locations for a Better Price

Many companies who operate on the internet operate an economic technique called price discrimination. This is a way where companies can sell the same goods and services for different prices in order to maximise profits rather than sell at a single price to everyone. The concept follows the idea that different people will pay different amounts for the same product.

The internet initially looked like it would change this, price discrimination relies on separating markets in order to charge different amounts. When anyone can buy from anywhere in the world the barriers seemed to fall especially for services and low weight items which can be easily distributed. Why buy something for £100 from a UK based site when it’s available from a French site for half the price, the web threatened to smash down these barriers.

Alas this didn’t last long, and in some cases the internet has made things worse with global companies setting up localised versions of their sites (and prices) using a technology called geo-location. This is quite a simple technology which looks up your physical location based on the internet address (IP) that is assigned to you by your ISP (Internet service provider). Using this technology people are redirected or even blocked based on their location, so connect from France and you get a French version of a site, from USA you’ll get a US version and so on – the idea that different prices and services can be supplied based on what the local market will support.

This behaviour is now pretty pervasive with almost all internet retailers operating to some extent. Login and check an air fare price for example you’ll probably get offered a different fare depending on where you are physically for the same flight. This of course makes it essential that you can get some sort of control back unless you want to be paying top prices for everything you buy online. To do this is fortunately very straight forward – simply use proxies to change your IP address. Here’s how you can use an English proxy – just here, to switch your location to the UK.

So whilst connected to this service you can choose out of about twenty countries to route your connection through. Use a British server and you’ll have a British IP address, an American service will give you a US IP address and so on. Using this you can check out the prices of all sorts of site based on different physical locations.

For example I always use this to watch the BBC from Ireland but I recently wanted to book a city break for my family. Funnily enough I got completely different prices for flights based on an Irish address to a British address despite the flights being identical in every sense. Unsurprisingly I have found that generally my standard UK address gives me a much worse deal than a French or American on for some reason.

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Looking for a Polish Proxy

You may wonder why I’m writing about Poland and worrying about where to find a proxy server in Poland.  Well although I have no real need to access Polish websites, I happen to know a few people who live near me and do.

In years gone by the internet was pretty open, I rarely remembered ever getting blocked access to a website.  But things have changed now and there are lots of filters, blocks applied all over the place.  In the last few days I was blocked from accessing Hulu in the USA, my banking site and a funny video clip on YouTube because ‘it was not accessible in my region’.

Fortunately for those of us who get cross about these sorts of things – there are now loads of tools and services which can bypass these blocks which use VPNs and proxy servers.  It’s easy to find one if you want standard countries like US and the UK but they can be difficult to find for smaller countries.

Using a Polish Proxy

For example my friend comes from Krakow but now has settled in the UK.   But much of his family are still in Poland and he often finds himself connecting back to Polish websites.  Unfortunately increasingly he gets blocked because his location (or IP address) is outside Poland.  Last week it was a Polish TV site online and a bank based in Krakow that had an online service.  It’s exactly the same reason you can’t access Hulu from the UK or some of the cracking shows on Canadian TV that are online.

The technology is called Geotargeting and the easiest way you can see this demonstrated is simply by using Google.  So here’s what I get if I go to Google  –

Google checks my IP address when I connect, cross references with a database of IP Address/Country and sees I’m in the UK so delivers the British version of Google.

But unfortunately this technology is also used to lock me out of many web sites and applications that are not UK based.  SO I can’t watch Simpsons on Hulu, listen to music on Pandora or anything that is restricted to other countries.

Anyway I’ll show how I can change my IP address to a Polish one as a quick example.  All I need to do is connect to a Polish server and tunnel my connection through that.  This will then fool the web site into thinking that’s my location.   There are lots of services which can do this but one I use often is called Overplay

Here’s the software working, I just select the country I need and then press connect.  In  this case I want to get an IP address from Poland so I select a Polish proxy server from the list.  I then just put in the username and password and I’m connected – that’s all there is to it – takes about 10 seconds.

polish proxy

Here’s the connection screen, then you just minimize it to the task bar and carry on as normal.  However while this is connected all my requests are being routed through the server in Krakow, and that’s where I’ll appear to be from.

Now you can see that if I visit Google, this time I’ll be given the Polish version because my IP address is listed from Krakow.  If I change connections I’ll be given a different version  Of course this isn’t particularly useful as I’m not really in Poland.  But if I wanted to access a Polish media site or online banking then it would be very useful.

Here’s another option demonstrated in this video about accessing TVN player.

If I changed to a US server I could use all the American sites even on my Ipad, change to Canadian server and watch Canadian TV and so on.  They’re well worth checking out as you get all the servers included in the subscription – helpful support too – Overplay Trial.

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Change Netflix to US Version

So why would you want to do this?  Well the simple answer is that the US Version of Netflix is much better than any other one.  It has thousands more shows and films, plus much more recent releases – some of it only just out of European cinemas for example.

There are many examples but here is just one brief explanation of why you may want to change Netflix to US version.   It started for me when I became rather hooked on a Sci-Fi series called Lost which you might have heard of.  My partner and I had both managed to miss the hysteria about this show the first time round, but got well and truly hooked after a few series.   This is one of the great advantages of Netflix, you can find a show you like and then watch the whole thing over a few weeks, with no huge gaps between series.

Just look at this – six years and six seasons of one the best Sci-Fi shows ever made, all for a few dollars a month subscription.

netflix-american

I think it happened about half way through, when we were up to season 3 – we’d been watching for a few weeks an episode a night.  Then disaster struck, it just disappeared, gone with no warning or anything – boy were we mad!  We were not alone, loads of people were online complaining about this sudden withdrawal and the only help was a vague promise that it might return to the UK Netflix at some point.   This was the trigger, up to then I didn’t realise there was such a thing as a UK Netflix  but if you search online you’ll find lots of information on this.   The best estimates I’ve seen suggest that  there are around 4000 items on UK Netflix, but about 9000 plus if you change Netflix to US version.

It is surprisingly easy to do, and after a few weeks of investigating plus trial and error – I think I have found the best solution.    First of all forget about using American proxies, VPNs and security programs for this – you don’t need them.  Sure they all work, but are difficult to install on anything other than a PC and also can really slow your connection down.

What you need is something called Smart DNS – which is basically a very clever way of accessing any of the world’s country restricted websites by hiding your real location.  The best Smart DNS service can hide your location by just rerouting a small part of your initial connection with a server, allowing you to stream directly from the media site after that.   Your internet speed will remain pretty much untouched but a whole new world of internet media sites will be opened up to you – from BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Pandora to the US version of Netflix it doesn’t matter where you live.

This is the Best Smart DNS Service I’ve found

There are a few, but I only found one which was –

  • Reliable
  • Easy to Install
  • Allowed you to Switch Netflix Locales

The last point is important, although you might want to watch the US version of Netflix the majority of the time – there are some things only found on your home version. For example French and German Netflix have lots of content in French and German, which won’t be on the US version. So you want to be able to switch between the versions –

Netflix Locale Selector
Netflix Locale Selector

Instead of switching everyone automatically to the American version of Netflix, this Smart DNS service allows you to switch version using this web page.   This is incredibly useful and makes it a doddle to switch between different versions when ever you need.  Without this method you’d have to remove the Smart DNS settings from your devices to go back to the original version of Netflix. Anyway here’s how you install it on a computer, but as you can see it’s just as simple to utilize on a Smart Phone, Mac, tablet or any network enabled device.

Basically after you have subscribed to use the Smart DNS servers, you just need to change the default DNS server in network settings. It’s usually accessible on most network devices – I personally use it on a WiiU, Playstation, iPhone, iPad and Smart TV.

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Lost, Gone from Netflix but Not Forgotten

I used to love Netflix, it’s different, has lots of great movies/series and it’s very easy to access using Smart TVs or my favorite the Roku. But this Summer they pushed me too far, I had ‘discovered’ the show – Lost about 8 years later than everyone else. I’d listened to everyone rave about this, glazed over as they discussed strange sound plots and completely ignored it – mainly due to the hype. Well one day I noticed it on my Netflix account and thought I’d give it a try, the rest is a story about obsession. For a few days I watch a couple of episodes a day – right up to my vacation. I couldn’t wait to get back to complete the series but when I returned it had gone !!!!

Lost no longer appeared anywhere on the listings, a search revealed it was ‘unable to stream’. A Google search revealed lots of very upset people like me, stuck on an episode somewhere, stranded at some cliff hanger movement and now we were all ‘Lost’.

No warning, no countdown enabling you to take a few days off work and cram them in. One day Lost was there and the next day it had completely disappeared, what a wonderful way to treat your customers! Well a little research, led me to a few conclusions – firstly the show had only actually been removed from the UK Netflix, secondly Lost was still streaming on the US version and lastly my account would work on US Netflix if I had an American IP address.

So here’s what I discovered –

The truth is that if you use IP cloaking software like Identity Cloaker and hide your real IP address – you can be watching US Netflix irrespective of your real location.  If you haven’t checked it out, then you’ll also discover that the US version had loads more shows and films – usually much more up to date stuff too.  So it doesn’t matter if you’re in Canada, Germany, UK or Italy then you don’t have to stick with the version of Netflix you have been assigned you can pick your own.

You don’t need to open a new Netflix account, they seem to be global but just redirected to the country you are in.

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How to Watch Canadian TV from the US

Most of the blocks, bans and filters online are based on your location. It’s slightly ironic that the internet was meant to bring us all together, yet most of the world’s media sites are working out ways they can block people from different locations.

how to watch Canadian TV - CTV

Anyway the vast majority of these sites simply look up your IP address when you connect before deciding if you watch or not. So for example to watch CTV the Canadian broadcaster, you’ll have to be based in Canada or connect from a Canadian IP address.

Unfortunately it’s difficult to control your real address as this is assigned to you when you connect to  the internet by your ISP.  Although it will sometimes vary, it will always be linked to the country you are connecting from.

Fortunately, you can hide your real IP address by conencting via an intermediary – often known as a proxy or VPN server.  So for example if you want to know how to watch Canadian TV from anywhere you just need to use a Canadian based server.

How to Watch CTV Outside Canada

Anyway the easiest way to see how it’s done is to watch this short video.

That’s all there is to it. Using a program like Identity Cloaker means you can swap your IP address with a click of the mouse whenever you like. Switch to a Canadian one for CTV, then back to a US address for Hulu followed by a British IP address for the wonderful BBC iPLayer – more here – www.iplayerusa.org.

If you want to do it for free, you’ll need to find a free Canadian proxy you can use and modify your browser settings to use it instead. It’s not hard to do but unfortunately it’s difficult to find the servers, proxies and VPN servers are very expensive things to run.

You can try it out by using the Identity Cloaker trial account – 10 days of CTV, Iplayer, Hulu or whatever you need to check it works for a few dollars – for the price of a coffee and sandwich you’ll be impressed I’m sure!

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How to Watch BBC Iplayer in the US on a Wii

There’s lots of little fancy media streaming devices out now, but for many people looking for something quick and simple to watch online stations like the BBC Iplayer on their TV screen – then a good option is the Nintendo Wii.  Many people already have these and they stream media as well as most commercial devices.

Watch BBC Iplayer
But of course just like your computer most of these online channels are restricted to the country they are broadcast from – so you need to be in the USA for Hulu, the United Kingdom for BBC Iplayer and so on.

It’s of course easy to bypass these blocks using a security program like Identity Cloaker on a PC, you just click on the country you want to be in, but can you use the same functionality on other devices such as the Nintendo Wii?

Well the simple answer is yes ! In fact you can switch the location of your Wii to any country where they have a server based – e.g. France, United Kingdom, USA, Canada or Australia for example – so use a US proxy site or a UK one depending on your needs.  This also works for some of the other commercial VPN/proxy services,  just ask their support desks for help.

So here’s how it works for watching BBC Iplayer on a Nintendo Wii in the USA by using Identity Cloaker.

Obviously you’ll need to connect your Wii to the internet first, which is fairly straight forward. If you’re actually in the UK then all you need to do is go to the shopping channel from the main screen and download the BBC Iplayer channel and that’s it.

For Anyone Outside the United Kingdom – it’s slightly more complicated as you won’t be able to see that channel available.   First of all change your country settings –

Wii Options> Wii Settings> Country> Change to UK

This  is what controls what’s in the shopping channel – when set to the UK you’ll be able to download BBC Iplayer, you can change it back after if needed.

However this won’t fool the BBC Iplayer website if you’re not in the UK, because it will check your IP address when you try and watch anything.  To do this you have to hide your real address and connect using a server based in the United Kingdom.

wii-connection-setup

I will do this using my Identity Cloaker account as follows –

  • Go to the Wii System Settings Page and select the Internet connection tab.
  • Select  the connection you are using and scroll down to proxy server settings.
  • Enable the Proxy Server and select advanced settings
  • Pick one of the IP address of an Identity Cloaker UK server and use Port 4040
  • Input Your Identity Cloaker –  Username and Password
  • Save Settings and then Watch the BBC

You can get the IP address and your username/password from the Identity Cloaker support team or it’s listed in the members area.  If you’re using a different service just contact their support for the same information – as long as they accept authentication in this manner then they all should work.

 

Aside

The Truth About Proxies

If you search on the internet you’ll find many proxy sites including plenty of USA based proxies – usually they consist of loads of adverts and a little slot in the middle of the page where you type the website you want.

These sites promise you the following –

  • security
  • anonymity
  • ability to bypass firewalls
  • ability to bypass content filters

In reality you’ll normally get none of these although to be fair there are some benefits.  Here’s the truth about these proxies and the claimed benefits to help you make your own decision.

Security

If you’re really concerned about security and your privacy then the answer is don’t use these websites.  certainly never use them to access any site that requires passwords or personal credentials.  These sites normally are set up quickly and easily using a proxy software called Glype.  This is simply installed on some cheap or free hosting account and surrounded by adverts in an attempt to make money.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with that but be aware the server is not secured, they are also not highly anonymous and there will be no mention of what happens to the logs and you are trusting that website with whatever data you send through it.  In reality all you are doing is adding another risk to your browsing.  There are some malicious web sites which exist just to steal any credentials that are sent through it.

Anonymity

The claim for anonymity for these sites can be partially true if they are configured correctly.  What they can protect from is the web site you are visiting storing your IP address in it’s logs.     The main problem with trying to stay anonymous on the web is two fold – firstly your browsing is logged in its entirety at your ISP, secondly it’s all in clear text so is readable by anyone.

The proxies will sometimes stop your IP address being logged at the web site you visit – that’s it.  But in exchange it will be logged on their server which may well be run by a 16 year old in his spare time.

Using Proxies to Bypass Firewalls

This can work in a particularly lax environment but in those cases you probably won’t need a proxy server!   If the firewall just blocks access to specific IP addresses or URLs then this might work.  However most environments are rather more sophisticated than that.  Also the majority of web proxy sites are themselves blocked anyway.  They can be useful in countries with basic blocks on popular sites like Facebook and YouTube for example.

Using Proxies to Bypass Content Filters

This is a complete non starter as no web proxy will have the slightest effect here.  The problem is that although a content filter also looks for specific web sites, IP addresses and content to block it actually looks at the request itself.  Most filters look inside the packet themselves so proxies will have no effect whatsoever apart from getting you flagged by the IT Admins for trying to circumvent any restrictions.  There is only one way to bypass a sophisticated content filter and that’s to use a concealed proxy server plus encrypt all your data.   The encryption means that the content filter can’t look inside the packet and work out the destination. So if you don’t want to have every thing you do online logged and recorded by your ISP and/or employer then encryption is a must. It’s often used when people access pornography online – particularly popular in the middle East where a porn proxy are standard because of the various blocks implemented by the Governments.

Updated –

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Using a Proxy Server to Enhance Freedom on the Internet

The United States of America is known for its declarative stances on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case when we spend a lifetime – pursuing liberty – only to be met with the unhappiness of censorship.  In today’s modern world, the battle for freedom, along with the war against freedom of expression, has shifted gears online. Repressive regimes persistently undermine global civil liberties; cunningly employing various Internet censorship techniques to appear stagnant and under the radar.

The magnitude of Internet filtering and censorship in any given nation is measured by the OpenNet Initiative, or “ONI.” According their website mission statement, the OpenNet Initiative aims to “identify and document Internet filtering and surveillance, and to promote and inform wider public dialogues about such practices.” There are 5 categories of censorship magnitudes (in addition to various nations profiled on ONI’s website) that are structured upon the following bases:

1.) Lack of Evidence
In this case, there is no apparent evidence that websites are being blocked by the government, though forms of control may be employed. The biggest offending countries of proof-voided corroboration are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria,  Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela and finally, Zimbabwe.

2.) Suspected
This category alludes to suspicion of blocked websites by governmental influences, yet without tangible confirmation. A prime example is North Korea, which has a national intranet with approximately 30 approved websites. North Korea is an extremely isolated country, and this separation contributes to the difficulties posed in obtaining substantial information.

3.) Selective
This grouping implies that a small number of websites may be blocked, and/or a small number of people may see filtered results.  Countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, India, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand and Turkey serve as the deeming nations under this category.

4.) Substantial
This category identifies nations that filter search results, while further blocking websites at a regularly-low or moderate level. Countries likely to be considered under this grouping are Burma, Ethiopia, Gaza and the West Bank, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Korea, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

5.) Pervasive
Under this extreme magnitude, massive censorship is implemented by the government. Many websites are blocked and freedom of expression is severely limited. Participating nations include: Bahrain, China, Iran, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen.

In an attempt to expose cyber filtering and surveillance practices, OPI monitors and rates four areas of Internet activity, as listed below.

i.) Social
These websites generally centralize around taboo issues; ranging from sexually-explicit content, various forms of betting and drugs. The worst offending countries are considered to be: North Korea, Yemen, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iran and Bahrain.

ii.) Political
This area pertains to website content that opposes, refutes or negates governmental control. Additionally banned are issues regarding human rights and freedom of expression. Implied transgressing countries are North Korea, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Iran, China, Burma and Bahrain.

iii.) Internet Tools
This degree interferes, monitors and tampers with e-mail; web hosting; search and translation; VoIP communications and social media. In light of the Arab Spring uprising, social media has skyrocketed as expressive platforms that convey both sentiments and information in opposition with imposed, authoritative control. The worst offending nations are North Korea, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran.

iv.) Conflict & Security
This classification includes anything spanning a vast military spectrum, with sectors in opposition, separatist movements and militant groups. The nations assumed under this category are North Korea, South Korea and China.

In a June 2011 issue of the New York Times, the United States was chronicled as a nation engaged in a global effort to “deploy shadow Internet and mobile phone systems[in which] dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.”  Additionally, internet censorship can be circumvented by utilizing a proxy server website to access banned data. A proxy server website is an un-blocked server that is outside of the censored geographic area of the user. This website tool enables retrieval of censored data. Another way to informationally-intervene is by changing a censored IP address to that of an IP from a non-censored country, for example by using change IP address software. For assistance in visualizing the above information, look at our infographic below which showcases the key points of anti-censorship data. After all, it’s only fair that a democratic nation encourages “freedom of speech” as a globally-applicable entitlement.

Using US Proxy Servers


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_circumvention
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_server
Source: http://opennet.net/research/profiles
Source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080223102536AAU9EcG