Free VPN vs Paid VPN: FlashRouters FAQ

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Deciding between Free VPN vs Paid VPN is something that troubles many. Should one pay for a VPN provider? Surely you would get a better service than if you used a free service. Or would you? FlashRouters will try to answer these questions and then some.

Free VPN vs Paid VPN- What’s The Difference?

Putting it as simply as possible, certain VPN providers charge for their services, while others do not. There are some VPN services which offer both paid and free versions. The most prominent of these services is CyberGhost. Cyberghost’s free service offers access to 197 servers, while paid CyberGhost offers access to 653 servers. The VPN also claims that their paid service is five times faster than their free service.

However, most VPN services are either paid or free services. While it may make sense to use a free service simply because it will cost you nothing, this does not mean it is a fool-proof solution.

What Is Wrong With Using a Free VPN?

As originally stated in Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress but popularized by economist Milton Friedman, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” In other words, nothing in life is really free. You may not be paying anything for the service, but someone certainly is.

If you place the Free CyberGhost alongside the Paid CyberGhost, you will see that the Free CyberGhost VPN Client contains ads, while the Paid CyberGhost VPN client does not. With other free VPN providers, the service may monetize itself via ads, or perhaps something more nefarious.

Subsequently, an example of “something more nefarious” can be found in the free VPN Hola. A few years ago, Hola was reported to be selling users’ bandwidth for botnets.

Finding a free Third Party VPN service can seem like a rewarding opportunity, but please, consider the risk before you delve in. Every service needs to pay for itself to exist in one way or another. It is possible a VPN service could make money off of logging your information and selling it to companies. Facebook, Apple, and Google already do this. Why wouldn’t a Third Party VPN?

You Get What You Pay For

All in all, you get what you pay for. A free VPN service, simply put, will not be able to offer you the same level of security a paid VPN service will. VPN Providers like NordVPN offer a secure service at an affordable price.

Using a service like Nord or ExpressVPN, you can sleep easy knowing that your network is protected by a trusted VPN provider. Free services may seem like a good idea at the time, but remember, nothing is really free.

Using a VPN With a Router

Once you have decided on a VPN, integrating the service with a router will you to get even more out of it. Using a DD-WRT or Tomato router from FlashRouters will allow you to create a VPN network in your home or office.

Have devices such as AppleTV or PlayStation that have no native VPN support? Have an Apple Airport Extreme and want it to be part of a VPN network? Simply put, add a FlashRouter to your network.

FlashRouters offers a wide variety of devices. Here are some of our favorites:

ac5300-front-900Nighthawk Netgear Secure VPN Routerhttps://www.flashrouters.com/routers/router-types/dd-wrt/linksys-wrt1200ac-ddwrt-router
Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT RouterR7000 Nighthawk TomatoLinksys WRT1200AC DD-WRT Router
Wireless-AC5300 Mbps
1.4 Ghz Broadcom Processor
8 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1 Ghz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
Top TomatoUSB Router
Wireless-AC1200 Mbps
1.3 GHz Marvell Processor
2 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$599.99$349.99$299.99

How To Protect Your Router From DNSChanger Attacks

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Each week, it seems the danger of default firmware reveals itself. First, Netgear reveals a majority security flaw in their firmware. Now, it is revealed DNSChanger malware has infected several Netgear and D-Link models.

What is DNSChanger?

DNSChanger is a DNS hijacking Trojan. A Trojan, of course, being named after the Trojan Horse. During the Trojan War, the Greeks were able to enter into the city of Troy by using the ruse de guerre of a giant wooden horse. The Trojans took in the wooden horse as a victory trophy. However, this was all a trick, as the Greeks hid inside of the horse. Once the horse was brought into the city, the Greeks were able to carry out a covert attack. A parallel to modernity can be seen in Internet users clicking on seemingly innocuous yet secretly malicious adverts.

DNSChanger finds its way into computers and routers by way of this ancient stratagem. Supposedly, DNSChanger was active from 2007 to 2012. But in the same fashion that Jason Vorhees seems to appear in Friday the 13th sequels despite being dismembered or blown up in films previous, DNSChanger has returned.

What Does DNSChanger Do?

DNSChanger targets small businesses and home Internet users. People click on web ads and a hidden JavaScript code checks for the IP address of the browser. If the IP address is within range of the attacker, the browser redirects to a page that hosts the DNSChanger Exploit Kit.

Ultimately, the goal of the DNSChanger Exploit Kit is to connect to the router on the local network. By doing this, the Exploit Kit seeks to run domain-name lookups through hacker-controlled name servers. Finally, after this process is complete, downloads on the PC will be re-directed, and ads for Spyware and Malware replace real ads.

How Do I Prevent DNSChanger Attacks?

Consequently, using DD-WRT firmware as opposed to default firmware can help you prevent DNSChanger attacks. DD-WRT is open source firmware that is not susceptible to the same firmware bugs or factory installed backdoors as default firmware. DD-WRT also includes a built-in firewall as well as ad-blocking. In any case, both of these features will help prevent DNSChanger attacks.

Moreover, using DD-WRT firmware allows for the integration of Virtual Private Networks into routers. A VPN will allow for an additional layer of security. Incidentally, encrypting your IP address, as a VPN does, will make it nearly impossible for Exploit Kits to take hold of your network.

FlashRouters has an arsenal of DD-WRT routers to help protect you from DNSChanger and other bugs. In the meantime, here are some of the most popular:

ac5300-front-900Nighthawk Netgear Secure VPN Routerhttps://www.flashrouters.com/routers/router-types/dd-wrt/linksys-wrt1200ac-ddwrt-router
Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT RouterR7000 Nighthawk TomatoLinksys WRT1200AC DD-WRT Router
Wireless-AC5300 Mbps
1.4 Ghz Broadcom Processor
8 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1 Ghz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
Top TomatoUSB Router
Wireless-AC1200 Mbps
1.3 GHz Marvell Processor
2 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$599.99$349.99$299.99

How To Install a VPN on Amazon Fire Stick

vpn-on-amazon-fire-stickAre you a cord-cutter? Are you looking to stream HD content from around the world?

You should probably be using an Amazon Fire TV Sitck.

What is an Amazon Fire TV Stick?

An Amazon Fire TV Stick is a digital media player. It is a small device, the size of any other HDMI dongle. To use an Amazon Fire Stick, simply plug it into your TV’s HDMI port. Once the Fire Stick is plugged in, you can use it to watch live TV on NBC News and SlingTV. SlingTV includes ESPN, AMC, Cartoon Network, and any more stations.

Can I use this as a Kodi Fire Stick?

You can use an Amazon Fire Stick to access Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, and a slew of other streaming services. However, many media consumers have switched to using Kodi for their streaming needs.

Installing Kodi on an Amazon Fire Stick is a simple process, as you can see from this Wireless Hack guide.

Consequently, if you are using Kodi with your Amazon Fire Stick, you may want to look into securing your wireless network. This bring us to our next question…

Should I Install a VPN on Amazon Fire?

Many Kodi users torrent the files they stream. While FlashRouters does not condone torrenting files, we understand that many Kodi users would like an encrypted network. Protecting your activity from your Internet Service Provider gives you the freedom to stream whatever you’d like.

Using a Virtual Private Network will allow you to change your geo-location and secure your network. This not only beneficial for Kodi streamers, but also those looking to watch content outside of their region.

Furthermore, as the Stick does not have native VPN support, you will need to use a FlashRouter in order to use a VPN on Amazon Fire.

How to Install a VPN on Amazon Fire

Installing a VPN on Amazon Fire is a very simple process. All one has to do is put the Amazon Fire on a VPN network from a FlashRouter. FlashRouters are high-powered routers flashed with Open Source DD-WRT and Tomato firmware. This firmware upgrade allows for VPN integration on the router level. It also provides an added layer of security, as factory installed backdoors and firmware bugs become a thing of the past.

Recommended VPNs for Amazon Fire include

As stated above, users can change their geo-location to view region restricted content. However, you can have your network to stay in your home country, yet stay encrypted. For this, you do not have to change your location within Amazon Fire, you just have to connect to the VPN network.

To change your geo-location on Amazon Fire, simply follow this set by step guide:

  1. Sign into your Amazon account
  2. Go to “Your Account”
  3. Click on “Digital Content”
  4. From the “Digital Content” screen, move to “Manage Your Content and Devices”
  5. Click on “Settings”, then “Country Settings”
  6. Select the country you want and then change your geo-location in your FlashRouter to that country
  7. Make sure your FlashRouter is connected to the country of your choosing
  8. Enjoy!

What FlashRouter Should I Use With Amazon Fire?

FlashRouters offers a slew of high-powered VPN ready routers routers that will offer a great performance for VPN on Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV. Consequently, using a VPN will always cause some level of slowdown, as you will have to tunnel your connection from server to server. This being said, if you want to stream content in HD, FlashRouters recommends using a router with a high-powered processor.

Here are some First Class examples:

ac5300-front-900Nighthawk Netgear Secure VPN Routerhttps://www.flashrouters.com/routers/router-types/dd-wrt/linksys-wrt1200ac-ddwrt-router
Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT RouterR7000 Nighthawk TomatoLinksys WRT1200AC DD-WRT Router
Wireless-AC5300 Mbps
1.4 Ghz Broadcom Processor
8 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1 Ghz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
Top TomatoUSB Router
Wireless-AC1200 Mbps
1.3 GHz Marvell Processor
2 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$599.99$349.99$299.99

Introducing the FlashRouters Help Center

FlashRouters Help Center Announcement

Introducing the FlashRouters Help Center

Hear ye, hear ye, the good folks here at FlashRouters are proud to announce the new, one stop shop for Wireless/VPN Router setup & support info – the FlashRouters Help Center.

Curious about the benefits of open source routers but not sure where to start searching? Have a question about configuring routers with your preferred VPN provider? Maybe you are looking to improve the security of your wireless network. Well when it comes to privacy, protection, networking and personalized service – you’ve come to the right spot!

Whether you are a new owner of a FlashRouter or simply curious about what our upgraded devices can do for you, the FlashRouters Help Center will be able to meet your needs.

Continue reading

Fix The Latest Major Netgear Router Firmware Bug

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UPDATE: According to Softpedia, Netgear has now produced beta firmware as a response to the bug. FlashRouters still recommends using alternative firmware like DD-WRT and Tomato in place of Netgear firmware.

The US-CERT is the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. It is an organization within the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate. On Friday Dec 9, US-CERT issued a vulnerability advisory concerning the Netgear R7000 and the R6400. Users have also come forward to add that much of the popular Netgear Nighthawk line of WiFi routers – R8000, the R7500, the R7800, the R8500 and the R9000 are vulnerable to the Netgear firmware bug.

While US-CERT revealed this bug on Friday, it should be stated that the Twitter user Acew0rm discovered this flaw four months ago. So much for corporate responsibility and government efficiency…

Here is a video of Acew0rm revealing the hack:

Consequently, this firmware bug may also be affecting any Netgear model using default or stock Netgear firmware i.e. the security hole ridden routers that have been exploited many times before.

What Can Happen If Your Router Is Exposed?

If a router is affected by this bug, it is open to takeover attacks. A remote attacker can execute arbitrary commands with root privileges on routers possessing the Netgear firmware bug. US-CERT has not offered a solution. The only advisory warning pushed forward to Netgear users has been to “discontinue use.”

How To Avoid The Netgear Firmware Bug

While some philanthropic techies are offering “temporary fixes” to the Netgear firmware bug, FlashRouters can offer something a little more permanent. For the temporary fix, here is the solution offered by Bas:

1.  Verify that your router is affected by going to this URL: http://[router-address]/cgi-bin/;uname$IFS-a

http://[router-address]/cgi-bin/;uname$IFS-a

If that shows you anything but an error (or an empty page), you’re affected.

2. Point your browser to the following URL to terminate the web server process (which facilitates the vulnerability) on your router:

http://[router-address]/cgi-bin/;killall$IFS’httpd’

3. (optional) Verify that the URL in step (1) is no longer accessible.

On the other hand, FlashRouters does not recommend using default firmware. In fact, all of our devices arrive freshly modified to remove the ever user bug-filled, underperforming, poorly developed stock firmware. Using Open Source firmware will allow you to bypass any factory installed backdoor or default firmware bugs.

It has been reported that Netgear users can be exposed to this vulnerability just by clicking on ad like those featured on Google (Google Adsense). Open Source firmware will help you avoid backdoors and bugs, but it can help you avoid malicious ads as well.

Open Source firmware like DD-WRT and Tomato also contains embedded ad-blocking features such as Privoxy that can assist in blocking malicious ads on all of your devices in your network with one setup. That’s one-time plug-n-play network-wide protection. You ain’t gonna get that from a standard Amazon device.

Router Manufacturer Recall or Bug Protocol

In fact, there is really no protocol for pulling these devices of the shelves, it is up to the user to pay enough attention to see that their router completely unsecured and exposed.

Benefits of FlashRouters

Furthermore, you can always purchase an Open Source router from FlashRouters. FlashRouters offers many of the Netgear models pre-installed with open-source firmware and the embedded hol-patching and security included in that. FlashRouter Netgear models like the Netgear R7000 and R8000 as well as the R8500, all come pre-flashed with DD-WRT firmware.

FlashRouters Support Plan

Additionally, if you already own of the affected WiFi routers, there is no need to panic. FlashRouters offers multiple Support Plans to help with remote TeamViewer installation and support of this firmware security enhancement.

Incidentally, there is no need to ship the router into FlashRouters. Moreover, the flashing process takes about 30 minutes. By the same token, purchasing a subscription to our Support Plan will fix the vulnerability issue concerning your router, and you won’t even have to leave the house. It also includes a minimum of 3 months of expert tech support to get you up and running.

Need Some Help?

Have a question about the Netgear Firmware Exploit or FlashRouters Services? Feel free to reach out to our expert networking team to experience true network security expertise.