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So can we no longer access Namepros if we use a VPN?

Located in Frequently Asked Questions started by lennco, Apr 24, 2019.

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  1. lennco

    lennco Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Since yesterday I cant access NPs if I am using my VPN.
    I have been using a VPN for 5 years now and in order for me to use NPs I have to turn it off.

    Why is this?

    I am on many sites during the day, not just NPs so I do not want to turn my vpn off. I did so just to make this post but I cant keep doing this.

    Is anyone else having this issue?

    Thanks
     
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  2. alcy

    alcy Top Member VIP

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    isn't this how np determines spam scam duplicate accounts etc?
     
  3. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    You might need a different VPN.

    Try Anonymize.com VPN:

    https://anonymize.com/vpn/

    There is a free option.

    We can likely get the IPs whitelisted if you are having any issues.
     
  4. lennco

    lennco Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I have been using my current vpn for 4 years and have never had a problem before yesterday.
    I have tried many of their IPs since yesterday and I still get blocked when trying to use NPs.
     
  5. xynames

    xynames XYNames.com PRO VIP

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    I have never been able to post while logged in with a VPN. I use a VPN sometimes and forget to turn it off when on the NP site.

    But...funny...I was just able to post this now, while logged in with a VPN.
     
  6. zeev yagorov

    zeev yagorov Restricted

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    there are 2 users i dont expose them which i reported to the moder.......which behind abridge vpn almost impossible uncover...someone opened 2 accounts under my area...

    very easy
     
  7. legendarynames

    legendarynames Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    The VPN restriction is extremely annoying and disruptive. At a minimum, I'd expect upgraded and VIP members to be able to use whatever VPN they want.
     
  8. Eric Lyon

    Eric Lyon Member Services, NamePros Super Moderator PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Contest Holder

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    The tech team is always making updates to help block spam and fraud on NamePros. NamePros hasn’t allowed VPN’s as a part of security measures for many years now, but there are a lot of VPN’s so not all are blocked and new ones are always popping up. The only time VPN’s are allowed is through special request to [email protected] and it can’t be granted if that VPN is heavily abused or used by scammers. Protection of members is the first priority.

    Here’s more info from a support template:

    To use our services, you must accept that we do not allow the use of Tor, a VPN, SOCKS, or any other proxying mechanism ("proxy") that masks your computer's identity on the Internet ("IP address") from us unless a proxy is necessary to access NamePros. If you must use a proxy, you may contact [email protected] to request permission. Learn more: Terms of Service.

    This policy is necessary to ensure the safety and integrity of our platform. It is one of the many security measures that we enforce in order to prevent scams, fraud, and spam on NamePros, which we combat daily on a large scale.

    We understand that there are legitimate reasons to use proxy mechanisms, but unfortunately, troublemakers often use them to abuse our services (e.g., shill bidding).

    Please understand that you do not need to use a VPN to connect securely to NamePros thanks to the type of SSL/TLS (Transport Layer Security) that we use. Also, VPN services are sometimes less secure because they have the ability to intercept information. For all intents and purposes, it's better to access NamePros directly.

    You may only access NamePros directly from your computer (and other devices) using your own internet connection.



    Cc: @Paul Buonopane
     
  9. legendarynames

    legendarynames Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thanks for the long explanation but it doesn't address some of the concerns and suggestions that were brought up in this thread.

    An outright ban of VPNs is disruptive to a lot of people, and the fact that it has been that way for a long time, or that it's in your TOS, doesn't make it less disruptive. I believe nobody is disputing the fact that the ban is clearly stated and we had to agree with it to use NP services.

    If shill bidding is an issue (are there others?), then why not restrict the use of VPNs only in the affected marketplace sections?

    If spammers creating new accounts are an issue, then why not restrict the use of VPNs only for new/free accounts?

    It's really beyond me how established, paying customers could cause any harm by being allowed to regular domain discussion behind a VPN. I understand some of the reasons for localized bans, but the cost/benefit of a global ban, if it exists, isn't clear to me.
     
  10. Eric Lyon

    Eric Lyon Member Services, NamePros Super Moderator PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Contest Holder

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    NamePros does most of that already. There are different levels of restriction based on how much abuse each given provider experiences/produces.

    As for paying members, yes, the risk is lower there which is one reason there is a way to request that exceptions be made after a careful review of each individual situation.

    Yes, shill bidding is only one form of fraud that blocking VPN’s helps to safeguard against. There are more than I can list to you because scammers and spammers are always thinking of new ways to manipulate people and cause harm. Another simple example is stealing money/domains in a deal. Proxying mechanisms are also used to attack websites and take them down, so for those who like being able to use NamePros despite DDoS attacks trying to make it inaccessible, that is another important benefit of the blocks in place.

    As I said, security and protection of the community is the first priority, and the majority of members will be happy with that. But it’s not possible to please everyone. ;)

    Your request for your VPN will be reviewed by the tech team and you’ll receive a response once it’s completed.

    Hope that helps,
     
  11. Paul Buonopane

    Paul Buonopane CTO, NamePros CTO VIP

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    Eric has already provided most of the details, but I just wanted to add a few clarifications:
    • We typically only restrict VPNs if we see a very high percentage of malicious activity from them.
    • Most significant public VPNs get restricted eventually.
    • We go out of our way to avoid restricting VPNs that are used primarily for censorship evasion, and we have explicit exemptions in our Terms of Service for certain classes of users.
    • We almost never deliberately restrict private (corporate) VPNs, as they are rarely a source of abuse.
    • Even when we restrict a VPN, registered users are typically still able to use them. You may be unable to register a new account or log in, but if you log in with your VPN disabled, then re-enable your VPN, you usually won't run into issues.
    • If you find that your VPN is blocked outright, it's probably time to find a more reputable provider.
    • We do occasionally permit otherwise non-exempt individual members to use a VPN. This whitelisting happens on a user-by-user basis, not a VPN-by-VPN basis. For this to happen, the user has to have their own private VPN with an IP address dedicated to them. We have never whitelisted a public VPN unless they transparently provide us with a real IP address and are unlikely to do so.
    • There are some public proxies (not so much VPNs) that are "transparent", meaning that they will provide the real IP address of a user with every request. We do whitelist a few of these, but we have to consider them big and reputable enough that we can trust they're giving us the correct IP addresses.
    Why do we do this? NamePros offers a marketplace; this makes us a target of abuse. We don't actually rely on IP addresses to detect fraud such as shill bidding, but a lot of scammers use VPNs anyway thinking we won't be able to detect them. Restricting registrations and logins from frequently-abused VPNs has proven to be a very effective deterrent. Plus, it does provide a degree of accountability.

    The largest issue we run into with this tactic--one that we fully acknowledge--is that it's inconvenient for people who prefer to use a VPN for reasons other than censorship evasion. For example, I like to use a VPN while I'm working from a particular mall because the company running the public hotspots there makes it very clear in their privacy policy that they sell records of my activity. However, I can't access NamePros from that VPN--or my bank account, or my PayPal account, or anything else involving money, because my account will get flagged. (This happens to me on a fairly regular basis: about a week ago my Apple ID was flagged, which was quite a headache to resolve.)

    However, inconvenience is a small price to pay for security, and we want you to feel safe here. Restricting VPNs has proven so effective, in fact, that I would personally be hesitant to use any marketplace that doesn't enact some kind of restriction on VPN usage.

    Naturally, technology and usage patterns evolve over time. There may come a day when these restrictions cause too many problems for legitimate users, and we're forced to take another route. However, at the moment, public VPNs are far more popular than they have ever been, yet we still see very little legitimate traffic from them. And most of the legitimate traffic we do see passes through unimpeded because most VPNs aren't outright blocked, just restricted from performing certain activities.

    Additionally, we're always looking for ways to make these restrictions less intrusive for the majority of our members. Often, you may find that restrictions are loosened over time. If we see a DDoS attack sent through a VPN, we may block it temporarily, but usually the block is replaced with a registration restriction after a few days. If your VPN is blocked long-term, then we've seen a ridiculously unacceptable amount of malicious activity from it, usually in the form of deliberate attacks, and we've had no choice but to block it.

    Please note that usage of a public VPN to access NamePros generally violates our Terms of Service, though there's at least one exception stated there. I can't go into too much detail about our fraud detection and prevention, but I can say that, statistically, using a VPN doesn't look great. When something like 95% to > 99% of the VPN usage we see is malicious (depending on the measurement method), it's probably not a category into which you want to place yourself.

    I don't know off the top of my head whether we restrict or block Anonymize at the moment, but I would caution that switching VPN providers is a short-term solution, and neither the VPN provider nor NamePros are able to guarantee that the VPN will continue to be allowed on NamePros. Furthermore, whether or not your VPN is blocked/restricted, usage of a public VPN violates our Terms of Service.

    (Edit: I ran some checks; we classify all of the datacenters you utilize as moderately high risk. Anonymize users won't be completely blocked, but they won't be able to submit content, log in, or register. I believe some of those datacenters were completely blocked until recently, but we loosened the restrictions on them a month or two ago after we saw a decrease in L7 attacks.)

    You can certainly request this by emailing me or sending me a DM, but it's unlikely we'd be able to honor it.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  12. Paul Buonopane

    Paul Buonopane CTO, NamePros CTO VIP

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    You'll likely find that different endpoints from the same VPN provider have differing levels of restrictions. Oftentimes it has more to do with the datacenters than the actual VPN providers. A single VPN provider might utilize datacenters from five different companies, and of those five, two might be notorious for shady activities--spam campaigns, DDoS attacks, various scams, etc. When this happens, connections we see from the two highly-problematic datacenters might be outright blocked or be unable to post, while connections from the others might simply be unable to register new accounts.

    If a VPN provider is allowing too much abusive activity through, oftentimes we can contact the datacenters, who will then demand that the VPN provider police their traffic better. This usually works fairly well and allows us to loosen restrictions on a given datacenter.

    I figured I'd take a look at your site to see what your VPN is like, but interestingly you block me from accessing your site. I'm connecting from AS714, no VPN.

    @Rob Monster, I figured I'd take a look at your site to see what your VPN is like, but interestingly you block me from accessing it. I'm connecting from AS714 Apple Inc., no VPN. (No, I don't work for Apple; I'm using the free Wi-Fi at an Apple store.) Do I need a VPN to use your VPN? ;)
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  13. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    The VPN is here:

    https://anonymize.com/vpn/

    The site is protected by BitMitigate.com -- you should be able to access it fine. However, it is possible that the free WiFi at an Apple Store is on a global blacklist. We block about 60,000 sources currently. Perhaps try tethering to your phone, or connecting from another location. I just produced a .OVPN file for you now if you want to try it:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1phtNWIrirw6FhbpV2jZxObDiwAxrNypY

    You can use it with any Open VPN client.
     
  14. Paul Buonopane

    Paul Buonopane CTO, NamePros CTO VIP

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    Thanks; I was able to download the OpenVPN configurations earlier via Tor. It seems a bit odd that Apple would be blocked but Tor wouldn’t.

    As far as I can tell, it wasn’t BitMitigate that was blocking me. I was able to access other services using BitMitigate without issue, including other hostnames with the same IP address. The response I received was simply a redirect to Apple.com when visiting the site, by way of an OpenDNS link. I was sent a self-signed certificate with Cisco Umbrella as the CA. OpenDNS’ blacklist is fairly mediocre, but there’s no chance they’d deliberately blacklist the entirety of Apple. The intermediary URL to which I was redirected strongly implied that the entire AS was blacklisted.

    As I said in the edit to my previous post, I confirmed from looking at the OVPN files that we’ve been largely blocking traffic from those IP addresses for a long time. They go back and forth between fully blocked and restricted to read-only every few months, depending on the types of attacks we’re seeing.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  15. tonyk2000

    tonyk2000 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    It should be noted that there are too many bad bots running from VPN ranges or hidden under TOR. Their activity is not DDOS by itself, but it hurts. Server stability, CPU, php prosesses and the like - it is always important. On my server (hosting forsale landing pages for a lot of domains), I had to block TOR and a number of evil networks / Autonomous systems totally - some of them do host various VPNs. I did not see any human arriving from such IPs - but the number of bots looking for vulnerabilities, and/or simply grabbing content, is unbeliverably high.
    I'd say that NP should block such IPs even without potential questionable human activity like shill bidding.
    Moreover, being a forum, NP needs to fight with Spam. Anybody here wants to see dozens of spammy threads posted by bots?
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  16. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    We believe the Apple store does block access to certain sites, including VPN services.

    The method we just used to get you connected of sharing a .OVPN file is also how we were able to bootstrap users in places like Venezuela and New Zealand where access to VPNs is restricted. People simply create an Anonymize.com VPN file and share it. Once they can connect via the shared VPN file, they produce their own unique .OVPN and from that moment, they are on AES-256 Quantum-resistant VPN with their own private key. Folks that use the Epik.com resilient domain service also will have unlimited free VPN service for all their users. NamePros should consider it as well. I think you will like it better than CloudFlare. We can provide that service pro bono to NamePros.
     
  17. tonyk2000

    tonyk2000 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    New Zealand restricts VPNs? Rob, do you know why? What about private corporate networks then? And, if they restrict VPN connections by ports... what prevents users from connecting to VPN servers listening on lets say https port?
    I'm just curious. Sorry if offtopic...
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  18. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Tony, in case not aware, in the wake of the Christchurch incident, NZ became highly censorious and applied aggressive tactics to block access to VPN services.
     
  19. tonyk2000

    tonyk2000 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Honestly, I did not link the Christchurch incident with VPN restrictions. What sort of world are we living in... I'd expect anything from Maduro in Venezuela, but not from New Zealand.... :(
     
  20. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Wakey-wakey. There are several free speech threads on NamePros right now. There are a few folks here who know exactly what is at stake and have reasonable clarity on the various factions that are pushing for different outcomes on the world stage.
     
  21. Paul Buonopane

    Paul Buonopane CTO, NamePros CTO VIP

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    I think you may be right. I've never had them block anything I've used before, which is why I tend to favor their network when I'm near one of their stores, so that hadn't occurred to me. That would explain the Cisco Umbrella-based security, which would be unusual for a public VPN service (and had me a bit confused).
     

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