• Using a VPN to access different content

    Video here

    One of the tools I use to watch different content online is a VPN or virtual private network software. If you choose a different country, many times it unlocks video content from that content to be viewed on your computer. This can be seen this time of year when the Olympics are on and you can view other country’s coverage by changing your VPN to be located in that country.

    Take for example the links to Canadian Olympic coverage or French TV’s Olympic coverage. Unless you are in that country, you can’t access them. Oh but wait, turn on your VPN, choose that country in your VPN connection so that the IP address of your computer is now assigned to that other country and refresh your browser. Suddenly you can watch that country’s coverage on your computer.

    Just remember to turn off the VPN when you stop watching to “move” yourself back to your location.

  • Kape Technologies, formerly Crossrider, now owns 4 top VPNs


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    A holding company with a controversial history — Kape Technologies — announced this month that it had purchased a leading virtual private network, ExpressVPN, adding it to a collection of three other major VPN companies that Kape acquired in 2017 through 2019.

    This concentration of VPN services has raised concerns.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.37.0 (2021-09-27).

  • A VPN dissenter speaks out


    Fred Langa

    By Fred Langa

    A reader strongly disagrees with Fred’s recent recommendation about using virtual private networks (VPNs) to increase online security; that reader’s colorful letter leads off this column.

    Today’s second reader-requested topic covers battery-monitoring apps for PCs and smartphones, including the extensive (but hidden) battery health report that’s built into every copy of Windows 10.

    The third reader-requested topic looks at daisy-chaining charging devices — say, charging your phone from your laptop while the laptop itself is charging from a wall socket.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.32.0 (2021-08-23).

  • Tasks for the weekend – August 21, 2021 – what VPN should you choose?

    Youtube here

    I spotted this over on Michael Horowitz’s web site with a checklist to choose a VPN.

    VPNs can be used for more privacy as well as to overcome geo blocking for various web sites. If you are a fan of something on British or French television and it’s not offered on French Slingbox or Britbox streaming services, it’s one way to see the television show.

    Now a word of warning, the firewall we use on the site often reacts unfavorably to VPN services so you may need to try a different IP address if you get blocked.

    One word of advice- always pay for your VPN services, don’t use a free service. I guarantee that if you search for a free vpn service you will find yourself on a malicious site. I personally use the service ExpressVPN when I’m needing to pretend to be on a different IP.

    So what VPN service do you use?

    And I’ll give you a heads up – there’s an excellent article coming up this week in Fred’s column about VPNs  – stay tuned!!

  • Microsoft posts a fix for the VPN-related dropped internet connection bug

    That was quick.

    Four days ago, Microsoft posted an acknowledgment of an unusual bug that’s contained in every Windows patch since the “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch for February.

    AskWoody poster @jayinalaska describes it thusly:

    Yesterday, I installed the Pulse Secure application on my work PC so I could VPN into a sensitive work network. As soon as I make a connection in the Pulse Secure application, I get the “Limited network” (no internet) warning. I can verify the warning is accurate. During one VPN session, I had Google Drive open in a browser at the same time and was warned I didn’t have a connection any more. As soon as I disconnect from the VPN, the network comes back to normal.

    Here’s the announcement:

    Out-of-band optional update is available for internet connectivity issues on devices with manual or auto-configured proxies including VPNs

    An out-of-band optional update is now available on the Microsoft Update Catalog to address a known issue whereby devices using a proxy, especially those using a virtual private network (VPN), might show limited or no internet connection status.

    We recommend you only install this optional update if you are affected by this issue. For more information, see the known issues section for your version of Windows 10 or see the links below.

    You can find all 20 of the patches in the Microsoft Update Catalog.

  • Patch Lady – remoting into a desktop without VPN

    If you are a small or medium business – or an IT consultant who helps small or medium businesses here’s a thought of a way to temporarily allow folks to remote into their desktops at the office without introducing more risk.  Many IT consultants are setting up Virtual Private Network connections from potentially insecure home pcs that are not secure to the firm network and may introduce more risk.  Especially if you have an unpatched Windows 7, this could introduce MORE risk to the network.

    Here’s an alternative:

    First off you’ll need either a spare server or spare room in a HyperV server.  You’ll need a domain with workstations joined to that domain.   Next download a trial version of either Windows Server 2016 or 2019.  Download an ISO to that hyperV Server.  Then follow these instructions (*)to set up a RDServer on that trial version.  That trial version – and the Remote desktop cals – will work for 180 days.

    Now from a home pc – even a Mac computer – launch the remote desktop connection program.  In the computer name section put in the name of the computer you want to remote into.  Click on show options.  Click on the advanced tab.  Click on the connect from anywhere settings box.  Click on use these RDgateway settings and put in the url of the server name you’ve created from the instructions above.

    Now click on “Use my RDGateway credentials for the remote computer.  Click on the experience tab and change the performance setting to modem (this will thin down the remote connection so that you get the best experience).

    Back on the first tab

    Back on the first tab you put in the actual workstation/computer name you want to get to and for the user name you put in DOMAINNAME\user name.  The remote user can now get to his or her exact workstation and remotely print.

    Note to anyone using SBS 2011, SBS 2008, Essentials Server 2012, Essential Server 2016 those servers all have RDgateway set up by default and you can use the same process above to bypass the RWA portal and go directly to the workstations.  Note this also works for Mac workstations as long as you download the new RDP client

    PC name would be the PC you’ll want to remote into.  In the Gateway setting, you’ll click on that blue icon on the right and put in the rdgateway url just like you do for the Windows machines.

    Again, this will work to let workers remote straight into the exact desktop they use, so it’s best for office workers and those have have a single computer assigned to them.

    Note if you have excess server computing power on that HyperV you can also use this to set up RDweb apps.  Put the date on your calendar as this will only work for 180 days or be prepared to license it before then.  But bottom line – this temporary solution can give your smaller clients a secure way to remote back into their offices with the Work from Home orders.

    Also remember if you are like me where you are suddenly putting an ancient Windows 7 back into remote service, you can still buy ESUs from Amy.

    (*) Huge thanks to Richard Kokoski for allowing me to post his step by step instructions.

    Note that this only works with “normal” GUI server 2019 not Essentials 2019.  Microsoft removed the RDgateway bits from Essentials 2019 so do not attempt to do this with that version.

    If you need a good VPN solution check out using OPENVPN.

  • An honest VPN commercial – from somebody who actually knows what he’s talking about

    Tom Scott knows whereof he speaks – and he speaks the truth, as best I know it.

    Thx Catalin Cimpanu

  • vpnMentor reports a data breach identifying 80 million US households

    I can’t verify this independently, but if it’s confirmed, we have one whale of a breach on our hands.

    vpnMentor’s blog says:

    The 24 GB database includes the number of people living in each household with their full names, their marital status, income bracket, age, and more…

    Full addresses, too, including zip codes, longitude, latitude.

    Apparently the list is indexed by households, not by individuals.

    vpnMentor says it’s looking for the owner of the database.

    Let’s see how this pans out.

    Thx Günter Born.