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Found 61 results

  1. A ransomware family named Netix (RANSOM_NETIX.A) is targeting users who use special applications to access hacked Netflix accounts, locking their files and demanding a ransom payment of $100. First discovered by Karsten Hahn of G Data and analyzed by the Trend Micro team, this ransomware is spread via an application named "Netflix Login Generator v1.1.exe," which when executed appears to provide the user with a Netflix username and password. Netflix Login Generator v1.1.exe app (via Trend Micro) These username and password combos never work, as the ransomware authors are just buying time to let the ransomware contained within the app perform its encryption. According to researchers, the ransomware targets only 39 file types, which is less than most other ransomware families, and it only goes after the files located in the user's "C:\Users" folder alone, and not the entire hard drive. The following file types are targeted for encryption: .ai, .asp, .aspx, .avi, .bmp, .csv, .doc, .docx, .epub, .flp, .flv, .gif, .html, .itdb, .itl, .jpg, .m4a, .mdb, .mkv, .mp3, .mp4, .mpeg, .odt, .pdf, .php, .png, .ppt, .pptx, .psd, .py, .rar, .sql, .txt, .wma, .wmv, .xls, .xlsx, .xml, .zip Under the hood, when the user executes "Netflix Login Generator v1.1.exe," the file extracts and drops another file named "netprotocol.exe" on the user's machine, which it executes immediately. This file is the actual Netix ransomware, which starts encrypting files with the AES-256 encryption algorithm, but only if the user's computer is running Windows 7 and Windows 10. After the encryption process ends, the ransomware contacts an online server, where it sends the infection ID and other details, but from where it also downloads the ransom notes it displays on the user's machine. The ransom notes are in the form of an image displayed as the user's desktop wallpaper, and a text file dropped on his PC. Netix desktop wallpaper (via Trend Micro) Netix ransom note (via Trend Micro) The ransomware asks for $100 as payment in the Bitcoin digital currency and invites users to visit a website in order to pay the ransom and receive their decryption key. Users can recognize Netix infections because the ransomware appends the .se extension at the end of all locked files. Is it worth it? "Does getting your important files encrypted worth the piracy?" the Trend Micro team asks. The answer is obviously no. Compared to past years, Netflix is now available in over 190 countries, and a monthly subscription costs between $9 and $15, depending on your country. Paying the $100 ransom to recover files locked by this threat is not a guarantee that users will get access back to their files neither, as many ransomware families come with bugs that make a recovery impossible in some cases. Nowadays, crooks have understood that pirated apps are the easiest way to spread their payloads. You can be almost certain that any pirated app downloaded from torrent portals contains at least some sort of adware or infostealer, if not worse. Article source
  2. Last year Netflix launched an aggressive campaign to prevent its users from bypassing geo-blockades through VPN services. The crackdown has met fierce resistance around the world but is still in effect. Today we review the current state of affairs with some prominent VPN providers, many of whom voice concerns about the ongoing blocking efforts. In an move to appease Hollywood’s major studios, last year Netflix increased its efforts to block customers who circumvent geo-blockades. As a result, it has become harder to use VPN services to access Netflix content from other countries. However, the measures also affect well-intentioned customers who merely use a VPN to protect their privacy. This broad blocking policy has sparked wide protests and now that 12 months have passed, we take a closer look at where things stand today. TorrentFreak spoke to several VPN providers who have to deal with the issue on a daily basis. Some are more open about it than others, but the overall consensus is that Netflix went a step too far by placing copyright protection above security. “In my opinion, no one should have to sacrifice operational security for entertainment,” Torguard‘s Ben Van Pelt tells TorrentFreak. Private Internet Access (PIA) sees the measures as a violation of pure Net Neutrality, noting the origin of traffic should be irrelevant. The Internet is a location by itself, they believe. “It is an odd time when one can pay for a service and not be provided said service when not in the ‘correct physical’ geographical location. The Internet is its own jurisdiction,” PIA’s Caleb Chen says. It is still unclear how Netflix’s IP-blacklisting works. A few providers have noticed that some of their IP-ranges were already banned before they were active, suggesting that Netflix automatically flags IPs from certain organizations. Also, there’s a strong suspicion that the streaming service keeps track of how many logins there are from a given IP-address. When this hits a threshold, the address is then supposedly added to the blacklist as well. The question on many people’s minds is; how effective are Netflix’s measures? According to the providers we spoke with, a lot of their shared IP-addresses were blacklisted quickly. But, when something’s censored on the Internet, people generally try to find ways around it. This is also true for the Netflix VPN block. The Internet is littered with circumvention tips and tricks and some VPN providers are actively advertising that their service still works. In reality, however, no VPN provider can guarantee that their service works 100% of the time. In most cases, new IP-addresses are swiftly blocked causing a lot of frustration among users. “The fact that we have to play this game at all is incredibly frustrating. Lots of people sign up because they hear from a friend that LiquidVPN still works and then they cancel because they can’t get it working without asking for help,” Dave Cox from LiquidVPN tells us. In terms of “help,” providers take a different approach as well. Some VPNs are taking a hands-off approach, but there are some that are willing to find solutions, often behind the scenes. TorGuard has noticed that if users switch to a dedicated IP-address, which isn’t shared with others, Netflix works just fine. As a result, demand for these plans has increased quite a bit. “We greatly expanded our Dedicated VPN IP pool and now offer Dedicated IP options in over 55 countries worldwide. This has proven to work flawlessly for users who wish to bypass VPN blockades with geo-restricted streaming services,” Torguard’s Ben Van Pelt says. LiquidVPN informed us that bypassing the Netflix blocks on devices like phones, smart TVs, and streaming boxes requires technical know-how and is not for everyone. However, they are willing to offer assistance to people who want to access Netflix’s US catalog from a VPN. Private Internet Access doesn’t offer any specific help but notes that they regularly add new IP-addresses. Although geo-unblocking is not a specific aim, they will do their best to ensure that users have access to an uncensored and unfiltered Internet. “Private Internet Access will be introducing tens of thousands of fresh IP-addresses into rotation. Additionally, we are working on additional and aggressive new methods to ensure our clients receive a full, uncensored and net neutral Internet experience,” PIA’s Caleb Chen notes. Then there are also providers who are not really interested in joining the blacklist whack-a-mole. Mullvad, for example, doesn’t support Netflix’s goals but doesn’t plan to actively counter them. “Netflix and their suppliers are being silly and are stuck in a laughably outdated geographic distribution model. Geoblocking is not one of our main areas though, so if they want to go out of their way to drive away their own customers, we’ll let them,” Mullvad’s Daniel Berntsson says. Lastly, there’s the Fight Club treatment ExpressVPN adheres to, avoiding public discussions on the topics wherever possible. “To draw on the famous quote from the movie Fight Club, the first rule of Netflix is: do not talk about Netflix,” says David Lang, ExpressVPN’s Communications Manager. While it’s impossible to draw any uniform conclusions, our general sense is that Netflix succeeded at making it very hard for casual VPN users to bypass geo-blockades. Those who put some effort into it can probably find a way to access foreign Netflix catalogs, but even then it remains unclear how long these circumvention options will hold. — Disclaimer: PIA and ExpressVPN are TorrentFreak sponsors. Source: TorrentFreak
  3. DVDVideoSoft has ceased the development of 'Free Downloader for Netflix' following a third-party complaint. The software company is no longer offering the tool for download following a trademark complaint and it's doubtful that it will ever come back. Netflix is best known as a video streaming service, but many of its users would also like an option to download content. A few weeks ago the company started rolling out a download option for some videos on mobile platforms, but Windows-based desktop PCs were left out. This is a gap ‘Free Netflix Downloader‘ was hoping to fill. Developed by DVDVideoSoft, it was the first Windows application that allowed people to download Netflix videos to their computers through an easy-to-use interface. “This is the ONLY app in the world that can do this trick now!” DVDVideoSoft’s Alex informed TF two weeks ago. While the resulting video quality wasn’t particularly good, the software did what it was supposed to do and appealed to a broad audience. This didn’t go unnoticed by Netflix and others, which soon led to an official complaint. As a result, DVDVideoSoft has decided to pull the plug and discontinue its development. “The development of Free Downloader for Netflix is discontinued by a third-party request. The program is not available for download now,” a message on the download site now reads. TorrentFreak contacted DVDVideoSoft to find out more about the mysterious third-party request. The company informed us that the complaint was sent by the internet security service Netcraft. The complaint accused the Netflix downloader tool of using Netflix trademarks without permission and urged the software developer to cease these infringements. In response, DVDVideoSoft swiftly decided to comply with the request and it stopped offering the application to the public right away. Technically it could be possible for the company to offer the tool without directly infringing any Netflix trademarks. However, it is not unthinkable that other intellectual property issues may pop up later on. In any case, DVDVideoSoft has no concrete plans for a comeback. Source: TorrentFreak
  4. If you want to be able to stream Netflix in 4K through your browser, you're going to have to use Edge, as Microsoft announced today. Unfortunately, the feature probably won't work with your PC, as you'll need a device that uses one of Intel's seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors and of course, a 4K display. There aren't even a lot of these devices on the market yet. Even Microsoft's own Surface Studio - which was announced less than a month ago and starts at $2,999 - uses sixth-generation Skylake processors. It's also worth noting that while Edge is the only browser to support the feature, the browser isn't the only way to watch Netflix in 4K resolution. Here's a list of devices that support 4K streaming through the Netflix app: Air 7410X (Waoo! in Denmark) Amazon Fire TV (New Version) British Telecom - BT DTRT-4000 Broadcom VIP5662 (Bell Canada) Chromecast Ultra Dish Hopper 3 Fetch Mighty Nvidia Shield Orange Livebox Play 4 PCCW nowOne Roku 4 Sagem 4K (Totalplay in Mexico) TiVo Bolt Virgin Media - V6 powered by TiVo Xbox One S There are also a number of smart TVs and Blu-ray players that support it: Hisense TV or streaming media player Insignia TV or Blu-ray player LG TV, Blu-ray player or set-top box Panasonic TV or Blu-ray player Philips TV or Blu-ray player Roku TV Samsung TV or Blu-ray player Sharp TV or Blu-ray player Sony TV or Blu-ray player Tatung TV TCL TV Toshiba TV or Blu-ray player Vestel TV Vizio TV or Blu-ray player The inclusion of the Xbox One S is interesting, although not surprising. But the Windows Store lists Netflix as being available on PCs, phones, and Xbox. In theory, if you have a 4K PC that doesn't have Kaby Lake, you should be able to use the app to stream, even though it's not listed on Netflix's official list. We've reached out to the company for confirmation of this. It does put one over on Mac users though, as even someone with a 4K or 5K iMac won't be able to stream Netflix, as there isn't even a downloadable app for macOS. Edge users will maintain bragging rights in that area. Back in July, Microsoft ran a test among four browsers, claiming that Edge offers the best battery life while streaming video. Not only that, but other than Internet Explorer and Safari, it was the only one that could stream 1080p. Article source
  5. A phishing campaign targeting Netflix customers is making the rounds, stealing login credentials. Since Netflix recently announced a service fee hike, spammers saw an opportunity to exploit the situation. According to researchers at AppRiver, phishing emails attempt to impersonate a Netflix account-verification email. The message alerts the target to a possible “issue” with his or her account, and then asks the person to click on the provided link. It’s unclear, they added, if the exploited site attempts to steal only a customer’s Netflix login credentials or if there a financial goal in mind, such as credit-card numbers. “The cyber-criminals use a common technique that spoofs the actual company’s domain name within an exploited website URL,” AppRiver researchers explained. “The exploited website is visually a carbon copy of the Netflix web login screen. Analyzing the HTML code of the site, we were able to find discrepancies that only confirmed our suspicions.” While the screen capture of the message shows that the attackers are savvy in using the Netflix logo and brand style, a closer look at the verbiage should alert recipients to the message’s bogus nature—grammar and syntax mistakes are a dead giveaway: “We hold on record for your account, we need to ask you to complete a short validation process in order to verify your details. Once that information has been updated, you can continue enjoying Netflix. Click the button below to get started. A=80 Your friends at Netflix. But, the average user not paying close attention can easily overlook the strangeness of the message itself, and could believe the link is to a legit Netflix URL. So one of the best ways for users to prevent becoming victim to this type of campaign is avoid clicking any links in the email. Instead, they should opt to visit the company’s website address directly. If there is indeed an account issue, the user should be alerted on the website. The campaign is in full swing; So far, AppRiver has quarantined more than 12,000 messages. Article source
  6. Password Sharing Is a Federal Crime, Appeals Court Rules One of the nation’s most powerful appeals courts ruled Wednesday that sharing passwords can be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a catch-all “hacking” law that has been widely used to prosecute behavior that bears no resemblance to hacking. In this particular instance, the conviction of David Nosal, a former employee of Korn/Ferry International research firm, was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who said that Nosal’s use of a former coworker’s password to access one of the firm’s databases was an “unauthorized” use of a computer system under the CFAA. The decision is a nightmare scenario for civil liberties groups, who say that such a broad interpretation of the CFAA means that millions of Americans are unwittingly violating federal law by sharing accounts on things like Netflix, HBO, Spotify, and Facebook. Stephen Reinhardt, the dissenting judge in the case, noted that the decision “threatens to criminalize all sorts of innocuous conduct engaged in daily by ordinary citizens.” In the majority opinion, Judge Margaret McKeown wrote that “Nosal and various amici spin hypotheticals about the dire consequences of criminalizing password sharing. But these warnings miss the mark in this case. This appeal is not about password sharing.” She then went on to describe a thoroughly run-of-the-mill password sharing scenario—her argument focuses on the idea that Nosal wasn’t authorized by the company to access the database anymore, so he got a password from a friend—that happens millions of times daily in the United States, leaving little doubt about the thrust of the case. The argument McKeown made is that the employee who shared the password with Nosal “had no authority from Korn/Ferry to provide her password to former employees.” At issue is language in the CFAA that makes it illegal to access a computer system “without authorization.” McKeown said that “without authorization” is “an unambiguous, non-technical term that, given its plain and ordinary meaning, means accessing a protected computer without permission.” The question that legal scholars, groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and dissenting judge Stephen Reinhardt ask is an important one: Authorization from who? Reinhardt argues that Nosal’s use of the database was unauthorized by the firm, but was authorized by the former employee who shared it with him. For you and me, this case means that unless Netflix specifically authorizes you to share your password with your friend, you’re breaking federal law. “In the everyday situation that should concern us all, a friend or colleague accessing an account with a shared password would most certainly believe—and with good reason—that his access had been ‘authorized’ by the account holder who shared his password with him,” Reinhardt wrote in a powerful dissent that was primarily concerned with “the government’s boundless interpretation of the CFAA.” “The majority does not provide, nor do I see, a workable line which separates the consensual password sharing in this case from the consensual password sharing of millions of legitimate account holders, which may also be contrary to the policies of system owners,” he wrote. “There simply is no limiting principle in the majority’s world of lawful and unlawful password sharing.” Notably, Reinhardt appears to have a commanding knowledge of what constitutes “hacking,” something that comes up over and over again both in the media and in the courts. He said that the decision “loses sight of the anti-hacking purpose of the CFAA.” “There is no doubt that a typical hacker accesses an account ‘without authorization’: the hacker gains access without permission—either from the system owner or a legitimate account holder,” he wrote. Using someone else’s password with their permission but not the system’s owner isn’t “hacking,” but that’s what the court is treating it as. Reinhardt noted that all 50 states have their own more narrow computer trespassing statutes, and that the case would have been better suited for civil, not criminal, proceedings. What does this mean for you? In the short term, unless Netflix or HBO seek to get federal prosecutors to go after many of its customers, probably nothing. So far, neither of those services have shown any inclination to do so, and have made it easy to share your accounts with others. But it does set a scary precedent that should give anyone who shares passwords some pause. The Ninth Circuit covers much of the West Coast, including Silicon Valley—many tech cases are brought there. The decision will be binding in that circuit, and will be looked at to guide decisions elsewhere in the country. Cases like these do come up with some regularity. A decision is expected soon in a case called Facebook v Power Ventures, in which a company scraped information from Facebook with permission from its users, but not from Facebook. Once again, the question of “authorization” will come into play. Source
  7. Only 9% of Netflix traffic is encrypted. Streaming movies and television shows on Netflix could be slowing down the adoption of encryption protocols on fixed access networks. A report by network policy control platform Sandvine said Americans who watch Netflix content may be inadvertently hampering encryption adoption. According to the 2016 Global Internet Phenomena report, around 9% of all Netflix traffic is encrypted, with the majority of that figure coming from browser-based streaming. Netflix is the biggest driver of peak period traffic on the Internet, which could account for why a typical U.S. network has a reasonably low fixed access encryption rate, Sandvine said. The level of encryption in the U.S. has increased in the last year, with the average network encryption rate rising from 29.1% in 2015 to 37.5% in 2016—which still leaves 61.29% of traffic unencrypted. Ironically, Netflix may be the reason for that increase. Open certificate authority Let’s Encrypt puts encryption rates for the Web at 45% as of June 2016. Sandvine cited remarks made by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in April 2015 when he said that the streaming service would be transitioning to the more secure HTTPS format from the standard HTTP. “Over the next year we’ll evolve from using HTTP to using Secure HTTP (HTTPS) while browsing and viewing content on our service,” said Hastings, The Verge reported. “This helps protect member privacy, particularly when the network is insecure, such as public Wi-Fi, and it helps protect members from eavesdropping by their ISP or employer, who may want to record our members’ viewing for other reasons.” YouTube has been using HTTPS for some time with 98% of all traffic now encrypted from end-to-end, said the report. Why We Should Be Less Chilled About Netflix The report compared the level of encryption on North American mobile networks to show the importance of HTTPS. Fixed access (landline) networks are dominated by unencrypted Netflix traffic, said Sandvine. However, mobile networks do not have the same issues with 64.52% of traffic now encrypted. People use streaming apps while on-the-go, but the passive—and time consuming—nature of video consumption means that people wait until they get home. Content delivery network Akamai notes that total Internet bandwidth use increases in the evening as people come home and stream music and video. As another example of how Netflix’s decision to move to HTTPS will benefit overall encryption adoption rates, Sandvine cited data from network operators in Latin America. On fixed networks in Latin America, just under 60% of all Internet traffic is encrypted. For mobile networks the figure is even higher; 66.48% of data has some form of encryption protocol. The discrepancy between North and Latin America is related to the fact that Netflix has lower bandwidth share in the latter region, with a large chunk of the 30.22% of unencrypted data on mobile networks generated by streaming apps that have not made the transition to HTTPS. Encrypted apps such as Facebook- and Google-owned properties are another reason why encryption levels are higher on fixed networks south of the border, the report said. “This lower Netflix share, combined with higher shares of encrypted traffic from YouTube and BitTorrent explain the vast difference between fixed access figures,” said Sandvine. “While North American fixed access networks currently have the lowest share of encrypted traffic of any around the world, we expect North America to equal and even surpass other regions once Netflix completes their HTTPS transition.” Article source
  8. After taking action against people using VPNs and proxies, Netflix is engaged in enhanced efforts to stop users accessing geo-blocked content. According to several reports, Netflix is now blocking users who use IPv4 to IPv6 tunnel brokers, even when doing so legitimately. It used to be a little talked about secret but the fact that all Netflix users aren’t treated equally is now well and truly out of the bag. Due to licensing deals with content providers, most regions in the world are granted access to differing levels of content. Users in the United States get the best deal from a choice perspective while subscribers in many other regions are offered much more shallow libraries. However, for many years determined subscribers from all over the world have been using various tricks to gain access to the forbidden fruits of the U.S. Netflix library. This has largely been achieved through the use of VPNs and proxies, techniques which worked almost flawlessly until complaints from rightsholders forced Netflix into a crackdown earlier this year. Nevertheless, other methods to circumvent Netflix blocks do exist. Some savvy individuals have been using something known as a tunnel broker, an online service which provides the user with a network tunnel. One particular type, known as an IPv6 tunnel broker, provides users with a modern IPv6 tunnel to sites via the much older (but massively more prevalent) IPv4 protocol. One such service is provided free of charge by Hurricane Electric, the operator of the world’s largest IPv6 transit network. Called simply ‘IPv6 Tunnel Broker‘, the company describes the service as follows. “Our free tunnel broker service enables you to reach the IPv6 Internet by tunneling over existing IPv4 connections from your IPv6 enabled host or router to one of our IPv6 routers. Our tunnel service is oriented towards developers and experimenters that want a stable tunnel platform,” Hurricane explains. With noble goals at heart, this service is clearly not designed to give Netflix headaches. However, with tunnel endpoints in the United States that was apparently the net result, with people using the service able to access titles geo-restricted to the U.S. Somehow this situation came to Netflix’s attention and during the past few days the company decided to take action. Numerous reports indicate that Netflix has now blocked users of Hurricane Electric’s tunnel broker from accessing its services, regardless of their intent. They now receive the message below. A Reddit user called KeiroD contacted Netflix after receiving an identical message with the same error code – M7111-1331-5059. From the transcript of the discussion its clear that KeiroD already had a good idea why he was blocked. “The only thing that I can think of that would affect us would be using the Hurricane Electric tunnelbroker but we’re US-based as is Hurricane Electric’s tunnel,” he explained. Netflix responded as expected. “Yes it is possible as they work the same as the VPN or proxies. There is a way to find out if that is the reason, do you have a way to turn it off for a moment so we can try the service again?” customer support asked. In response KeiroD turned off IPv6 in his router’s tunnel broker setup, rebooted, and played a random movie successfully. General blocking aside, the sad part here is that KeiroD is based in the United States, so already had access to U.S. content on Netflix. The fact that his account with Netflix was registered in the United States and his endpoint was in Kansas City didn’t help at all. Interestingly, the topic is also under discussion in Hurricane Electric’s forums. After years of people questioning whether he had access to the U.S. version of Netflix, a Canadian user there reported that his Netflix suddenly stopped working a few days ago. “Turns out that I did [have the U.S. Netflix] and didn’t even know it! Now Netflix is blocking me, and after a long while I finally figured out that it was because of my IPv6 tunnel. The thing is though, I am in Canada, and I use the tunnel server in Toronto, also in Canada, but Netflix detects my connections as coming from the US!” he explains. “Well of course this problem only affects traffic coming over the IPv6 tunnel. If I shut it down, then Netflix works fine over native IPv4. I obviously still want my IPv6 connectivity, and don’t have any easy way that I know of to specifically block only Netflix-related traffic from resolving IPv6 addresses and using the tunnel.” Sadly, however, Hurricane say they can’t help. “Our [subnet] is registered as part of a US company, and that is the address space being used there. We do not have any IPv6 allocations allocated and designated as ‘Canada’,” a senior Hurricane engineer responded. “Our [subnet] is used globally, as-is. If Netflix has some sort of whitelisting system in place, perhaps the ranges used there can be submitted, if such a whitelist exists, Netflix willing.” As an avid supporter of IPv6, Netflix’s decision to block Hurricane users is somewhat disappointing, especially when they have U.S. accounts and are also based in the U.S. Understandably the company is responding to pressure from rightsholders but interestingly there’s no change in the current situation even when they aren’t a factor. Netflix previously indicated it wanted to improve licensing issues by creating its own shows, shows that can be accessed anywhere in the world without issues. But even they are off-limits, it seems. “This started happening to me this afternoon. Called Netflix support, and based on that conversation I concluded they consider Tunnelbroker a VPN/Proxy,” another user on HE’s forums explains. “They’re not wrong, but it’s still frustrating. Ironically the show I was trying to resume is a Netflix original. I wouldn’t have expected that there would be licensing issues on their own content.” And so the whac-a-mole continues…. Article source
  9. The precautionary measure comes after a spate of massive, high-profile hacks. Fearing for the worst, some tech companies are actively resetting some user passwords, amid concerns hackers might be using hacked data to get access to accounts. Spotted by security reporter Brian Krebs, Facebook and Netflix are resetting the credentials of those whose usernames, and emails and passwords have been found in other leaked sets of breach data -- usually from other hacks. According to Krebs, Netflix sent out an email, which said "just to be safe, we've reset your password as a precautionary measure," because "we believe that your Netflix account credentials may have been included in a recent release of email addresses and passwords at another company." Facebook said that some accounts are "at risk because you were using the same password" on a different site, unrelated to Facebook. It comes in the wake of massive breaches at MySpace, LinkedIn, and Tumblr, which collectively made up over 600 million user accounts. The big, ongoing problem is password reuse. Many use the same email address and password combination for other services. When one is breached, others can be, too. Given the amount of leaked data already stolen by hackers in recent weeks, there's always the case that data is reused, and sold on. Earlier this week, hackers reportedly took over the Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter accounts of Mark Zuckerberg, the the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, which owns Instagram. The Facebook executive's password is thought to have come from the LinkedIn breach. Many big companies go through publicly-available stolen data to match up passwords that are in their own databases -- usually by comparing hashes. Krebs said that this is usually done by one-way hashing -- which involves taking the plain-text password (or cracked password), rehashing it, and comparing it to the same email address in the database. The Source
  10. Netflix's ongoing VPN crackdown is meeting fierce resistance from concerned users around the world. Today, privacy activists are driving a massive billboard around Netflix's headquarters, hoping the company will respect their privacy and reverse the broad VPN ban. In an effort to appease Hollywood’s major studios, Netflix increased its efforts to block customers who circumvent geo-blockades this year. As a result it has become harder to use VPN services to access Netflix content from other countries. However, the measures also affect well-intentioned customers who merely use a VPN to protect their privacy. This broad blocking policy has sparked wide protests and tens of thousands Internet users have signed a petition launched by digital rights group OpenMedia, which asks Netflix to stop the VPN crackdown. A few weeks ago OpenMedia sent an open letter to Netflix, inviting CEO Reed Hastings to discuss possible alternatives. In absence of a reply, the group is now following up with a new message that’s unmissable. This week a massive mobile billboard is driving through the streets of Los Gatos, California, where Netflix headquarters are located. The billboard carries the message “We ♥ Our Privacy,” with the URL of the VPN unblocking campaign. OpenMedia hopes that the billboard will send a clear message. The protests are not going to stop and with thousands of new signers per week the campaign is gaining momentum. “Right now, Netflix customers are being forced to choose between watching their favorite shows and safeguarding their privacy,” OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist Laura Tribe says. “Our mobile billboard is one more way we’re working to encourage Netflix to rethink their approach. The company has much better options available to it, than undermining the privacy of over 80 million paying Netflix customers in the post-Snowden world.” OpenMedia understands that Netflix has to comply with Hollywood’s demands to restrict access, but it believes that there a there are better ways to make sure that geographic restrictions are enforced. For example, by simply linking content libraries to credit card addresses. Thus far Netflix hasn’t been very receptive to the concerns. During an investor call last month Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that the recent crackdown on VPN users hasn’t hurt the company’s results, and that the complaints came from a “small but vocal minority.” A ‘small’ minority with a huge billboard… Article source
  11. Netflix today launched a new internet speed testing service called Fast.com. With the new service it’s possible to test the speed of both mobile and broadband connections anywhere in the world. The site is very simple, as soon as you load the page the test starts. The service is powered by Netflix servers and results should be comparable to other services, of which Netflix itself explicitly mentions Ookla’s Speedtest.net. In several quick and unreliable tests we did, there wasn’t much of a match between Netflix’s Fast.com and Ookla’s Speedtest. While Fast.com reported 29 Mbps, Speedtest.net reported 49.20 Mbps as download speed. The consumer speed test is different than the Netflix ISP Speed Index. Fast.com measures personal internet connections at any given time, while Netflix’s speed index measures average monthly speeds of actual Netflix streams during prime time hours. Article source
  12. Netflix's release of the fourth season of House of Cards has turned into a bitter disappointment for fans in dozens of countries. Due to "legacy" licensing agreements, Netflix is not allowed to show its own original programming in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong, causing many people to turn to pirate sources. Traditionally the movie industry has relied on geographical licensing deals through which movie and TV-show rights are sold to separate parties in various countries. As a relative newcomer to the business, Netflix’s vision is to do things differently. The company’s aim is to make as much content available globally as it can and is developing several movies and TV-shows in-house to advance this mission. With this in mind, one would think that geographical copyright restrictions are no longer an issue for Netflix’s own original programming, but unfortunately this is not the case. Last week Netflix released the latest season of House of Cards, something millions of people were looking forward to. However, Netflix subscribers in dozens of countries are not able to watch it, yet, due to licensing issues. House of Cards fans in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Hong Kong, Turkey and most of Africa are among those missing out. They can watch the first seasons, but there’s no sign of the new episodes. Even worse, in some countries House of Cards isn’t available at all. Needless to say, the missing House of Cards episodes are being met with a mixture of surprise and anger online. Missing cards TorrentFreak reached out to Netflix for an explanation and we were informed that the company doesn’t have global licences for its drama series House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. The latter series is entirely absent from Netflix in over 50 countries. “Most of our originals content will be available globally. However, with these two earlier shows, we didn’t negotiate global licenses to the content and so they’ve aired on other platforms in the meantime,” the company states. “We may get them back in some of our new markets. For example, we have Orange is the New Black available in our new countries in Asia, with the title coming to the Middle East and Africa later this year,” Netflix adds. This situation is quite painful since Netflix has repeatedly called on the movie industry to offer its content globally, without artificial barriers. Apparently, they haven’t managed to do this for all of their own content yet. According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the licensing issues are a legacy from the last seven or eight years, which they hope to get rid of in the near future. “We’re moving as quickly as we can to have global availability of all the content on Netflix so that there are not regional distinctions. We’re still somewhat a prisoner of the current distribution architecture, we’re trying really hard to get there,” he said. In the meantime, House of Card fans who live in the wrong country must hold their breath, although many are already looking for alternative means to get what they want… Source: TorrentFreak
  13. Netflix’s impact on commercial viewing, however important, is subtler than recent reports suggest. A widely circulated report claims Netflix saves its subscribers from 160 hours of commercial breaks every year. The figure, from CordCutting.com, has certainly grabbed attention, having been picked up by plenty of other news outlets including Business Insider, BGR, and Fortune. But in reality, the claim is overblown. While Netflix has without a doubt affected advertising and the TV business as a whole, it’s probably not shaving days of commercial breaks off your life unless you’ve given up traditional TV completely. To come up with 160 hours per year, CordCutting.com looked at Nielsen data from 2014 that counted 15 minutes and 38 seconds of commercials in each hour of television. Multiply that number by the one and two-thirds hours that the average Netflix subscriber streams per night, and you get 158.5 hours per year. (Last year, Extreamist ran a similar calculation and came up with 130 hours of ads avoided per year, based on older data that showed 1.5 hours of Netflix viewing per day.) What’s wrong with this figure? A few things: While Netflix is causing people to watch less traditional TV than they used to, overall TV viewing dropped by only three percent last year according to analyst firm MoffettNathanson. For cable subscribers, time spent watching Netflix may not displace time spent watching traditional TV. (One obvious example: People who want to watch sports aren’t tuning into Netflix as an alternative.) Thanks to the DVR, traditional TV viewers don’t always sitting through ads. A study by Hub Entertainment Research from last year found that among broadcast TV subscribers who watch more than five hours of TV per week, 53 percent of that viewing is time-shifted. Roughly one third of that time shifting comes from DVRs. Live-TV viewers aren’t necessarily watching ads if they’re tuning into premium channels like HBO, Starz, and Showtime, which are more popular than ever with hit shows like Game of Thrones. Considering all these factors, Netflix’s impact on ad viewing is subtler than the six-days-per-year headline suggests. While people probably aren’t avoiding that much commercial time simply because they’re Netflix subscribers, the proliferation of ad-free video services is causing TV networks to rethink their approach to ads. Turner, for instance, recently announced that it would reduce ad loads on TNT by at least 50 percent in its live programming, because the constant commercial breaks were causing people to tune out. NBC also announced that it would run fewer commercial breaks during Saturday Night Live in hopes that more people would, you know, watch it live. Both networks are also now dabbling in ad-free streaming services, with SeeSo and FilmStruck respectively. That’s the real impact of Netflix and other ad-free streaming services like Amazon Prime: It's not a wholesale replacement of all commercial breaks, just fewer breaks when ad-supported TV is unavoidable. The Source
  14. Netflix isn't winning any popularity awards from users this month. First, many users had forgotten about next month's price hike, and have been very upset at the prospect of paying an extra $2 per month for the service. Now a large group of users in Canada are reporting that they can no longer access US content through VPN providers. You might wonder why people in Canada would want to circumvent their geographical settings, in order to access US content. As it turns out, according to JustWatch, there are currently 3,008 titles currently available in Canada on Netflix. Compare this to the 4,908 available in the US, and there's a big difference in service. And users in Canada also state that the variety of shows and movies is far less appealing than the US selection. With nearly 2,000 fewer titles to choose from, Canadian users aren't happy with the amount that they are paying, when just across the border they could get far more content for the same price. This is why they turn to VPN services to get them access to shows and movies that are otherwise unavailable on any streaming service in the country. Over the weekend users started pouring into threads on Reddit and taking to Twitter to complain about their inability to use VPNs to help them watch US content. It looks like there may still be a couple of services out there that work, but the majority of users seem to be cut off completely. This is just one more case of Netflix making good on their promise to shut down users taking advantage of VPNs to bypass geographic restrictions on content. One has to wonder when they're planning to make good on offering the same content worldwide. source
  15. Netflix recently revealed it had rolled out support for high dynamic range video, starting with the first season of Marco Polo. This was the initial step in the company's plan to go all in on that technology, which it believes is the perfect complement to 4K -- something it's been pushing since 2014. By the end of 2016, the service will have more than 150 hours of original programming in HDR, a Netflix spokesperson told Engadget. Of those, over 100 hours are expected to hit the platform in August, a figure that won't be easy for competitors such as Amazon to match. While Marco Polo is the only show currently taking advantage of HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10), more content is going to come in the next few months. That includes existing series like Bloodline, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Chef's Table, as well as The Ridiculous Six movie. Netflix will also feature HDR in the upcoming Luke Cage and The Defenders shows, plus The Do-Over film starring Adam Sandler and more. Here's the full list, according to Netflix: A Series of Unfortunate Events Bloodline Chef's Table Hibana Knights of Sidonia Marvel's Daredevil Marvel's Iron Fist Marvel's Jessica Jones Marvel's Luke Cage Marvel's The Defenders The Do-Over The Ridiculous Six Unfortunately, there's no word on when these are scheduled to arrive. "Timing varies depending on the title, as we are in the process of remastering any existing TV shows and movies," a company spokesperson said. "It is also dependent on the title's launch date. We don't have any dates to confirm at this point in time." But hey, at least you can be excited about all the HDR stuff that's coming in the near future. source
  16. Netflix just posted its first-quarter earnings, and it looks like for investors it was a whiff. The company’s shares are diving more than 10% in extended trading, which more or less fits in with the usual behavior of Netflix — big spikes, up and down, all over the place and all the time. Even the last time the company reported earnings, shares spiked 8%, and we’re seeing that big reaction once again on its first-quarter earnings. Netflix is just one of those companies, it seems. So what’s the culprit here? Even though the company added a record number of new subscribers, it looks like its growth isn’t going absolutely bonkers even though the company is expanding to 130 new countries. The company said it would add 2 million new international subscribers in the second quarter, along with 500,000 new U.S. subscribers, after posting a record Q1. There’s an aspect of seasonality here, so it’s definitely not apples to apples, but still: 2.5 million doesn’t seem like a huge number — and especially after adding 3.3 million new streaming members in the second quarter last year. International expansion is going to be a huge uphill battle, for sure. While international subscribers make up more than 40% of the company’s subscriber base, as it goes to newer countries it’s going to have to find ways to capture local content and fill out a library that culturally fits with the country that it’s growing into. And while it’s investing in a ton of original content, that might not be a good fit for new countries either. Eventually Netflix is going to run out of room to expand in countries that culturally overlap with the U.S., and that’s going to require a different playbook. But Netflix isn’t the only company that’s offering a huge library of content for a subscription fee. Amazon is offering a standalone video streaming service separate from its Prime subscription, and of course there’s Google Play and iTunes, among other services, that have big libraries of content available. All this increasing competition and change in market dynamics means Netflix has to continue to show growth and show that its strategy is working. It did that this quarter with a record number of new subscribers, but it has to keep doing that, and show that it’ll be a sustainable public company that can outlast the influence of larger companies that treat video streaming as just one part of their empires. Are these extended libraries of content becoming more and more commoditized? Perhaps. And that may be part of the reason why the company is betting so much on original content, which will in theory help persuade people to go with Netflix instead of Amazon. As time goes on, that’s what’s going to be the differentiating factor between these services. These dynamics are in play increasingly in newer markets. As time goes on, even music streaming is becoming commoditized, for example, with Apple releasing Apple Music and sparring with Pandora. They both stream music and have similarly large libraries, so Pandora has to show it can differentiate itself from Apple — and meanwhile Apple is securing huge exclusives, like Taylor Swift’s new concert documentary. Whether Pandora can be a growing, independent publicly traded company is now a huge question for the service. Is Netflix’s strategy working as it faces increasing competition from behemoths? That, like Pandora, is a big question for the company. And for the $46.4 billion dollar company that just shaved off a tenth of its value, it’s one that it seems like it doesn’t have an answer to today. The Source
  17. As part of a recent HD leak of the Netflix movie Pee-wee's Big Holiday, Scene group 'Team QCF' has openly thanked HDFury and described the tech outfit as one of its sponsors. The mention is rather controversial as HDFury's parent company is being sued in the U.S. over the piracy-enabling capabilities of one of its devices. Late last year several pirated copies of 4K videos started to leak from both Netflix and Amazon. These leaks were unusual as online 4k streams were always well protected against pirates. While it’s still not clear how these videos were copied, several sources suggested that one of LegendSky’s latest HDFury devices may have been involved. These suspicions were corroborated a few weeks ago when Warner Bros. and Intel daughter company Digital Content Protection (DCP) sued the HDFury manufacturer over its ability to “strip” the latest HDCP encryption. The Chinese hardware manufacturer refutes this claim and has pointed out that its tools merely allow users to convert HDCP encryption, which would be fair use and permitted by law. While the case continues in court, a pirate group has stepped up to add some fuel to the fire. In an NFO file packaged with a recent release of the Netflix film “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” Scene group ‘Team QCF’ thanks HDFury while describing it as one of its sponsors. “We like to give a shout out to our sponsors without them this is not possible :p,” the NFO file reads, linking to the controversial HDFury 4k splitter. While the release in question is 1080p, the controversial hardware makes it possible to use a 4K source to get a better encode. The nfo In addition, Gatorade also gets a plug. “Drink Gatorade it will help your encodes,” the NFO file adds, linking to the Gatorade website. Team QCF doesn’t normally list any sponsors, and it’s pretty unlikely that HDFury or Gatorade have intentionally contributed to the Scene group. However, the wink to HDFury suggests that the devices are indeed used to rip 4K content from Netflix. At least, the group felt the urge to respond to the recent controversy over the HDFury devices. It is doubtful that the “endorsement” will be featured in court though. As an anonymous source, Team QCF may just as well be putting up a smokescreen for fun, or perhaps to divert attention from another vulnerability. That said, LegendSky is probably going to be unhappy with the fact that their HDFury devices are now openly being plugged by a well-known Scene group. Article source
  18. AT&T and Verizon were recently taking heat over their quality of Netflix videos. Now it looks like blame may lie somewhere else. March 24 (Reuters) - Netflix Inc said it had been lowering the quality of its video for customers watching its service on wireless networks such as AT&T and Verizon Communications for more than five years, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Journal quoted Netflix as saying it had limited its videos to most wireless carriers across the globe, capping them at 600 kiliobits-per-second, to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps.” The company also said that it does not throttle videos for T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp users because they had “more consumer friendly policies,” the Journal reported. “We’re outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent,” Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs wrote in an email. Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Source
  19. If you are currently using a virtual private network, unblocker or proxy to access Netflix, you have likely been greeted by an "whoops, something went wrong..." message on the site on stream start. The error is listed as a streaming error, and the description found underneath it reads: Netflix You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy The proxy help page on the Netflix website provides little information besides what the company mentioned already in the error description: Netflix's only recommendation is to disable "any proxies, VPNs, or other software that might route your Internet traffic outside of your current region". Many unblocker and VPN services stopped working today, including Mediahint, Zenmate, Betternet, AppVPN, ExpressVPN, Tunnelbear, and Private Internet Access, and it is likely that a lot of services not listed here have stopped working as well. It is unclear how Netflix determines when a user is using a VPN connection to stream content on the site, but there are several possibilities how the service could have done it. Sign up for popular VPN and Unblocker services, record all IP addresses you get while connecting to the service, and block those. Check which IP ranges VPN and Unblocker companies have purchased, if possible, and block those. Check which IP addresses are used by multiple users on the site, verify who owns them, and block those that you can associate with these services. Compare a user's home country with IP addresses he or she connects to, scan those IP addresses for association with VPN and unblocking services, and add hits to the blocklist. What can you do about it? There is little that can be done about it. Most users probably don't want to set up their own VPN network as it is a technical process and comes with additional costs. One could try to connect to different servers offered by a service provider to see if some are not blocked. Many VPN services offer several entry locations in the US and sometimes other countries. This is a temporary solution at best though considering that more and more users of the service will utilize those. Another option is to find a smaller VPN provider and test if their servers are blocked by Netflix. Last but not least, you may vote with your wallet. Unsubscribe and let Netflix know that they have lost a customer because of this practice. Article source
  20. In a new blog post, Symantec is warning users about fake Netflix downloads that claim to install the service at a low cost and a separate phishing campaign designed to steal legitimate Netflix credentials. With Netflix launching its video streaming service in more than 190 regions worldwide, including parts of Asia and Europe, related malware scams have increased in frequency. The campaigns are targeting an ever-expanding global market of users familiar with the U.S. company’s service. For example, in Brazil there are reports of users installing malicious files that purport to be legitimate Netflix installation packages, downloaded from websites offering discounted service. Online ads will often lure users to the fake Netflix front-ends, enticing them to download and install the executable. The goal of the Trojan package is to steal banking information residing on the affected computer. Another scam is a standard email phishing scheme that direct users to a phony Netflix logon page. The website not only captures the legitimate Netflix user email and password, but also convinces the user to enter their bank card information because of “problems” with their recurring payment information. The stolen Netflix credentials are then sold on the black market for as little as $0.25, often with a four account minimum offer. The thieves even have their own Terms of Service, which stipulate that the buyer should not change the account info; doing so would eventually render the account unusable by raising red flags with the real account owner who might then change the password again. Source: Symantec. Article source
  21. While people who obtain content from unofficial online sources are often painted as freeloaders, there is a growing understanding that they can also be some of the entertainment industry's best customers. A new report out of Australia has found that 66% of Aussie downloaders are also paying for streaming services such as Netflix. With billions in entertainment industry revenues reportedly at stake, it’s unsurprising that the piracy debate has become so polarized over the years. With millions of illegal downloads happening on a daily basis, emotions rarely run anything but high. As a result lobbyists have placed the public into two distinct camps – those who pay for all of the media they consume and those who frequent pirate sites and contribute nothing to the artist-supporting economy. It’s a convenient demarcation that has allowed for the celebration of one subset and the demonization of the other. However, for a long time it’s been increasingly obvious that the battle lines are a lot less black and white. In fact, with the advent of services like Netflix now being delivered on an almost global basis, there are even greater opportunities for pirates to be simultaneous legitimate consumers. Over in Australia there are yet more signs that this is the case. Billed as “Australia’s respected and reliable national omnibus poll”, the Essential Report is published by Essential Research. The report tracks voting intention while asking questions about pressing social issues of the day. The sample is around 1000 citizens. Among other things the latest edition touches on media consumption, both from official and unofficial sources. Australia is often painted as a country of pirates but the survey finds that the majority prefers to keep things on the straight and narrow. Downloading for free When respondents were asked if in anyone in their household downloads movies, music or television shows for free, 64% said that to their knowledge no one does. That percentage was steady across male and female respondents, with 63% and 64% respectively. There was some variation across age groups though, with 65% of the 35-54 year-olds and just 49% of the 18-34 year old group saying no one downloads content for free. Interestingly the headline 64% figure has remained relatively unchanged for the past several years. In October 2013 an identical percentage said that there were downloaders in their households, a figure that was marginally up on the 61% reported in May 2012. When questioned, just over a quarter – 26% – said that people do indeed download content for free in their homes. There was a perhaps expected variation across the sexes – 28% for men, 25% for women. The age groups also provide few surprises, with the likelihood of people downloading falling as age increases. Around 39% of 18-34 year-olds said that there are downloaders in their homes, dropping to just 13% in the 55-year-old plus category. The 26% of homes with free downloaders present is well down on the 32% reported in May 2012. However, there has been little change from the 27% reported in October 2013. Subscription services, Netflix etc Those surveyed were asked if anyone in their household subscribes to content streaming services such as Netflix or the more localized Foxtel. Overall an impressive 51% of respondents said someone in their house is a customer, with Foxtel coming out on top with 30% and Netflix in second place with 25%. In respect of Netflix there is a considerable variation across the age groups, with 47% of 18-34 year-olds and just 8% of 55+ year-olds subscribing to the service. But perhaps the most interesting figures are those which demonstrate how many subscribers to legitimate services are also downloading content for free. According to the survey, 36% of households with Netflix subscriptions also partake in content which they don’t pay for. However, when all streaming subscriptions are factored in a significant 66% of households who pay for their media are also obtaining content online for free. These figures are another indication of how dangerous it is to demonize downloaders when they’re also some of the industry’s best customers. They also show the current popularity of Netflix but whether growth will persist in the wake of the recent VPN crackdown will remain to be seen. The report can be downloaded here (pdf). Source
  22. This week Netflix announced that it would ramp up its crackdown on VPN and proxy pirates. The decision is a response to increased demands from major Hollywood players, but is this fear of VPN pirates justified? With the launch of legal streaming services such as Netflix, movie and TV fans have less reason to turn to pirate sites. At the same time, however, these legal options present new copyright-related problems and threats. Traditionally the movie industry has relied on geographical licensing deals through which movie and TV-show rights are sold to separate parties in various countries. Ten years ago this model wasn’t causing any issues. But now that the Internet has made entertainment more instant and global, the public is beginning to complain. Why do Netflix users in Andorra, Bolivia and the Cook Islands have access to Better Call Saul, while Americans don’t? Similarly, why can Danish people watch American Sniper while it’s pretty much unavailable in the rest of the world? Most Netflix users don’t understand. This frustration is driving people to circumvent geographical restrictions by using VPNs and proxy services. With help from handy tools such as the “unofficial Netflix online Global Search” every Netflix subscriber can easily access these hidden treasures. There are even specialized applications that do the same, giving people a browsable library of all Netflix titles with built-in proxies. unofficial Netflix online Global Search Netflix’s announcement to ramp up its crackdown on VPN and proxy pirates comes a week after Netflix expanded its reach by more than 130 countries. This obviously isn’t a coincidence, as the two are directly linked. While Netflix has always been contractually obliged to take measures against unblocking efforts, its near worldwide expansion makes it a higher priority. Targeting VPN and proxy “pirates” has been high on the Hollywood agenda for several years already. For example, in 2014 Sony Pictures conducted research to identify the IP-ranges of various VPNs and proxies. It turned out that most were not, and these results were shared with Netflix and other streaming services so they could take action and expand their blocklists where needed. The question is, however, whether this repressive approach will be effective. In fact, the announced measures may cause some people to give up their subscriptions and return to their old piracy habits, which should worry both Netflix and the movie studios. The true solution lies somewhere else. While it’s easier said than done the film industry should move away from its complicated licensing schemes and windowed releases, much like the music industry has. This is a change Netflix backs according to recent statements. According to Netflix the ‘VPN pirates’ are willing to pay, they just can’t get what they want through their local Netflix. Speaking out on the controversial VPN use, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that the problem can be fixed if the industry starts to offer the same content globally, without artificial barriers. “The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy,” Hastings said. For now Netflix can do little else than comply with the pressure from Hollywood, but as soon as they roll out broad VPN blockades it’s going to cause problems. Many people use VPN services to protect their privacy, not to fool Netflix, and when they are locked out of their accounts there’s bound to be some uproar. At the same time it will trigger a new cat-and-mouse game where “unblocking” services will try to bypass Netflix’s blocks against them, and so on. It’s hard to see any winners in this game, except perhaps from the Hollywood insiders who lack a long-term vision. Article source
  23. It's now common knowledge that users of Netflix in one country can often get access to a better range of movies and TV shows if they use a proxy or VPN. While Netflix is trying to clamp down on the practice, what kind of benefits can be achieved by bypassing the company's controls? uNoGS has the answers. Netflix has just announced its expansion into 130 more countries around the globe but the company’s penetration hasn’t always been so deep. Millions of potential customers outside the United States have had to wait for the service to land on their shores to become a customer – well that was the theory at least. An open secret for years and common knowledge during the past couple of weeks, it’s possible – and easy – to be a customer of Netflix in one country and gain access to it from another. Before the service landed on their shores last year this meant that Australians with no official access to the service have been able to view using a VPN. Equally, users with limited local libraries have been able to fool Netflix into thinking they’re American – with all the riches that provides. Last week Netflix announced that it had begun cracking down on these content-tourists (or VPN pirates as they’re sometimes called) in order to appease rightsholders but for those who can still beat the system, what are they enjoying? The answer to that question and more can be found by visiting the ‘unofficial Netflix online Global Search’ or uNoGS for short. uNoGS is essentially a searchable database which allows users to see which content is available on Netflix in any given area in the world. For instance, when Netflix unceremoniously curtailed my viewing of Donnie Brasco in the UK earlier this month, a search on uNoGS revealed the movie was still on the service and accessible from 22 other countries. This means that by using a VPN to switch countries I was able to continue viewing, but uNoGS actually goes a step further by providing details on which VPN, proxy or DNS providers can provide access on a movie-by-movie basis. For example, selecting TorGuard reveals options in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Selecting Private Internet Access reveals five usable servers located in Finland, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. Since the language is also displayed by uNoGS, those seeking English audio are able to rule out the second and fourth options. Interested by the project, TorrentFreak caught up with uNoGS operator Brian to find out more about his baby. “uNoGS is very much a one man show juggled as a hobby between work and family life. I initially built the site just for myself because the few sites that were providing a service like this were extremely limited in terms of search functionality,” Brian says. “I wanted to be able to see what was available in every country, when it was added, when it was supposed to expire and when it actually expired. Once I completed the initial build for myself I decided to share it with everyone and uNoGS went live in early May 2015.” Brian says the site’s aim is to provide an overview of what’s on in every country served by Netflix globally and to provide users with advanced search functionality to find titles by name as well as a variety of specific parameters. In addition to dates of availability, uNoGS provides details on audio tracks and subtitling. It also offers TV series data plus iMDb and Rotten Tomatoes listings. Also available are total movie and TV show counts for each country. Found here, the table reveals the United States as the best Netflix region by far, with ‘French Southern Territories’ the most under-served. In total, uNoGS indexes content available on Netflix in 243 territories and updates the same on a daily basis, but Brian suggests that in an ideal world his service wouldn’t be needed. “Traditional media outlets like cable, satellite and terrestrial tv are dead but they haven’t fully realized this yet. Most of them are trying to hang on to their lucrative commercial models which they love but consumers hate,” he explains. “At the moment these different providers have enough money to buy up the rights to a variety of shows making the geo-restrictions necessary. In time, this will change as more and more viewers go to disruptive services which charge a fair monthly fee and allow users to watch titles on their own terms. With the moves that Netflix is currently making, hopefully these changes will come sooner rather than later.” In the meantime Netflix is in the clutches of copyright holders who it admits trying to appease with its recent VPN clampdown. TorrentFreak began speaking with uNoGS early January before that particular news broke but in our conversations back then, Brian made an accurate prediction. “In the future with the advent of tools like Smartflix and search engines like uNoGS, I think [region switching] will become more mainstream and eventually upset the content providers enough to push Netflix to take action. I think this will be a shame but most likely inevitable,” he correctly concluded. “Overall I think the VPN/DNS switchers are a good thing and most likely keep people from obtaining media through less official methods.” uNoGS can be found here, complete with API access for those interested. Source: TorrentFreak
  24. VPN providers have unanimously condemned Netflix's crackdown on subscribers who use so-called unblocking services. Several VPN companies have announced counter-measures, while others raise the issue of Net Neutrality, suggesting that there are better ways to tackle abuse. Last week Netflix announced that it would increase its efforts to block customers who circumvent geo-blockades. This means that it will become harder to use VPN services and proxies to access Netflix content from other countries, something various movie studios have repeatedly called for. With the application of commercial blacklist data, Netflix already blocks IP-addresses that are linked to such services, something also affects well-intentioned customers who merely use a VPN to protect their privacy. Instead of providing access to the latest video entertainment, Netflix then serves the following error message to these blocked users. A Netflix error several VPN users already see (U.S. server) TorrentFreak spoke with several VPN providers to hear their thoughts on Netflix’s plans. Several are already dealing with the issue and promise to do their best to ensure that workarounds will remain available. “This announcement comes as no surprise to us and we have been expecting a Netflix VPN crackdown for some time now,” TorGuard’s Ben van der Pelt says. “Unfortunately, many legitimate paid subscribers will be left in the dark as an unavoidable outcome of overreaching IP blocks. “TorGuard is monitoring the situation closely and we have recently implemented new measures that can bypass any proposed IP blockade on our network. VPN users who encounter Netflix access problems are encouraged to contact us for a working solution,” he adds. SlickVPN takes a similar stance and says that the static IP-addresses they offer are less likely to be blocked. “We work tirelessly to ensure our customers have access to the entire internet. If we find that our IP addresses start to become blocked we’ll migrate to new IPs as needed. We also offer the option of static IPs which eliminates the problem entirely,” SlickVPN’s Greg Lyda says. Mullvad is one of the VPN services that’s already blocked by Netflix. The company doesn’t understand why companies such as Netflix have to make it impossible for people to pay for their services. “Why do some companies insist on making it difficult or impossible to buy their products? Why does a company resort to blocking people from literally paying them?” Mullvad’s Fredrik tells TF. “Seriously, this world would be a much better place if services like ours didn’t have to exist – Not for censorship, not for mass surveillance, and not for geographic restrictions. I love what I’m doing, but I’m even more looking forward to the day when Mullvad goes bankrupt from obsoletion,” he adds. Andrew Lee, Digital Rights Activist at Private Internet Access, notes that their users are not experiencing any problems yet. However, he adds Netflix’s planned crackdown is clearly violating Net Neutrality. “By blocking PIA and other VPN customers, it would be a very loud and clear message heard across the world: Netflix does not believe in net neutrality and will even go to lengths to block access to their service from privacy minded customers who live in the U.S,” Lee notes. “Netflix is a for-pay credit card service that requires a billing address. There is no reason to ban a VPN unless the billing data is fraudulent,” Lee adds. The last issue is also referenced by GoldenFrog President Sunday Yokubaitis, who operates VyprVPN. If Netflix knows where people live they can simply always show the same content library everywhere, which new European regulation also requires. “As a Netflix customer, I know that they collect my billing information, including my mailing address and country. Why doesn’t Netflix use the customer billing information to display the correct content to users?” Yokubaitis asks. This option would also eliminate the need to do any VPN blocking whatsoever. The only change would be that Netflix has to put more effort into verifying people’s addresses. While most providers are planning to counter Netflix’s blocking efforts, not all are. IVPN informed TorrentFreak that their focus lies on privacy and that enabling customers to watch Netflix has never been a priority. The company does point out that VPNs in part contributed to Netflix’s success, which makes the recent crackdown changes even more bitter. “Netflix has clearly benefited from VPN service providers for many years. This has helped facilitate the rapid expansion of Netflix’s worldwide customer base whilst at the same time complying with the ‘letter’ if not the ‘spirit’ of their content providers’ restrictions,” IVPN’s Nick says. “In reality Netflix has become a victim of its own success. Netflix’s content providers now wish to curtail the provision of material to markets that are not licensed by Netflix and their content providers,” he adds. At this point it’s unclear how Netflix plans to block VPNs and proxies and what precautions Netflix will take to ensure that legitimate users are not hindered. However, someone from the U.S. who wants to use a Canadian server to connect to the Internet is likely to be blocked, so with millions of VPN users around the world there will be plenty of collateral damage. Article source
  25. For those utilizing VPNs, proxies and unblocking tools to access geo-restricted content on Netflix, the party may soon be over. According to an announcement by the company's Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture, people using such services will face new roadblocks in the coming weeks. While increasing numbers of people are becoming tuned in to the joys of Netflix, growing numbers of subscribers are discovering a whole new world of content beyond what the service offers them as standard. Netflix serves healthy libraries of content to many regions, but users in countries such as the United States get access to far more content than those located elsewhere. Likewise, not all European countries are served equally, with citizens of Italy falling short on content offered in the UK, for example. As a result more and more customers of Netflix are bypassing restrictions designed to limit subscribers to content designated to their home countries. This is usually achieved by using a generic VPN or proxy service but some companies offer dedicated products to unlock Netflix on a global basis. Even though Netflix admits it takes measures to try and limit the use of its service in this manner, the situation has traditionally seemed of minor interest to the company. However, in recent months Netflix has addressed the issue several times in the media and today has given the clearest sign yet that a crackdown is imminent. In a post to Netflix’s blog today, Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture David Fullagar said that while the company would continue to break down borders in order to offer content to the broadest possible audience, measures will be taken to ensure that content licensing agreements are respected. That means that circumvention devices – VPNs, proxies and similar tools – will fall further under the company’s spotlight. “Some members use proxies or ‘unblockers’ to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do,” Fullagar says. “This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.” A Netflix error several VPN users already see (U.S. server) The news will come as a blow to those enjoying the best possible Netflix experience, especially those in countries where the local library is limited compared to that of the United States, for example. However, blocking so-called ‘proxy pirates’ might be more easily said than done. Only this week Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt told the Globe and Mail that while the company uses “industry standard technologies to limit the use of proxies”, it’s effectively a game of cat and mouse. “Since the goal of the proxy guys is to hide the source it’s not obvious how to make that work well. It’s likely to always be a cat-and-mouse game,” he said. “We continue to rely on blacklists of VPN exit points maintained by companies that make it their job. Once [VPN providers] are on the blacklist, it’s trivial for them to move to a new IP address and evade.” Of course, many proxy and VPN providers have customers that only buy their services for the unblocking abilities they provide, so there is a serious commercial interest for these companies to spend time outwitting Netflix. Only time will tell whether they will be able to do so long term, but history suggests it won’t be an easily won battle for the video service. In the meantime collateral damage is also a possibility if Netflix block the wrong people, but the company feels that won’t happen. “We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies,” Fullagar concludes. Note: While VPNs were not mentioned in the announcement, Netflix confirmed to TorrentFreak that these services will be targeted as well. Source: TorrentFreak