Tag: ip address

IP Address Mapping Hell in Kansas

Is there such a thing as a ‘digital hell’ well although it sounds like some sort of melodramatic media headline, one couple in Kansas could arguably have been living there for several years.

Everything that is connected to the internet has an IP address, every computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone needs some sort of address in order to communicate on the world wide web. Tracking, mapping and filtering these addresses is big business and many companies have sprung up providing accurate information on the IP address attached to your device.

Obviously knowing the location is one major part of the puzzle and there are several services for looking up the physical location of an IP address. You can have a look here at where your IP address appears to be located – https://www.whatismyip.com/ – did it return your correct location?  Sometimes these can be very accurate, the information sourced from companies like MaxMind has been built up over many years through a variety of methods. The information is used for a variety of reasons, from targeting advertising to region locking and filtering used by companies like Netflix

Sometimes, however this information is not very accurate at all  but sufficient if you just want a specific country or region. However when a company like MaxMind have no relevant data on an IP address they will tend to resort to assigning a default location. For example if they have no further information other than country is USA, Maxmind will return a default location – the geographic center of the United States.

ipad-632394_640-1

Sounds logical? It is until you realise that located in the geographical center of the US is a small farm in Kansas owned by James and Theresa Arnold. Furthermore there are quite a few IP addresses which are registered to this ‘default location’ – specifically just over 600 million addresses.

Now it might seem that this isn’t really a problem, but unfortunately this is not the case. These 600 million addresses are real and being used online all the time – and of course with such a huge volume some of these addresses are being used for all sorts of activities. Spammers, hackers, cyber crime, terrorists, pedophiles are all using these IP addresses online and when anyone tries to investigate their location – they are directed to this small rural farm in Kansas.

For years the couple have been subject to all sorts of accusations – they’ve had visits from law enforcement agencies, public officials, ordinary people who’ve been crime victims and have tracked the IP address back to the Arnold’s home address. You can imagine the volume when even a small percentage of 600 million addresses are used for criminal purposes.

It’s not the only situation like this, there is a house located at the end of a cul-de-sac in Ashburn, Virginia which has similar problems. The town itself is the home to several huge data centers and server farms, all with registered commercial IP addresses – the house was unfortunately given as the default location for millions more IP addresses with similar results – strange accusations and police raids being a common occurrence.

Fortunately there should be a happy ending for both these parties as the ‘default locations’ for unknown IP addresses is being changed to non-residential addresses such as the middle of a lake! The Arnold’s though are unsurprisingly also seeking some financial compensation for the distress and inconvenience over the year, and you can hardly blame them!

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.

British IP Proxy for a UK IP Address

Many people end up on this site, because they’re looking for a method to change their IP address to a UK one, for instance using a British IP proxy.

There’s a variety of different reasons for this, quite often it’s British Expats who have moved abroad and still want to watch the BBC or ITV, some people who just like UK Television or simply those who realize that a British IP address is much less likely to get blocked or filtered than their own.  Even things like academic subscriptions have restrictions – read here about how Oxford University Press restrict access based on your IP address.

British IP proxy

funny but completely irrelevant

It’s kind of sad really, the internet used to be a very level playing field, and one that was open and accessible to everyone – irrespective of location.

Those times have changed though, and wherever you are based you’ve probably come across one of those “video not available in your country” or “sorry that’s not available” type messages.  The reality is web filtering and blocking is becoming increasingly common,  even if you’re based in somewhere like Europe or the USA.   Having said that the likelihood of it happening increases greatly if you’re in a country like Turkey, China or Iran whose governments heavily filter the internet.

In any case, although these blocks are common place, there’s no doubt that having something like a US or UK IP address means that you’ll get denied a lot less often.  In fact if you use the advice  in this post, you can actually ensure you’ll never get blocked at all, ever.

 But let’s start with getting something from a UK IP address list.  Your IP address is the number (internet protocol number) assigned to you when you connect to the internet.  It is actually completely unique to you and can also used to link you to a specific location.  Most of the major web sites do this when you connect, they look up your IP address and then check your location.  If you’re in the UK, your ISP will only assign addresses from a UK IP address range.

So why is this a problem?  Well just have a look at this screenshot, which I took last week when I was waiting for a plane in a Turkish airport.

ukipproxy

As you can see it didn’t work, a polite but firm message informing me that I could only watch the BBC iPlayer when I’m in the UK.  It’s been like that for many years and it doesn’t matter where you are – France,  Spain, Canada, Japan or the US – anywhere outside the UK and you’ll be blocked.   The reason is that you won’t have a British IP address which is the mechanism the site uses to control access.

You’ll see exactly the same thing happen on thousands of other sites.   Try and access Hulu from outside the USA or the music site Pandora, then exactly the same happens.  It wouldn’t perhaps matter so much if these were small unimportant sites, but the reality is that most of the biggest, best and most important media sites on the internet do this.

But fortunately there is a way to bypass these blocks by hiding your real IP address as and when you require. You can also show the site you’re visiting a completely different one if you need as well.  It’s all done through using an intermediary server which sits between you and the web site your visiting.  These servers are called proxies and you can use them to bypass virtually any country based filter.  You just use a proxy in the correct country before you visit the site – so a UK IP proxy will allow you access to the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for example.

In fact there’s now a mini industry built up giving people access to a variety of these proxies in different places, precisely to bypass these blocks.  There are even a few that sell a software tool so you can simply click at the country you need and they do the rest.   Here’s one of the best of these being demonstrated in this video –


This is a program called ., a security program that as well as protecting your internet connection by encrypting everything you do, also allows you to hide your real location when you need to.  So you just click on the country you need and that will be the IP address assigned to your connection.  Switch from UK for the BBC, choose an Irish IP for RTE, grab a US address for American only sites like Hulu and so on. It takes literally a minute to switch from country to country.

If you’ve ever been blocked or filtered from a site this is your solution.  It also works if you live in a country which blocks websites itself. It’s very popular in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Thailand for example both to hide your location, bypass blocks and keep your browsing private.

Additional Information

Here’s the link for Identity Cloaker – I can recommend the 10 day trial subscription here to try it out first.

Finding your IP Address on Windows – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/find-computers-ip-address#1TC=windows-vista

Watching Coronation Street on ITV Player Abroad

Well this post might seem a little trivial but for my better half, it’s the first interesting thing I’ve posted in 8 years of blogging. The title says it all – ITV Player Abroad, or how to use an application to get British TV when you’re outside the UK. In this instance we’re in France for a romantic break (and yes that seems to include watching Coronation Street on my laptop!), and such are blocked from a whole host of UK only websites including the ITV player site.

Anyway here’s the video I made using the excellent Screencast-O-Matic, this application is well worth using if you ever need to make any videos or screen casts.

How to Watch ITV Player Abroad

That’s all there is to it, quickly change your IP address to a UK one and then you can watch ITV Player (or BBC Iplayer) wherever you happen to be. What’s more at the same time you’re protecting your internet connection and personal details whilst accessing the web through some unknown Wi-fi connection. Remember though to fully protect your connection you need to ensure the encrypt connection button is highlighted in Identity Cloaker, you don’t need to encrypt Coronation Street though!

Change Encryption Level

Change Encryption Level

You do now need an account to watch the ITV hub, but it’s easy to set up. Currently it asks you your location and for a postal code, just make sure you says the UK and pick a valid UK postcode. You can pick anyone as long as it’s real. It’s easier to enable the VPN and use a UK server before you do this.

If you need it only for a short trip or want to test it first – you can try the . .

A Fake UK IP Address

So why would anyone want to change their address to a fake IP address perhaps a UK one? There are a variety of reasons actually but the usual answer is either accessing TV or they’ve been blocked/banned from some forum somewhere and want to get back on with a fake IP online.  Anyway there is an answer for  people who want to watch the UK TV channels on the internet from anywhere in the world.  It also works if you’ve been banned from your favorite forum because some moderator just decided to ban you.

So whether it’s a pining for Match of the Day, the BBC News, documentaries or any of the wonderful UK TV channels that are only accessible to those who have a UK IP address, or disguising yourself so you can rejoin a forum – the answer is here.

The problem is that the BBC, ITV and Channel Four like most media companies online use something called geotargeting. It all sounds a bit geeky and technical but in fact is rather simple. It’s a shortened term for geographical targeting and is a simple way for a website to deliver different content to readers in different locations.

Here’s a very simple example – here’s a search conducted with a US IP address for an electrician –

fake uk ip address

You can see that the search engine has looked at the location based on my IP address and given me US based results.  However on the very same computer if I use a fake UK IP address – the same search yields quite different web addresses.

fake ip england

I now get results based on electricians in the UK rather than the USA.  Which is of course exactly what I need if I was in the United Kingdom at the time.   Google looks at your IP address when you connect and uses that information to tailor it’s results and adverts.

So in this situation geotargeting is actually quite useful and you’ll find nearly all big web sites will use this technique to some extent.   Unfortunately often it’s a case of blocking access rather than customising  your content.  For instance every large media site does this – Hulu, NBC, BBC, ITV, M6 Replay etc.

How The Web Site Determines Your Location from Your IP Address

It’s actually a very simple procedure, the moment you connect to a web site, your IP address is recorded.  It is then looked up in a Country directory or database.  It’s quite easy to do for your own websites too.

You can access one of these country databases from companies like Maxmind, download it and load it into a database or a spreadsheet. You can pay for a service or just run your own scripts to determine which country a particular IP address is registered to.

So this is what happens every time you get blocked from accessing a resource online because you have the ‘wrong’ IP address.  So for instance here’s what you need to use the following sites –

There are obviously many more.  One of the problems is many of the people who are blocked are just travelling, working abroad or Ex-Pats who just miss their home TV stations.

But of course it wasn’t long before people figured a way to bypass these restrictions.  Initially discovering that you could use proxy servers to sit between you and the website you were trying to access.   The proxy server IP address was the one that was visible so you could use a UK proxy for the BBC and a US proxy for sites like NBC and Hulu.

So now a mini industry has built up supplying proxies and VPNs to allow people to access the sites they wish.  The very best of them supply you with a huge list of servers in different countries so that you never need to get blocked again.   Many openly advertise themselves as TV proxy services but I’d be careful with those as they tend to get shut down. There’s some useful advice in this video about fake ip addresses and proxies.

In reality though, nowadays you do need something fairly sophisticated like Identity Cloaker, as unfortunately a simple UK web proxy isn’t going to work anymore.  Although it’s simple to find a proxy with a UK ip address range, every major media site now blocks them automatically.

Of course I use  Identity Cloaker whose software is easy to use and offers access to servers in about a dozen different countries (including USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and quite a few more).It works with just a click of a button and you can change your address to a US or a fake UK IP address or whatever you require. Their trial offer is here – . .  You can see it in action on this page – Watching BBC Iplayer – there’s a video towards the bottom of the page you can watch too.

There are loads of other services available though, but be careful as it’s easy to set up a proxy server and sling up a fancy TV web site.  The hard part is providing fast, secure servers especially important if you’re going to be streaming video from the like of Hulu and the BBC.

New post with video on UK proxy