Category Archives: VPN

OPENDNS Revisited

I have written up OPENDNS before, but maybe it would be worthwhile again.

OPENDNS is a good way to improve your Internet security in your home network or individual PC. I have recommended it to my daughter to help secure the Internet for my grandkids. OPENDNS can be set up to filter sites that young minds don’t need to find while surfing the Internet. My daughter and I are in the process of setting up a more secure home WiFi network.

You can go to opendns.com and set up for a personal account. It is free. After setting up an account, you enter the DNS setting for OPENDNS in your router or PC and you have better Internet protection.

If you use a home WiFi network, you can configure it with the level of restriction you want.

High – Protects against all adult-related sites, illegal activity, social networking sites, video sharing sites, and general time-wasters.

Medium – Protects against all adult-related sites and illegal activity.

Low – Protects against pornography.

None – Nothing blocked.

Custom – Choose the categories you want to block.

It isn’t perfect, but it is very good.

This cannot be used if you are using a VPN or UNLOCATOR to visit streaming sites. However, if you are using KODI, you don’t really need UNLOCATOR and it does block Adults sites on KODI if they are available.

I learned something about the various VPN providers while I was testing OPENDNS. I had it set to the medium setting and was researching various VPNs. I was surprised to find that several were flagged by OPENDNS as being non safe. Several were well known sites, such as HIDEMYASS, Express VPN, and a few others were flagged with non private connection warnings.

So if you are using a VPN or thinking about using a VPN, it might be worth activating OPENDNS to prevent signing up for one that is risky.

WiTopia, which I have used in the past, was not filtered, so I consider that it is still a good provider.

Public WiFi is not Your Friend

Not long ago I ate at Sugar and Spice in Boquete. I noticed it was full of customers and all were using the Internet via laptop of cell phone.

I opened my phone and saw that there was an open WiFi server set up by Sugar and Spice. I continued to use my Cell Phone provider’s connection and ignored Sugar and Spice’s available connection.

I told the friend I was with that I never use public open WiFi. I explained why and told him since he was a regular there that he should advise S&S to enable a simple password to protect their clients.

Whether he has done that and they have changed or not, I have no idea.

Today, I came across this article in my daily reading.

It provides a very good explanation of the danger.

This is another reason I have ordered a Google Pixel. With the Pixel, Google is providing a builtin VPN that will be enabled in cases where you come upon open WiFi sites that are known.

You can’t be too secure these days, but you can become more secure by learning a little bit more. It still surprises me how many non secure WiFi sites are available in Panama. It may done in the name of simplicity, but when simplicity enables identity theft, it should be avoided.

UPDATE: I had posted this on Facebook Boquete News to insure that those in Boquete, who don’t follow this blog, could be made aware of the problem and inform the owner, if it had not been corrected.

However, the post on FB Boquete News was deleted, I have to assume because it was considered to be a negative inditement of a Boquete business. It was not. It was informational and I assumed some client would be willing to notify the owner as well as other businesses that provide similar non secure connections.

This appears to be another example of political correctness being more important than public safety.

My IPTV Experience in Chiriquí

I am writing this post to give my experiences with IPTV in Chiriqui. I see so many people writing about their magic IPTV box and it being the solution to everyone’s English TV needs. Many are listing prices that seem a little extreme, unless there is something I don’t understand. I am always willing to learn something new.

IPTV stands for Internet Protocal TV and is the distribution of programming over the Internet.

This requires a provider on one end of the connection with the media and a receiver on the user’s end to receive the programing and deliver it to the PC or TV.

The boxes I am familiar with, to receive programming over the Internet, come down to a basic few.

There are Apple TV products that starts at $149 and the previous model that is $69. There is the Roku family of products that run from $35 to $99. There are, what I will call, the generic Android boxes running Google’s Android OS costing generally $40 to $100. And there are branded Android boxes with the best known being Amazon’s Fire family.

All of these provide the capability of receiving programing over the Internet. Many offer services such as NetFlix, Hulu, etc., which require a monthly fee. Since all programming is delivered over the Internet, it requires a high speed Internet connection.

Now let me spend a little time talking about a software product which will receive programing over the internet called KODI (Previously known as XBMC,  X-box Media Center). This is public domain software that is absolutely FREE. KODI can be added to the either the generic android boxes, Amazon devices, PCs of all types and is absolutely FREE. Continue reading My IPTV Experience in Chiriquí

One Year With Unlocator

On March 18, I will have completed my first year using Unlocator. I replaced my old VPN with Unlocator because it was more efficient.

Unlocator doesn’t have all of the functions of a VPN, but it is less taxing on the bandwidth and I found it better for my needs.

If you really want to hide your location or protect yourself from unsafe WiFi Hotspots, then a VPN is required. A VPN will encrypt all data between you and the VPN server. However, to provide that encryption requires more bandwidth, processing time and has some effect on performance.

Many people use VPNs to be able to access US websites, such as NetFlix or Hulu, etc. Unilocator performs the same function with less overhead.

I also had problems with my Gmail accounts when I used a VPN, Google monitored my IP address and if it moved around, them Google would shut down my Gmail until I entered my account via a browser. Very annoying.

Unlocator uses another methodology and my IP address remains a Panama address. This has also been a benefit with my Security Cameras.

My original post on Unlocator is HERE.

Unlocator out of Beta

Unlocator has ended its beta environment and the free trial is over. I received an email the other day that I had it another 7 days and now was the time to pay the piper. I just did that. I went for the one year $49.95 option.

As I have written before, I have been using Unlocator since it began beta. I have been very happy with the service. It has been much faster than using my VPN because it does not encrypt the transmission both ways. It does not replace the need for a VPN, but if you use it to watch a service in the US such as Netflix, I have found it much better.

Another benefit over VPN is that it behaves much better with Gmail. I continually had problems with Gmail and the VPN because it saw me entering from different places and would make me sign in manually to verify it was me. Unilocator uses the local IP address.

While it is not free, it is reasonably priced. HERE is the link if you want to keep the service. Note also that they changed the DNS addresses, so if you are still using the old DNS, now is the time to change.

Security Is Up To You

I just finished listening to the Edward Snowden conference in SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Whether you think Edward is a hero or a traitor, the information provided in this YouTube video is important and may open eyes to the the security risks that exist today. Because of Edward’s release of information, there is a much higher interest in communication security now than there was before.

I have spent time in several posts talking about security, when connecting to the Internet. Primarily this has been related to WiFi connectivity. Both connectivity to your router in your house and the connectivity when away from home should use the highest of encryption between your PC and the router.

One small item that was mentioned was that connectivity at local WiFi locations like McDonald’s had improved their security. Well maybe that is true in the US, but in Panama, the typical McDonald’s, or other local provider still allows an unsecured connection. Don’t use them or at minimum understand the risk. Furthermore, it would be good if you asked to talk to the manager of the locations and asked whey they were not requiring a WAP secure sign on to connect to the internet.

Most likely they will have no idea what you are talking about, but the more annoying questions they receive, the more likely it may force them to change.

Why should you care. Do yourself a favor and read up on identity theft. If you are interesting in a couple of my previous posts. Post 1. Post 2. There are others. but these may get you started on worrying about your own communications security

Edward Snowden may or may not have realized how he would turn the world upside down. He may not even have realized how much he would turn his own world upside down. None the less, he did open the eyes of many people that had fallen asleep.

VPN vs Unlocator

I met a couple at yesterday’s Embassy’s Outreach that had read some of my original posts on VPN and were using WiTopia to allow themselves to access some US sites that only allow US IP addresses.

They had also read my first post on Unlocator and had tried it and had some problems while Unlocator was in their early stages. I had two days of problems when I first signed up too.

However, since I have been using Unlocator now for over two months without any problems, I thought it might be worth another post.

First, if you are not aware of the benefits of a VPN, read this. Everything mentioned in my previous post about VPNs is still true. I have kept WiTopia on my laptop and use it if I am traveling to insure I have a secure connection.

I have moved to Unlocator for my home access to Netflix and Hulu for one big reason. Unlocator does not do any of the encryption that VPNs do and my Internet speed for movie streaming has doubled. My IP address shows up as a Panama IP address and Unlocator provides you with DSN addresses that solve the problem of accessing many sites.

Unlocator is still in beta and it is currently free to try, but will charge $5 a month when it leaves beta. I will have no problem paying to use them.

VPN is an advantage if you travel a lot and are using a lot of free Internet access points. If you are not aware of how dangerous it is to use non password protected Internet access, study up a bit on Internet Identity theft.

A final note on Unlocator. It will work on a PC, a router, Apple TV, Xbox or PS3, Roku and other devices. The Unlocator site specifies all supported devices, sites and has installation instructions.

Try it while it is free and see if it will work for you. I have it installed on my Apple Time Capsule (Apple’s router with automatic backup) and all devices in my house receive the benefit.

New VPN Alternative

Many living outside the US, including myself, have used VPNs to provide several capabilities. One capability is a more secure connection on the Internet and another is its ability to access sites in the US that are not normally available outside the US.

As you may remember, I currently use WiTopia. However, in researching the possibility that I may need a static IP address and the effects of having a static IP address on my VPN usage, I stumbled across another offering that provides some of the advantages of a VPN, but leaves your IP address alone.

This may be the way I need to go, if I pursue the static IP address. What I would give up is the secure connection. If this new offering does what it appears to do, I may move my VPN license over to my laptop to complete my current license period. With that, I would have a secure connection when I travel, which is more important than when I am at home.

By now, you are probably wondering what this new service is. The URL, which explains what it can do, is located HERE.

I have the service activated on my router and it is functioning as advertised on all devices connected to the router. The system is in Beta and currently has no fee. When it leaves Beta, it will price at $4.95 a month, which is less than I am paying for my CloakBox.

I have nothing bad to say about CloakBox and if I do make the move, it has nothing to do with WiTopia’s service. They have been and are a perfect provider. However, this static IP requirement may not be possible, if I am using a router with a VPN active.

I have had this new service operational for less than 24 hours. One if the things, the service states, is that there will be no degradation in Internet speed by using the service. To this point, I can verify that my throughput had increased because of not needing to encrypt and decrypt the transmissions. I would say some of my download speeds have increased as much as 30%.

It requires registering for the service and it uses your current IP address along with its DNS addresses to allow the service to function. I don’t claim to understand what is going on behind the scenes, but the performance has been impressive.

If you try it, let me know your results and what ISP you are using..

UPDATE: No sooner than I posted this and at the moment, I cannot connect with US services. The system is still in Beta and this may be the reason. This will bear watching for a while.

UPDATE: Scheduling tech session with the company to determine the origin of my connection problems. Most likely will occur later next week. Currently seems to be working fine. Other times, not so fine.

UPDATE: All of my configuration problems appear to have been resolved. Speed is good.

 

 

PC Downtime This Afternoon

I will be having my main PC down for a period of time this afternoon to install new firmware in my VPN Router. If all goes well this should be no more than a few hours. I will have to move my PC so that is connected to the router, Normally it is wirelessly connected.

This will have no effect on Chiriquí Chatter other than comments that come in that need to be approved or if emails are received, they will not be responded to.

It is also time to renew my contract with WiTopia, who is doing the firmware upgrade. I will be killing two birds with one stone today.

This is the beginning of my third year using the CloakBox. I used WiTopia for a couple years before that, but only installed on PCs.

UPDATE: All done. Fairly painless.