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How To Use A VPN

VPNs: Why, What and How – Part three

Welcome to the final instalment of VPNs WHY, WHAT AND HOW. In the coming weeks we will be releasing some instructional video blogs that will cover a few key areas around VPNs and PROXYs.

SADAH-VPN-logoOur recommended provider for both VPNs and PROXYs is TorGuard. They provide monthly quarterly 6month or annual subscriptions for a range of services that have been covered in these articles. Their pricing is reasonable, service is excellent and they guarantee no logging with any of their services.

I’ve chosen three of the most common applications for using a VPN and expanded each of these into an instructional video. Click on these links to learn how to do this yourself!

**If you think you can work this out without the instructional video, here is a link which will take you to TorGuard website where you can purchase and install your own PROXY or VPN from our recommended providers. **


Remember! A VPN won’t protect you from all the online threats out there. While a VPN encrypts your information on its way to the server – once you access another website, if it isn’t encrypted or safe (HTTPS) then neither is any of the information you enter into that site.


I have provided some recommendations for what VPNs are best above, if you are one of those people who like to do your own digging then be sure to keep these few things in mind.

  • Location: Keep in mind the server’s location and the exit locations you can choose particularly if you want to be able to access a network in a specific region. IE you are overseas and want to watch the football in Australia, there’s no point in getting a VPN with a server and exit location in America.
  • Logging Policies: If one of your main concerns is privacy/security, make absolutely sure you check your provider’s logging policies before you sign up. Some providers will log your online activity and on-sell this to a third party company. Others will log your activity and only store this unless audited by any government agancie in which they will hand over your information.
  • Free Vs Subscription: Some times in life you do get what you pay for, and if you don’t pay for your VPN or PROXY services then you will probably have a service that will log your information and probably even on-sell it to a third party company, or they will litter your browsing experience with tailored advertisements – they’ve got to make their money somewhere right?
  • Remember: that while using a VPN does dramatically improve your security and privacy, you are still not invulnerable to risk. It is recommended that you always use HTTPS sites when handing over personal information online, and make sure you are still careful about what you are downloading and have quality virus protection.You can find VPN providers that offer Anti-malware/ Anti-spyware features which is great for that extra protection.
  • VPN for Mobile and multiple devices: If you are paying for a VPN, you should be able to find a provider that offers consistent experience across all of your devices so you can use the same VPN on your laptop and your phone. You don’t want to be using two different VPNs with two different policies, this day and age you should be able to find the one size fits all VPN provider.
  • Price: Last thing to keep in mind is price. While it’s not always true, often you get what you pay for in this case. Free providers are good if you just quickly need to use the internet on a public network, but if you are looking at all the reasons to get yourself a VPN in particular security, then you are probably better going with a provider that offers a subscription as they generally take your privacy more seriously.

VPN clients will often skew their services towards specific uses so it should be pretty easy to find the right protocol for your needs. There are VPN’s specific for mobile devices, some VPN’s suite the occasional user and some are geared towards heavy downloaders or getting around location restrictions.

The last piece of advice I have on this is make sure you do a bit of research on your chosen provider before you sign up. There are a myriad of chat forums out there that will have already discussed your possible choice. Make sure you do a bit of reading before you lock it in.

That all from me for now, I hope this has been a useful article.

If you have any questions or suggestions for any other HOW TO posts on this subject please contact us on 1300266936 or you can email us here.

Thanks and stay safe online.

Lock concept

What Is A VPN?

VPNs: Why, What and How – Part Two

Break In Online Security If you read my previous article ‘VPNS why should I get one’ then you are no doubt reading this article because you are a concerned internet user and you are after a little more information.

The subjects in this article are verging on the technical side and I’ll only be trying to give you a basic understanding here. For most people it isn’t vital that you fully understand the inner workings of these things if all you need is to find a VPN Provider. However it’s my opinion that a little bit of knowledge is always preferable so you can be more informed when you embark on your quest for online security and anonymity.

There are many different types of VPNs available; they use different methods (or protocols) to achieve similar goals. There are also different types PROXYs available which can provide the same if not better results as a VPN – depending on what you are looking for.

What is an IP Address:

Before we go any further it’s important that you understand what an IP Address is. An IP Address or Internet Protocol Address is a series of 12 numbers which is a unique code that is assigned to each device. (Laptop/PC/Mobile)

The purpose of an IP Address is to make your device identifiable online and also your current location. This is a major vulnerability when seeking security and online anonymity.

What Is a Proxy?

If all you are looking for is online anonymity from using certain sites (like torrent sites) then a PROXY might serve your purposes more simply and effectively than a VPN.

A PROXY is a server that acts as a filter for any of your activity on your web browser. You connect to the internet via a PROXY and once in use, you will adopt the speed/security/GEO location and IP address of your chosen PROXY server.

Once your online activity is managed by the proxy, you will become anonymous as your IP Address will become that of the PROXY and your online activity will pass only through the PROXY.  PROXYS can be a faster and cheaper solution over VPNs if all you are looking for is online anonymity.

  • PROXYs will only filter sites that are accessed via a browser (firefox/chrome etc) that you have applied the PROXY settings to and they aren’t always compatible with certain web pages that use-non browser technology.
  • PROXYs also don’t use particularly strong encryption and are most effective when used to target particular sites like Bit Torrent. If you are concerned about online security then a VPN is a safer option for you.

Diagram of Proxy Server

What is a VPN?

Both a VPN and a PROXY server will re-route your internet traffic and change your IP address. As with a Proxy, you will also adopt the speed/security/Geo location and IP Address of your chosen VPN server. Aside from these two factors a VPN operates very differently from a PROXY.

  • A VPN encrypts ALL of your traffic including programs and applications, bypassing your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and routing all traffic via the VPN server.
  • VPNs use tunnelling protocols to actually tunnel a secure point to point corridor inside an unsecure network (the internet) offering a twofold layer of protection.

Diagram of VPN tunneling protocal

Not all VPNs and Proxys work in the same way and some aren’t as effective as others. Here are a few examples to help you understand some of the many confusing acronyms out there.

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS):

    SSL and TLS are used extensively in the security of online retailers and service providers. An online shopper should never purchase from a site if it does not implement SSL or TLS. You can look for this in the web url like in this example. A site wishing to implement this protocol will have to submit points of identification and verification before being allowed access. Once approved the SSL or TLS is established and all information from this site that is passed to a server is encrypted and secure.

Example of SSL Website

  • Site-to-Site VPN (S2S):

    Site-to-site is much the same thing as PPTP except there is no ‘dedicated’ line in use. This is a connection to two sites which encrypts all data passing between the two.


  • Socks 5 Proxy (SOCKS5):

    There are two different types of Proxy, HTTP and Socks. HTTP is the protocol used to transfer website data. It is designed for a specific protocol and while it does this very well, you will run into problems when trying to use this for any other applications. The SOCKS5 Proxy technology is designed to be an all-purpose proxy accommodating any programme, protocol or type of traffic. While there are many different types of Socks Proxy – SOCKS5 is the best one for torrent use offering support and faster downloads.


  •  Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP):

    PPTP is an age old VPN protocol. This is also the most common and widely used. PPTP simply tunnels and encapsulates the data. There are concerns regarding the security of this type of protocol as it doesn’t encrypt the data it encapsulates.  A secondary protocol in conjunction with this can provide a powerful combination.


  • IP security (IPSec):

    IPSec is often used to secure Internet communications and can operate in two modes. Transport mode only encrypts the data packet message itself while tunnelling mode (L2TP/IPsec) encrypts the entire data packet.


  • Secure Shell (SSH):

    SSH creates both the VPN tunnel and the encryption that protects it. This allows users to transfer information unsecured data by routing the traffic from remote fileservers through an encrypted channel. The data itself isn’t encrypted but the channel its moving through is. SSH connections are created by the SSH client, which forwards traffic from a local port one on the remote server. All data between the two ends of the tunnel flow through these specified ports. SSH tunnels are the primary means of subverting the government content filters and allowing access to torrent sites that might otherwise be blocked by the HTTP network.

SADAH-VPN-logoIf you are considering a VPN or Proxy provider there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Be aware that many providers still log your information and while another user may not be able to view or access information on your activities – the information is still there.

Look for providers that offer non-logging services. Free providers are particularly guilty of this and they have also been known to on-sell your online activity to marketing giants for targeted advertising.

Hopefully now you have a better understanding on the different types of VPNs and how they work. In my next and final article on VPNs: WHY, WHAT AND HOW- Part Three I will show you how to set up a real VPN for three different user scenarios:

  • How to safely download torrent files using a PROXY
  • How to use a VPN to access NETFLIX in America
  • How to use a VPN to browse the web anonymously and securely

If you have any further questions please feel free to comment or give us a call on: 1300 266 936 or send us your enquiry.

Dangerous New Cryptolocker Virus

Dangerous New Cryptolocker Virus

This month we have had a few clients come to us with their machines infected with a malicious virus known as a Cryptovirus. In my 14 years as an IT professional have i ever seen such a damaging computer virus as this.

Cryptolocker Virus Threat

What is a Cryptolocker virus?

A Cryptolocker virus is a malicious virus that upon infecting your computer, encrypts all of your data with a unbreakable code, rendering your data useless. Quite often the virus creator will demand a ransom to be paid ranging from $300 to $5000 which upon payment allows you to u retrieve your data.

Many Crypto viruses are not able to be broken due to the complex encryption involved. If a computer user gets this virus, you will in most cases end up paying to get their data back.

Considering how valuable your data is, are you treating it with respect? Do you have a regular data back-up schedule, or do you sometimes put it off when it becomes too busy? Many small businesses do the latter, paying the price later when a virus threat or some other issue causes a data loss.

How does the Cryptolocker Virus Work?

  1. The virus comes into your machine usually via an email disguised as being from either federal or Australia post saying you have a package
  2. When the user opens the link in the email it redirects them to a hacking website which then quickly infects your computer
  3. After infection, all of your photos, documents and data will become encrypted meaning they are unusable with the unlock password
  4. The user then is advised they must pay a sum of $600 aud to the hackers to unlock their data or forever lose it. If you do not pay with 72 hours the ransome doubles to $1200
  • Viruses and security threats: Even with the most advanced anti-virus protection, new and powerful viruses can enter your system. Some can wipe out your data completely; some prevent access to your files. Keeping back-up copies of your data, separate from your computer system ensures that you can continue running your business while the virus is being removed.

My computer is infected with the Cryptolocker virus what can i do?

The first thing to do is to make a note of the timer countdown on your screen. It will give you normally 72 hours from the time you machine first becomes infected to pay the ransom. Now turn off your machine immediately, the longer it is left on the more time the virus has to get your data. Call Computer Zen on 1300 266 936 and we can help you in a jiffy.

What is the best anti virus software i can get?

At Computer Zen, we’ve tried a large variety of antivirus software over the years with some ranging from fantastic and others to just downright average. When our clients ask us “whats the best protection we can get for my home or business systems” To that we reply the award winning Webroot Secure Antivirus

Webroot has been protecting many of our home and small business clients machines for over 3 years now. Over that time we found that we have not had a single client calling us back with any new virus problems since switching to Webroot

Now it is fair to say that no antivirus software can be 100% effective against every emerging threat. But from what we have seen personally are our clients since switching to Webroot not calling us to report any new virus problems. This in itself proves to us that it is a solid piece of software that we trust to protect your system from nasty viruses and threats

Can you help supply and install Antivirus software for me?

As resellers of Webroot Secure AV we can quickly install and configure your system to get your protected fast. If you are interested in purchasing Webroot to protect your home or business computers apple macs and laptop, please contact us on 1300 266 936 and we can take care of everything for you

Securing Your WIFI Connection At Home – Prevent Unwanted Access

In this age of multiple smart devices, a secure Wi-Fi connection is no longer a luxury, but the norm. As wireless signals cannot be contained within your home, your network must be well secured to prevent outsiders from using it.

wireless-securityThe danger: If you have a download limit, freeloaders can cause you to pay extra charges. But even if you have an unlimited download plan, it is dangerous to leave your Wi-Fi network open for anyone to use. This can result in your network being used for illegal downloads or uploads, criminal activity, or might result in your identity being stolen.

Here are some tips from our Computer Zen team on how to protect your home wireless network:

  • Change the default ID and password: Every wireless modem and router has a default public ID (Service Set ID or SSID), an admin user name and a default password. The default values are different for different models, but can easily be obtained by anyone. Change these immediately after setting up your network.

Select a long password with a combination of numbers, letters, capital and small letters. Avoid using names or common words for your password. Also avoid using words like ‘hack proof’ or ‘hacker beware’ as your network name as this gives extra motivation for hackers.

 You can also hide your network by turning off your SSID broadcast. That way, only devices that type in the network name and password can use the network; it cannot be chosen from a list.

  •  Keep the signal strength just right: If you have a router that allows you to adjust the transmission power, use it so that the signal doesn’t travel too far outside. However, if you want the signal to reach every corner of your house, it has to be set at a high level.
  • Control the devices that can access the network: You can use MAC address filtering to prevent unknown devices from accessing the network, for another layer of security. MAC address is a unique address that each device possesses. This method is not foolproof; password protection is definitely the better method.
  • Enable firewalls and other security features: Newer models of modems and routers have built-in firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Do not turn off these features for convenience; these are very useful security features.

Additionally, you should use the strongest encryption method supported by your modem or router to protect your sensitive data.

If you need help setting up and securing your Wi-Fi network, our team at Computer Zen could be of help. Call us on 1300 266 936

How to Safely Browse the Internet Without Security Concerns

The internet has dramatically changed our lives – from booking tickets, banking and shopping to chatting and sharing music videos with our friends, it seems the internet has made just about anything and everything possible.

But viruses and other security threats also exist all over the internet. These can damage your files, slow down your CPU, or even wipe out your operating system completely. Proper security software and firewalls do offer protection to many of these threats.

But for further protection against new and very powerful viruses, the safe browsing practices listed below are helpful.

Malware threats:

’Phishing’ redirects you to fraudulent websites that mimic popular original ones and prompt you to enter personal sensitive information like passwords. To avoid phishing threats:

  • Always type addresses directly onto your browser window instead of following links from emails.
  • Check for “https” in web addresses and the security checked ‘lock icon’ before entering personal information anywhere.
  • Do not visit questionable websites whose security certificates are invalid or expired.

Avoid downloading free software from unfamiliar sites as they can contain viruses or software that tracks your browsing pattern. Using a pop-up blocker helps to avoid malware or inappropriate content that interfere with your browsing.

Spam threats:

Most anti-virus software nowadays has spam filters, but these have to be kept current by installing updates and running scans. Additionally:

  • Set up your email account to stop images from downloading automatically. Images in emails can contain ‘cookies’ that sends information back to the sender.
  • Save your primary email for important transactions and use a second email for other non-essential stuff.
  • Uncheck all pre-checked boxes that allow companies to send you promotional material or even to share your email address with third parties.
  • Never open attachments if you are unsure of the content, even if it is from a trustworthy source.


Identity threats:

If you do a number of online monetary transactions, it is important to protect your identity from being stolen. Using the same password for multiple sites, clicking the auto login features and not reviewing your online banking history are practices that could result in stolen personal information.

If you have young children who use the internet, set up a parental control program to control and review their browsing habits. Talk to them about personal security and the importance of not sharing personal information with online strangers.

Our team at Computer Zen can help make your computer safe against threats by installing firewalls and anti-virus software. Call us on 1300 266 936 for any computer repair or IT support related jobs.

Channel Nine Segment Featuring ComputerZen – Is Your Home Wifi Really Safe From Hackers?


Up next, think your computers are safe from hackers?  The information that could have you thinking again.

Your home WiFi computer connection may not be as secure as you think.  Experts warn up to 30% of set-ups are vulnerable to hackers who can bypass all but the latest computer security systems.

This is the Fraud Squad on patrol with some high tech gadgetry; they search for vulnerable WiFi home internet connections.

[There’s one – hotspot.]

In a single suburban street, they find three WiFi’s with their electronic doors wide open.  

They’re asking the crooks to virtually come inside.

[There’s another one here to steal for yourself]

Luke Cole is a computer whiz.  He’s pretending to be one of the bad guys and in a matter of minutes, he knocks off unsuspecting Melissa Neill’s WiFi defences.

I’m in.  How easy was that?

It’s really frightening.  I have no idea who could have been in my computer.

They use your computer to store their illegal data, get access potentially to your information on your computer.

And that can be anything from personal details to bank accounts.

You can just go onto any web site these days, and search the appropriate keywords and you’ll find a bit of software that will download and be able to hack into any router.

Like so many others, Melissa thought she was safe using Wired Equivalent Privacy, otherwise known as WEP or W. E. P.    

As far as we’re concerned, WEP means you don’t have protection.

The advice now is to upgrade to a WPA2 security system and change all your passwords including the one on your modem.

Passwords is the number one frontier.  You’ve got to have that locked down password, a few characters, different symbols.  The longer it is the better it is.

The message is getting through.  Two years ago, 80% of home WiFi’s were vulnerable, now it’s about 30%.  While the increase in the number of people with secure WiFi networks is very welcome, the criminals haven’t been standing still either.  They’re constantly looking for cracks in the networks.

It’s an arm’s race; it’s a war zone.  It’s a constant battle and it’s not going to go away.

To upgrade your WiFi security, call your internet provider.  They’ll talk you though every step need to make sure you’re protected.

Phil Willmington, Nine News.