Although China is the country we all love to hate for their insane control of its population and blatant disregard for human rights, more and more of us seem to visit this great country of the Orient. However, many of us have serious addictions to social media and other online provisions, and we struggle to figure out how we can go for weeks and weeks without it. However, if we really are an internet addict, we know that there are ways to get our fix. In fact, there are some relatively easy ways to get around the Great Firewall of China, so long as you know what you are doing.
One of the best ways to get around it is to work with a Virtual Private Network – or VPN. These networks can totally nullify any effort China has made to block people from accessing certain websites. Best of all, a VPN can cost as little as $9, which seems a small price to pay just to be able to stick your fingers up at the great Chinese oppressors. When you sign in through a VPN, you can access the internet, Twitter, Facebook and any other site that is stringently censored by the Chinese government.
China had a go at cracking down on VPNs, However, they failed, because they didn’t look at the bigger picture. They only considered corporate connections and universities, rather than looking at home users, who are actually the biggest users of VPNs. But we also have to understand that China doesn’t actually want to block every single user. It isn’t practical or feasible to censor all of the 513.1 million people in China who have access to the internet. However, the government will make sure that it is incredibly difficult to access social media, thereby hoping that users simply won’t bother. And it is certainly true that their strategies have always worked, because nobody Googles anything in China.
Google has now been operating in China for six years and their version is monitored by the government from start to finish. Google took four years to say they would have no more of this and would no longer censor themselves. Since then, almost nobody still uses Google in China, using Baidu instead. There is almost no understand of how Google can help in an online search. Similarly, the Chinese don’t seem to want to access Twitter or Facebook, sticking instead to Weibo, which has similar features. Naturally, China has banned the American social networks anyway, but they always do so by providing an alternative, such as QQ for Instant Messaging.
If you do want to get around the Great Firewall of China, you need to use a VPN. There are three fantastic services that you could consider for this. These are HideMyAss, Express VPN and IPVanish. Let’s take a look.
HideMyAss is one of the web’s most popular VPN services. It offers both free and paid-for accounts and is perfect to help you cloak yourself, whether you want to do this to get around the Great Firewall of China, or whether you simply don’t want everybody to know your business. It hides you from network spies and hackers, includes full SSL encryption for any site you access, allows you to search anonymously, doesn’t require any software installation, bypasses internet restrictions, completely hides your IP address, stops pop-ups and advertisements from appearing and is able to work with the various video sites such as YouTube.
Express VPN is also very popular. It is very easy to download and install and will work not just on your computer, but also on your mobile devices. It offers full support for questions and doesn’t require you to have any advanced computer skills. It allows you to surf the web anonymously and it keeps you safe from hackers, governments and corporations. The world-wide network is incredibly fast and it gives you peace of mind when you access the internet through a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Lastly, there is IPVanish. They are able to protect all your online data, including your identity. The VPN software itself is completely free. Although it does not necessarily hide your IP address, it allows you to control its location. This means you are fully protected if you access the internet through a Wi-Fi hotspot as well. Any unwanted marketing is quickly blocked. Just like with Express VPN, you can use this software on a variety of devices. It uses three protocols (L2TP, OpenVPN and PPTP). Lastly, the connections are incredibly quick and you will receive unlimited bandwidth.
If you are using a VPN provider, you have to make sure that they take your privacy and security very serious. This has been highlighted strongly with the NSA and PRISM allegations released by Edward Snowden, and we are all concerned about how much of our data actually goes into the public domain. What you need to look for is a provider that will never link your activity to any external IP address.
Only recently did someone use a so called “anonymous” VPN, but it turned out that the protection that they offered was sub-standard to say the every least. Hence, a list of questions was developed to help people find a VPN service that really doesn’t log. You need to look, firstly, at issues surrounding your anonymity, but you should also look into limitations and the aspect of file sharing. The questions we will list below are those that you can ask a VPN provider that you are considering. It makes it very difficult for them to give a direct answer, and if you find yourself speaking to a provider that is trying to get out of the questions, you may as well move on.
The first question is the most direct of all: simply ask whether they keep any logs. Also ask them whether there are any third parties who match IP addresses as well as time stamps to service users. If the answer is yes to either of these questions, make sure you ask what information is being held and why.
Next, ask the company under which jurisdiction they come. You also want to find out which circumstances can arise in which case they must, by law, share information. Also find out which third parties they would share with in these circumstances. Similarly, you should ask what would happen if they receive a DMCA take down notice and what their procedures are for handling these.
Next, ask about their payment systems. Which ones do they use? How do these link to the accounts of their users? Are payments secured and safe through an SSL server?
If you are satisfied with the answers you have been given, you will have found yourself a VPN service that doesn’t log. There are various providers out there that really give a good service, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time finding one. However, you must take this time, because the last thing you want is for your information to be sold or released for no reason whatsoever. There are two services in particular that do not log, which are Private Internet Access and BTGuard. Let’s take a look at these two.
PIA does not keep any logs at all. They use shared, rather than static or dynamic IP addresses, which means that users can never be matched to an IP address. They take anonymity very seriously. They operate within our own country, but also have gateways in Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Romania and the Netherlands. Because there isn’t a data retention law in place here, PIA choose to be under local jurisdiction. They will only share information with a third party if they are court ordered to do so. However, the information they would provide in that case is minimal because they use shared IPs and do not keep logs. Naturally, Private Internet Access complies with DMCA and have a legal team in place for this. They have a range of different payment methods in place, including Bitcoins, which can be used anonymously. The only information they retain is that which makes it possible to give customers refunds.
BTGuard does not keep any logs either. They come under Canadian jurisdiction but cannot share any information because they do not retain any information. There is no communication with any third parties and would only do so under court order. However, in this case, they would only be able to say that no information is available. BTGuard has never been court ordered to provide information yet. They do not use open incoming ports, which means that broadcasting content can never be taken down. The only downside of BTGuard is that they have limited payment options. However, the ones they do use are Bitcoin and PayPal. Furthermore, they intend to start accepting alternative payment methods. The only reason why they haven’t done so yet is because they are committed to not keeping any information on file, which would have to change somewhat if people are able to make credit card payments.
While the Chinese government invests its time and resources on Internet censorship at a massive scale, individuals in the country continue to create simple hacking solutions that give them free access to information. A new blow to the nationwide online blackout, dubbed by many as the Great Firewall, has surfaced in the form of a small Raspberry Pi computer.
A Reddit user going by JaiPasInternet recently posted a technique that involves turning the simple single-chip Raspberry Pi into a wi-fi hotspot. The user connected to a virtual private network (VPN) in France through the open-source software OpenVPN. VPNs, used by many companies to allow their employees to connect to private networks when they are not in the office, are also crucial tools for uncensored Internet access overseas and peer-to-peer Internet privacy anywhere. OpenVPN allows users to authenticate the peers who are helping them connect. This extra encryption is a powerful tool for overcoming firewalls, as China is increasing its attack on foreign VPNs by programming its security system to discover and block such networks. While some protocols for VPNs have been discovered and shut down in China, there are still others that offer free access to information.
With the Raspberry Pi chip connected to a VPN, the user JaiPasInternet simply plugged the device into a wi-fi dongle, setting up a hotspot like any Internet cafe. The software daemon hostapd helped create the hotspot connection. The Reddit user said that although it took some time initially to connect to the VPN server, the connection was strong and consistent once established.
JaiPasInternet continues to successfully use this technique to out-fox the firewall in China:
“I use it on a daily basis with my iPhone and Android tablet (way better than the included VPN client) but the good thing is that, wherever I go, I just bring my Raspberry, plug it into ethernet and to any usb plug, and after a few minutes, I have my censor-free Wi-Fi hotspot.”
The Reddit poster also claims that this method is relatively easy to set up, citing an ELinux Wiki page that gives instructions for the technique.
The Raspberry Pi method makes the Internet user and the overseas VPN client much more difficult for authorities to track and shut down, essentially hiding the activity. As word spreads about the ease of this method, there may be many more users in China with unlimited access to websites like Twitter, Facebook, and any number of Western news media sites — at least until the Great Firewall develops a new tracking method, causing hackers in China to scramble for a new solution for their delivery of free information.
VPN is an acronym for “Virtual Private Network” which simply means that you are able to connect securely over the Internet with another secure network. These can be very useful for people who need to access websites which are not available in their geographical region or to hide browsing activity when users are on a public WiFi network. Basically the VPN forwards traffic first to the network effectively bypassing any censorship on the Internet.
Whenever you connect your computer, smart-phone, tablet or other device to the VPN it acts just the same as if it was connected to the local network – any internet traffic is directed to the secure connection of the VPN which means that your computer has access to the resources of the local network of the VPN even from across the other side of the globe. This can be very beneficial for people who need access to information sites which are only available to specific geographic locations and they are not present in that location.
The VPN effectively acts as a go between forwarding any requests for you and bringing back the correct response via a secure connection. Many people use this type of facility to access sites like Netflix or other television sites – as far as Netflix is concerned it will think that you are based within the United States no matter where you are in the world.
VPN’s are actually quite a simple idea which can be used effectively for many different reasons:
As you can see VPN’s have many different uses for many different people.
In late December, a number of VPN companies and their users reported a number of VPN outages. The latest developments support earlier reports that China has taken a proactive stance at clamping down on VPN technologies. The question now is whether or not a VPN is still the best way to try and circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
The most important factor to consider when trying to get uncensored access to the Internet in China with a VPN is how China has identified popular VPN networks. In most cases, the VPN companies are not what is being identified, but rather the VPN protocol being used. This means that the only way to get around this is by using a VPN service that offers multiple protocols. For example, the popular P2P protocol has long had only limited success in getting around the Great China Firewall. This is because it is one of the least complex which makes it easy for ISPs to spot and block. Recent reports note that a new technology used by China to filter the web can carry out complex encrypted traffic analysis. Essentially, it learns what connections to block.
The biggest problem VPN companies face is that they do not have a bargaining chip with China. This is because the Chinese government believes that VPN companies are operating outside of their laws. As a result, VPN companies are forced to continually improve their methods to stay ahead of Chinese censorship.
While some VPN companies have faced some struggles against the Great Firewall of China, this isn’t a reason to disregard the VPN technology altogether. The first thing to keep in mind is that there aren’t any other consistent options available. Switching away from a VPN connection isn’t possible because there are not any viable alternatives. The key is choosing the right VPN company.
Since China primarily blocks VPN companies based upon the tunneling protocol being used, it is essential to choose a VPN service which offers multiple protocols. This not only provides maximum flexibility from one device to another, but also gives users the ability to switch VPN protocols as needed. This makes it more difficult for Chinese ISPs to track and analyze the encrypted data.
As soon as consistent VPN outages were reported, VPN services started to release a variety of quick fix solutions to their customers. The most common fix is modifying protocols; however modifying MTUs and ports have resolved the problem in some cases as well. The highest success rates have been reported when TCP adjustments were made.
VPNs are still the best way to get around the Great Firewall of China. While China is working hard to block VPN traffic, it remains the most viable option that is readily available.
VPN services do not inherently provide a vast amount of additional privacy when browsing the web. While they do provide an additional layer of protection from 3rd party monitoring, many minimize this benefit by logging user activity internally. There are a variety of different types of logging a VPN service may undertake. To complicate matters, most VPN services to do explicitly state what type of user activity they log unless you take a close look at the term of service. There are a variety of different ways to identify no logging VPN services to make choosing the right one easier.
One of the easiest ways to determine whether or not a VPN service will log user activity is by looking at where they are located. A growing number of countries have passed laws requiring VPN service to track user activity. If a VPN service is located within a country, they must follow the countries logging laws. This doesn’t mean they will hand out user activity to any 3rd party, but it does mean it is required to log activity and hand it over to authorities if it is requested.
Another way to discover how much value a VPN service places on protecting user privacy is by looking at the payment options. Many VPN services require users to pay for the service via verified payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and verified digital currency. All of these payment methods can be easily tied to specific users. VPN services which allow for anonymous payment methods, such as Bitcoin, are more likely to understand the importance of user privacy.
Along with looking at how much logging a VPN service does, it is equally important to find out how willing they are to share it. Some VPN services go to great lengths to make it difficult for 3rd parties to access the data. They challenge the legality of every log request. At the same time, many VPN services readily share user data when it is requested.
There are some VPN services which do log user data because they are forced to by local regulations. To minimize the risk of putting their user’s anonymity at risk, they only log activity which happens within their servers. This makes it incredibly difficult for third parties to determine which user took a particular action. While the user’s actions are technically logged, the actions are not assigned to specific users. Instead, the actions are logged to specific VPN servers.
For maximum anonymity the best option is to choose a VPN service which does not log user data at all. If no data is collected, it is impossible to share. The problem is identifying which VPN services log data and to what extent. The following list includes all of the best VPN services which do not log user data at all to guarantee maximum anonymity.
By now you have likely heard that the Six Strikes Rule is now in affect after a couple of years of development by copyright cartel and the major ISPs.
The reason why a vpn is such a good option is because of how they help you make your online presence more private by masking your true IP address (the thing that is assigned and tracked by your ISP and every website on the planet). Here’s a quick video of how this works:
With that said, here are a few vpn services that make your internet connection private and out of reach of the prying eyes of your internet service provider.