Category Archives: VPN

Want to Upgrade Zoom’s Privacy and Security? Use a VPN

The pandemic forever changed the way we connect with friends and colleagues. Video chat apps have now become an even more integral part of our digital world.

Zoom recently peaked at #1 as the most downloaded app globally. Business and home users alike have quickly adopted it.

With that shift came greater concerns about privacy, as confidential information discussed at meetings could be intercepted by malicious users or authorities.

Free Comes at a Cost

Security experts have noted that the free version of Zoom lacks end-to-end encryption, and this is generally frowned upon in the software industry. Theoretically Zoom, the police or FBI could access calls if they wanted to, although the software company denies they would ever do this except if Zoom is used for obvious illegal activity.

Zoom elaborated on the policy in a statement. “Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content, and we do not share information with law enforcement except in circumstances like child sex abuse. We do not have backdoors where participants can enter meetings without being visible to others. None of this will change,” said a spokesperson.

Take special note that just because they don’t proactively monitor calls doesn’t guarantee they won’t do it. So now the question becomes, is taking Zoom’s word for it good enough for you?

A system not requiring trust, made possible with tech, is always superior to believing a company. However, to get that with Zoom you have to pay for the premium version of the app.

The Troll in the Room

Some users have reported a phenomenon called Zoom bombing. This involves uninvited guests gaining access to group chats and dropping slurs, offensive images, etc.

Zoom is addressing this problem, but it’s an ongoing threat. Thus, it raises more concerns about the overall strength of the app’s security.

VPN Upgrade Alternative

Should you stick with Zoom despite these weaknesses? Although video conferencing alternatives with better privacy and security exist, it likely won’t be feasible to convert your friends or coworkers.

Luckily there’s a quick, easy way to upgrade Zoom’s encryption to prevent privacy leaks: simply use a VPN.

A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure tunnel between your device and a remote server operated by a VPN service provider. All online traffic goes through this encrypted tunnel so apps and websites cannot gain access to data such as your IP address, location, and certain actions you take.

If you don’t need the added features of the Zoom Pro or Business plan and want the best privacy and security, a VPN is the best option. A VPN service will give you added privacy with any app or sites you visit.

VPNs that are most recommended here at LetMeBy are below. For more detail, you can check out full reviews of the top 3 VPNs services.

Conclusion

Zoom is a terrific video conferencing app overall. It’s easy to use, as the user interface (UI) is simple and intuitive.

Privacy and security concerns shouldn’t prevent you from using it, as leveraging a VPN or upgrading to a paid plan takes care of the main shortcomings concerning encryption.

How to Unblock Instagram at School or Work

Social media allows us to accomplish diverse tasks: from video chats with friends to spreading the word about your company’s services.

Use of apps like Instagram may be productive and relevant to what you’re doing at school or work, however many people scroll through content to slack off.

So, many institutions have opted to ban social media apps entirely, and network administrators are able to follow through on this by blocking access to URLs like https://www.instagram.com/.

Situations can arise where you need to check Instagram to do your work, but the network won’t allow it. And this is when bending the rules on occasion may be reasonable.

Can Insta be Productive?

Content on Instagram varies a lot and it has evolved considerably from a place to take in beautiful photos or post photos of your road trip. In fact, education, business and self-improvement are very popular topics on the platform.

Instagram can be enriching or a waste of time depending on your habits. It’s important to be mindful of the accounts you follow. While a lot of the photos on Instagram will merely be a distraction at school or work, some of it provides succinct knowledge that could actually save you time.

If used correctly, it can increase your productivity. However, few people have the discipline to pull this off.

The app has a great feature that allows you to limit the time on spend on it daily. To use it, go to “Settings”, then tap on “Account.” Next, tap “Your Activity” and you’ll see reminder and notification settings.

Unblock Instagram

Use Phone Data

If you launch Instagram and can’t view your feed, try turning off Wi-Fi and enabling wireless data.

There’s a good chance this will work because Wi-Fi uses the network which has internet access rules applied by the admin, while mobile data works independently of the local network.

Get a VPN

If you don’t have mobile data or don’t want to use up your monthly bandwidth, you can also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access Instagram.

A VPN service allows you to choose a new IP that is associated with the location of your choice. This provided IP allows you to bypass restrictions set by the network admin while still connecting to the network via Wi-Fi.

It’s the best solution for people that want to hide their identity, location, or unblock apps and websites. You need to be subscribed to VPN service, many of which are fast and affordable.

To get started, learn more about the best VPNs that are recommended here most.

Use Your PC with Tor

If you simply want to browse Instagram and don’t need to post, using your PC is an alternative that is often overlooked.

If the URL https://www.instagram.com/ is blocked on all devices, you may be able to download and install Tor. This is proxy software that allows you to use the IP of another user connected to the Tor network.

Once the software changes your IP, Instagram will be unblocked. It’s free but be warned that it’s not as safe or nearly as fast as a VPN.

Typically, Tor should be a last resort, only to be used temporarily then uninstalled. This approach will only work at small businesses that don’t restrict which software can be installed.

Wrapping It Up

Use these tips responsibly and enjoy your new-found access to Instagram!

As the app can be useful at both school and work, blocking access might not be the best policy. However, it’s best to be as respectful of the restrictions even if you’re forced to bypass them at times.

Clever Hacks to Get YouTube TV in Canada

YouTube TV launched in the U.S. in 2017. There’s been speculation that they would expand outside of the U.S. and offer their streaming service to Canadians along with others like Hulu. However, YouTube TV hasn’t made an official announcement about this.

So, Canadians that are tired of hoping and waiting may want to grab the bull by the horns. Yes, you can get access to YouTube TV in Canada today! All you need to do is jump through some hoops before signing up and follow the tech savvy steps in this guide.

Is It Worth the Effort?

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and CBS All Access are available in Canada. Thus, one might wonder if getting YouTube TV in Canada is really worth it.

For those who want a comprehensive replacement for cable TV, it is. This a great opportunity to get sports, news, and special interest programming you don’t have access to on Netflix.

Channels on YouTube TV

Google has obtained deals with the five major TV networks in the U.S.: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and The CW. About 40 cable channels owned by the parent companies of those networks are all onboard. This includes content from The Walt Disney Company, CBS Corporation, NBCUniversal, Brave, USA Network, Discovery, CNN, Cartoon Network, Fox Sports 1, BBC, ESPN and more.

Like traditional cable TV, it’s also possible to add additional premium channels. Some of these channels include AMC Premiere, Showtime, and NBA League Pass.

How to Gain Access to YouTube TV in Canada

YouTube TV has a variety of methods to verify if the user is based in the U.S. Therefore, to pass these checks and successfully get a YouTube TV account, you need to ensure their site can’t tell you’re based in Canada.

1. VPN Location Magic

First, you’ll need a VPN. By using a VPN, you can access the web with an IP address associated with a physical location in the U.S.

To do that, sign up with a VPN provider, and choose a plan. These services are very inexpensive these days. And typically, if you’re willing to commit to a plan for a year or more, you can save quite a bit.

Recommended VPNs are listed below. For more details, read full reviews of the top 3 VPN services here.

2. Get a U.S. PayPal Account

If you use a Canadian credit card, you’re rolling the dice. You may be able to rig YouTube TV’s payment system to accept it, but that doesn’t work with every credit card provider.

The most reliable method is to set up a U.S. PayPal account.

To ensure success, be sure to follow these tips:

  1. Before you do anything, enable your VPN. And make sure the service has assigned you with a U.S. IP address. This will give you access to the U.S. version of PayPal.
  2. Use a valid email that isn’t already associated with a PayPal account.
  3. When signing up, put in your real street address and credit card info, as you normally would.
  4. You’ll need to choose a zip code and find the U.S. city that is associated with it. The full process is below.

Your Canadian postal code needs to converted to a zip code. To do this, remove all the letters from it. For example, a postal code of M4B 1G7 is changed to 417. Next, to make it valid, add zeros to the end so it’s five digits. So, your new zip code should look something like this: 41700.

Keep in mind the zip code you got from the above process must be real for it to work. To verify if it’s valid, go to the USPS website and enter it. If it’s invalid, replace one of the zeros with a one. That should do the trick.

Finally, enter the U.S. city from the address found in the USPS link, along with your real street address. Now you should be able to complete the PayPal sign-up process.

3. Create a U.S. Gmail Account

This part is really simple!

  • Go to Gmail.com and click on the option to get a new account.
  • Make sure that you select the United States as your location.
  • Validate your account with your mobile phone number.

4. Change Your Location in Chrome

Although you’re now using a VPN to hide your location, Chrome can still spill the beans and reveal that you’re actually based on Canada.

The final step in hiding your whereabouts is editing the settings in Chrome’s location services.

Important: you’ll need to repeat these steps every time you launch your browser

  • Launch Google Chrome
  • Press ‘Ctrl,’ ‘Shift,’ ‘I’ to open Chrome’s backend framework on a PC. Mac users will want to hit ‘Command,’ ‘Option’ and ‘I.”
  • Click the icon made up of three little dots in the top corner of the new panel that just launched. Go to ‘More Tools,’ and then select ‘Sensors.’
  • You’ll now see an option called ‘Geolocation’ with a dropdown menu next to it. Select a location in the U.S. such as ‘San Francisco’ or ‘Mountain View.’
  • Great, now Chrome will think that you’re in the U.S.

5. Access Your YouTube TV Account

Whew, you’re nearly there. All you need to do is test that everything worked.

  • Go to the YouTube TV website.
  • Sign in with your U.S. Gmail account.
  • Choose to pay for the service with PayPal, then sign in the PayPal account you just created.
  • If all is good you should see a $1 charge and refund in your PayPal account (this is part of the validation process).

You Did It!

Congrats! You now have YouTube TV, just like the fortunate folks in the States.

As the process is pretty involved this guide is intended for PC and Mac users.

If you’re even more ambitious and tech savvy you can also get YouTube TV to work on Google Cast, Android, iOS, and Apple TV. To learn more about support for these platforms check out the guide on MobileSyrup (and scroll to the bottom of the article).

How to Unblock Spotify at School or Work

Music makes time spent at school, work, or traveling so much more enjoyable. It lifts your mood. It reduces stress when a middle-manager is micromanaging you again, and it lessens the risk of burnout.

And while playlists or iTunes Radio are decent for music listening while you’re preoccupied, Spotify is the ultimate solution.

It’s a bummer to give up Spotify and when it’s blocked. Luckily, with a little tech wizardry, you’ll never have to do without it again! More about that soon.

No Spotify? Why Not?!

Here are the three main reasons why you can’t use Spotify:

  1. Country you’re located at is blocked (China, Russia, India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
  2. Network administrator at your school or place of work has restricted access to it
  3. Your favorite songs are blocked outside the USA due to rules specified by the record company

None of these are deal-killers. You can work around any roadblock above with a VPN.

Of course, keep in mind there are certain risks associated with doing this. If your workplace has draconian rules about software use for example, it might not be worth it. That being said, onward to the tech!

How VPNs Unblock Spotify

A VPN (virtual private network) in essence allows you to swap your real IP address with another IP provided by the service.

So, if you’re visiting China on business for example, you can choose to use an IP associated with the US. This way Spotify will work just like it does in America, since the software assumes that is your physical location.

Additionally, if Spotify is blocked via the local network, a VPN allows you to bypass the restrictions set by the administrator.

Regaining Spotify Step-by-Step

In this mini tutorial we’ll look at how you can use one of the most popular services, NordVPN, to unblock Spotify. The process isn’t much different with other VPNs, but it’s easier to get across with a specific example.

Let’s get started:

  1. Sign up with NordVPN
  2. Download NordVPN software: whether you’re on a Mac, PC, iOS device, Android or other, reputable VPNs like this one have you covered.
  3. Both the app and desktop software display a map with locations to choose from. To connect to the VPN server and change your IP location, tap or click on a country, then a city if desired. Most people will want to choose a US-based IP address as Spotify offers this audience the most content.
  4. Launch Spotify on the device: now that VPN software is configured Spotify should be unblocked!

Other Good VPNs

VPNs that are often recommended here are listed below. If you’ve a got a bit more time you can also read full reviews of the top 3 VPN services.

Note that prices for even the best options are very reasonable and start at around $3 per month.

Goodbye to Prying Eyes

There’s another key privacy benefit you’ll gain by using a VPN. It encrypts all web traffic on your machine or device. So, if Spotify is banned on the network the admin won’t be able to figure out you are connecting to their music streaming server through the app.

So, VPNs not only help you break through to blocked content and applications, but also prevent you from getting busted. After all, limitations like this are pretty arbitrary, and contrary to the vision of a free, open internet.

Go Forth Grasshopper

Got it working? Congrats! Unlocking awesome tunes on Spotify should make your life a little sweeter in public places. And that path has led to top-notch overall privacy too.

Should You Use a VPN When Downloading Torrents?

Have you ever wondered if someone is watching when you download a torrent?

The answer is categorically yes, even if you haven’t noticed any evidence of it. The snooping is indeed as undercover as it comes.

What you likely have noticed is irritating popup ads for VPNs on torrent sites. Then there are the flashing warnings that your IP address is exposed.

Sure, it’s an attempt to put the fear of god into you so you sign up with a VPN provider.

Nonetheless, is there some validity to covering your behind with a VPN when downloading torrents? Let’s explore that.

BitTorrent: Not Always Unethical

Before proceeding it should be said that LetMeBy.com doesn’t condone piracy. Moreover, it’s assumed the motives of the reader are pure.

Despite its reputation, BitTorrent distributes free content belonging to the public domain. Plus, it’s a protocol much like e-mail or www. So, don’t believe those who broadly label it as “bad.”

And then there are those many gray areas. Perhaps you want to download a video game ROM when you already own a physical copy. Or maybe you’d rather download MP3 files rather than ripping the music CD yourself.

Regardless, you have the ability and right to protect your privacy.

How BitTorrent Works

Downloading torrents isn’t as anonymous as it might seem. To understand why, we need to take a look at the basic mechanics of it.

The BitTorrent protocol is a peer-to-peer method of file sharing. It’s decentralized so there is no single point of failure.

So, when you start downloading a torrent you become an active participant in that system. Right from the top you help to serve the file. Thus, others can get the data you have so far. Then when the download is complete the file starts to seed, making you both an uploader and host of the content.

Who Can See Your IP Address?

During the process described above your IP address is accessible to others connected to the same torrent. So, it’s indeed plausible that an entity could monitor and record the IPs that connected to a torrent. Also, with apps like uTorrent you can view the IP of users quite casually by clicking on the Peers tab.

Savvy companies with big budgets use automated software to spy on users downloading their digital products without paying.

Another potential risk to your privacy is your internet service provider. This is the entity that can find out exactly who you are based on your IP. Although these companies rely on their users to maintain their business, they’ve clearly sided with other big business when it comes to copyright violations.

An online survey of 1,000 conducted by PCMag found that 25 percent of respondents named ISPs as the biggest threat to their online privacy.1

Those in the Crosshairs

Copyright holders are most concerned about stopping the original uploader of a torrent, followed by subsequent uploaders. Furthermore, since all downloaders are also uploaders by design, there is no way to shirk responsibly for proliferating copyrighted material.

The film and TV industries in particular have been vigilant about preventing unofficial distribution of their video.

Torrents and the Movie Industry

Napster first pulled the genie out of the bottle in the music industry. And it hasn’t been the same since.

The film industry was similarly slow to adapt to technological change. Initially, increased demand for digital downloads and streaming were often met by unofficial channels.

But in this case, studios have done better in terms of enforcing copyright. Along the way film studios managed to utilize incredible technology to defend their turf.

Trackers are now embedded into popular movies which automatically find users who download their material unlawfully. Copyright infringement notices are sent via e-email thanks to cooperation with the user’s ISP.

Thus, downloading movies from torrent sites carries greater risks than many imagine.

Recently 3,400 Canadians faced the legal consequences of illegally downloading movies in Federal Court. The crackdown was launched by a Toronto law firm on behalf of U.S. movie production houses hoping to enforce their copyright claims.

Defendants have paid anywhere from $100 to $5000 to settle these claims.2

How VPNs Protect Users

When you use a VPN (virtual private network), your traffic is encrypted and secured to ensure that no one can spy on your activity—even when you’re torrenting.

Your actual IP address is replaced with an IP provided by the service. This provides anonymity since the IP in use is not associated with any one person.

Recommended VPNs

As there has been a surge in demand for VPNs, there is no shortage of services to choose from. Luckily even the best VPNs are affordable, so there is no reason to go for anything less than top-notch.

Read full reviews of the best VPN providers here. Or if you’re short on time, click on one of the links below. These are currently among the top choices out there:

Wrapping it Up

Don’t kid yourself. ISPs and corporations with copyrights to protect have a very dim view of torrent use. Downloaders are treated with the same suspicion whether their activity is legitimate or not.

This is yet another reason to consider employing a VPN for all your internet use. You may have fared well so far, but there is no telling who is watching your activity waiting for an opportune time to take action.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/354396/the-best-vpns-for-bittorrent
  2. https://globalnews.ca/news/4933339/lawsuits-movie-downloading-uploading/