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How Australians Are Bypassing ISP Blocking of ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and Streaming Service Sites

Posted in VPN Guides & Articles

How Australians Are Bypassing ISP Blocking of ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and Streaming Service Sites - 4.3 out of 5 based on 4 votes

How to bypass ISP blocking in Australia - Access Torrent sitesIt was just a matter of time until the new global wave of government site blocking at the ISP level arrived in Australia. In mid-December 2016, the Federal Court ruled that Internet companies would need to block sites such as ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and streaming service SolarMovie. Australian ISPs were given 15 days to comply with the new decision and implement different blocking mechanisms to make it more difficult for users to gain access to these sites, however, it seems like blockages were bypassed by Australian users in just a few seconds.

The deadlines for the ISPs to implement the blocking was the 31st of December so from the 1st of January 2017, access to the above mentioned sites would be denied.

Download Torrents and access restricted content safely from anywhere in the world!

Accessing ThePirateBay and other Blocked Sites from Australia

Currently, when an Australian online user tries to access any of the 5 sites they are presented with the following website:

ThePiratebay blocked by a large Australian ISP

The Piratebay blocked by a large Australian ISP

Australia’s mobile network providers are also blocking access to the above sites presenting their users with a similar website.

No matter which ISP or mobile network users are coming from, they now all receive a message stating access to the selected sites is disabled.

How ISPs are Blocking ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt & SolarMovie

There is a number of different ways an ISP can choose to block access to the above sites in order to comply with the Federal Court ruling. This includes blocking IP addresses, DNS blocking, URL blocking or any other method agreed mutually by the ISPs and rights holders.

At the moment Telstra, Optus and DoDo, which are amongst Australia’s largest ISPs for home, businesses and mobile users, are implementing DNS blocking. When users on their networks send a DNS request to their DNS servers they are redirected to one of the sites specifically setup for the block.

The ISP block is affecting all of Australia’s mobile users

Optus DNS Blocking redirects users to a different website when trying to access ThePiratebay.org

This is also clearly evident when performing a simple nslookup query. In the example below, we queried Optus’s DNS server for www.thepiratebay.org and saw it pointed us to IP addresses 13.54.13.201 & 54.79.39.115 which do not belong to ThePirateBay:

Nslookup shows how easy it is to bypass DNS blocking and access any DNS-blocked site

Nslookup shows how easy it is to bypass DNS blocking and access any DNS-blocked site

After switching to Google’s public DNS servers located in the US, you’ll notice that we received different IP addresses for www.thepiratebay.org and were able to successfully access the website along with all other blocked websites.

Bypass DNS Blocking in Australia with a VPN Service

Using a VPN Service Provider is the best, safest and fastest way to access any restricted site not only from Australia but also across the globe. When connecting to a VPN service your internet traffic is routed through the VPN server, bypassing any local geographical restrictions, blocking or checkpoints from your ISP or government.

The advantages inherent in a VPN service are many but here are some of the most important:

  • Protection against DNS Leaking
  • Accessing blocked sites without exposing your internet activity
  • Torrenting without any restrictions
  • Stopping Bandwidth throttling from your ISP – take full advantage of your internet connection
  • Accessing region-restricted websites
  • Protecting your online privacy and identity
  • The ability to run the VPN client on your workstation/laptop or any mobile device
  • Unlimited access to US Netflix and other streaming services
  • Military-grade encryption to ensure your traffic is secure from hackers and monitoring services
  • The ability to share the VPN with multiple devices, including SmartTV, Netflix, family members and more

DNS Leak Testing & Protection – How to Avoid Exposing Your Identity & Online Activity

Posted in VPN Guides & Articles

DNS Leak Testing & Protection – How to Avoid Exposing Your Identity & Online Activity - 5.0 out of 5 based on 8 votes

DNS Leak - ISPs & Government spying on users online activitiesDespite innovations in security and technology, it’s difficult to remain anonymous online. Identifying information is seemingly everywhere – from malicious JavaScript tracking to the location services in web browsers. Even secure Linux operating systems like Tails have struggled to protect user’s privacy.

Windows 10 is no safe haven, either. By default, Microsoft collects information from users on an unprecedented level. Data that can be turned over to authorities or a third party. Increasingly, users must take extra steps to ensure privacy and be more knowledgeable about the services they’re using.

This applies even to users with anonymizing software. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are sometimes seen as blanket tools that guarantee identity protection. In truth, they have their own vulnerabilities and chief among them is the DNS Leak which only the best VPN service providers are able to resolve.

Check if you're vulnerable to DNS Leaks by using ExpressVPN's DNS Leak Tester

Understanding VPN DNS Leaks and How they Work

When you type a website URL into your browser, you’re essentially using a nickname. Typing in “firewall.cx” is more like asking a question. You send a request to a Domain Name System server, which then points you to the IP address of the site (208.86.155.203). This saves us typing long strings of numbers each time, and is better for pretty much everyone.

However, it also comes with its own problem. DNS servers are given by your internet service provider (ISP), which offers them a list of every website you visit. Naturally, this compromises anonymity, but VPNs are supposed to fix that. Instead of requesting from your ISP, your traffic is routed through the VPN, protecting you.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. In some cases, the operating system uses its default DNS servers instead of switching things up. This is most common in Windows, but can also happen on OSX, Linux, and mobile devices. It’s aptly named a DNS leak.

In some cases, a VPN is worse than not using one at all. Why? When using anonymising software, users have a sense of security. They may perform activities they wouldn’t otherwise, such as torrenting software or visiting controversial websites. It’s not immediately clear that a leak has occurred, and the user goes on thinking they’re safe for months at a time. In reality, their IP address is open and visible.

DNS leaks aren’t just utilized by service providers either. Websites can discover your true IP address using WebRTC, a collection of communications protocols present in most browsers. WebRTC allows for a request to a service provider’s Session Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN) servers, listing both the local (internal) and public IP address (router WAN IP) of the user via JavaScript.

This can give a general location of the user and be used to track them across the site or other sites by the same owner. In addition, law enforcement or hackers may be able to gain access to this data, leading to serious repercussions.

DNS Leaks Used By Govenrments and ISPs

For example, DNS leaks were utilized by the Canadian Government in 2015, helping to track users on popular file sharing websites. Revealed by Edward Snowden, the technique combines several tactics to find out the identity of downloaders. In this case, targeted files were primarily terrorism related, but this could easily be extended to other media.

Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive: Screenshot from Canada's Levitation Program

Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive: Screenshot from Canada's Levitation Program

In fact, the UK government recently passed a law that does just that. The Investigatory Powers Bill forces ISPs to store and hand over DNS records in bulk for almost every user. This is used to create a list of websites each person has visited, regardless of any wrongdoing. As a result, UK users should be especially cautious about VPN DNS leaks, and can be certain any slip ups will be recorded.

Best VPN Service for 2017 - Top VPN Service Reviews and VPN Comparisons

Posted in Best VPN Reviews

Best VPN Service for 2017 - Top VPN Service Reviews and VPN Comparisons - 5.0 out of 5 based on 9 votes

Best Fastest VPN Service ProviderVPN Services have become a necessity for users concerned about their online privacy and security. With literally hundreds of thousands of attacks daily, exploits and security vulnerabilities being discovered plus government agencies and ISPs monitoring user activity, the internet is no longer considered a safe place.

With the help of a VPN Service, users are able to hide their real IP address and online activities by connecting to a VPN server and passing all traffic through that server. This way, the internet only sees the IP address of the VPN server.

Today, extended VPN Services provide us with many different and useful capabilities. For example they can provide users with the ability to bypass geo-restrictions for streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. They also offer increased security and identity protection for mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, Laptops, Android smartphones, tablet devices etc. This makes finding and selecting the best VPN Service a difficult task as there are many parameters to take into consideration. Our dedicated network security team here at Firewall.cx has done just that for every VPN Provider and then put them to the test to produce the best VPN Service review ever.

Benefits of a VPN Service

Understanding the importance and benefits of a VPN is crucial to help you decide if you need a VPN and what features you should look for. Despite the different offerings from VPN providers there are some standard benefits that you’ll always get:

  • Increased Privacy. A VPN will hide your activities from your ISP and government. Traffic entering and exiting your VPN-enabled device is encrypted, making it almost impossible to intercept and decrypt.
  • Hiding your IP address. A VPN will hide your IP address as all traffic is tunnelled through the VPN provider. Addition security features such as DNS Leak Protection will ensure your IP addresses and online activity is not exposed.
  • Unblocking Geo-blocking services such as Netflix, Hulu and others. By connecting to a VPN server located in the country you wish to access content from, you’re able to by-pass any geo-blocking.
  • Increased Torrent Download Speed. Bandwidth throttling is big problem for home users as ISPs unofficially lower the priority of torrent data streams, resulting in slow download speeds. A VPN encrypts all traffic so the ISP is unable to determine what you’re downloading.
  • Bypass Firewall Restrictions. When connecting to a VPN server all application traffic, regardless of the ports used, is channelled through the VPN. This bypasses all restrictions enforced by a firewall or proxy server allowing you to use any application (torrent, chat, streaming, gaming, SMTP etc).

Best VPN Service Review: Quick Summary

 

StrongVPN

$5.83PER MONTH
$5.83PER MONTH
  • Super Fast Network*
    Achieved highest download/upload speeds and lowest latency!
  • 5 Day Money-back Guarantee
  • Unblock US Netflix*
    Netflix worked with most US-based servers!
  • Connect up to 2 devices
  • Servers in 22 countries*
    More than 650 servers world-wide!
  • 24/7 Ticket Support

ExpressVPN

$8.32PER MONTH
$8.32PER MONTH
  • Fast Network*
    Network speeds will satisfy even the most demanding users!
  • 30 Days Money-back Guarantee!
  • Unblock US Netflix*
    Netflix worked with specific US-based servers
  • Connect up to 3 devices
  • Servers in 87 countries*
    More than 1000 servers world-wide!
  • 24/7 Live Support

IPVANISH

$6.49PER MONTH
$6.49PER MONTH
  • Fast Network*
    This provider is capable of delivering fast download and upload speeds that will impress!
  • 7 Day Money-back Guarantee
  • Unblock US Netflix*
    Netflix worked with specific US-based servers
  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • Servers in 60 countries*
    More than 700 servers world-wide!
  • 24/7 Ticket Support

NordVPN

$5.75PER MONTH
$5.75PER MONTH
  • Fast Network*
    Speeds won't disappoint home or mobile users
  • 30 Day Money-back Guarantee
  • Unblock US Netflix*
    Netflix worked with almost every US-based server thanks to SmartPlay
  • Connect up to 6 devices
  • Servers in 56 countries*
    More than 720 server world-wide!
  • 24/7 Live Support

Private Internet Access

$3.33PER MONTH
$3.33PER MONTH
  • Fast Network*
    Fast speeds with very low latency. Ideal for gamers and VoIP applications
  • 7 Day Money-back Guarantee
  • Unblock US Netflix*
    Netflix worked with most US-based servers
  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • Servers in 24 countries*
    More than 3274 servers world-wide!
  • 24/7 Ticket Support

VyprVPN

$8.33PER MONTH
$8.33PER MONTH
  • Great Network*
    Ideal for casual browsing and downloading.
  • 3 Day Money-back Guarantee
  • Unblock US Netflix*
    Netflix worked with specific US-based servers
  • Connect up to 3 devices
  • Servers in 70+ countries*
    More than 700 servers world-wide!
  • 24/7 Live Support
The Best VPN Service Providers for 2017  *= Place mouse cursor on top for more information

How Our Best VPN Service Tests Were Performed

Evaluating the best VPN service can be a tricky task, especially when you take into consideration that not everyone is looking for the same features in a VPN. To give each provider a fair chance to live up to its reputation we decided to evaluate them based on the following criteria listed in order of importance:

  • SpeedTest.net Download/Upload including Latency test
  • Netflix VPN, Torrents and Blocked sites, Geo-blocking Bypass.
  • Security features (DNS Leak Protection, Kill Switch etc)
  • Encryption protocols (PPTP/L2TP IPSec/OpenVPN etc) & Support for Dedicated VPN Routers
  • No-Log Policy & Bitcoin payment support
  • User-Friendly VPN client interface
  • Price – based on a 12 month subscription

Testing US Netflix Best VPN Providers

Accessing & streaming US Netflix content is a hot topic for most of our readers which is why we’ve included it in our tests. While other reviews might indicate whether or not US Netflix is supported, we took that extra step to test and verify the service.

All Netflix stream testing was performed from a 20Mbps home broadband connection using a US Netflix account configured to stream at the highest possible setting (High) which generates 3GB/hour for HD or 7GB/hour for Ultra HD. These settings would test each VPN Provider’s ability to perform continuous, uninterrupted streaming to a home or mobile VPN user.

Best VPN Provider Download/Upload Speed Tests

Speedtest.net was selected as a testing platform to evaluate download and upload speeds. Our tests were performed from Melbourne Australia using a premium 200Mbps link to the internet while OpenVPNUDP or OpenVPN TCP (when UDP failed) was the VPN protocol used to connect to each provider. The Speedtest.net server located at San Jose, CA Server (No.4) shown below was used for download/upload test. This server was strategically selected as it’s hosted by Speedtest.net and showed stable transfer rates capable of exceeding 185Mbps.

Best VPN Service - Speed Test 

Our selected Speedtest.net server and non-VPN speed tests results (click to enlarge)

Our Speedtest.net test to San Jose, CA Server (No.4) without a VPN yielded an impressive 185Mbps download speed and 123Mbps upload speed confirming the path between us and the Speedtest.net server was not congested.

While test values still fluctuated, the tests we’ve selected to publish are the average results from each VPN Provider.

Best VPN Service Providers for 2017

Without further delay, let’s take an in-depth look at our Best VPN Service Providers for 2017:

Windows Server 2016 Licensing Made Easy – Understand Your Licensing Requirements & Different Server Editions

Posted in Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 Licensing Made Easy – Understand Your Licensing Requirements & Different Server Editions - 4.3 out of 5 based on 4 votes

Windows Server 2016 LicensingThis article describes the new Windows Server 2016 Licensing model (per-core licensing) Microsoft has implemented for its new server-based operating system. While the Windows Server 2012 Licensing model was fairly straight forward: per CPU Pair + CALS/DAL for Standard and Datacenter editions, Microsoft has decided to change its licensing arrangements thanks to the continuously increasing number of available cores per physical processor which has caused significant losses to its profits.

Taking into consideration that the Intel Xeon E7-8890v4 contains a total of 24 cores capable of supporting up to 48 threads, one can quickly understand the software giant’s intention and why it is no longer continuing the per CPU Pair model for its Standard and Datacenter server editions.

Windows Server 2016 License Models

The Windows Server 2016 licensing model consists of per-core/processor + Client Access Licenses (CALs). Each user or device accessing a Windows Server Standard, Datacenter or Multipoint edition requires a Windows CAL or a Windows Server and a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL.

In addition to these changes many would be surprised to know that there is now a minimum number of Per-Core licenses required per physical CPU and Server:

  • A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical CPU.
  • A minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each server.
  • A 2-core license pack is the minimum amount of core licenses you can purchase. E.g you’ll need four 2-core license packs (4x2) to fully license an 8-core CPU.
  • The 2-core license is priced at 1/8 (one eighth) the price of a 2-CPU license for corresponding Windows 2012 R2 editions in order to keep the pricing similar. This means the pricing of a 16-core Windows 2016 Datacenter server is equal to a 2-CPU Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter server.

How Licensing Changes Affect Small Windows Server Deployments

Thankfully not much. Microsoft has adjusted its per-Core license pricing in such a way so that a small deployment of up to 16-cores per physical server will be the same pricing as a Windows server 2012 2-CPU License.

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The price difference becomes apparent for larger customers with a server deployed that exceeds 8-cores per CPU and 16-cores per server. These customers will end up paying additional money for their licenses. For example a server with 2 x Intel Xeon E7-8890v4 CPUs means a total of 48 cores. Installing a Windows server 2012 Standard server means that the initial license will cover up to 16 out of the 48 cores and the customer will need to purchase additional licenses to cover the 32 extra cores! It’s now clear why big customers are going to be paying the big bucks!

The following table explains where additional licenses are required depending on the number of CPUs (processors) and cores per CPU. Remember - Minimum 8 cores/processor; 16 cores/server:

Windows Server 2016 Licensing: Calculating Licensing needs per CPU & Core

Figure 1. Windows Server 2016 Licensing: Calculating Licensing needs per CPU & Core

Windows Server 2016 Editions Overview, Licensing Models & CAL Requirements

Microsoft offers its Windows Server 2016 in 6 different editions. Let’s take a look at them and explain their primary role and usage:

Windows 2016 Server Licensing Explained – Free Webinar

Posted in Windows Server 2016

Windows 2016 Server Licensing Explained – Free Webinar - 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 votes

Windows Server 2016 LicensingWith Windows 2016 Server already making its way into data centers Windows 2016 Server Licensing is becoming a very hot topic. Windows 2016 Server is jam-packed with a number of advanced features including added layer of security, new deployment options, built-in Hyper-V containers, advanced networking options and cloud-ready services.

Check out our "Windows Server 2016 Licensing Made Easy – Understand Your Licensing Requirements & Different Server Editions" article

Altaro software, a reputable software vendor offering robust Virtualization Backup for Hyper-V & VMware,is hosting a free Webinar on Tuesday the 29th of November 2016 that will cover the following important topics:

  • Licensing a Windows 2016 Server environment
  • Nested Hypervisors and containers in Windows 2016 Server
  • Understanding Licensing complexity

Register now for this free Windows Licensing webinar and receive a bonus Windows 2016 Server Licensing eBook!

 

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Cisco Routers

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  • Router on-a-Stick

VPN Security

  • Understand DMVPN
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  • Site-to-Site IPSec VPN
  • IPSec Modes

Cisco Help

  • VPN Client Windows 8
  • VPN Client Windows 7
  • CCP Display Problem
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Windows 2012

  • New Features
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  • Hyper-V / VDI
  • Install Hyper-V

Linux

  • File Permissions
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