There are many reasons you may be blocked from accessing a specific website. Government censorship is a big one. Countries like North Korea, Burma, Cuba, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkmenistan rank among the most prohibitive Internet censorship countries.
Repressive regimes are terrified that their people will rise up against them. So, they censor freedom of speech, access to information, and social media platforms. If you happen to live in a country that enforces strict censorship of news, opinion, and social media platforms, you have options.
Much the same is true of websites that are geographically blocked. In Internet parlance, this is known as geo-blocking – it’s a sophisticated technology that limits access to a website by specific geographic coordinates. Many of us have heard of triangulation techniques for determining an individual’s location.
Still, geo-blocked websites go a step further with ISP addresses, the location of your cell phone as signals are relayed between the smartphone and the cell tower, and your physical address (utility bill, ID document, etcetera).
It all seems like it’s pretty ironclad. No workarounds? Well, there are ways to overcome these obstacles. Today, we will discuss some of the readily available resources you can use to access the inaccessible; to boldly go where few others have ventured.
Internet freedom is a concept that many people don’t enjoy. We think we do, but it harkens back to the famous words of South African apartheid struggle hero, Sipho Sepamla, who was famously quoted as saying, ”We are free to roam within prescribed boundaries”.
We will be discussing several powerful tools to help you bypass website and government constraints. They include the onion router, VPNs, proxy websites, modified settings on your browser to unblock websites, using IP instead of the URL of the website, custom DNS settings, and Google Translate. For example, with Google Translate, you can bypass a restricted site by accessing it on another country’s domain in a different language and then translating it to read it.
The Onion Router
Tor is free software that you can download and install on your computer. It will allow you to access websites that are otherwise blocked by government censors or geo-restrictions. The software works by encrypting your traffic and routing it through several different servers before sending it to the website you’re trying to access. As a result, Tor makes it very difficult for anyone to track your activity or block your traffic.
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It’s a service that you can use to encrypt your traffic and route it through a server in another country. VPNs allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and government censorship. There are plenty of different VPN services available, but the best VPN for Android is Surfshark because it’s one of the fastest and most reliable options.
A proxy website is a website that acts as an intermediary between you and the website you’re trying to access. When you use a proxy website, all of your traffic is routed through the proxy server before it’s sent to the website you’re trying to access. As a result, proxy websites make it very difficult for anyone to track your activity or block your traffic.
Modified Settings on Your Browser
Some browsers have built-in features that allow you to bypass restrictions imposed by governments or websites. For example, the Tor Browser includes a “Tor Bridge” feature that will enable you to connect to the Tor network even if your ISP is blocking it. Similarly, the Opera browser includes an “Opera Turbo” feature that compresses web pages, loading faster over slow connections.
IP Instead of URL
Sometimes, all you need to do is type in the IP address of the website instead of the URL. To find out the IP address of a website, type “ping www.” into Google, followed by the website’s URL (without quotation marks). For example, if I wanted to find out the IP address of www.google.com, I would type “ping www.google.com” into Google and hit enter:
- Pinging google-public-DNS-a. google user content .com [188.8.131.52] with 32 bytes of data:
- Reply from 184.108.40.206: bytes=32 time=35ms TTL=54
- Ping statistics for 74.125.200 .138: Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0 % loss)
- Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds: Minimum = 28ms, Maximum = 38ms, Average = 33ms
You can see from this example that www.220.127.116.11 is actually the IP address for www.” ” google”-public-” DNS” ” -a.” ” google user content ” “.com. Fancy that!
So, if I wanted to access Google without using www.” ” google”-public-“DNS” -a.” ” google user content” “.com as my URL, and I could type 18.104.22.168 into my browser’s address bar instead and hit enter:
Custom DNS Settings
DNS stands for Domain Name System – it’s what converts human-readable addresses like www.Facebook.com into machine-readable IP addresses like 22.214.171.124.
Usually, when you visit a website, your ISP will automatically assign DNS servers for you based on their availability and location relative to yours (which is why sometimes certain websites load faster than others). However, anyone can use public DNS servers – these are usually provided by major companies like Google (126.96.36.199) or Cloudflare (188.8.131.52).
There are different computer specs for Windows and Mac. However, using public DNS servers can improve both speed and security – since they’re usually well maintained and updated frequently with security patches – so we recommend using them whenever possible. To change your DNS settings, follow these instructions:
1) Open the Network and Sharing Center by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Network and Sharing Center.
2) In the left pane, click Change adapter settings.
3) Right-click the network connection you want to modify, and then click Properties. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
4) Select the networking protocol you want to configure from the list of items, and then double-click it.
5) Click the Networking tab.
6) Under “This connection uses the following items,” click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and then click Properties.
7) Click Use the following DNS server addresses
8) In Preferred DNS server, type 184.108.40.206
9) In the Alternate DNS server, type 220.127.116.11
10) Click OK two times to apply the changes.
1) Open System Preferences
2) Click on Network
3) Select the active Connection on your computer from the left side menu
4) Click Advanced
5) Go to the DNS tab
6) Click + to add a new DNS Server
7) Type in 18.104.22.168 for IPv4 or 2001: 4860: 4860 8888 for IPv6
8) Repeat this process for as many public DNS servers as you want to use
9) Click Apply when finished
Google Translate is a free online language translation service that can translate text from one language into another. Of course, it’s not perfect, but it’s usually good enough for most purposes. And best of all, we can use it to bypass restrictions imposed by governments or websites! To use Google Translate as a proxy, follow these instructions:
1) Go to translate.google.com
2) Type in the URL of the website you want to visit in one language
3) Select another language from the drop-down menu
4) Click Translate
5) The translated page will appear in your chosen language – scroll down to read it!
How about these inventive ways to get around the restrictive practices of IP blocking by businesses and governments! Always stay safe online, folks. You’re far better off under the shroud of anonymity. Use TOR and VPNs to obfuscate your actual IP whenever surfing the web. That way, your ID remains anonymous.