Tag: internet

BBC iPlayer Proxy – Using One Abroad in 2019

For many years now, there’s been a worrying trend developing on the internet.  What was once all free and open is now hidden behind paywalls or being blocked and censored.  Sometimes it’s whole governments but more often it’s down to commercial companies.  Take for example the BBC, their wonderful iPlayer application is hugely popular but if you step outside the United Kingdom then you’ll be instantly blocked.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve a large standing order paying for your TV license, if you’re not in the UK you can’t watch it.

There was some hope, that the European Union would solve this problem as they were trying to implement a ‘single digital market” which would make it illegal to block access like this.  Yet with the onset of Brexit, it’s unlikely the BBC will bother doing anything about this now. There’s also the new subscription channel called Britbox – https://www.britbox.com/home which is available in the US and Canada, obviously it’s not as good as the full channels but it’s got lots of decent shows.

The businesses involved have decided they prefer a sort of restrictive model that also makes them lots of cash. So now people get filtered based on their location – for example forget watching BBC Iplayer proxy in the US or Japan for free, it’s not going to happen (well not without some sneakiness of course). Yep and the lovable BBC have decided against the public spirited World Service model of sending out their content for free, instead they restrict it just to people in the UK.

This is especially annoying for the people like me who already pay the license fee but can’t watch the BBC when they’re out of the country. But don’t worry here’s a way which will allow you to access anything you like including the Beebs iplayer, Hulu irrespective of your location.  It doesn’t matter where you’re based, you can choose.  The solution works in most scenarios so for an example – here’s how to use a proxy to access BBC Iplayer outside the UK.

BBC Iplayer Proxy Workaround.

Firing up BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’ll pretty soon try and watch something and be greeted with the following message.

BBC proxy

Ha Ha No IPlayer for You

It looks like some technical wizardry of the highest order, but fortunately for us it’s not.  When we connect to BBC Iplayer, the site records your IP address and looks up which country it’s registered in – if it’s a UK IP address the show will start playing otherwise you get the above platitude. Now for these illustrations I’m going to use my subscription to Identity Cloaker, you used to be able to use free proxies but they no longer work unfortunately.

There are a couple of free uk proxy server services but they finance themselves by inserting adware on your computer and some even share your out your internet connection, stay clear !!  In the good old days you could also use things like foxy proxy and the extremely dodgy hola firefox too.

BBC iplayer proxy chrome

Choose a UK Proxy for IPlayer

I just open Identity Cloaker and scroll down to select one of the UK proxies and that’s it.  From this point even though I’m connecting through the Wifi at an overpriced Spanish hotel in Barcelona – it doesn’t matter.  The BBC will think I’m in the UK as it looks at the IP address of the proxy server and not mine. So using a BBC proxy works incredibly well, here’s what I see now.

Firefox VPN

Latest Dr Who from BBC Iplayer

Here’s a video of the process …that I hope explains it.

Instead of the warning when watching the BBC through a UK iPlayer proxy I get the play button and can watch whatever I want.  You’ll also be able to access the live TV streams when connected too. In fact the IP check is at start of the show so if I need to I can just disconnect from the proxy using Identity Cloaker software and stream it directly through my Spanish connection. Is it enough to cheer me up after just having my wallet stolen in a Barcelona bar?

Well probably not but being a fanatical Dr Who fan it might just save me from an evening spent drowning my sorrows drinking overpriced San Miguel from the minibar.

(Note to all visiting Barcelona  – if some nice couple seem overly concerned about marks you have on the back of your jacket and offer to help you.  Then run away/call police – you are having your wallet stolen – yes I did fall for it!) 

Finding a BBC iPlayer Proxy Free – Alas No Longer

Just for the record – you can unfortunately no longer use the free proxy services for this, the BBC have blocked them all and many of the commercial VPN services too.  Any of the companies who openly advertise the BBC on their website will often find themselves targeted by the BBC legal and technical teams – it’s best to be low key which is why the best services don’t mention the iPlayer specifically.

Here’s the link for Identity Cloaker – I can recommend the 10 day . if you’re just away on a trip or holiday, or just to see if it works.  There are loads of other services who offer something similar though, but this is simply the one I found to be fastest and best value.  I’ve been using it for over 8 years now as a BBC proxy without a problem and it also works for ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky GO.

If you want to watch using an Ipad, Smartphone or tablet you can use Identity Cloaker too just by setting up a VPN manually on pretty much any other device.  Yes for BBC iPlayer proxy ipad too. – try this post about watching BBC Iplayer on the Ipad Abroad.

Russians Caught Out by IP Address

It’s astonishing to think that a Russian state media channel would go around changing Wiki pages in order to pass blame in a different direction. But possibly even more amazing that they were stupid enough to do it from a PC connected with an IP address registered to their company, no proxy or VPN like this!

So what’s happened is that a journalist or other person employed by the All Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) has sat in the office and changed a story about the Malaysian Flight MH7 air disaster.

IN the very likely true initial version the sentence read –

“by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation,”

However an hour later that was modified to this –

“The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers”

Maybe they were hoping that the edit wouldn’t be noticed, in fact it was picked up by a Twitter bot, but the reality is that the edit would be visible for years to come. Russia seems to have lost a bit of ground in the digital propaganda wars, modifying such visible sites whilst using an IP address registered to the Russian government is a bit hopeless unless you wanted to get caught and look even more guilty!

russianwiki

It seems that the realisation that we are all tracked and logged by our IP address still seems to have not dawned many. I mean you would have thought the Russian Government would have a few paranoid ex-KGB types to figure this stuff out. Reports are all over the news with American and UK agencies routinely monitoring huge amounts of internet data. Sneaking an edit into a Wikipedia page, looks rather amateurish especially without using a fake ip. It’s rather good to know that there are a lot of Bots out there routinely monitoring activity on these sites from known addresses of the world’s governments.  Although it also worries me slightly that they keep catching them out so easily.

Latest Stupid Erdogan Move – Turkey Blocks Twitter

Somewhere within the Turkish Government surely there must be someone who is able to tell PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  that his latest tactic of blocking social networking sites is incredibly stupid.  Unfortunately it would seem not,  as  that is exactly what has happened within the last twelve hours.

Here’s an example of what happens if you now try to visit the social networking site Twitter using a Turkcell mobile phone.   The same thing happens if you try and access from any other device, a fact which I have confirmed with several friends who live on the Turkish coast and in Istanbul.

Twitter Blocked by ErdoganIt has been made legally possible by a dodgy piece of legislation passed last month by the Government which allows websites to be blocked on a variety of spurious reasons and without the need of a court order which was previously required.

The main reason (as always) why the Turkish leader hates social networking sites so much is because they are used to distribute the numerous allegations of corruption within his government.

Twitter was used to distribute the phone call recordings which allegedly take place between Erdogan and his family discussing where to hide various large sums of money from the corruption investigations.  The PM denies this allegations and insists these recordings have been faked, but they are making him very mad indeed.   There are apparently some more recordings to come, which happily this block  will have virtually no effect on whatsoever.

It is of course utterly pointless to block access to these sites for a variety of reasons – which many corrupt leaders have found out to their costs.   Here’s some of the more obvious ones –

  • Thousands of alternatives available to distribute information
  • Looks like an admission of guilt
  • Lots of ways to bypass the blocks quickly and easily (Identity Cloaker for one)
  • International condemnation – not a way to run a democratic republic!

It will be interesting to watch over the next few weeks, if Erdogan keeps on this track and blocks access to even more social sharing sites.  In reality it will probably have little effect other than to galvanise the opposition and attract even more international criticism.   He may however take notice that his technical efforts have been of limited effect domestically,  the number of tweets sent within the country has not even fallen!  Blocking access to these sites just makes you look like you have something to hide, expect to see increased protests and opposition if he chooses this route. Turkey are of course unfortunately already noted for their level of censorship, these blocks only bring the eyes of the world down on his undemocratic censorship.   In any event, the only really effective method to restricting access to sites like Twitter is to block the entire internet, a bit  like North Korea or move up to the sort of solution China has employed to block access, needless to say this would not be a popular move!

What Information is Hidden on My PC?

The majority of people who just use the internet every day for browsing, shopping and entertainment probably imagine that they have quite a decent level of privacy by default.    They probably expect that there browsing is private, passwords are secure and emails confidential at least to a certain extent.  Unfortunately the reality is a completely different story.

The problem is that people are blissfully unaware of simply how much of their online lives is completely open and unprotected.    Take for example your computer or laptop,  most people’s are stuffed with all sorts of web browsing history, passwords, login details and a host of other stuff often going back years.

So here’s something to try if you’ve got a spare few minutes – download this free computer forensics tool – here.

It’s called Systems Information for Windows and is a pretty advanced tool for scanning your computer and analysing detailed information about it.   It takes minutes to run and in fact doesn’t even need installing as it runs from a stand alone executable.

Passwords on Your PC

Here’s a screen shot that it picked up from my laptop.  Although obviously I needed to censor it – every single line in that picture contains a website I accessed and the password I used to access the site.  SIW picked up hundreds of these all stuffed with personal details, login accounts and even the passwords I used to access.

Try it on your laptop and PC – you’ll be amazed at what information can be picked up from your computer.

Here’s a selection of the sort of passwords and login details it can pick up –

  • Screen Saver Passwords
  • Windows Logons
  • RAS Passwords (Remote access and Dial UP for your ISP)
  • Outlook (Email accounts)
  • Firefox, Chrome and IE passwords
  • MSN and Messenger Passwords
  • Wireless Keys (WPA, WEP, WPSK, SSID)
  • FTP Login Details

That’s only a sample, all stored on your local machine – all easily accessible to anyone with access to the computer either physically or remotely.

I urge you to take a look and see how much of that information you are potentially leaking to the world.  Most people will see lots of details and passwords that they would consider private.

Also remember this is the free version of the software – there are plenty of professional tools floating around the internet used by hackers and forensic scientists that can pick up much much more.

What sort of problems could this cause you if the information fell into the wrong hands – perhaps an identity thief or hacker.  Perhaps run from a virus or when you accessed free Wifi from that cafe last week.  Email passwords, Paypal, Ebay or banking details can be used very easily to steal and defraud.

Even if a sensitive website doesn’t appear in the list – how many of us use the same password for our online banking or Paypal that appears in the list?

There are privacy modes in most modern browsers that stop this information leaking out, security programs like IDC or Smart DNS – keep your connection secure and free programs like CCleaner can be used to tidy up your computer to start with.   Ultimately knowledge and some awareness of the (lack of) privacy situation online is your best defence – a little paranoia is definitely called for when you surf the web!

 

How to use an American Proxy for Netflix – Access in UK or Outside USA?

I’ve just cancelled my Sky cable service, I realised that my wife and I rarely watched any of the channels. In effect we were paying the £65 monthly subscription (that’s $98!)  for my youngest to watch reruns of Scooby Doo on one of the kids channels. This we decided was not great value for money so I went in search for more options in the world of online media and streaming services.  After some investigation and recommendations from a couple of US friends – I decided Netflix was worth a go and signed up for a month.

So here we go – my shiny new subscription to Netflix already streaming mindless rubbish to my 14 year old son.

American Proxy

Screen from the Netflix UK site

Now don’t get me wrong, I was quite impressed – there’s loads of shows and lots of choice.  The interface builds up your preferences from what you watch – which is clever except when  you have a teenager watching South Park all the time which messes up your selection.  The missus and I settled down to watch episode one of a series that we’d somehow missed but everyone else in the universe had been enthralled by – Lost.   So all was good except I kept searching for new stuff recommended by some Americans, and couldn’t find them.

It turns out that the UK and the US versions of Netflix are very, very different.  In fact from my initial research it seems that the American version of Netflix is much better than all the other country variants, even just over the border – Canadian Netflix isn’t anywhere near as good, unfortunately it’s not easy to get the U.S. Netflix.

How to use an American Proxy for Netflix in the UK?

Just as every online service in existence, where you live determines what you can access and as often is the case the best value if to be found in America.

Fortunately  there is a way around this, by changing your IP address and tricking the Netflix application about your location you can access the American version of Netflix fairly easily.  I’d read online and everything pointed to using a proxy server and more specifically a US proxy site.  This was partly true, although the information was slightly out of date and unfortunately even the best proxy server would no longer work as Netflix blocked them.   There are in fact only a couple of services which still work and they use a more sophisticated VPN proxy which is harder to detect.

Now I use two separate services for switching my location and keeping my connection secure, both are fast, easy to use and well supported – Identity Cloaker and Overplay.

In this instance I’ll use Overplay to switch my location to a US one –

Accessing US Version Netflix

At the top you can see the Overplay application, which is pointing at a US server – you just select the country you need from a list.  Now when I start Netflix I am treated as a US surfer and use an American proxy for Netflix which has loads more content and is much more up to date than the UK version.  Netflix operates as a global company so it’s important to highlight that my account is still a UK one, but will change as I move location.  So if I was physically in the USA – my UK account would show the US version of Netflix.

You can use any VPN or DNS based service to change versions like this, Overplay and Identity Cloaker are definitely worth trying though as they are by far the best value out of any I’ve tried. Here’s a good video on YouTube which illustrates –

Incidentally this method is based on the PC, you can use similar methods on lots of other devices, like Wii, Routers etc.  For iPad – try this post and select a US server instead of a UK one, before you connect to the Netflix site.

Update: 01/03/2018
You may have heard that Netflix is waging war on VPNs and Smart DNS programs and you can forget an American proxy, effectively blocking all of them. Only a couple of VPNs now work with the US version of Netflix – the fastest is the program I use Identity Cloaker – who have developed a system which bypasses the Netflix blocks – works great.