Surf the Web using a Different IP with TunnelBear – Simple, Free VPN

Want a fast, reliable, and super easy to use VPN solution? Look no further than “TunnelBear“.

I was checking my Twitter feed the other day and saw a Tweet about “TunnelBear” from one of my old friends Bill Mullins. Bill runs one of the best computer tech blogs in existence. (Check it out!)

TunnelBear was created to allow people from foreign countries to surf the web as if they were in the US or the UK. Supposedly it was meant to help people get the “Western” appearance of the web from countries that are locking down or restricting internet access.

It is one of the best, and easiest to use proxy type programs that I have ever seen.

After you download and install TunnelBear you will be asked to create an account. TunnelBear offers 500 MB of free bandwith a month and an additional 1GB/month if you Tweet an add for the service. You can also purchase an unlimited account for $4.99 a month or a year of unlimited service for $49.99.

Once you have an account, you are presented with the simple and easy to use TunnelBear interface:

Tunnelbear

An On/Off button and a US/UK selector. That’s it!

Simply select the country you want to have an IP address in and turn it on. Your computer will then be configured to use TunnelBear’s VPN service in the country that you specified.

So, for instance I set mine to the UK. When I did a search to find where my IP was located I got this:

Tunnelbear London

With a flick of a switch, my computer was now using an internet address near Leeds, UK!

Switching to the US position and my internet address was immediately changed to an address located in the United States, just outside of San Francisco:

Tunnelbear US

Once the country you want to use is selected, just open up your browser of choice and you will experience the web as if you are physically located in that country.

But how do you verify that it worked? Simple – before you turn it on, just surf to http://whatismyipaddress.com/

Your current IP address will be listed and your location will be displayed on a Google Map. Then turn TunnelBear on and refresh your browser. Your IP address and physical location will change on the map!

It is that easy!

You can track your monthly usage right from the control panel:

Tunnelbear_on

TunnelBear worked great in tests. It was fast, and responsive. The only problem I had was when I tried switching from the US to UK without turning TunnelBear off in between. I had an address in Leeds, UK and switched it to the US. I was then given an address in Ireland!

But turning it off in between worked flawlessly.

TunnelBear – What a great and simple to use product!

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Open Source Intelligence Gathering

We live in a digital world. As we spend more and more time online, a digital footprint is being created about us. Comments on blogs, posts on social network sites, even public records are all searchable with the right tools. Google does a very good job of finding information on the web, but there are programs that dig deeper. They combine all the publicly available information and allow you to follow links through associations. This is called Open Source Intelligence Gathering.

According to wikipedia:

“Open source intelligence (OSINT) is a form of intelligence collection management that involves finding, selecting, and acquiring information from publicly available sources and analyzing it to produce actionable intelligence.”

Some of these programs are just amazing. Maltego, an open source intelligence and forensics program, will blow your socks off. Want to find out information on a person, website, or company? Give Maltego a try. It creates a web of associations from whatever search term you put in. You can use different options, called transforms, to key in on pertinent data. Want to see what social sites are used by a person; there is a transform for that.

Some companies are even using this program to search out what other companies are doing. The Government uses these tools to supplement their proprietary software. Hackers too use these programs when they are gathering information on a target.

Used in the right hands, Open Source Intelligence Gathering programs are an amazing tool. Paterva has made internet data mining very simple and easy to use.

Visual Traceroute Program

Traceroute(Unix) and Tracert (Windows) are commands used to trace the path packets or information take from your computer to its destination on the web.  These are terminal commands and the output can be somewhat techie.

If you would like to see how information gets from your computer to say google.com, and you would like to see it in a simple format,  you can use a “visual traceroute” program. The visual traceroute program runs a trace of the path your packets will take to the destination, then displays them on a map for you to see.

One such program available is the Visual Trace Route Tool by Kirk Ouimet. It is a nice program that ties the output to a google map so you can see step by step the path that your packets take. Check it out at http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/visual-tracert/.