Disguising Your Online VPN

For many of us, VPNs are an essential tool for using the internet in any capacity.  When you realise that everything you do online is logged and the majority of transactions happen in clear text then you start to be aware of how little privacy you have without one.   Imagine for example there is a list of every web site, every email you sent and every file you downloaded existed somewhere – would you be concerned.  Well that list does exist and it sits in the logs of your local ISP, a complete log of everything you do online.

So it’s hardly surprising that people want to protect their privacy and hide all their online activity from those who wish to monitor our every move.     This is where the VPN is so useful, a virtual private network which encrypts everything you do online and hides all the websites you visit.

There is an issue though, although a VPn will protect your privacy – it’s actually difficult to hide the fact you are using a VPN to protect your privacy.  The problem is that the use of such programs is easy to detect when you look at the logs, because all the web activity is funnelled through a single address.

Fortunately the latest VPN services have the facility to hide these tracks and allow you to rotate the selected address.  This video entitled – How to Block My IP Address demonstrates how it’s done.

If you allow the VPN service to switch IP addresses periodically it will effectively switch between these addresses. This means that there will be no visible tracking in the logs and no record of a single VPN server connected. Of course this is only required if you want to hide the use of a VPN in logs recorded.

Perhaps this might seem overkill in a Western democracy although many suggest it isn’t. However for many across the world using a VPN is essential to access things like simple Social media sites blocked by oppressive regimes. THE VPN serves many purposes from letting people watch the BBC over VPN to genuinely protecting their freedom and liberty.

Using the Simple Network Management Protocol

Networks used to be fairly straight forward affairs, you’d have some basic hardware like switches and hubs, a few servers and the rest would be the PCs which needed to talk to each other.  Normally you could buy all these from the same provider so you’d have some uniformity in hardware.  In fact the first network I worked on would only allow certain network cards in their PCs, the ones they had written specific profiles for.

However as technology has developed, the diversity of devices has risen exponentially and all of these devices need to be managed, configured and of course fixed if they go wrong.  Troubleshooting a large , complex network filled with all sorts of different devices from a myriad of manufacturers would be almost impossible to achieve without some tools and protocols to help.  One of the oldest and arguably still the most important is SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) which is part of the TCP/IP network management protocol.

TCP/IP Network Management consists of three core factors

Management Information Base (MIB) which will specify which variables the network elements maintain, an updated version of this is specified in MIB-II (RFC 1213)

Common structures and an identification scheme which relate specifically to all the variables which are defined in the MIB.  The full name of this is the Structure of Management Information (SMI).

The protocol that connects the manager and the element is called the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) which details the format of the packets exchanged.  It should be noted that although many protocols are supported – SNMP is normally used with UDP on most networks.

At it’s core SNMP is actually fairly simple, for example it only uses five types of message to be exchanged between the manager and the agent.  However this is more than enough to manage and control all number of devices across a standard network.   It is useful on many levels and now many organisations use it remotely to manage devices all across the world.  Of course, this goes for troubleshooting as well and if you combine with a VPN like the Italian one in this video – RAI streaming Estero  you have a powerful tool for controlling and managing even wide area networks across different countries.

SNMP began it’s life simply being used on internal networks but now powerful suites like HP Openview have expanded this functionality.