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Watch BBC iPlayer in China: 3 Working Solutions to Access and Unblock the Service

BBC content is popular far outside of the UK, thanks to the combination of beautiful nature documentaries, cute cooking shows, and fun scifi that the channel offers. Some shows, like Doctor Who, Sherlock, or Great British Bake Off, have become such smash hits that people from all around the globe regularly tune in to watch. Meanwhile, people in Britain can benefit from the BBC iPlayer website, which offers the ability to stream any of the content that is shown on the BBC TV channels, on demand, and for free.

However, the BBC iPlayer website only works to show videos when you access it from within the UK. If you try to use the iPlayer website from another country, such as China, then you’ll get an error message: “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues”. As such, you can’t usually watch any of the videos from China. However, there is a way to get around this problem and to use the site freely, by using a VPN. Read on for more information and to learn how to watch BBC iPlayer in China.

Why iPlayer Doesn’t Work In China

There are a couple of reasons that iPlayer doesn’t work in China. The first reason is that the site is region locked, meaning that the content is only accessible to users from within the UK. The site determines your location by examining your IP address, which is a string of numbers that is assigned to you whenever you connect your device to a network. This IP address contains information about your location, as certain ranges of numbers are assigned to be IP addresses for particular countries. Therefore, a website can look at your IP address and know which country you are browsing from.

With the BBC iPlayer site, if you are visiting from the UK then the site will show you any of the video content and let you stream it. But if you access the site with an IP address that is not from the UK, then you will only be able to listen to radio content and not to watch any of the videos.

The second problem with accessing BBC iPlayer from China is the general censorship of the internet, dubbed the “Great Firewall of China“, which severely restricts what sites can be visited and what content can be viewed from within the country. Bypassing these restrictions can prove to be an unsurmountable challenge without the right tools.

Use A VPN To Watch BBC iPlayer In China

Fortunately, there is a solution for both of these problems which allows users in China to watch videos on BBC iPlayer, and that is to use a VPN. A VPN works by installing a small piece of software onto your device which encrypts all of the data that your device sends over the internet. The encrypted data is sent on to a server owned by your VPN provider, where it is then decrypted and sent onward to its final destination. The advantage of this is that you can get around both region locks and censorship by routing your internet traffic via another country.

In the example of the BBC iPlayer, you would choose to connect to a VPN server that is located in the UK. Then, when your data is sent to the UK server, it will be assigned a UK IP address which masks your real IP address from China. Therefore, when you visit the iPlayer site then it appears as if you are browsing from the UK instead of from China, and the site lets you access any video content that you want. Not all VPNs will work with the iPlayer site, as recently the BBC has cracked down on VPN use and has started using VPN blocking software to discourage people from accessing the site from abroad. But there are still some VPNs that work with iPlayer, like the ones that we have listed below.

Secondly, using a VPN will also enable you to bypass censorship. Because the data you send out gets wrapped in a layer of encryption, it can get past any blocks that exist on the ISP level. What’s more, when that encryption occurs in a proxy server located in another country, your data stream gets labeled with the respective IP address of that country, fooling websites into serving you content that would normally be blocked in your country. Once again, not all VPNs can accomplish this as well in China as in other countries, but the best of the few services that do work there have been recommended below.

Further Security-Related Reasons To Use A VPN

Not only does a VPN allow you to get around regional restrictions and censorship, there are also further security advantages to the technology. One such advantage is the improved privacy, as the encryption makes it impossible for your ISP or the government to track your internet use. Normally, the time that you spend online and the sites that you visit are clearly visible to your ISP, and this information can be obtained by the government if they force the ISP to hand over the data. But with a VPN, the encryption prevents anyone from being able to see what you do online.

This privacy benefit is particularly important if you like to participate in file sharing like the use of torrents, as this activity is very obvious to ISPs, who are usually glad to give your usage data over to copyright holders. You could then face fines or even prosecution for sharing files. Using a VPN keeps you safe when you download as the encryption hides your activities from others.

A VPN can also help to beef up your security and to keep you safe from threats like honeypot free wifi networks which steal your passwords and data, phishing and vishing attacks which can be based on your location, or identity theft from people intercepting your data.

Our Recommended VPN Providers To Watch BBC iPlayer From China

You can see all of the benefits of using a VPN, including the ability to watch BBC iPlayer in China. Now you just need to select a VPN provider and you can start watching unblocked content. But how should you select a VPN provider? You might at first be tempted to use a free VPN to save money, but this is not recommended as free VPN companies have a history of behaving unethically, for example by selling their user data to other companies or by selling off access to users’ devices. Instead of these dubious free VPN services, you should choose a reputable paid VPN that meets the following criteria:

  1. Servers available in the UK so that you can access UK-only content like BBC iPlayer. The VPN also needs to work with iPlayer, which not all VPNs do. Further, it is handy to have lots of servers available in different countries so that you can get around other region locks too.
  2. Excellent security to keep your data safe and private and out of the hands of third parties. You should look for security features like the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy.
  3. Fast connection speeds so that you can stream video content in high definition without having to put up with buffering or lag caused by slow VPN connections.
  4. Easy to use software that is available for all of the different devices that you use, so that you can protect all of your devices using just one VPN subscription.

Looking at all of these factors, we came up with the following recommendations for a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer from China:

1. ExpressVPN – Simple And Effective

ExpressVPN is effective in China, where its powerful encryption methods can bypass censorship with ease. What’s more, it works beautifully with iPlayer owing to its super-fast speeds, so you can use it to watch BBC content to your heart’s content. You might think that such a service would be difficult to use, but you’d be wrong! With just a single click of a button, your internet connection will be completely shielded from prying eyes, restrictive network algorithms, or any other third party.

ExpressVPN maintains a massive network of proxy servers numbering more than 2000 nodes across 94 countries, many of which are in the UK. You can always rest easy knowing that your data stream is masked behind 256-bit AES encryption, while ExpressVPN itself will never rat you out thanks to their no-logging guarantee. In addition, there are further security options you can choose to enable, like DNS leak protection, an IP address checker, and a kill switch.

Plus, the software can be installed on a massive range of devices: Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, plus some games consoles and smart TVs, and there are also browser extensions available for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers.

Read our full ExpressVPN review here.

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2. NordVPN – Extra Strong Security

NordVPN is a VPN with tons of advanced options like speciality servers and extra security software. The basic network of servers covers an impressive 3500 servers in 60 countries, which does indeed include a multitude of servers in the UK. The service works well with iPlayer so you can watch your BBC shows with no problem. And there’s a feature which is particularly useful for users in China: the option to use obfuscated servers. This means that the fact you are using a VPN is hidden from the network that you connect to, so you can use your VPN even on networks with the VPN blocking that you often find in China. This makes NordVPN one of the uncontested best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer from China.

NordVPN also offers unique speciality servers, which are optimised for tasks like torrent use, or which can assign dedicated IP address. There is even an option to use double VPN servers in which your data is encrypted twice over to make it essentially uncrackable. And rounding out the package are servers dedicated to DDoS protection or onion over VPN.

The connections are plenty fast enough for streaming HD video, and the software has an attractive map interface which makes it easy to find and connect to the server that you need. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, or Windows Phone.

Read our full NordVPN review here.

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3. PrivateVPN – Balanced VPN Protection

PrivateVPN is a VPN that you can use not only for BBC iPlayer, but also for other streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Most providers don’t work with these streaming services due to the VPN blocking methods in place, but PrivateVPN does with ease. What’s more, it also works in China to unblock sites and get around censorship, netting you all of the ingredients that you need to watch iPlayer from China.

The total number of servers available is smaller than other providers, with 80 servers in total, but these servers cover 56 countries, so you will still have plenty of options. These servers are all optimised to offer blazing fast connection speeds across the entire network–some of the fastest we’ve seen in fact! This makes it an ideal VPN if you want to stream lots of high definition video or to download large files.

The software is very simple to use and can be installed on devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire Stick, or it can be installed as a browser extension for Chrome.

Read our full PrivateVPN review here.

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Accessing videos on the BBC iPlayer website from China is a challenge due to two issues: firstly, the region locking on the BBC website which ensures that the content is only available to watch from within the UK, and the censorship and blocks that are applied to the internet in China. But you can use a VPN to overcome both of these problems by encrypting your data and sending it via a server in the UK.

You need to be careful when selecting a VPN though, as not all VPNs work with iPlayer and work in China. We’ve recommended several VPNs that meet both of these requirements and which you can use to watch iPlayer from China.

Do you watch iPlayer in China? Which VPN do you use, and what has your experience with it been like? Let us know in the comments below.

Read Watch BBC iPlayer in China: 3 Working Solutions to Access and Unblock the Service by Georgina Jones on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Control Video Playback Speed On Any Website In Chrome

You can speed up, or slow down video playback on YouTube. Video playback speed controls aren’t a standard feature on media players. Only the most feature-rich media players, like VLC player, let you control video playback speed. With the feature this rare on desktop media players, it’s bound to be uncommon on the web. Outside of YouTube, websites that let users upload, and watch videos don’t commonly have a speed control feature. If you use Chrome, the Video Speed Controller – With Hotkeys extension can add video playback speed controls to any website.

Video Playback Speed

Download the Video Speed Controller extension and visit a website that lets you play a video e.g., Facebook. The extension will add a speedometer icon next to the URL bar. Play a video and click the extension’s button. It has three different speeds; 0.5x Speed which will reduce the speed by half, 1.5x which will speed it up by half, and 2x which will play it back at twice the speed.

The extension also supports keyboard shortcuts that you can use to speed up, or slow down the video’s playback speed. The shortcuts all use the arrow keys on your keyboard and most keyboards have these keys. If you have a smaller keyboard, you might be missing these keys and there’s no option to edit/change them.

If your internet connection isn’t the most reliable, and you’re watching a video in HD or in any resolution that isn’t SD, playing it at a faster speed may result in choppy playback. This doesn’t have to do with the extension. The extension can only speed up video playback, it can’t make the video load faster. If the video is choppy when you play it, allow it buffer completely and then play it.

You can change the playback speed any time i.e., if you’re watching a video at 2x speed, you can return to the normal speed from the extension’s menu, or by using the Shift + Down Arrow key. The extension does not remember the playback speed for a domain. If you watch a video on Facebook at twice the speed, and watch a different one later it will play at its normal speed. Not even YouTube remembers playback speeds.

The extension is great if you watch videos on Facebook which can, at times, have long, unnecessary intros. Facebook isn’t home to the same type of videos as YouTube i.e. tutorials where you just want to get to the point but that doesn’t mean they’re worth watching from start to finish. A lot of them are just click bait.

Read How To Control Video Playback Speed On Any Website In Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

7 Best Port Scanning Software Tools: Both Local And Cloud-Based Solutions

One of the most basic elements of home security is keeping your doors locked. The same is true of computer security. Network ports are the computer equivalent of house doors. And just like doors, you have to keep unused ports closed. But with computers today running several simultaneous processes, it can be hard to keep track of everything. This is especially true with servers which typically have multiple services running. But it is not limited to servers. Any network-connected equipment could become a target for ill-intentioned people if it is left vulnerable. To make sure all unessential ports are closed, a port scanner is an invaluable tool and we’re glad to present this list of the best port scanning software tools.

Today, our exploration will begin with some background information on port scanning, what it is and why it’s needed. We’ll then talk about different types of ports that should not be confused as it seems that the word “port” is quite popular with computer engineers and several different things go by that name. Then, we’ll present our list of the top five best local port scanners. This will be followed by a few samples of cloud-based port scanners, another type of tool.

The Need For Port Scanning

Think of a house with no internal doors. There are several rooms, each with an exterior door only. If you want to go into the kitchen, you need to enter the house through the kitchen door. If you want to go into the living room, you must enter through the living room door. Typical computers are like that. They run multiple services each with its own door. Those doors are called network or IP ports. Each service running on a computer uses a different port. Some of them are standardized. For instance, port 80 is typically used for HTTP traffic, while port 20 is used for FTP or port 53 for DNS.

Every data packet that is transmitted on a network has both a destination port and a source port. The destination port will let the destination computer know to which service the data should be sent. As for the source port, the destination computer will use it as the source port for its response so that the source computer knows where to send the response when it receives it.

A typical computer can have several ports open–if not several dozens. This is especially true with servers which will typically have ports open for each service they run, even though some of these services might not be used or required. And each of these open ports is an entry point that malicious users or processes can use to gain access to a computer. Consequently, it is important that no unnecessary port remains open.

But it’s not always easy to know exactly which ports are open on a computer. Some of them are open by default with no human intervention. Some viruses could also open ports without your knowledge, allowing some unauthorized access. The best way to ensure that only required ports are open is to scan your servers and other network-attached equipment with a port scanner.

A port scanner is a software tool that will relentlessly try to connect to a computer using every possible port and report on which ones are open, closed, and stealth. A closed port will return a response that the port is closed while a stealth one won’t even respond.

Network Ports, Switch Ports, Computer Ports — Different Things That Go By The Same Name

Computer engineers seem to lack imagination. Consequently, several things in the world of computers are referred to as ports. As you know, there are IP or network ports. Those we’ve just discussed. These are the ports that the port scanning tools we’re about to present will find.

There are also switch ports, a completely different thing. Switch ports refer to the physical interfaces on network switches. There are tools that will monitor switch ports. They are a completely different type of tool and you should not get them mixed up.

A port is also the name we use for several types of interfaces on a computer. A typical computer will have USB ports, serial ports, VGA ports or HDMI ports. Older computers used to have joystick ports and printer ports. Again, these have nothing to do with network or IP ports.

Top Local Port Scanners

The first type of port scanners we’re looking at is local port scanners. Those are typically installed on a computer connected to your network and they will scan one or many IP addresses to find what network ports are open on each device. Once you run the tool and get its report, your next step is to validate that only required ports are open on each computer and to close unnecessary ones.

1. SolarWinds Port Scanner (FREE DOWNLOAD)

SolarWinds publishes some of the best network and system administration tools. It’s also famous for making useful free software to help administrators accomplish some of their tasks. Some of these were reviewed recently when we discussed the best free SCP servers or the best free TFTP servers. Today, we’re presenting another of SolarWinds’ free tools, the SolarWinds Port Scanner.

The SolarWinds Port Scanner can be used to generate a list of open, closed, and stealth ports for each scanned IP address. You can scan all IP addresses or if you prefer, a subset of them. For instance, you could decide to only scan those IP addresses used by your servers. By default, the tool will only detect well-known ports–those used by most vulnerable services–but it can be overridden to scan a custom range of port numbers or even all ports. Advanced settings allow you to be even more specific and, for instance, scan only TCP or UDP ports. Other options include the possibility to do a ping check of each discovered host, do a reverse DNS resolution to find its hostname or try to identify the OS it is running,

SolarWinds Port Scanner Screenshot

Scanning a large number of ports on a large number of devices can take some time. Even more so when there are many stealth ports as the tool has to wait for its request to time out before concluding the port is stealth, which could take a few seconds each. To mitigate this, the SolarWinds Port Scanner uses multithreading and will scan several ports and/or IP addresses in parallel.

Once the scan is complete, the tool returns the status of all tested devices in a list. If you’ve tested lots of IP addresses, this can be a pretty long list. But the software lets you apply filters. You could, for instance, only list devices with open ports. From that list, a click on a device will reveal details about the ports on the devices. Just like the list of IP addresses, this one can be filtered to, for example, only display open ports.


2. Nmap/Zenmap

Nmap–which stands for Network Mapper–is a port scanner originally written by Gordon Lyon–aka Fyodor–that you can use to discover hosts and services on a computer network. To accomplish its magic, Nmap sends specially crafted packets to the target and analyzes their response. The tool was first published in late 1997 and has since become THE standard command-line port scanner. Originally only available on Linux, it has since been ported to several other operating systems, including Windows and OS X.

Nmap Demo Scan

Nmap can be used to audit which network connections can be made to a device. It can also be used–to a certain extent–for network inventory, network mapping, and asset management. It is an excellent tool to use for finding–and exploiting–vulnerabilities in a network.

Nmap is a command-line utility and, as such, using it is not necessarily user-friendly and can even be cumbersome. Several GUI front-ends have been developed for Nmap, the best of them being Zenmap, also available from nmap.org. Zenmap’s user interface might not be the most sophisticated but it does a great job of making Nmap more usable.

Zenmap GUI Screenshot

This tool can scan all ports of all computers on your network and perform several tests on the discovered ports. You can easily limit your scan to either TCP or UDP ports. A nice feature is its “intense” scan that uses a stealth method so that the testing is usually not even logged by the tested device.

3. PortScan & Stuff

PortScan & Stuff is a free portable network scanning tool for Windows. Portable means it does not require any installation and using it is just a matter of copying it to the computer and running it. This tool will find all active devices on your network and show all open ports. It can also find additional information such as hostname or MAC address. This tool is multithreaded to improve performance when scanning larger networks. It will use up to 100 concurrent threads.

PortScan and Stuff Screenshot

One great feature of this tool is its scanning filter. It allows one to narrow down the scanning to specific criteria such as a port number. For example, if I was to enter 3389, the port used for incoming remote desktop connections, the tool would only test for that port and, therefore, only return computers with the remote desktop port open. This is a port that you probably should not leave open unless you need it. It could provide dangerous access to an ill-intentioned individual.

PortScan & Stuff can do more than just scanning ports. It’s also got a built-in advanced ping and traceroute utilities. Its ping, for instance, can ping a computer with 3 standard-sized packets, with 3 different-sized ones, ping the computer 10 times, or ping it continuously. The results are presented on a graph that shows the distribution of response times. Furthermore, this tool can also perform DNS and Whois queries.

4. Angry IP Scanner

Next on our list is the Angry IP scanner. This is a simple tool but don’t let its simplicity fool you. It is an excellent tool and it is one of the fastest due to its use of multithreading. Scanning multiple ports–sometimes thousands–on multiple IP addresses is a long, very long process, You want to use a fast tool and this is one.

The Angry IP Scanner is a multiplatform tool available for Windows, OS X and Linux. It is written in Java so it will require the Java runtime to operate. The tool has an easy to use GUI and it will detect open, closed, and stealth ports. It will also resolve hostnames and MAC addresses to vendor names, a feature that can be useful in some specific situations. The tool also provides NetBIOS and other information about the scanned hosts.

Angry IP Scanner Screenshot

This software can scan whole networks and subnets, IP addresses ranges or a list of IP addresses from a text file. And while it is GUI-based, a command-line version also comes with it for better scriptability. Scanning results are displayed in a tabular format and can be exported to several different file types including CSV and XML.

Andry IP Scanner is free and open-source that can be downloaded directly from  Angry IP’s website. And as with other open-source tools, the full source code is available should you want to improve it.

5. MiTeC Network Scanner

Last but certainly not least is the MiTeC Network Scanner. This is another tool with some great functionality. It is, of course, a port scanner or it wouldn’t be on our list but it will also do ICMP, NetBIOS, ActiveDirectory and SNMP scans. It is also packed with advanced features. And despite being a rather advanced tool, it was made with both seasoned administrators and general users in mind. Anyone who’s interested in computer security should find a use for this scanner.

MiTeC Network Scanner Screenshot

This tool will perform ping sweeps. It will also–obviously–scans for open TCP and UDP ports. And it will scan for resource shares and services. If the scanned devices are SNMP-enabled–network switches often are, for example–the MiTeC Network Scanner will detect and list their interfaces and basic SNMP properties, provided you supply the tool with the correct community string. The scan results are presented in a table on the tool’s graphical user interface. They can also be exported to a CSV file to be analyzed with some other tool.

The MiTeC Network Scanner will run on any Windows version from Windows XP to Windows Server 2016 and is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Online Port Scanners

Online ports scanners, while doing the same basic thing as local ones, are different tools which serve a similar but different purpose. These are tools that are cloud-based and are run from a remote location, effectively testing what ports are open to your servers from the Internet. They are often simpler tools where you just enter your server’s Fully Qualified Domain Name–such as www.test.net–or public IP address and get a list of what ports are open. They are very useful in protecting your servers from malicious Internet users. Any unnecessary open port discovered by these tools should immediately be closed. Remember that hackers can use those tools as easily as you to find vulnerabilities in your systems.

There are countless online port scanners available and they all pretty much offer the same basic functionality. The list below is not a best-of list–although they are all excellent products–but rather a couple of samples of what’s available. Many more cloud-based port scanners that are just as good as those exist.

1. Pentest-Tools.com’s TCP Port Scan

Pentest-Tools.com TCP Port Scan

Pentest-Tools.com is a website that offers lots of security-centric tests. Its TCP port scan tool requires that you enter an IP address, address range, or hostname, select a few options and launch it.  You can choose to scan the 100 most common ports, a range of ports, or a comma-separated list of individual ports. The tool, which requires you to check a box confirming that you are authorized to scan that host, will return a list of all open port numbers along with the service name, the software running the service and the version number of the software, when available.

2. IPFingerPrints’ Open Port Checker & Scanner

IPFingerPrints Open Port Checker and Scanner

The Open Port Checker & Scanner from IPFingerPrints is a basic yet very complete tool. It can work in two modes: Normal and Advance. In Normal mode, you only need to specify the IP address to test and a range of ports. With the Advance mode, you can pick one of seven scan types, what type of ping–if any–to perform, and a few other options. The tool will return a list of open ports at the specified IP address. Only open and closed ports are shown in the results list. This is a basic tool but it does its job very well and relatively fast.

Wrap Up

Don’t let your equipment be the target of malicious users. Scan your network for open ports using any of the tools reviewed here. But don’t forget that scanning is just the first step in securing your equipment. You also need to make sure that only ports which are absolutely necessary remain open. Even ports that are used infrequently should be closed and only open when they are needed.

Read 7 Best Port Scanning Software Tools: Both Local And Cloud-Based Solutions by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter