Change DNS Server
DNS (Domain Name System) acts as a phone book on the Internet, as it translates computer host names into IP addresses. Without a DNS server you won’t be able to access any website, as your computer don’t know on which web server a particular website is hosted?
When you take a connection from your Internet service provider, you will be using their default DNS server to access various websites on the Internet. But, if your ISP has decided to block certain IP addresses/websites by blacklisting them on their DNS server, then it will be very difficult for you to locate those domains! For example, you want to access bbc.co.uk, but all the IP addresses of BBC is in your ISP’s DNS block list, then you won’t be able to access it at all. Either the DNS server might reply that the domain is completely UNKNOWN (doesn’t exist on the Internet) or you might get redirected to a different webpage! But, if you stop using your ISP’s default DNS server and change it to some other server (Google Public DNS or OpenDNS), then you might be able to access blocked websites without any problem. Let’s check out how to configure Google Public DNS in Windows OS:
1. Go to Control Panel and click on View Network Status and Tasks:
2. On the immediate next page (Network and Sharing Centre), click on Change Adapter Settings:
3. If you are using a wired internet or an Ethernet connection, then right click on Local Area Connection and click on Properties. In case you are using a wireless connection, then right click on Wireless Network Connection and click on Properties:
4. Under the Networking Tab, select either Internet protocol version 4 (TCP/IPv4) or Internet protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6) and then click on Properties button: In the properties window, select Use the following DNS server addresses and enter:
- For IPv4: 126.96.36.199 in Preferred DNS Server field and 188.8.131.52 in Alternate DNS Server field.
- For IPv6: 2001:4860:4860::8888 in Preferred DNS Server field and 2001:4860:4860::8844 in Alternate DNS Server field.
- For IPv4: 184.108.40.206 in Preferred DNS Server field and 220.127.116.11 in Alternate DNS Server field.
- For IPv6: 2620:0:ccc::2 in Preferred DNS Server field and 2620:0:ccd::2 in Alternate DNS Server field.
- Before entering above IP Addresses, if you see any other entry in the Preferred and Alternate DNS Server fields, then you may want write them down for future reference.
- Mac OS X and Linux users can set DNS using this guide. The guide is for Google Public DNS, but the steps remains same for OpenDNS also. All you need to do is to replace the IP Addresses.
- After entering above IP addresses, you may need to restart your router or clear your browser cache/flush DNS.
- Most of residential customers around the world don’t have IPv6 connectivity as of now. You may want to call your ISP and ask them whether you have a IPv6 or IPv4 connection? OR You can test for IPv6 connectivity here.
TOR, also known as The Onion Router, is a free application that allows you to surf the web anonymously. It is generally considered one of the most powerful tool to remain anonymous online, provided that you use it the right way.
How TOR Works?
When you run the application on your computer, it determines a list of all the available TOR nodes that are present in its network using a directory server:
When the application has completed gathering this information, it ensures to select random pathways through several TOR relays, whenever data packets are sent from your computer to the destination server. Because of this there is no fixed connection pattern and your (as well as others) node remains anonymous on the network all the time!
Also, the application installed on your system ensures that your message is relayed to the first node in an encrypted format. When the message arrives at the first node, The Onion Router present on it will remove one layer of encryption, so that it can read the information about identifying the second node. Your message is now relayed to the second node. When the message arrives at the second node, TOR will repeat the same process of decrypting one layer of the encryption and the message will pass on to the third node. This process keeps on repeating until your message reaches the destination server. Keep in mind, the last node (aka exit relay) fully decrypts the message:
Since the client is selecting random nodes using a random path, there are no footprints left behind! By this, no node will be able to guess the origin or the destination of data packets/request. While writing this post, there are millions of active TOR nodes/relays, so it is practically impossible to trace back to the origin node! Now, when you decide to visit another website, the client will again establish a random path, which goes through random nodes/relays. And this path will be completely different from the previous one! You can download the application from here and extract its content inside Tor Browser folder in drive C (or your primary operating system drive):
Note: Windows OS may give you a security warning that the publisher of TOR is unknown. If you get this warning, then there’s NO need to worry. You can click on Run button and continue with the extraction:
Go inside Tor Browser folder and look for Start Tor Browser.exe icon and click on it. You may also want to create a desktop short-cut or task bar icon for it:
The application will now ask you about the type of network you are using:
- If your computer’s internet connection is clear of any type of obstacles, then directly click on Connect button to establish a connection with the TOR network.
- But, if your connection is censored, filtered or proxied, then you are required to configure network settings so that the browser bundle can work.
Click on Next/Connect button and the browser will establish its connection with the network. And, if the connection is successful, you will be greeted with following screen: Enter the address of any blocked website and it will open without any problem.
Important things you should know about TOR
1. By default, the browser comes with following add-ons installed:
- HTTPS Everywhere: It makes your connection with major websites encrypted by enforcing HTTPS.
- NoScript: Disables active content on ALL websites.
- Tor Button: It also disables many types of active content like cookies and tracking data. Also, it fully takes care of application level security and privacy concerns in Firefox web browser.
- Tor Launcher
2. It is suggested not to install any additional add-ons in TOR browser, as they may reveal your original IP address. Also, plug-ins like Shockwave Flash, Real Player, QuickTime etc. are disabled by default, as they can be easily manipulated to compromise your anonymity: 3. If you try to download files with .pdf, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx etc. extension OR media files with .mp4, .mp3 etc. extension, then the browser will warn you, as these extensions are handled by third-party applications and those can reveal your original IP address!
4. While using TOR browser, if you want to change your IP address instantly, then click on Tor Button and select New Identity:
Your current browsing session will be terminated and a new browser window will open. 5. It’s very important to keep your TOR browser always up to date. Whenever there’s an update available the browser will tell you that you are using an outdated version and you should update it by clicking on the TOR Button:
6. If your computer goes through a firewall that allows connection only from certain ports, then you have to enter the port number in TOR’s network settings. Click on TOR Button >> Open Network Settings and Enter the port number:
In case your ISP is blocking your connection with the TOR network, then you can also configure bridge relays in network settings:
A typical bridge entry looks like following:
bridge 141.288.27.36:654 4352e58420e68f5e40bf7c74fafdgrd9d1349413
- 141.288.27.36 is an IP address.
- 654 is a port number.
- 4352e58420e68f5e40bf7c74fafdgrd9d1349413 is a fingerprint (optional).
For getting a list of public bridge relays and their port numbers, either you can send an email to [email protected] with “get bridges” (without quotes) written in the body and with no subject line, using your Gmail or Yahoo account:
OR simply visit this page:
Enter the captcha code correctly and you will get IP addresses of 3 IPv4 bridges. If you want to use IPv6 bridges instead, then you need to visit this page.
Note: To make your connection more stable, try to enter as many bridge addresses as possible. Also, a bridge address working today, may not work tomorrow, so it’s very essential to keep your list up to date. 7. Never ever do torrent over TOR network, else your original IP address will be revealed. Torrent applications always make direct connection with torrent client of other users, ignoring all proxy settings. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments section below.