VPN & SSH Tunneling for accessing blocked sites – Facebook, Twitter in China

I just got back from Shanghai and if you have noticed, I was updating my twitter, FB, FB page while I was in China. If you don’t already know, China has banned Facebook so it is technically not possible to access it withing China. I found out later that Twitter was blocked as well. Luckily Instagram wasn’t so I was still able to access it on my iPhone. And my Instagram is linked to my personal Facebook so I could still update pictures VIA INSTAGRAM but unfortunately my twitter and FB Page wasn’t linked!

Long story short, I can update Instagram and my personal FB via Instagram but not my twitter and FA page as I would need to activate the Twitter and FB Page app. And, I can’t reply to FB comments since I can’t access FB app on my iPhone!

Before I left KL, I did some background checks on VPNs and how it works so I can find a way around the Facebook ban. And coincidentally, a representative from www.12Hide.com site actually emailed me if I’m interested to try their service.
Fabulous! Just in time for my Shanghai trip too! 🙂

VPN - 12hide - SSH tunneling - china


Setting it up was a piece of cake. The available services are available for download from their site. However it is payable, but a marginally amount really.

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After running the .exe file, just start the application.

VPN - 12hide - SSH tunneling

I was emailed a simple but detailed set of instructions in PDF with screenshots so it was easy to set it up remotely.
Once the application pops up, key in your user ID and password (provided in an email after your sign-up and payment is successful) and hit Enter. The password will not appear as you key-in so don’t be alarmed. Just hit Enter once you’re done. When you see the message “Last login… “, it means you’re logged in successfully.

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Done with the 12Hide app (you can see the active window on your taskbar – per red circle below), it’s time to configure your browser. For this service, Firefox is the default browser. Just start your Firefox and change the network settings as below.

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Under settings, select Manual proxy configurations. As per the red circles below, key-in the necessary details as provided by 12Hide. Do note that mine is specially configured for my China trip so yours may be something entirely different. However, the set-up procedures remains the same; just a change in the host and port value may apply.

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Once done, click OK.

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One last step is (and this is very important)  to enter “about:config”page in Firefox search bar. Hit Enter and search for “network.proxy.socks_remote_dns” entry and set to True.

Then proceed to access the sites that may be blocked, which for my case is Facebook, Twitter and Hootsuite.

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One way I used to check was to check my IP address through whatismyipaddress.com. As long as it shows another country (preferably US) other than China, I would be able to access Facebook and other sites banned in China. As you can see, I can access it during my Shanghai trip, night after night.

20th Feb 2013.

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21st Feb 2013.

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22nd February 2013.

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So there! That was how I could access FB and Twitter in China but that only applies for my laptop. I still can’t access it via my iPhone so I was only replying FB comments late at night once I’m back in my room with my laptop connected to the hotel WIFI.

12Hide.com representative had informed me that both iPhones and Androids devices are able to use their VPN services but for iPhones, it has to be jailbroken, which wasn’t a good idea for me since my iPhone 5 is barely 2 months old. Well, I was still able to update my FB va Instagram so it wasn’t too bad.
Now that I’m back from Shanghai, I’ll be continuing the VPN services for other reasons than just accessing banned sites; namely the reasons as below. I bet you didn’t know all that do you? 🙂

* You want to hide your IP address so you can protect your identity and location.
* You want to use a service or application that is geographically restricted by IP address.
* You wish to encrypt your VoIP traffic.
* You live in, or are visiting, a country that engages in Internet censorship or monitoring of content.
* You live in, or are visiting, a country that blocks Skype, Facebook, Twitter, or other Internet services.
* You use the Internet at hotels or other shared hospitality or public networks.
* You use Wi-Fi Hotspots.
* You don’t want search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, AOL, and Bing recording and storing every Internet search you perform…..potentially forever.
* You don’t want your Internet Service Provider, or owner of a network you’re connecting through, to log, monitor, and/or control what you do online.

But of course, for entertainment, I’ll be able to access and watch movies online from blocked sites in Malaysia such as abc.com, hulu.com and Netflix.

Not bad for USD5.99 a month yes? See the list of services from 12.Hide.com here –> http://12hide.com/services.html

Category : Technology