How to bypass Torrent blocks and Geo-blocks

Governments, companies, schools, and Internet providers take measures to prevent their users from accessing certain websites and services. (Surveillance Self-Defense, 2019). In the digital world, privacy has less to do with what you’re doing and more about who you are and where you live. This article will be discussing certain ways to hide your tracks and avoid trouble when doing things that are blacklisted by the ‘authorities’.

Your data is constantly being monitored!
How you are being monitored?

Based on the official Cisco Blog, by 2020 there will be 50 billion active devices will be connected to the internet.[1] As a single user, we may feel there are limitless options to cover our online tracks unfortunately this is not the case. The way our devices connect to the Internet will be via a gatekeeper (Internet Service Provider – ISP) whom we will be paying for using the services. Nevertheless, they have to full control over the content we transmit over their connection. ISP can monitor the websites you access, the frequency of traffic, restrict you from accessing websites, etc. All the ISP provides should adhere to the law of the land they are located in so in a case government want to restrict access to a website they can simply enforce it on ISP to be implemented. According to the number of countries that have banned access to the famous file-sharing website The Pirate Bay (TPB) is 23. [2]

Your connection without a VPN

The easiest thing you can do to protect your privacy is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which will help you to protect your privacy while enjoying anonymous browsing.

How a VPN work?

A VPN allows you effectively encrypt and anonymize your internet traffic while maintaining a good internet speed. This is done by establishing an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server. Once connected, all your internet traffic will be tunnelled via their server so any prying eyes including ISPs, attackers won’t able to analyse your web traffic. Consequently, your IP address and location will be hidden.

You are protected with a VPN.
Torrenting and P2P file sharing

The copyright infringement due to torrenting and P2P file sharing is a massive topic that deserves a separate post. In the context of file sharing whether it’s illegal or legal there are known restrictions imposed by the authorities. Provided you are using a VPN service, you can simply bypass any restriction to torrent search sites and while downloading the torrents your real IP address and location will be hidden.

Bypass Geo-restrictions when streaming.

Regardless of which video streaming service you are with (Netflix, Hulu, HBO, YouTube, etc), there will be some location-based restrictions. For instance, most of the newly released Hollywood TV shows arrive in Eurasia after a delay of a few weeks. If you are eager to know what is happening in the latest episode you can use a VPN service that supports video streaming to choose a server located in a geographical area your streaming provider does not have restrictions on and start watching!.

Accessing restricted internet services 

Time to time authorities may restrict access to certain online services. Depending on which country you live you will have to face these restrictions and provided you are living in a country with high inherent censorship like China, North Korea you need to remember that even trying to access a restricted service can put yourself in trouble. A VPN can help you to cover your tracks and to establish a connection to restricted sites by simply making your connection anonymous. When you request service by typing a URL, it first goes to the VPN server via an encrypted tunnel and then it will be forwarded to the website. The response coming from the website will be perceived as the traffic heading for the VPN server and your device will receive it over the encrypted channel.

Things to watch out when selecting your VPN Provider.

There are many VPN service providers out there who boast on the services they offer to clients. As Cybersecurity advocates, we think below are the key features of any VPN service that you should be looking at when selecting your provider.

Zero-log policy

Logs are files that store information about information. (Meta-information) When you are accessing a website over a VPN you are revealing yourself to the VPN provider. In case they are logging your requests including your original IP address in a server these can be used by the authorities to build up evidence against you. So you need to find a VPN that neither monitor nor store traffic logs and IP addresses of the users. (Zero-log policy) A good place to look for this information will be to read its privacy policy. To further assure the users, some VPN providers have allowed the 3rd party audits to be performed on their servers.

Anonymity and Server locations

The core responsibility of a VPN is to provide you the ability to be anonymous when browsing the internet the more serves and users the VPN server has you better you can be randomized. You need to make sure the VPN service provider you are choosing has a sufficient number of servers located across the globe. Be mindful of where these servers are located especially when you want to access Geo-restricted streaming services.

Kill-Switch

VPN Kill switch is a must-have option especially when you are connecting to a VPN using a software client. (You can configure your router to use a more secure VPN.) Once the kill switch is activated, it will monitor your connection to the VPN server and in a case where your connection to the VPN accidentally drops it will prevent any type of traffic flow until the VPN connection is reestablished.

Multiple Payment Options

Thinking of the verse case, provided your VPN service provider has been confiscated by the authorities or being hacked your account details will be revealed. The best option will be to avoid personally identifiable details at all costs. Which includes your Credit Card or Paypal details. When choosing a VPN, check they allow you to make payments from crypto-currencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or privacy coins like Monero(XMR).

Based on our personal experience and researching various VPN service provides over the past decade below are our favourites:

Reference:

[1] Tillman, Karen. “How Many Internet Connections Are in the World? Right. Now. – Cisco Blogs.” Cisco Blogs, 29 July 2013, blogs.cisco.com/news/cisco-connections-counter.‌

[2] Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Countries blocking access to The Pirate Bay. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countries_blocking_access_to_The_Pirate_Bay#See_also [Accessed 24 Dec. 2019].

Cite this article as: Greg Samuel, "How to bypass Torrent blocks and Geo-blocks," in Cyber Memos, December 12, 2019, https://cybermemos.com/cyber-security/torrent-stream-when-restricted-using-vpn/.