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Comodo: Forcing an application to use a VPN

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Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a way of creating a logical secure connection over a public network, typically the internet to a private network. This makes it appear as though you are connected locally to an internal network when you are in fact remote from it.

 

Many people use VPNs to log in to their home PC remotely with services such as GotoMyPC. Others will have the ability to connect to their company’s internal network and servers. Others want to either conceal their browsing or downloading from prying eyes. The private browsing option is now standard in the popular browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Opera). This option deletes all cache content once you exit this mode. What it does not do is conceal the webpage/site/download requests that you make out to the domain name servers. These requests are logged by Internet Service Providers and by others who maybe “snooping” a network.

 

One of the most common areas where people need to provide anonymity is the download area. Why? One part of the Digital Economy Act passed by the outgoing Labour Government was an amendment of the Communications Act 2003 requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose details of customers who repeatedly infringe copyright, on production of sufficient evidence, with a possible fine of £250,000 for non-compliance. As a downloader I have no desire to be accused, even mistakenly, for something I may or may not have done.

 

To prevent this happening some people are turning to a VPN solution to conceal their activity. There are a number of free VPN solutions available. Most of them promise not to keep logs of your access so that you can browse or download in anonymity. Most free VPN providers will disconnect you periodically. If you want to browse or download without being tracked then the one thing you don’t want to have happen is for your real ISP to be revealed by software using whatever connection is available (known as leaking). I am not condoning illegal behaviour merely providing a way of keeping your activities private.

 

This is where a firewall comes in to play. It is possible to create rules for the firewall to allow or block any form of traffic and also forcing applications to use a particular connection

 

When working firewalls, it is important to understand that there are usually a number of different ways of achieving the same thing. I have written this article to demonstrate a straight forward and simple way that you can force any application to use a VPN. It is not the only way and others have written methods that are just as valid.

 

Two free VPN’s that I have tested this with are ItsHidden and UltraVPN. ItsHidden is based in the Netherlands and UltraVPN in France. Both publicly state that they do not log or store the IP addresses or the sessions of their users.

 

The following guide has been written with simplicity in mind. It should work with different VPNs and can also be used multiple times with different applications. It is written for use with the Comodo firewall, but the principals described should work with most firewalls.

 

Most browsers will use a VPN automatically once it is connected – other applications will not necessarily use it. Torrent clients will happily use whatever connection they can find and cheerily advertise your IP address.

 

This guide is written for Utorrent. It will work for other torrent clients as well as other applications.

 

First we need to set up a zone. This will contain the IP ranges of assigned to our VPN client(s)/connection.

 

For Its Hidden the range appears to be 192.168.2.1-192.168.2.255

For UltraVPN the range appears to be 10.8.0.0-10.9.255.255

 

Once that’s done we setup a couple of rules for the application to only use these IP ranges and block any traffic. Start Utorrent

  1. Open Comodo Firewall
  2. Click on the Firewall Option from the Menu at the top right of the window
  3. Click on the Advanced Options Button
  4. Click on the Network Security Policy option
  5. Click on the My Network Zones Tab
  6. Click on the Add Button
  7. Select the A New Network Zone Option
  8. Name the Zone VPNs
  9. Click Apply
  10. You should see your new zone added in the screen
  11. On the line below your new zone you will see in greyed out text add address here
  12. Right Click on the line and select add
  13. Click on the range option and type in the range for the VPN
  14. Click on apply when complete
  15. Repeat 12-14 if you have more than one VPN

Congratulations you have now set up a zone. Now we need to create some firewall rules to allow the application to access the zone.

 

We have to tell the firewall what application to use. This can be achieved in a number of ways – by typing in the application path or starting the application and selecting the name from a list of running processes. For most people starting the application will be easiest.

 

  1. In Comodo Click on Application Rules Tab
  2. Click on the Add Button
  3. Click on Running Processes Option
  4. Scroll down the list and select Utorrent.exe
  5. Click on the Add Button
  6. In the top part of the window select the following Option from the drop downs
    • Action: Allow
    • Protocol: IP
    • Direction: In
    • Description: VPN In
    • Select Log a firewall event if this rule is fired

 

[*]On the source address tab select Any

[*]Click on the destination address tab

[*]On the destination tab select Zone

[*]On the Drop down that appears select VPNs (which we named earlier)

[*]Click on the IP Details Tab and select Any from the Drop down list

[*]Click Apply

Congratulations you’ve created the first rule which will allow traffic from the VPN in. Now we need to allow the application to send via the VPN

 

  1. Click on the Add Button
  2. In the top part of the window select the following Option from the drop downs
    • Action: Allow
    • Protocol: IP
    • Direction: Out
    • Description: VPN Out
    • Select Log a firewall event if this rule is fired

 

[*]On the source address tab select zone

[*]On the Drop down that appears select VPNs (which we named earlier)

[*]Click on the destination address tab

[*]On the destination tab select any

[*]Click on the IP Details Tab and select Any from the Drop down list

[*]Click Apply

Congratulations you’ve just created the second rule. Now we need to stop traffic to or from the application using any other network other than the VPN (i.e. our normal ISP address).

 

  1. Click on the Add Button
  2. In the top part of the window select the following Option from the drop downs
    • Action: Block
    • Protocol: IP
    • Direction: In/Out
    • Description: Block the rest
    • Select Log a firewall event if this rule is fired

 

[*]On the source address tab select Any

[*]Click on the destination address tab

[*]On the destination tab select Any

[*]Click on the IP Details Tab and select Any from the Drop down list

[*]Click Apply

Congratulations that rule will catch anything that doesn’t fire the first two rules. There is one final thing to do.

 

  1. Now click Apply to set save and activate your new setup.

Now we need to test that it’s working and our address isn’t being leaked.

 

  1. Start your VPN client.
  2. Visit www.checkmytorrentip.com
  3. Click on the Generate Tracking Torrent
  4. Select Open with Utorrent when prompted.
  5. In the browser window you should see the IP address being advertised by Utorrent and seen by the website. (This occurs every 60 seconds)
  6. Restart Utorrent (this is important after you make any changes to the firewall).
  7. Start a torrent downloading
  8. In Comodo click on the common tasks button
  9. Select the Firewall events
  10. You should see connections from or to the IP ranges defined in our zones being allowed through.
  11. A double-check can be made using the checkmytorrentip website – you should not see your ISP’s assigned IP address. (You should see an IP address from France/USA for UltraVPN or Netherlands/USA for ItsHidden.
  12. Disconnect your vpn client
  13. You should see connections from or to Utorrent being blocked as you are now using your normal IP address. This means nothing is leaking out.
  14. A double-check can be made using the checkmytorrentip website – you should not see your ISP’s assigned IP address. As your VPN is disconnected there should be nothing seen from the time you disconnected the VPN.

Hopefully everything will be hidden. If you have problems check the rules for typing mistakes. You should also make sure the rules are in the order that they were entered (top to bottom – VPN In, VPN out, Block the Rest.

 

Good luck – stay anonymous.


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This does not constitute legal advice and is not represented as a substitute for legal advice from an appropriately qualified person or firm.

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