Monday, November 30, 2015

Setting Up FREE Proxies & VPN's (& Tor Browser!)

Have you ever wondered how to setup a proxy and use it? Or maybe the definition of VPN has never crossed your path and now you want a bit of info on it? Surely, with all the news flying around, you have heard of Tor? Is it only for bad things? I will answer all these questions and show you how to setup everything to spoof your computer (for FREE) to think it is coming from another city, state, or even country!



WARNING: I am not responsible for how this information may or can be used!

Why Would I Need A Proxy/VPN/Tor Browser?
For the most part, you may not need any of these methods. But sometimes, especially if traveling, you could. While I will explain their definitions in better detail below, for now just know that all these items can be used to circumvent geo-IP restrictions. Meaning, you can make websites and others think that you are not in the location you actually are.

Let's get into some examples of when this could be appropriate: Maybe you have a Netflix account, however, certain countries are restricted from viewing Netflix content. This would be a perfect time to use one of these methods to pretend you are viewing from a Netflix-allowed country.

Or perhaps you want to view some articles on a site that is hosted in a different country. The site only wants to allow people from within a certain area. (e.g. Craigslist will not let you post a listing if you are not in the city you are posting to.) You could use one of these methods to make the website think you are in that required area.

There are many reasons to use one of these methods. You can use it for security and anonymity, but it can also be used illegally. This of which I do not support, but some of the knowledge needed will be the same.

Proxies
A proxy is just using a server's IP address to route your requests through it and make sites and other computers think you are that server and thus, in that location.

This is the most basic way to circumvent geo-IP restrictions. The major drawback is that you have no protection from others who want to track or trace you. If you were to use a proxy for illegal means, and did not setup any type of security, you could easily be found by the government or others...

Why Not Use Proxy Websites?
Proxy websites can be quite useful if you just need to see something fast. But when it comes to downloading or uploading, or viewing videos, spending hours researching, etc., these sites will not allow those types of processes (or can be extremely tedious). For those situations, you may want to manually input a proxy, VPN, or use the Tor Browser.

VPN's
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is essentially a proxy with security. This is good for businesses and alike who wish to transfer sensitive data.

The biggest drawback of a VPN is normally its speed. A speed decrease form a VPN can be quite detrimental, especially if transferring large files. A paid VPN should grant a decent amount of speed, but many free VPN's will slow you down immensely.

Just a side note, a VPN service may store log files. So if you think that you can get away with something illegal just because you are using a VPN, think again. Those that do keep log files of IP addresses will normally give them over to government officials if asked.

Tor Browser
Tor Browser is a simple browser (based off of Firefox) that allows you to surf the web with total anonymity. This is not to say it grants security like a VPN, which is why it is always recommended to use HTTPS sites, or to use in conjunction with a VPN, if you want anonymity and security.

Many people may know of Tor Browser because of the Dark Net and Deep Web. I will not go into how to access these parts as much of its content are for illegal items and services.

A final comment, Tor Browser is fairly slow. I would only suggest using it if you cannot find a faster proxy or VPN.

Finding a Proxy
To use a proxy you will at least need an IP address and a corresponding port number. Proxy IP addresses and port lists can easily be found searching on Google. You will be able to find IP addresses in different cities, states, and/or countries.

If you are lucky, you can find sites that not only give you the IP address and port, but the speed of each of each proxy! Otherwise, you will have to test out each IP address and see if it is a suitable speed for your needs.

How To Setup a Proxy
The easiest (and most useful) method to do this will require Internet Explorer (IE) or Chrome. This can be done with Firefox, but the reason IE or Chrome is preferred is because they actually use the Windows OS to setup the proxy, while Firefox has its own special network settings. This means that if you do go through Firefox, it should only affect Firefox, while going through IE or Chrome will make sure that every application using the Internet will go through the proxy.

I will be using Windows 7 for these steps, but I imagine they will be similar on Windows Vista, 8/8.1, and 10:

Internet Explorer

  1. Open IE.
  2. Click the ALT button.
  3. Select the "Tools" menu.
  4. Click "Internet options".

Chrome

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Click the menu button (three horizontal lines) in the upper-right hand corner.
  3. Choose "Settings".
  4. Select "Show advanced settings..."
  5. Scroll down to "Network".
  6. Click "Change proxy settings..."

Note: Chrome will open the following window on the "Connections" tab. IE will open it to the "General" tab and need to be changed to the "Connections" tab first.

Proxy Settings

  1. Choose the "Connections" tab.
  2. Click "LAN settings".
  3. Under "Proxy server" check off both boxes.
  4. Type the IP address in the "Address:" field, and the port number in the "Port:" field.
  5. Click "OK".
  6. Click "OK" again.

Note II: This may also work on Microsoft Edge, but since I have yet to use Windows 10 on a regular basis, I am unsure at this time.

This procedure will enable a proxy. You can test this out by going to any IP address lookup website and check your location. If it is a different location than from where you are, it is working. However unlikely, you could possibly use a proxy from the same area...

Some proxies will be far too slow and may even timeout going to certain sites. Again, it will be up to you to find a speedy proxy, if that is what you want.

Finding a VPN
I normally do not use a VPN when I am in the USA, as I have no use for it. However, when I am overseas, it sometimes can be useful when trying make sure everything I am doing routes through a US network, and I do not want anyone seeing what I am doing (i.e. reviewing bank statements, etc.).

How To Setup a VPN
There are several free VPN sites out there. For our example, we will use FreeVPN:

  1. Click the Windows Orb (Start button).
  2. Use the search field and type in "VPN".
  3. Click on "Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection".
  4. Type in the server address. (If using FreeVPN, we could use the Denmark server IP address: "de1.vpnme.me".)
  5. Change the "Destination name:" to anything you want (optional).
  6. Click "Next".
  7. Type in the "User name" and "Password". (If using FreeVPN, we could use the Denmark server username and password: "vpnme" & "6gYcdX".)
  8. Click "Connect".

The connection may take a few seconds, but you can now test your VPN by checking an IP address lookup website.

To reconnect in the future, do the following:

  1. Click on the network connections (WiFi or LAN connection) icon in the lower-right hand corner.
  2. Under "VPN" click on the VPN you created. If you changed the name, it will show up as that.
  3. Click "Connect".
  4. Type in the password. The username should already be provided from connecting the first time.
  5. Click "Connect".


There you have it! The VPN should remain in your network connections. If you ever need to delete it, go back to your VPN under the Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections and use right-click to find the delete option on your VPN.

The VPN may be slow, so you may have to go through a lot of them to find one with decent speeds. If you have a slow connection, then it may not matter...

Finding the Tor Browser
The Tor Browser can be found here. I would suggest getting the NON-expert bundle. The expert bundle will require you to input a lot of manual settings, and unless you know what you are doing and absolutely need to, it is unnecessary.

Install Tor Browser. Once it is done, you will have a Tor Browser folder.

How to Setup the Tor Browser
Tor Browser, without any changes, will automatically put you into a random network. That means you could route through a network in the same country, or any other country that is available.

What I am going to show you is how to always use a network from a specified country:

  1. Go to where you placed the Tor Browser folder.
  2. Open it.
  3. In the Windows Explorer search bar (of the Tor Browser folder), type "torrc".
  4. Right-click on it and open with Notepad. (You may need to choose "Open" and then search through your programs to use it with Notepad.)
  5. Above the first line of text without a "#", type "ExitNodes" followed by a space, and then in curly brackets type the two capital letters of a country you wish to use. So, if I wanted to use Denmark, it would look like this "ExitNodes {DE}", without the quotes.
  6. Save the file.
  7. Close the file.
  8. Open Tor Browser.

If any IP address lookup website shows that you are from the country you inputted (Denmark in my example), then it is working. If not, you may need to close and reopen Tor Browser once more as it sometimes does not register on its first try.

It may be of use to know that the country will remain the same country on every opening of Tor Browser, but the IP address will always change. To let Tor Browser go back to auto-selecting an IP address simply remove "{DE}", or whatever you have used, in the "torrc" file and save it.

Tor Browser may be slow, as mentioned before, but if you already have a slow connection, this may be the quickest method to use a certain proxy with little setup.

Because this is a browser, this only affects the browser and not any other application that connects to the Internet.

Word to the Wise
I have noticed that if I am downloading something and switch between a proxy and my actual IP address, that download will continue without issue (but not all the time). However, a VPN will cut off the connection to a download, so hopefully it can be resumed or is at least a small file.

If downloading through the Tor Browser, you will not have this worry. Yet, you can save yourself some time if you use a download manager as it will act as if it is not using the proxied connection at all!

Adios By Proxy
(Not a great section title, but the best I could come up with.) Using a proxy, VPN, or the Tor Browser can be very beneficial when you need it. I would not say I use them everyday, but every so often I do, and it is nice to have options available.

Each method has its benefits and drawbacks, but as long as you know what they do and when they should be used, it should be an easy decision as to which method is right for you.

1 comment:

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