Category Archives: Software

How to Unblock WhatsApp at School or Work

When it comes to messaging apps people like options. And it’s well demonstrated in lists of the top 10 apps with the most active monthly users. WhatsApp Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram typically all make the top 10 year after year.

WhatsApp has global appeal. The app is seriously popular with approximately two billion users worldwide, outranking WeChat and Facebook Messenger. Countries with the most users worldwide are India, Brazil, and the US.

If you can’t access WhatsApp on your phone there are a few main reasons that is happening. First, WhatsApp could be blocked in your country. Second, it could be blocked by your workplace or school.

While WhatsApp is well-known and used globally there are just a handful of countries that don’t share the enthusiasm. Five countries have blocked WhatsApp in some capacity: China, North Korea, Syria, Qatar, and the UAE.

Social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp are also commonly blocked in corporate settings and at schools. Business-orientated messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are recognized as solid alternatives to email. However, if WhatsApp has been blocked it’s likely seen as a threat to productivity by decision-makers.

Why Is WhatsApp So Popular Internationally?

Meta has owned WhatsApp since 2014 when it was acquired for nearly $20 billion. Mark Zuckerberg and his company recognized the potential of WhatsApp early on and the move has paid off for them as Meta now dominates the messaging app space.

People in the US and Canada take mobile phone plans with unlimited international texting for granted. However, in areas such as Latin America customers are charged extra for international phone plans. Thus, many use WhatsApp rather than SMS for contacting people outside their country because it’s free.

Additionally, people in developing countries such as India often use WhatsApp so they don’t have to pay to use smartphone features like SMS and mobile data.

Common Reasons WhatsApp Is Blocked

WhatsApp and its associated services are widely available. However, in some situations the app has been blocked specifically.

People may need to unblock it for various reasons. After all, WhatsApp is a primary channel of communication for many around the globe. Here are the two main circumstances that will require a bit of help:

Offices or Schools

Networks in public places are much different than your Wi-Fi network at home. Higher levels of security are needed. Network admins put firewalls in place and also block apps that aren’t needed or desirable in that setting.

Messaging apps are just as useful to business users and students as anyone. Nevertheless, some leaders see WhatsApp as just another social media app that is a distraction to employees and students.

If you can’t access WhatsApp at school or work that means the network administrator added it to their list of restricted apps.

Traveling Abroad

Certain countries block access to WhatsApp within their borders for a variety of reasons. WhatsApp uses strong encryption so messages can’t be intercepted and viewed by any third parties. Some governments have a dim view of apps that make surveillance impossible. Additionally, since WhatsApp is free it has the potential to lower the profits of state telecom operations.

China is well-known for blocking apps that are widely used elsewhere in the world. Meta products such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram have all been blocked there. The Chinese have their own social media apps that perform similar functions as the ones that emerged from Silicon Valley in the US. In place of WhatsApp, WeChat is the leading messaging app in China.

Other countries have opted to block WhatsApp as well. Visitors to North Korea, Syria, Qatar, and the UAE may be in for a surprise when they can’t use WhatsApp. It is hugely popular in Brazil despite the fact the messaging app has been temporarily shut down in the country at certain points.

How to Unblock WhatsApp with a VPN

First, for those that are unfamiliar let’s touch on what a VPN is. A virtual private network is a way to connect to the internet that gives you an additional layer of data encryption and greater privacy.

When you use an app or visit a website your actual location and identity are not revealed with a VPN enabled. In fact, you can choose a new IP address associated with a different country than you’re currently in. That in turn can allow you to use apps that have been blocked in your true location.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the steps associated with unblocking WhatsApp:

  1. Select your VPN – Any VPN service should be able to get you around a WhatsApp block. Choosing the right VPN requires more research if you need to access WhatsApp overseas. So, be sure to have a look at LetMyBy’s top 3 VPNs for full reviews of recommended services.
  2. Install the VPN app – Decent VPN providers all have their own app. After you’ve signed up for a VPN, find the link to their app on their website. You’ll be redirected to Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store depending on the platform you use.
  3. Open the VPN app and log in – Launch the VPN app. You’ll need to enter the login info you used to create your account with the VPN provider. Next, tap ‘connect’ to start using the service.
  4. Choose a server – Typically the VPN app will automatically connect you to the best server based on your location. If you’re getting around a block at school or work, you’ve completed the process and can start using WhatsApp now. If the block is based on your country, you’ll need to complete the next two steps.
  5. Choose another location – Find the list of VPN server locations in the app. In many cases there’s a nice UI with a world map. Choose a country that is close and that hasn’t blocked WhatsApp such as the United States or the United Kingdom.
  6. Launch WhatsApp – Test WhatsApp to see if you can use it as normal. You should be good to go!

Choosing the Right VPN

Originally VPNs were primarily used by businesses to give their remote employees access to internal applications and data. A lot has changed since. Not only are there plenty of great VPN services to choose from, but they’ve become easy to use, affordable, fast, and secure.

Different VPN providers give you access to different protocols, all of which have associated pros and cons. Some protocols are better overall for use overseas in countries such as China. For example, OpenVPN is often cited as the best protocol for international travel.

Here are LetMeBy’s recommended VPNs for unblocking WhatsApp:

If you’re traveling abroad to countries such as China or the UAE, you’ll want to conduct further research to be certain your VPN of choice currently works in that location. For detailed reviews of the top 3 VPNs, visit this page.

Conclusion

VPNs are pretty amazing and the ability to unblock WhatsApp is just the tip of the iceberg.

You may find yourself in a situation where you absolutely need to access WhatsApp to check your messages or contact someone. Of course, it’s best to respect the rules of your workplace, school, and country.

You Should Use a VPN for Travel and Here’s Why

Everyone is tech-obsessed these days and it’s no different when we travel.

For many, a smartphone is the only device they need for their vacation. Business travelers and tech enthusiasts also opt to bring their laptop, tablet, or smart speaker. And while these devices open up amazing possibilities, there are also risks to be aware of.

While most think of precautions such as travel insurance, and putting their cash and valuables in a safe place. All too often they don’t think about how to protect themselves from cybercrime.

Public Wi-Fi: Convenient but Risky

You may have noticed hotels have Wi-Fi with lax security measures put in place. The hotel staff often use a simple Wi-Fi password and give it to all their guests. In other cases, the Wi-Fi is completely open, requiring only a room number, code, or click-through to go online. Either way, the Wi-Fi at hotels isn’t safe for anything beyond casually browsing the web. It’s particularly unsafe if you plan on entering your private data.

And that’s just one example. Free Wi-Fi is available everywhere from cafes to museums and airports. It’s convenient but any Wi-Fi offered to the public has risks associated with it.

You may be wondering why public Wi-Fi isn’t safe. The reason is anyone who is connected to the same network as you can potentially access your unencrypted data. Thus, your usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, browser cookies, and other data can be gathered by malicious individuals with the tech know-how needed to do so.

Making Wi-Fi Safe While Traveling

One solution to the pitfalls associated with public Wi-Fi is to avoid doing tasks that involve sharing your private data online. The problem with this approach is it’s easy to forget about security concerns when you need to get something done. Additionally, you could be targeted in a way you could never anticipate.

For most travelers, the most practical and effective way to protect your data is to use a VPN.

A VPN is an encrypted tunnel for your data that’s placed between your device and the internet. Essentially it turns any unsecured internet connection into a secure one.

About VPNs and Why They’re Used

VPN is short for virtual private network. Although VPNs were originally intended for business applications, it quickly become a technology all internet users can benefit from. After all, individuals have many of the same needs as businesses.

People use VPNs for two main reasons: to protect their online privacy and to enhance their security.

Starting with privacy, people are more concerned than ever about data that’s shared with third parties when they browse the web and use apps. Tech giants like Facebook and Apple have found ways to grant their users better privacy than ever, but one still needs to trust that they’re living up to their credo. Generally, people are slow to place their trust in most corporations today.

VPNs give users the true online anonymity they’ve always craved. It allows them to change their IP address (which is one of the most common ways to identify an internet user and their location). Thus, if they’re tracked with a VPN enabled their activity won’t be associated with their physical location.

The other reason VPNs are so popular is its ability to make the internet secure so that private data can’t be stolen by malicious individuals.

Smartphones are a primary internet device for literally billions of people worldwide. Today you’ll find Wi-Fi access in virtually any public place where people gather. The catch is that public Wi-Fi is less safe than hopping on the internet at home or work.

VPNs use state-of-the-art encryption so your data can’t be accessed or stolen by third parties.

Choosing the Best VPN for Travel

The first point to consider is if the VPN service you’re considering is well-supported in the countries on your bucket list. For example, some VPN services work reliably in China while others can potentially be blocked.

Check which protocols the service provides its users with. OpenVPN is often considered the best all-around protocol and people have reported it’s been working well in China in recent months. Having the ability to switch to different protocols is also useful to international travelers. If a protocol doesn’t work you can test the others, and in many cases at least one will do the job.

LetMeBy has tested many of the popular VPNs out there today. These are the most-recommended services for general travel:

If you’re traveling to China, you’ll also want to add VyprVPN to the list.

The company has been good about working around roadblocks in China. And they’ve been quick to adapt and offer solutions even though it can be challenging to use a VPN there.

How to Use a VPN

VPNs were once reserved for techies and business users. Now it’s easy to connect to a VPN with your phone, tablet, or laptop.

The first step is to download the app from your VPN provider.

This saves you the trouble of configuring individual apps such as your web browser to connect to the VPN. Additionally, it makes it straightforward to change settings such as selecting a new IP address associated with a different country than you’re presently in.

Next, launch the app. The login screen will appear. Enter your username or email and password provided by your VPN provider and you’re in. Yes, connecting is that easy.

Conclusion

Mobile data can be expensive when traveling abroad and since people are so used to accessing their devices frequently, Wi-Fi is a must. Public Wi-Fi gives travelers free access to the internet whether they’re in Honolulu, Rome, or Hong Kong.

The cost associated with using public Wi-Fi isn’t measured in dollars. Public networks are conveniences with a low level of security. Thus, it’s crucial to be mindful of the risks and take precautions.

Using a VPN while traveling not only protects your private data. It also gives you peace of mind. And with so many things on your mind while making the most of your time off, that’s a much-needed gift.

VPN Not Working with Netflix? Here’s How to Fix It

Have you used a VPN with Netflix then encountered an error page you weren’t expecting?

You’re not alone. Netflix wants their customers see content intended for their region only. And they’re well aware that plenty of users want to bypass that restriction.

If you reached an unplanned popcorn break, odds are this is the page that appeared:

So, is this the end of the road for using VPNs with Netflix?

Not at all! Although Netflix has made it harder to use a VPN to view content outside your region, it still works if you’re using an IP that hasn’t been identified as a VPN.

Quick reminder: To achieve anonymity VPNs replace your true IP address with an IP associated with the VPN service. So, for example If you select a US location with the VPN software it will mask your actual location and assign you with an IP address in the US that they own.

Now that everyone knows how it basically works, let’s look at how you can solve this issue.

How to Get Past the Netflix Streaming Error Page

1. Try a different server

If your VPN allows you to select a different IP located in the country you desire, try that.

It’s possible the IP you’re accustomed to using has been blocked by Netflix, but other IPs that can be selected with your VPN software work fine.

Of course, if you don’t have the option to select a different IP address directly, you’ll want to move to the next troubleshooting suggestions below.

2. Change the VPN protocol

Surprising as it may sound, sometimes you can work around the problem simply by switching to a different protocol with your VPN software.

There are a number of protocols in existence, however the ones you can utilize will vary depending on your VPN provider.

The most common VPN protocols are:

  • PPTP
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • OpenVPN
  • SSTP
  • IKEv2

Speed and the level of security is different with each protocol, and they all have their pros and cons.

The only one you should think twice about using is PPTP as this is the oldest protocol. The speed is decent but its security leaves much to be desired compared to the other options listed.

Of course, changing the VPN protocol is only a temporary measure if you’re forced to choose a protocol that doesn’t meet your standards. But in most cases, you won’t notice much of a difference.

3. Switch to another VPN

Not all VPNs are good choices for use with Netflix.

If you keep having to jump through hoops to get streaming to work, it could be time to look at alternative solutions.

Some VPN providers are focused on keeping their service working smoothly with Netflix, while its not on the radar for others.

Also, which service works and which doesn’t can change quickly. Some power users are signed up to more than one VPN service to improve their chances of having a solution at their fingertips.

Before switching, do your research to ensure other users are using Netflix without issues. There’s a Reddit group called NetflixViaVPN dedicated to the topic of using Netflix with a VPN. It’s helpful for finding the latest information.

Also, check out LetMeBy’s reviews of the top 3 VPN services as these are the best performers all-around.

How Does Netflix Know You’re Using a VPN?

Streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix all have systems put in place that aim to detect if you’re using a VPN.

If your IP matches the IPs in their database that they’ve identified as VPNs you’ll get the streaming error page.

The good news is the best VPN services are always adding fresh IPs for their users to select as well as finding ways to allow their customers to keep using the services they love (such as Netflix).

Will Netflix Ban You for Using a VPN?

Although Netflix wants you to use their services as they intended, they don’t want lose you as a customer either.

Internet privacy aficionados have been using VPNs with Netflix for years and there are no reports about even receiving warnings from Netflix for this.

Thus, your Netflix account is safe.

Conclusion

Using a VPN with Netflix can be frustrating at times, but having access to content from different regions is a real game changer for film and TV buffs.

If you come across the dreaded Netflix streaming error page, don’t fret as there’s always a way around it. And if it’s just a question of changing your IP address, or your VPN protocol, consider it a good day.

Metaverse Brings Privacy Risks with Its Startling Possibilities

The great power of the approaching metaverse comes with great responsibility. Facebook has released its plans to responsibly build the metaverse with its partners.

They’re considering ways they can minimize the amount of user data that is needed to accomplish founder Mark Zuckerberg’s vision. Their aim is to build tech to “enable privacy-protective data uses.” In theory, users will be able to see how their data is used, and they’ll be able to control it.

However, what sounds good on paper and the real-world implementation are two very different things.

Facts are facts: Facebook is the least trusted social media app in terms of privacy. Nearly one-third of US Facebook users have some reservations about how the platform protects their privacy and data.

Trust is very hard to gain, and it can be lost in an instant. Facebook’s journey to reassure users that their metaverse is safe will be met with healthy skepticism.

The inherent risks of the metaverse could prove to be just as vast as it’s infinite possibilities. Before we tackle that issue, let’s look at what the metaverse is.

Wait, What’s the Metaverse?

The metaverse is the vision of virtual reality you’ve seen in movies for decades.

Imagine walking down a bustling street in Tokyo from the comfort of your condo in Miami. You look up and see a soaring building covered with brightly lit signs.

As you lower your gaze you notice a small souvenir shop with a large toy robot displayed by the window. You walk right in, and purchase the toy.

Now, this isn’t a video game. You used real digital currency to get it. Soon after you see a confirmation message that tells you they’ve received your order. The shop is now preparing it for shipment to your physical address in Miami.

This is just one example of how the metaverse will allow virtual worlds and reality to collide.

Biometric Data and Brainwaves

Tech companies can tell us what they will and won’t do, but to really understand the privacy implications of the metaverse it’s best to know what the hardware is capable of.

Virtual reality headsets are able to make use of biometric data. The user’s environment, physical movement, and dimensions can all be tracked.

Naturally, headsets and eyeglasses are ideal for tracking eye movements. Moreover, it’s possible to track the physiological reaction to experiences found within the metaverse, such as heart rate.

This is where it gets just as astonishing and it is alarming. Soon, brain-computer interfaces (BCI) will allows us to access the metaverse through smart wearables such as headphones, watches, and glasses.

BCIs collect brain signals, analyses them, and then translates them into commands smart devices can understand and execute on.

These BCIs will have access to one’s very thoughts, so malicious users in the metaverse may be able to crack the code and gain access to our brain activity if robust security measures aren’t in place.

Additionally, users will have to trust that all parties that have access to BCI data will use it solely to control the functions of their software, and not to harvest our thoughts.

Metaverse Privacy by Design

Software developers responsible for building the metaverse are aware of the threats, and they’ll act accordingly. Privacy by design is to be standard practice.

In other words, software will be built with user privacy in mind from the start, rather than adding it later to appease users and lawmakers.

Existing laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have driven app makers to be transparent about when private data is being accessed. For example, Google Glass displays icons and outputs audio to let users know when they’re being recorded.

Advertisers Want Your Data

Sometimes we forget that much of the technology we use every day is ad supported. It makes social media, freemium mobile games, and access to professional journalism all possible.

Consequently, user data is needed to show us ads with products we’re actually interested in.

The desires of users and advertisers clash when it comes to privacy and data. Of course, users want strong privacy. And advertisers need access to information about consumers to run their ad campaigns efficiently.

Realistically, the needs of advertisers often edge out the wants of users. Whoever pays the bills for the metaverse to run holds the real power.

Consumers have their wins too, such as Google’s decision to phase out third party cookies that track user activity.

However, historically advertisers have always been granted tools to benefit from user data. The methods of collecting and sharing that data simply change. Thus, it’s difficult to believe that a company like Facebook will take user privacy to such an extreme that it turns off advertisers.

Implications of Surveillance and AI

“The company that builds the metaverse will actually listen in on every conversation and watch every person,” said former Google and Apple exec Kai-Fu Lee.

“That on the one hand can make the experience very exciting because it can see what makes you happy and give you more of that,” he adds. “But then what is the notion of privacy in a metaverse?”

Whether a company like Facebook collects user data or not, the fact they must literally capture your every movement for the VR experience to work, is alarming.

AI will also play a huge role in making immersive worlds possible.

You’ve seen this concept in video games, when you interact with NPCs (non-player characters) that have a mind of their own. Since reality and virtual reality come together in the metaverse, the stakes are much higher.

U.N. leaders have warned that AI could pose a threat to human rights.

“AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic effects,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Conclusion

The metaverse is a brave new world, full of amazing possibilities and dangers.

It could be Facebook, but there’s no telling which corporation will succeed at bringing the metaverse to our homes.

Every time we’re in the metaverse we’ll partially check-out of reality. Yet everything we do and say will be monitored, and some of our actions will affect our life in the physical world.

Ultimately creators of the metaverse need to design a world that serves people, rather than making us serve the metaverse.

You Can Hide Your IP on Steam… But Is It Safe?

There are many reasons to desire greater anonymity when playing your favorite games on Steam. You may want to hide your personal info from malicious gamers, hackers, or conceal your activity from your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

The issue is that hiding your IP on Steam can be done for both valid and rule-breaking purposes. So, it’s best to proceed with caution and read their updated terms of services. In short, there are actions you can take while your IP is hidden that are fine, while other actions can violate their terms.

For example, changing your location with a VPN service to get access to pricing and deals only available in other countries is not allowed.

Why Use a VPN with Steam?

These are the reasons to use a VPN, whether there are risks or not:

  1. To experience greater privacy in-game and with Steam’s social features
  2. To get access to better deals via another countries’ store
  3. Block geo-restrictions on gaming content

Safe to Use a VPN with Caveats

A Reddit user asked Steam support if it’s okay to use a VPN with Steam in general. It turns out it’s fine, but you have to remain very conscious of what you do while it’s on.

Here’s their official answer:

Hello,

Playing games or operating Steam while using a VPN is not strictly prohibited.

However, it may affect gameplay and the Steam client itself.

A Steam account will only be restricted for actions that violate the Steam Subscriber Agreement or Steam Online Conduct Rules, so please keep in mind that purchasing games while your VPN is active is a violation of our Terms of Service.

If you have any further questions, please let us know – we will be happy to assist you.

Changing Your Geographic Location on Steam

If you’ve examined the risks and still want to change your country on Steam to access a different country’s store, here’s how you do it.

  1. Enable your VPN from a trusted provider.
  2. After launching the Steam app and logging in, click on your avatar or profile name.
  3. Select ‘Account Details’ from the dropdown menu.
  4. Click the link that reads “Update Store Country.”
  5. Confirm that you want to change your country, then enter a new mailing address. The new address should match the billing address for the payment method you’re using. You don’t need to worry about your billing address being the same if you use Steam Wallet or a gift card.

Warning: Changing your address too frequently can put your account in a temporary cooldown period. This will prevent you from changing your country again until the period ends.

Conclusion

If you use choose to use a VPN with Steam, it’s vital to carefully consider how it affects all your actions on the platform.

Using a VPN to circumvent Valve’s rules and policies is risky. As is forgetfulness, as you’ll need to take special note of whether your VPN is enabled or not when accessing content or making purchases.

If protecting your privacy is the goal, it should be worth the few extra steps and precautions.