So in this series, i’m going to hold your hand through some easy to use exploits in the online-world, that will help you navigate your way around some pretty obvious security holes, without the need to be an’OMG 1337 HAXXX0R!!’. DO NOT take this as SittingNow encouraging you to break the law, we’re not; however, exploiting holes in the web can be quite good fun, and highly educational. I, for the purposes of journalistic research, have braved this dangerous e-stunt on your behalf…
Episode#1: ‘Fun with Virtual Private Networks’
It’s a time-old story online; you want to watch free SouthPark, or the example i’ll be using in this feature, the free Michael Moore movie ‘Slacker Uprising‘. You rush to the site, excitedly scanning to find the location of the free feature-length presentation, that will kill a good hour and a half of your time. You find it, click on the link to view it and…
After you have rebuilt your computer, picked the bits of moniter out of your cat, taken a deep breath, and consumed whatever medication you’re on to control the intense emotional outbursts you suffer from, read on!
Personally, I think it’s great that TV companies are finally seeing the advantage to putting their content online free of charge, to me it shows progressive thinking. However, due to varying legal constraints, some of this content is not available outside of its country of origin. Being a journalist of the qualatative variety, I decided, for the purposes of this feature (only), to see if I could find a way of tricking the server that holds the aforementioned Michael Moore doc, into thinking that I was a US resident and not a damn redcoat! I actually found a really complex way of achieving this fairly early on into my investigation, but that required far too much effort for the average basement dweller, so I put my thinking cap on and devised a much easier way.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) were created to protect your computer, or a business machine, from malicious attacks from outsiders. as wisegeek.com put’s it:
There is no standard model for a VPN, but in general it uses public Internet lines in one of several unique fashions to create a virtual private network. The VPN can operate between branches, regional centers and field representatives via a set of software and hardware protocols that authenticate users and encrypt traffic.
Put simply, if used in the right way, it can shield your identity on line by creating your own private tunnel that noone on the outside can penetrate…it also shields your IP address. I won’t explain how here, but your IP contains some very basic geographic information, and the server that holds the restricted content (the film in this case) uses this to assertain your location, and block you accordingly. Luckily for us, there are a variety of free services online that will do this all for you. My favourite is HotSpot Shield, which is free, but makes you occasionally visit a sponsered link (no biggie, just close it). Download the software, install it and hey presto! you’re ready to roam the web anonymously, and guess what:
Now, I did press the play button, but only for a moment, to see if it worked; and whilst we’re on this topic, I must once again warn you that doing this is against the law, and you could be prosecuted for watching films illegally. SittingNow accepts no responsibility for your actions and, in fact, advises you against such devaint actions. SittingNow also warns non-UK residents that using this same method to watch the BBC iPlayer will probably work as well, and is also illeagal!…any others i’ve missed out?