In July 2012, American ISPs will begin cracking down on file-sharing. This new policy may not effect Usenet users, however, nobody knows for sure yet. So, better safe than sorry.
- Use a Usenet server that supports SSL
- Use a download program that supports SSL
- Use an NZB indexing site that uses HTTPS
- Consider using a VPN
Both of the Usenet companies that we recommend on this page support SSL.
The current versions of most of our programs support SSL, but older versions do not. The way to check is to go to the window where you enter the server info. If you don’t see any SSL controls there, then you have an old version and should upgrade. For example, in SuperNZB, go onto the “Setup” menu, and then to “Servers”. In newer versions of the program, you will see the SSL settings.
A VPN connection works just like an ISP connection: once you have it set up, you can just “dial in” to it from your Network Connections control panel. There are a lot of settings and options, and it takes a few minutes to go through them all. But once you have it set up, a VPN is very easy to use.
Almost everything you do will work over the VPN, but a few things won’t. For example, your ISP’s SMTP email server may not let you send email. If it insists that you be on the ISP network, it will refuse your connection because the VPN makes it look like you are an outsider. Right? Not even your ISP can see through the VPN. Of course, you can disconnect from the VPN, send your mail, and then log back onto the VPN very easily and quickly.
How to Sniff Your Packets
In order to make sure that your security measures are working, you should test them by sniffing your packets. On Windows, you can use Microsoft Network Monitor to look at your network traffic. For example, if you were downloading files with SuperNZB and had SSL turned off, you would see, here and there, plain-text going by with such things as the subject headers of posts like: “My Vacation video.avi”. But if you turn on your VPN, or turn on SSL and start downloading again, you won’t see anything that you can read. It will all look scrambled. That’s SSL in action.
If you know of a Mac network-monitoring program, please post in the comments below.
If you know of any NZB indexing sites that support HTTPS, please post in the comments.
We have some further comments in this blog post.