Avoid Verizon Video Throttling With a VPN

Verizon is humming along in the business of pleasing no one. The so-called “Unlimited” plans offered by the carrier have recently been split into 3 potential plans, each of which contain assorted restrictions on streaming Netflix and YouTube. As The Verge reports:

…in a move sure to anger net neutrality advocates, the regular “Go Unlimited” plan throttles all smartphone video streaming to 480p / DVD-quality.

As the title suggests, the Unlimited data plan used to include, you know, unlimited data, which is not so much the case anymore. Furthermore, and perhaps most frustratingly for those paying for the top tier of Unlimited Verizon data…

…you’ll soon be limited to a maximum video quality of 720p streaming on phones and 1080p if you’ve got a tablet on your plan. There’s no going higher for anyone. Even with a laptop connected to your mobile hotspot, you’ll never be able to reach video speeds higher than 10Mbps.

So that settles that, Verizon customers. Consider your streaming activity on Netflix throttled.

Use a VPN to Get Around Verizon Throttling Video

Fortunately for all of us, our good friends in the VPN community are on the case.

Aside from the invaluable data protection service that a VPN typically provides, VPNs can be used to bypass Verizon video throttling. As the CEO of one of favorite providers, NordVPN, recently confirmed to BGR:

“While a VPN can slow down Internet traffic in some cases, it’s a good option to use when an ISP interferes with normal streaming speeds. Without a VPN, a user will more likely get limited speeds from their ISP, which creates buffering, delays and lower quality videos. A VPN allows to stream videos with fewer interruptions.”

Put another way, VPNs encrypt the data traveling across their networks. Verizon simply has no way of knowing whether you’re streaming Netflix or just using a lot of data.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that Netflix has a fraught history with VPNs. Furthermore, that should affect your decision regarding whether you want to use both services together. But, as BGR points out, it can be done with lower profile VPNs or one that you create on your own.

FlashRouters VPN Recommendations

FlashRouters offers no shortage of VPN recommendations. Here’s a few we’re particularly fond of:

What’s more, our open-source routers are designed to be maximally useful for VPN users. Check out some of FlashRouters alternate VPN setups to see some new and interesting ways to use your VPN.

And if you’re really interested in maximizing streaming quality, don’t sleep on our top DD-WRT routers. Therefore, FlashRouters handily alleviate the occasional buffering issues that occur with VPN streaming. Or better yet, use our Router Finder to find just the right device for your needs and price range.

Router News Round-Up: Kaspersky Labs, Russian Malware and More

US Government Bans Kaspersky Labs Products

Earlier this summer, the GSA made the decision to ban Russian cyber-security vendor Kaspersky Labs. Presently, Kaspersky is banned from being used within federal agencies. Moreover, this effectively removes them from the pre-approved vendor list for government contracts.

Ultimately, this conclusion was made after much debate over whether or not the vendor could become a vector for Russian network attacks. Although Kaspersky Labs denies that they have ties to the Russian government, the United States is still on edge.

From Kaspersky:

“Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts. The company has a 20 year history in the IT security industry of always abiding by the highest ethical business practices and trustworthy development of technologies, and Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations”

Kaspersky Labs, Homeland Security, and Best Buy

Following this decision, The Department of Homeland Security has recently banned US government’s the use of all Kaspersky software. This Binding Operational Directive (BOD) directs all departments and agencies to:

identify any use or presence of Kaspersky products on their information systems in the next 30 days, to develop detailed plans to remove and discontinue present and future use of the products in the next 60 days, and at 90 days from the date of this directive, unless directed otherwise by DHS based on new information, to begin to implement the agency plans to discontinue use and remove the products from information systems.

Not only will government usage of Kaspersky products be impacted, but another recent decision by Best Buy will impact the consumer market as well. Furthermore, Best Buy cited escalating tensions between the US Government and Russian intelligence agencies as the reason for Kaspersky products to be taken off their shelves.

Russian Malware Possibly Infecting Routers

A new strain of malware called RouteX has been recently infecting Netgear routers. This strain has been implemented by a Russian-speaking hacker who may go by the name “Links.” RouteX takes advantage of a security flaw identified as CVE-2016-10176. This flaw allows NETGEAR WNR2000v5 allows unauthenticated users to perform sensitive, administrative actions.

This vulnerability allows the RouteX malware to install a SOCKS proxy onto the infected device. It then also adds a Linux firewall rule that prevents futher exploitation of CVE-2016-10176.

The hacker would then use the router to perform credential stuffing attacks, an automated process where leaked credentials are brute forced onto multiple online services.

Owners of the NETGEAR WNR2000v5 routers are advised to install the latest firmware from Netgear’s website.

Popular D-Link Routers Security Vulnerabilities

Pierre Kim, a South Korean security researcher published a list of ten vulnerabilities he discovered. These ten vulnerabilities effect the D-Link DIR 850L routers. Here are the discoveries made by Kim:

  1. Lack of proper firmware protection allows an attacker to upload a new firmware to the router. D-Link 860L firmware revision A has no protection at all, while revision B firmware images come with a hardcoded password that attackers can extract and gain access to the firmware.
  2. Cross-site scripting (XSS) flaw when accessing the router admin panel from both the LAN and WAN interfaces allow attackers to steal the authentication cookies and gain access to the device.
  3. Attackers can retrieve admin password from routers, and use it to associate users’ routers with their own MyDLink cloud accounts, effectively taking control over the device.
  4. MyDLink cloud protocol works via a TCP tunnel that doesn’t use proper encryption, exposing communications between the user’s router and the MyDLink account.
  5. The private encryption keys for this TCP tunnel are hardcoded in the firmware and attackers can extract them to perform MitM attacks.
  6. Backdoor account via Alphanetworks / wrgac25_dlink.2013gui_dir850l
  7. Attackers can alter DNS settings via non-authenticated HTTP requests.
  8. Router exposes local files. Also stores credentials in cleartext.
  9. Router’s internal DHCP client is vulnerable to command injection attacks that allow attackers access to root-level actions.
  10. DOS flaw allows attackers can crash router daemons.

Kim states that with D-Link’s “previous lack of consideration about security made me publish this research without coordinated disclosure,” he advises to “IMMEDIATELY DISCONNECT vulnerable routers from the Internet.”

A new report from Embedi, a California-based security firm, states that three more D-Link models are susceptible to potential attacks. These models include D-Link’s DIR-890L, DIR-885L, and the DIR-895L.

The firm states that updating your router to the latest firmware should patch one problem that they have found. This flaw impacts the routers’ phpcgi protocol, which would process inauthentic requests and give out your router’s administrator username and password.

The other flaw allows an attacker to hijack your router by trying to update your router while in recovery mode, indicating that it might be best to wait for an official statement from D-Link.

Protecting Your Router With Open-Source Firmware

There are many benefits to running your router with open-source firmware. In any case, one of the biggest selling points is how quickly security vulnerabilities are patched. Often times manufacturers won’t bother with pushing updates to fix flaws.

Buying a FlashRouter protects you from potential attacks right out of the box because we pre-install and pre-configure your favorite open-source firmware in-house. In any case, check out some of our favorite routers that come with popular, tested DD-WRT firmware upgrades.

First Conviction Revealed Under New Chinese VPN Ban

Over the summer, there were talks of China moving to block and ban the usage of VPNs. This ban came in full effect at the beginning of July. Consequently, Apple is removing all major VPN apps from the Chinese App Store. Now, it has been revealed that a Chinese software seller has been convicted for “providing software and tools for invading and illegally controlling the computer information system.”

South China Morning Post reports that 26-year-old Deng Jiewei from Dongguan in the Guangdong province had been sentenced to a nine-month prison sentence for selling VPN software. Deng had been offering two different VPN software products since October of 2015. The authorities made the arrest in August 2016 and he was finally convicted in March 2017, but the details of his sentence had only been made public just recently.

The arrest of a small-scale operation like Deng’s before the crackdown was fully implemented could be presumed to send a message to Chinese VPN users. Posts about this subject on popular Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo have amassed over 10,000 collective shares with many users wondering how severe punishments would be for only using VPN software.

“According to this sentencing, I am also guilty for using a VPN. I am scared we could all be arrested now.” – Deng Jiewei

While there have been no formal announcement for how VPN users will be punished, some municipal authorities have begun issuing online warnings to VPN users that attempt to connect to blocked websites. Only time will tell how the Chinese Government will handle current VPN users.

Australia Aiding China

Concerns are also growing over the Australia’s annual Attorney-General’s Department report on the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act. This act gives Australian law enforcement agencies the power to access any and all call records and metadata of telephone and internet providers, without a warrant.

Australia has also signed a mutual assistance treaty with China that states that requires them to hand over “documents, records and articles of evidence” when they pertain to criminal activity. This treaty has been enacted in 2006 but only recently has Australia reported that they have provided China with metadata and information.

Not only is Australia sharing their citizen’s private data, but journalist’s metadata are also being shared as well. This poses a problem for citizens and journalists concerned with their privacy and security.

Keeping Your Metadata From Prying Eyes

Unlike China, Australia has yet to enact a ban on VPNs. Utilizing a VPN will effectively provide a shroud of secrecy over your information, preventing the Australian government from disclosing your data to foreign governments. Some of our favorite VPN providers include but are not limited to ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and NordVPN.

To fully protect your privacy, a FlashRouter is recommended in order to prevent any sensitive data and information leaks. You can start your fight against an immoral government by checking out our recommended routers page.

How to Stream Crunchyroll From Anywhere

If you’re a serious fan of anime, no doubt you’re already familiar with Crunchyroll. It simply has no peer in the world of anime streaming. It is the Netflix of anime.

And like Netflix, Crunchyroll’s library of streaming videos varies from country to country. Unlike Netflix, Crunchyroll, while covering a significant amount of countries across the globe, still has a considerable chunk of the planet left to integrate.

So how do we allow those anime fans in unlucky countries access Crunchyroll? Incidentally, what about those of us with Crunchyroll that want to access the streaming services assorted libraries around the world?

Recommended Crunchyroll Titles

Before we jump to how to stream Crunchyroll from anywhere, some recommendations are in order. As stated above, Crunchyroll has a very impressive library. Furthermore, Crunchyroll’s selection ranges from anime classics to contemporary hits. Here are a few favorites from around the FlashRouters office.

  1. Cowboy Bebop: “See you, Space Cowboy.” Shinichirō Watanabe’s classic 1998 series is certainly in the pantheon of great anime. Set in the year 2071, Cowboy Bepop focuses on a ragtag crew of bounty hunters traveling through space. Looking for a sci-fi anime mixed with classic 1960s/1970s cowboy westerns, New York City film noir, and jazz/blues music? Cowboy Bebop is the anime for you.
  2. Attack On Titan: Dubbed the “Game of Thrones” of anime for its setting and tone where “no character is safe”, Attack on Titan is prepping to approach its third season in April of 2018. Attack on Titan tells story of humanity’s last stand in a walled city against gigantic beings known as “Titans”. Recommended for anyone interested in dark fantasy.
  3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Are you a fan of alternate history shows like “Man In The High Castle”? If so, Code Geass is the giant robot anime for you. This anime focuses on the fictional Holy Britannian Empire, a superpower looking to conquer the world using mechs called Kightmares. Lelouch vi Britannia, a former prince of the Empire, has obtained a power known as Geass. Lelouch hopes to use this new power to demolish the Empire that exiled him. Interested already? Stream it on Crunchyroll.
  4. One Piece: Based off of the best-selling manga series in history, One Piece follows the journey of a group of pirates looking for the world’s ultimate treasure. One Piece started it’s run in 1999. It continues to this day with over 800 episodes. In addition to the manga series and the anime, the universe of One Piece also contains thirteen feature length films and multiple video games.
  5. Samurai Champloo: – Already excited for Cowboy Bepop? How about another Shinichirō Watanabe production? Samurai Champloo focuses on the journey of a vagrant swordsman and a brave girl throughout Edo era Japan. In typical anachronistic fashion, Watanabe soundtracks this trek with a soundtrack from the legendary Japanese electronic artist Nujabes resulting in a unique mix of samurai drama and hip-hop.

Stream Crunchyroll From Anywhere With a VPN

Becoming a Crunchyroll globetrotter is a simple matter of subscribing to a VPN (or Virtual Private Network). VPNs have been receiving a lot of attention these days, largely because Chinese and Russian governments have gone to extensive efforts to criminalize them.

In other words, they’re angering all the right people. In fact, hackers and identity thieves are other known enemies of VPNs. That’s because VPNs encrypt your data by tunneling it through protected servers around the world. Stealing identities and surveilling citizens against their wishes becomes much harder when VPNs get involved.

But enough about the protective qualities of VPNs. Ultimately, we’re here to discuss how VPNs enable greater anime streaming on Crunchyroll. And it’s easy. All you have to do is pick a server in the country with the Crunchyroll library you want to access. Moreover, want to see what Crunchyroll has to offer in the US? Pick a US server when you log into your VPN and you’re all set.

If you’re new to the VPN game, we’re happy to recommend a few. To whittle things down further, perhaps check out:

Best VPN FlashRouters for Streaming Crunchyroll

Naturally, a VPN is just a start to remaking your WiFi network as an insurmountably powerful and secure entity. If you’re going to be streaming anime from overseas, then a strong router boosted by open source firmware like DD-WRT is what you’re going to need.

And whaddya know? FlashRouters has a bunch of those. Our routers make VPN streaming from halfway around the world – and any other heavy network activity you might be engaged in – a total breeze. FlashRouters even offers a series of alternative VPN setup options. No doubt, these allow you to customize your VPN experience. Head over to our Router Finder and let us know what type and price of router you’re looking for. FlashRouters has something for everyone!

How to Stream FilmStruck from Anywhere

Any film-lovers out there sideswiped by the loss of Criterion Collection movies on Hulu? Wondering where all of those art house cinema classics went?

At any rate, the answer is they went to FilmStruck. Started in late 2016, this streaming upstart gobbled up a ton of the Criterion Collection movies, added a bunch of other film classics, and has quickly become a staple of any good cinephile’s streaming diet. In addition, they even improved on the Criterion streaming experience. Filmstruck adds the special features that compel people to shell out upwards of $40 for a Criterion release.

Consequently, if you’re wanting to stream Solaris or Blood Simple, or if you’ve been meaning to check out the collected works of Agnes Varda, then FilmStruck is the service for you. Provided you live in the United States, of course.

How to Stream FilmStruck From Outside the US With VPNs

Despite the best efforts of Russia and China, VPNs (or Virtual Private Networks) continues to flourish around the world. As international governments grow more insistent about invading your privacy, VPNs grow more popular.

The reason is obvious: VPNs tunnel your online activity through encrypted servers set up all over the world. This is the best way to keep your sensitive information safe. Keep hackers and snooping governments out of your business with the help of a VPN.

Better yet, you can access geo-blocked websites, such as FilmStruck, with a VPNs help. Since FilmStruck is only available in the US, you just need to log into your VPN, pick a US-based server, and you’ll be streaming the best of Robert Altman in no time.

Use SaferVPN with VPN Router

FlashRouters supports many high-performance VPN services, but here are a few quick off the top VPNs to use for FilmStruck:

Best VPN Routers for Streaming FilmStruck

Netgear Nighthawk X4S Premium Open Source Firmware Installed Router

Suffice to say, you’re going to need a strong router to handle all of that art house cinema streaming. Particularly if you’re going to be using a VPN to access FilmStruck.

Fortunately for you, FlashRouters are built for this exact sort of thing. We offer routers free of faulty stock firmware and boosted by open source options like DD-WRT, which make VPN streaming a breeze. Furthermore, FlashRouters offer all kinds of VPN setup options and custom security solutions, to make your streaming experience safe and easy.

After you’ve perused our many supported VPN providers and picked the one that suits you, head over to our Router Finder to pick out the perfect router for your needs.

What Can I Stream on Filmstruck?

FilmStruck is perfect for discovering deep cuts in the filmography of beloved directors. At the time of this writing, the front page of FilmStruck is offering a collection of FW Murnau films. These go from Nosferatu to Sunrise to Faust.

Moreover, Filmstruck always features some interesting collection of thematically linked movies to peruse. Sign up now and check out “How the Future Looked From the ’70s”, which features oddball classics like Rollerball, Fantastic Planet, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire.

So in that spirit, we thought we’d offer a few selections from the FilmStruck selection. Maybe you’ll enjoy them too!

Top Movies Streaming on FilmStruck

The Ninth Configuration

  1. The Ninth Configuration (1980)Let’s start with what has been perhaps this writer’s favorite surprise in random FilmStruck streaming: William Peter Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration. You might recognize the director’s name. After all, he did write both the book and screenplay for The Exorcist. However, he didn’t do much directing beyond this wild outing. It is set in a castle that has been repurposed as an insane asylum for soldiers deemed mentally unfit. The Ninth Configuration is hilarious, bizarre, often incredibly dark, and always compelling. It’s a shame Blatty didn’t spend more time directing. His ability to navigate vacillating tones and moods suggests a gift he didn’t get more opportunities to further explore.
  2. Cameraperson (2016)If you’re in the mood for a more abstracted, almost greatest-hits approach to a documentary, then Kirsten Johnson’s lyrical Cameraperson is the movie for you. Johnson has worked as a cinematographer on documentaries for over 25 years. Her work extends from Brooklyn to Washington DC to Nigeria to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Cameraperson is a collection of often beautiful, often haunting footage that did not make it into the documentaries she was filming. The film is an arresting and unlikely whole.
  3. They Live by Night (1948)Miss the days of mid-budget crime thrillers? Well, you don’t have to go all the way back to the mid-20th century to find them. However, there are plenty of good ones from the era, such as Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night. The story of a young man who breaks out of prison with a pair of career crooks, falls in love, tries to stay clean, and gets sucked back into a world of crime, They Live by Night is an auspicious and entertaining debut from Ray. He would later earn major acclaim with Rebel Without a Cause.
  4. The Robber (2010) – Based on the true story of Austrian marathon runner and bank robber Johann Rettenberger. The Robber thrillingly reconstructs the several of the robberies and flights from authority that marked this enigmatic man’s story. As anyone who’s seen Baby Driver can tell you, there is plenty exciting about a well-executed foot chase, and this movie has some doozies.
  5. Multiple Maniacs (1970) – Curious what an iconoclast like John Waters does early in his career and on the cheap, before anyone’s really watching him? Multiple Maniacs is here to answer that question in the wiggiest way possible. Watch in shock and awe as Divine leads her traveling roadshow into increasingly depraved situations. Believe us when we say that Waters working on a limited budget only adds to the air of turpitude.