How To Get Around VPN Netflix Blocks?

How To Get Around VPN Netflix Blocks?

Updated: 07-28-2021

The main advantage of watching Netflix when connected to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is, of course, the additional protection and online anonymity it provides. Since a VPN encrypts data transmitted to and from its tunnel, no one can see your internet activity.

Given that many streaming sites, including Netflix, hold sensitive billing information, it makes sense to use a VPN to secure your personal information from hackers and other malicious parties.

Another advantage of using a VPN when streaming on Netflix is that you can view more shows and movies than your current location allows. For example, if you are in Europe but want to watch US-based Netflix, a VPN can make it seem like you're streaming from somewhere in the US. Even with all the mentioned benefits of using a VPN, Netflix bans VPNs because they do not have the right to air specific content in some countries.

As an experienced Software Engineer, I have always been fascinated by VPNs and how effective they have been in providing much-needed privacy and security. As browsing the internet becomes riskier everyday thanks to hackers and other malicious individuals, VPNs are a game-changer. From my experience in the tech field, here's what I know about VPN blocks.

Reasons for Netflix VPN Blocks

Some common reasons for Netflix VPN blocks include:

Licensing Issues

For video streaming platforms like Netflix, territorial licensing involves selling the rights to its content to another streaming service in a region or country in chunks instead of selling it at a flat fee for a universal license.

In this case, the streaming service with Netflix rights can lower or raise the content's price. These prices may depend on the current number of subscribers or the estimated number of potential customers expected to sign up for the streaming service.

For example, since Netflix has a higher number of subscribers in the US than in the UK, purchasing a license to avail content to the UK subscribers would be less expensive than doing the same for US subscribers. A global license would be even more costly.

Since the licensing issue is prevalent in many countries, Netflix bans VPNs originating from countries with no licensing. When you use a VPN to watch a show that is not available in your region or country, Netflix will be violating its copyright agreement. Even though you are the user with a VPN, it is Netflix's responsibility to ensure that their content is only streamed in regions they are licensed to operate.

Government Restrictions

A government, company, Internet Service Provider (ISP), or school can sometimes use particular software to block users from accessing certain services, including streaming services like Netflix and websites otherwise available on the open web. This restriction is known as blocking or internet filtering. It is a form of censorship that governments use to restrict access to specific content on the web.

Even when using encrypted services like that of a VPN, censors can still block your access to Netflix, entire websites, or internet-based technologies. Some governments block access to all overseas IP addresses since VPNs connect to remote servers that are not under that particular country's jurisdiction.

There are many ways to get around internet censorship. Some prevent parties who may be tracking your internet activities from monitoring you, while others don't.

When someone controls your internet connection, you can use a circumvention tool to access the information you need. A good example is when your government or ISP blocks or filters a particular website.

The tool you use to circumvent VPN censorship blocking depends on your security plan. However, it is essential to note that even when using a particular security plan, third parties monitoring your internet activities may still notice that you are using a circumvention tool to access restricted content. As a result, they may take legal action against you.

Internet censorship by governments happens in two steps:

  • Spotting the unwanted internet activity
  • Blocking the unwanted internet activity

Spotting unwanted internet activity is what is known as internet surveillance. If a network administrator can see what you are trying to access on the internet, they can block it. Therefore, many circumvention tools have the advantage of preventing third parties from accessing your personal information or snooping on your network.

When a government is in charge of the internet and its usage, users often encounter different problems. For instance, when the government censors websites, media platforms, social media sites, and individual pages, users must find other alternatives to access information. In some cases, VPNs would be effective. Still, for governments to censor certain information, users may need an additional circumvention tool.

Generally, governments that censor internet usage can detect when you're using a VPN and consequently block it. They can't, however, detect what you are doing with the VPN. Meaning that even if the government can detect your VPN use, they can't detect the data sent to and from the VPN tunnel.

Even when governments restrict access to VPN servers outside of their jurisdiction, they cannot take blanket legal action against every VPN user/company.

Copyright Issues

As an internet user and Netflix subscriber, a VPN protects your identity and guarantees the safety of your personal information and that of your internet activities. This security is provided by masking your IP address to reflect a remote server located anywhere in the world. Your data is also encrypted to prevent anyone else from gaining access to it.

Whether or not using a VPN is in itself a copyright infringement is still a contentious issue. However, using a VPN to share and access copyrighted material is copyright infringement.

Below are some examples of copyright infringement:

If, as a VPN user, you are hiding your actual location by using a remote server that lets you access geographically restricted content. An ideal example of this would be a VPN user in the UK using a server located in the US to gain access to Netflix US and access content that is not available in the UK.

If, as a VPN user, you are hiding your identity so that you can download or share copyright material through torrent. Many torrent users use VPNs, and even though torrents are not illegal, you can still use them to access copyrighted and pirated content.

When you assess whether VPNs allow copyright infringement, you need to thoroughly examine the arguments for and against them. It is important to note that many video streaming platforms, including Netflix, have plans to identify and block VPN services because of copyright issues.

However, even with this pledge, it is still difficult for these video streaming platforms to identify the number of VPN users hiding their IP addresses for the sole purpose of accessing geographically restricted content.

For example, since Netflix has a worldwide subscription with users accessing different content depending on their location, these users have an excuse to hide their IP addresses to view content that is not available to them.

Employer Restrictions

Now more than ever, employers are blocking unauthorized VPN services to prevent their employees from spending working hours on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Reddit. Most of these employers also want to know what activities their employees are involved in online while at work. They, therefore, do not want you sending messages or emails they cannot read, hence the VPN blocking.

You can use a circumvention tool to access or unblock restricted websites at work. Using this tool could, however, be a breach of your employer's policies.

User Restrictions

Since many schools and learning institutions have access to the internet, network and system administrators want to monitor what students, especially younger ones, are doing online. Therefore, administrators may block gaming and pornographic sites, social networking platforms, and VPNs.

Different Types of VPN Restrictions

Netflix, streaming platforms, websites, and ISPs protect their assets and users from being exploited by blocking VPNs. VPN Restrictions can be implemented in several ways, as discussed below.

IP Address Ban

An IP address ban is a setup that configures a network of services to block a specific IP address request. In this case, Netflix would issue an IP ban after detecting continuous abuse from a particular server. An IP ban can be placed manually by a Networks System Administrator or implemented automatically.

IP bans limit the usage by assigned users, block emails from spammers, and protect the server from forceful attacks. This ban also prevents an IP address from using a server to access a website, email or game server, or forum.

How Does an IP Address Ban Work?

Every device using an internet connection has a unique IP address required to enable the device to communicate with another. Usually, interested parties such as Netflix, governments, ISPs, and employers with the right software can determine a website visitor's geographic location using the device's IP address.

For example, in geo-blocking, Netflix can target IP addresses originating from a country with a reputation for attempting to circumvent their platform restrictions. To access this restricted Netflix service, people from such countries must rely on proxy servers.

Since IP bans are instituted for violating a service provider's terms and conditions, it is crucial to understand these terms and regain service from your banned IP. Here are a few ways to get around an IP ban.

  • Use a VPN to get another IP address from a VPN service provider.
  • Change your computer or router's IP address.
  • Use a TOR (The Onion Router) server to access the service from another network.
  • Use a different IP address through a proxy server.

Port Blocking

Internet traffic is usually received and transmitted through ports. Specific ports cater to certain types of internet traffic. For example, most secure traffic (HTTPS) uses TCP port 443, while regular HTTP traffic uses port 80. Open, unsecured networks and open VPNs traffic generally use UDP port 1194. Therefore, Netflix firewalls usually monitor the port used with the open VPN traffic and block any encrypted traffic that attempts to use it.

Port blocking is a relatively simple VPN blocking method and is therefore used by many governments and organizations. However, port blocking is as easy to circumvent as it is to implement. As a result, it is mostly used alongside other blocking techniques.

Deep Packet Inspection

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), also known as complete packet inspection or information extraction (IX), is a method of managing and examining network traffic. DPI assesses the header and data part of a packet sent through the inspection port, flagging any data that is non-compliant with the set criteria.

This flagged data can be viruses, spam, intrusions, and other unwanted data. The DPI then results in blocking the flagged traffic from passing through the inspection point.

This method can also decide if a particular packet should be redirected to another destination. Simply put, it can detect, locate, block, categorize and redirect packets that have specific data payloads or codes that would otherwise not be detected, categorized, or blocked by the standard packet filtering method.

This method of VPN blocking enables advanced security functions, network management, and user services. It also easily monitors internet censorship, data mining, and internet snooping.

DPI is used in various applications by governments, large corporations, telecommunication service providers, and streaming platforms such as Netflix.

How It Works

Deep Packet Inspection assesses the content of a packet passing via the checkpoint. A Netflix Systems Administrator, or an Internet Service Provider, can decide to carry out a DPI that establishes what to do with these packets in real-time.

This inspection method can also check the packets' content and determine where they came from, including the application and service provider that sent them.

Additionally, DPI can work with filters to spot and reroute internet traffic from a particular online service such as Facebook, Twitter, or a specific IP Address.

GPS-Based Blocking

GPS-Based blocking, or geo-blocking, is a technique that Netflix uses to restrict your access to certain content depending on your location. In a GPS Based Blocking system, Netflix can determine your location by using geolocation methods such as estimating the end-to-end delay in a connection or checking your IP address against a list of restricted and allowed accounts.

Platforms like Netflix mainly use GPS-based blocking to block access to multimedia content depending on the viewer's location, mainly because of licensing and copyright reasons.

How Does GPS-Based Blocking Work?

Since each computer has a unique IP Address, every time your computer sends a request to a server, the IP Address is sent along with this request, letting the server know where to send the requested content. Generally, IP addresses are assigned to ISPs, who then allocate them to their users.

Usually, your computer's IP address is of no significance. However, it can be used by service providers such as Netflix to determine your geographical location accurately. Some databases match IP addresses to countries enabling Netflix to form a block-list known as a geoblock.

Regional coding is what enables Netflix and, by extension, Hollywood to categorize global markets. They then release movies to specific markets at a time. Netflix and other streaming platforms such as ABC iView and BBC's iPlayer use this method to restrict specific content to certain locations, citing licensing restrictions as to their primary reason.

How To Bypass Netflix VPN Blocks

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services in the world. With their services being geo-restricted and their content varying from country to country, you may be wondering how to bypass the Netflix VPN block to be able to stream Netflix shows from wherever you are. Here are a few ways to override VPN blocks:

Choose a Premium VPN Service Provider

Using a VPN is a legal, efficient and straightforward way to stream on Netflix. Still, Netflix understands this and has stepped up efforts to block VPNs by adding targeted servers' IP addresses to its video streaming block list.

However, even with an increased effort to block VPNs, a premium VPN service provider would still have an efficient and insuperable barrier to support the video streaming app. If you use a free VPN service provider, it can be easily detected, and you will receive error messages when streaming on the Netflix app.

Here are a few tips to help you identify the best VPN providers:

  • The VPN provider has servers in the country whose content you want to access and other countries.
  • The VPN provider's server should have speeds of at least 20Mbps to ensure quality streaming with no buffering.
  • The VPN provider should have adequate streaming support and monitor geo-blocking. 
  • To allow Netflix streaming on your phone, the VPN provider should have fast and powerful protocols listed.
  • The VPN software should support all platforms, including Android, iOS, and some Smart TVs.
  • The VPN software should also have add-on features in case of browser instability.

Try a Different VPN Server

As earlier noted, Netflix can block your VPN by adding the server's IP address to a block list, thereby restricting your access to the streaming platform. If your VPN is blocked, you can bypass this block by switching to a different server whose IP address is not on the block list.

Even if a specific VPN server's IP address is blocked, keeping track of all the IP addresses belonging to that particular VPN service provider can be difficult. Therefore, it would be sufficient to change to a different server to circumvent the Netflix VPN block, even if the server belongs to the same provider.

Change Your VPN Security Protocol

You can change your VPN security Protocol to bypass a Netflix VPN block. If you are unfamiliar with VPN protocols, they are the basic rules governing data transmission between the VPN server and your computer. Different applications use various VPN protocols with distinct specifications.

To change your VPN protocol, you need to test the different types of protocols offered by your VPN provider and see which one works in bypassing the Netflix block. Today's VPN services provide many protocols that allow you to create secure connections with more freedom.

Try a Different VPN Port

A port controls the flow of information between networks. When using a VPN, different protocols use ports to dictate the handling of your incoming and outgoing internet traffic. When Netflix closes a port, it stops the flow of information and blocks access to VPN applications.

When this happens, the best solution is to switch to a different port. Most VPN servers give you an option to switch to a different VPN port.

Get a Dedicated IP Address

You can also use a dedicated IP address to bypass the Netflix VPN block. A dedicated IP address has its particular address, while a shared IP address is a single address shared by many users within one server.

The dedicated address is unique to you and, therefore, unlikely to be restricted by Netflix. But, unlike a shared IP Address, the dedicated version does not come with the benefit of privacy.

Use a Different Software

If using a different server, changing your VPN security protocol, or switching to a different VPN port fails to bypass Netflix VPN blocks, you may consider using other types of software. Like the VPN, such software provides online anonymity through various technologies.

Here is a quick review of alternative software to use to bypass VPN blocks.

TOR Browser - TOR is a browser that lets you access the internet anonymously. Since service providers like Netflix can easily block TOR nodes, TOR bridges help bypass these IP blocks.

Psiphon - This is an open-source software you can use to bypass Netflix VPN blocks. Psiphon is a combination of different VPNs, SSH, SSH+, and proxy technologies. If you use a VPN and still fail to access Netflix because you have been blocked, you can switch your settings to SSH or SSH+.

Generally, VPN blocks are rarely used by institutions and even companies. The standard way of restricting access is via IP bans. Knowing this, you do not have to worry about tackling VPN blocks all the time.

Now that you know why Netflix blocks VPNs and different ways to bypass these blocks, you shouldn't fail to stream your favorite shows on this popular streaming site. All you need is a reliable, premium VPN service provider to enjoy watching Netflix regardless of your location.

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