No one likes internet censorship.
That’s why people use VPN services.
But sometimes, streaming services (and others) find ways to block VPN services as well.
That is never a pleasant experience.
In this comprehensive guide, we will talk about all the methods users can utilize to bypass VPN blocks.
You do want to beat internet censorship with the help of VPN services right?
That’s what we will teach you how to do in this guide.
First, let’s start off with the fact that under normal conditions, it is pretty easy to protect yourself with the help of a VPN service.
All that a user needs to do is to first buy a VPN subscription and then connect to one of the many VPN servers that the VPN service offers in a location of his/her choice.
Most of the time, the location is where the user will experience no censorship.
And that is it.
Once the user takes those simple three steps, he/she will have uncensored and unrestricted access to the entirety of the internet.
Now we come to the problem.
Generally speaking, VPN services are very good at what they do.
And that’s what causes them problems.
Because they are so good, more and more users are buying VPN subscriptions in order to bypass internet censorship.
That has given VPN services a great amount of attention.
More specifically, the streaming sites and websites in general that VPN services unlock have started to give VPN services some undue amount of attention because of their anti-censorship features.
This situation results in people who want to censor the average online consumer’s internet experience to not only block certain sites but also VPN services themselves.
Internet censorship is a broad topic.
Actors implementing internet censorship have many tools at their disposal.
This is why there is no one way to implement internet censorship.
In other words, it comes in many shapes.
And many sizes.
Let’s take a look at some of the common internet censorship examples that online consumers are likely to come across.
Censorship from the government for social and political purposes.
The foremost example of this method is the Great Firewall of China.
There are some other classic examples as well but as far as modern examples go, it is hard to beat the state censorship mechanism that the government in Iran has deployed.
There is also UAE.
The government there has also made it to the headlines with ease by criminalizing the consumption of VPN services.
It has also blocked all other services that allow users to bypass its undue internet censorship restrictions.
There is a lot of good information on the internet about how to use a VPN service to bypass internet censorship in specific countries such as China, Iran and UAE.
Read our best VPN for China here.
And don’t forget to read our best VPN for Iran here.
Governments all over the world also use internet censorship as a way to guard against copyright violations
Copyright piracy is a big issue now.
That is why an increasing number of governments all over the globe as blocking access to all websites and streaming services that their officials have deemed to facilitate and/or promote copyright piracy.
Internet censorship measures that belong to this category are very common in EU countries.
Whether or not we can technically consider the UK as a part of EU is another debate, but the fact is, the government in UK has put the country in leading position when it comes to internet censorship to block copyright piracy.
The government in Russia has also started to ramp-up its own copyright protection efforts in order to prevent user access to content that is not legal.
Offices and other workplaces
In an effort to boost productivity, many office managers take serious measures in order to block employees from wasting their time by accessing content that isn’t relevant to their work.
But that’s not the only purpose.
Sometimes, office workers might access content that their colleagues might find offensive or upsetting.
These is what we call Not safe for work type of content.
As mentioned just now, any type of content that has a high likelihood of distracting workers from their office work is also something that the management wants to block.
These include all the social media websites and other sites that offer garbage content.
No one needs to argue that some of the restrictions that the office management puts in place are understandable.
But one has to understand the context.
Within a working environment, everyone should give their all to help the company they work for.
Then they can watch anything they feel like watching in their own private time.
Colleges And Schools
Surprisingly enough it has become rather commonplace for all sorts of educational institutions to try and prevent access to a lot of web content.
Of course, their heart might be in the right place.
The majority of pupils in educational institutes are minors.
And these young minds need some sort of protection from certain web content.
One could argue that it is totally justifiable on part of the educational institute to block certain websites for students.
But when it comes to adults who are studying in higher education institutions and universities, such internet censorship techniques make less sense.
A piece of content that one person finds offensive may actually hold great significance to another.
In other words, it is difficult to judge content types with one universal rule.
Indeed, some find it ironic that higher education institutions have to resort to internet censorship in order to keep adults in check.
Most of the time educational institutes try to target content and copyright infringements that belong to the following categories.
- News websites
- Social media
- Adult-content sources
Sometimes though, educational institutions end up censoring content for political reasons.
That is, thankfully, uncommon.
There are many other types of internet censorship practices.
Some find a few of them worrying.
Internet censorship may deny people free access to information that is important.
There are many types of social issues that people want to read about.
Some have to access content which is related to,
- Sexual health
- Drug advice
- Racial or gender discrimination
- Online bullying
Of course, there are many other categories but we won’t discuss them in this guide.
Internet censorship at home
Parents throughout the world (even in countries such as China and Iran) have this natural tendency to try and protect their children.
They know that the internet isn’t a regulated place.
It is basically a free-for-all.
Because of that, there are many websites that they should keep their children away from.
Currently, it is no exaggeration to say that the internet is filled with an ocean of age-inappropriate and unsavory content.
It just exists.
And no one seems to do anything about it.
That’s why it is both advisable and sensible on part of the parents to control internet access for their children.
At least while they are young.
Internet censorship, if not used properly, can become a rather blunt tool.
This is the reason why it is very important to use this tool with care so that it doesn’t backfire with nasty consequences.
Parents can’t realistically expect to protect their children from the real world for all time.
What they should do is educate them properly while they are young.
But when they are old enough, they should start to put more responsibility on the children’s shoulders so that they understand and know their values.
There will come a time when they too will learn how to use a VPN service to bypass internet censorship.
And if they don’t know how to live in a world where people have opposing ideas then parents should blame it on themselves.
There is a better approach though.
Parents should engage with their children.
And maintain a dialogue option available at all times.
Such a system will ensure that the children have the necessary political and social understanding along with the moral framework that is required to successfully contextualize content that they may encounter on the internet.
Whether knowingly or unknowingly, children, at some point, will get exposure to the same content that parents want to protect them from.
Some think that the more holistic approach is to educate them, block content that they might find offensive but, more importantly, give them the tools and the knowledge necessary to manage material that they may find disturbing or challenging to understand at first.
Parents should be able to talk to their children and talk to them in a frank and honest manner.
Such an approach will definitely work better than having this need to hide things from them forever and always spying on them while they are online.
Parents should take such opportunities to not only do that for a while but also provide their children with the support that they will, at some point, need to make sense of the world.
Of course, under some circumstances, the world can become a nasty little place.
But since children also have to live in that world, parents should prepare children for the challenges that they will face in the future.
Censoring everything that parents don’t agree with is the bare minimum that parents should do.
The more comprehensive and long-term solution is to teach them how to handle content that isn’t suitable for them.
Websites And Streaming Services That Engage in VPN Blocks
There is one specific type of websites that makes use of censorship tools more than any other type.
That type is:
Streaming websites have become notorious for blocking online users all over the world.
Especially those online consumers who make use of VPN services to bypass geo-restrictions.
Streaming sites put geo-restrictions on their sites so that people from specific countries are not able to watch their content.
Some of the most prominent examples of sites that use this type of internet censorship include,
- BBC iPlayer
- US Netflix
- Amazon Prime
But why do these streaming sites censor their content?
The reasons are many.
The chief among those reasons is that fact that they don’t want to involve themselves in copyright issues.
Copyright holder groups have gained immense influence and power over the last couple of years.
And if they find any streaming site not abiding by their copyright rules then they tend to go after them hard.
Streaming sites, already working with small margins, don’t want to waste their resources in legal battles with copyright holder groups.
That is one reason why they want to censor some of their content.
Okay, that does is for streaming sites.
But what about copyright holder groups?
Why don’t they allow anyone and everyone to view their content?
Well, the reason for that is simple as well.
They have this desire to maximize the amount of profit they can generate.
And they try to do so by taking the world market and segregating it artificially.
This is just one form of VPN block.
But we won’t discuss such VPN blocks in this guide.
In this guide, we want to tackle problems that arise when governments and internet service providers block the use of VPN services altogether.
We will add some bonus notes on this topic sometime later in this guide though.
Various entities put VPN blocks in place for a reason.
We have already discussed that reason.
What we haven’t mentioned is the fact, that people who place these VPN blocks don’t appreciate people to try to evade VPN blocks by using different methods.
However, one should understand that even in regions where governments and internet service providers have blocked VPN services (countries such as Iran and China), the actual use of a VPN service is never really something that is illegal.
What we mean to say is that if an online consumer tries to evade VPN blocks, it will never get the consumer into any legal trouble.
No country has legally banned VPN services.
The only exception to what we have said above is the government in UAE.
Recently, the government of UAE made the announcement that it would fine up to $500,000 (or 2 million UAE dirham) to anyone who the law enforcement officials catch with a VPN.
The government there also announced that the VPN user may also face a prison sentence.
There is no way to find out how rigorously the government in UAE will enforce such a rule.
No country on earth has never tried to implement such a law on the whole population.
But just to be on the safe side, we advise users to always exercise strong caution whenever they are in the UAE and trying to bypass VPN blocks.
Now, another important thing the users need to understand is that using a VPN service is not illegal.
Using methods to bypass VPN blocks is also not illegal most of the time.
But the content that the user tries to access with the use of a VPN service may fall under the illegal category.
If the user has connected to a LAN or WiFI network, then the owner of the WiFi or LAN network has all the legal rights in the world to put a restriction on the type of content that the user can access via the WiFi or LAN network.
Such type of networks are usually present in,
However, the probability that the owner of the network would catch the user who has connected to the user’s network by evading VPN blocks is very low.
The best that the owner of the network can do to such users it to suspend their connection.
They can also sack the user.
Or take other types of measures to discipline the user.
In short, users need to carefully consider the pros and cons of using methods to bypass VPN clocks when they are connected to a restrictive network.
If the pros outweigh the cons then perhaps using a VPN service is justifiable even if there is a chance of getting caught.
How Do VPN Blocks Work?
Government agencies and internet service providers can employ a number of ways to prevent users from activating a VPN service’s server.
Some organizations who have a lot of resources and are serious about making sure that no one can bypass internet restrictions with the help of a VPN service usually combine various techniques for more potent VPN blocks.
The other thing users need to note here is that different actors impose VPN blocks in different countries.
For example, in China, about three access points (all under the control of government agencies) have to accommodate all internet traffic from and to China.
In other countries, the government instructs internet service providers to implement VPN blocks and hence internet censorship.
The government doesn’t do anything except instruct internet service providers to do their budding.
Let’s discuss some of the tactics that internet service providers and government agencies use in order to force VPN blocks.
Suspending Access To Official VPN Websites
The logic here is a simple enough.
If an internet service provider or a government agency can block the user’s access to a VPN service provider’s official website then effectively, the user doesn’t have any chance of signing up for a VPN service.
Or even download the VPN service’s software application.
Some governments extend this type of internet censorship to not only VPN service websites but also websites that review VPN services.
Websites that have dedicated themselves to providing users with methods of bypassing VPN blocks also have to deal with internet censorship.
As mentioned before, government agencies and internet service providers rarely employ a single tactic to block user access to various web content.
But blocking VPN sites is just one of the many common methods that they use.
Blocking All IP Addresses of VPN Servers
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out and then discover a given VPN server’s IP address.
VPN service providers have different IP addresses for their VPN servers.
If government agencies and/or internet service providers can somehow find those IP addresses, they can move to block all user-access to them.
Our research shows that this method is also amongst the most common method that government agencies use to block people from using VPN services.
Most of the time, government agencies block official VPN websites as well as IP addresses of VPN servers in order to extend the range of their VPN blocks.
But the fact is, the cybersecurity market is filled with a ton of VPN service providers.
And all of them have their own network of VPN servers.
So it is slightly difficult for internet service providers and government agencies to keep a track of all these IP addresses.
And remember, VPN services can change the IP addresses of these servers as well.
When that happens, ISPs and governments have to work even harder.
That is the reason why the majority of the organizations tend to settle for something less:
A ban on only the most popular of VPN service providers.
For the end user, this means that less known and smaller VPN services have little trouble in operating under the radar.
Implementing Deep Packet Inspection
What is DPI or Deep Packet Inspection?
Users should think of DPI as a packet filtering feature for a computer network.
It basically examines packets.
DPI can study the data part of the packet and sometimes the header part as well.
It does that as the packet is passing a given inspection point.
Internet service providers and government agencies can use a variety of technologies to implement techniques such as DPI.
Not all of them are effective.
Some are more effective than others.
Many VPN protocols make use of data encapsulation in order to protect user data.
But they are fairly easy to observe and flag with the use of even the most basic DPI techniques.
This doesn’t mean data encapsulation isn’t useful.
In fact, techniques such as DPI cannot discern the contents of a given packet.
They are secure and encrypted.
But what DPI can do is accurately determine if the user has made use of a VPN protocol to encrypt the packet.
To summarize, organizations use DPI techniques in order to detect VPN-protected traffic.
But only the most serious and well-stocked organizations step up their spying measures to this level.
Default settings of most VPN services dictate that OpenVPN utilizes port 1194.
Sometimes the connection is over UDP but VPN services do provide options for users to easily change that to TCP.
There are many other VPN protocols apart from OpenVPN.
And all of them can use a variety of ports.
Because of this setting, internet service providers and government agencies make use of an effective but simple method of blocking VPNs.
They just use a security firewall and then block all these ports.
If possible, prefer mobile connections
We are aware of the fact that this technique probably won’t work if the user wants to evade government blocks.
However, this technique is very likely to work in offices, colleges, schools and more.
Besides, this is one of the most cost-effective solutions to bypass VPN blocks.
It is also not time intensive.
And is easy to implement.
All that the user has to do is to NOT use a VPN service to access blocked content via his/her local network.
The user should try to turn on his/her mobile (or cellular) data connection and then access the blocked content on his/her mobile device.
Of course, one can also turn on the WiFi hotspot feature and then use the cellular connection on his/her laptop and/or desktop as well.
And yes, using this method will definitely mean that the user will have to cough up some money for using cellular data.
So before trying out this technique, it is best to review one’s mobile data charges.
However, users who cannot live without checking their Facebook accounts after every six hours would appreciate the amount of effort one has to spend in order to access blocked sites like Facebook.
Moreover, by using a mobile connection, the user eliminates possibilities of getting into trouble with the government.
Change VPN Server And/Or VPN Service Provider
We have already noted the fact that neither government agencies nor internet service providers want to spend resources on keeping a track of all the IP addresses that VPN services may use for their VPN servers.
It is certainly doable.
But it is, without a doubt, a momentous task.
So, the best way to bypass VPN blocks, in this case, is to switch to a VPN service that is low profile.
Sometimes this step alone is more than enough for average online consumers to evade and bypass IP and VPN blocks.
Of course, if you can’t do that then there is nothing wrong with sticking with the same VPN service provider.
And just changing the VPN server.
Your government or internet service provider may have only blocked some IP addresses that belong to your VPN service provider.
So if the user can only change the VPN server from the list of provided VPN servers, then this may also help him/her bypass VPN blocks.
That is the reason why a few elite VPN service providers constantly schedule to recycle the IP addresses of their VPN servers.
Such measures help VPN service providers to keep a track of all the modifications that might have taken place.
Organizations hate such kind of VPN services because it gives them a major headache to try and block completely fresh IP addresses of the same VPN service.
Within the security community, some refer to this tactic as a regular game of (what they call, not us) whack-a-mole.
Don’t know if your VPN service provider offers this feature?
Then simply contact the VPN’s customer support and ask them if they renew their IP addresses.
The other thing readers need to understand here is that the majority of the VPN service providers today, even the good ones, don’t provide full support for IPv6.
The only VPN service provider that does offer IPv6 support is Mullvad.
There may be others but we haven’t come across them yet.
Of course, you can rest assured that this will change.
More and mover IPv4 addresses are becoming unavailable.
So eventually VPN service providers will have to move towards IPv6.
What does IPv6 do?
It exponentially expands the range and thus the number of available IP addresses.
What does this mean for the end user?
It means that the number of VPN service providers offering IPv6 address increase, so will the difficulty of carrying out IP blocks on them.
To make VPN blocks less effective, one should try to sign up for a VPN service that supports IPv6.
Using A Custom/Own VPN Service
This option is a bit extreme.
But very effective.
If users have the technical skills then it is best to run your own VPN service.
After that, the user can easily connect to his/her own VPN service from any censored location.
The great thing about this option is that the VPN server belongs to no one but the user himself/herself.
Users should keep in mind that with their own VPN service they will not get the typical privacy advantages that come with a high-grade commercial VPN service.
With that said, it is true that one’s own VPN service provides the user with a unique server IP address.
Streaming services will not bother blocking such IP addresses.
If users have the resources to set up a PC at their home to act as their personal and secure VPN server then that’s great.
Otherwise, users can also first rent and then configure a VPS.
A VPS is a great method for users who want to engage in geo-spoofing.
Of course, rolling one’s own VPN service on a given VPS isn’t an easy task for many.
For those who just can’t try hard enough for whatever reasons, they can sign up for services that can assist them do all the heavy lifting.
IP Addresses: Dedicated Ones
In the past couple of years, we have seen many elite VPN service providers offer users with dedicated IP addresses.
But why would anyone want to sign up for a dedicated IP address?
Well, to answer that question let’s first understand what a dedicated IP address really is.
You see, most of the times when the user signs up for a VPN service provider, the VPN service assigns the users a shared IP address.
In all possibility, a given VPN service could have hundreds of users sharing a single IP address.
On the other hand, in the case of a dedicated IP address, the VPN service assigns the user with a unique IP address.
In effect, a unique IP address pretty much offers the same benefits as one’s own custom VPN.
The fact that a dedicated IP address is unique to the user alone, streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix are highly unlikely to focus on it and then block it.
Being prepared is one of the best things an online consumer can do before visiting countries such as Iran and China.
In other words, online consumers should purchase a VPN subscription and download the VPN service’s app before they start their journey towards such countries.
The thing is, even when government agencies and internet service providers have blocked user-access to official VPN websites, they usually don’t give as much attention to VPN apps.
However, we are aware of the fact that the vast majority of people coming to countries such as China would come unprepared.
They might have never come across a guide like this to know that they had to sign up for a VPN before they entered the country.
For such users, there are alternative internet censorship-busting methods.
After using those methods, any given online consumer can just access the official VPN website and then sign-up for a VPN service.
Of course, the user will have to download the VPN service’s app as well.
Most people use Tor for achieving an anonymous status rather than busting censorship tools.
The reason for that is simple.
Tor is easy to use.
However, organizations can easily block Tor nodes access.
Online consumers who want security and anonymity use Tor bridges in order to bypass various IP blocks on the previously-mentioned Tor nodes.
There is also obfsproxy that users can make use of in order to hide their Tor traffic from techniques such as DPI, Deep Packet Inspection.
What is Shadowsocks?
It is a proxy application that is completely open-source.
People use Shadowsocks on a wide scale in regions such as mainland China in order to successfully circumvent various internet censorship measures.
We just mentioned the fact that it is open source. But interestingly enough, a Chinese developer made this anti-GFW tool.
Some call it a protocol.
Others call it just a server.
But technically speaking, it is a SOCKS5 proxy.
It supports the majority of platforms that are available today.
Surge is another piece of software that is pretty similar to the above-mentioned Shadowsocks.
The only problem with Surge is that it only supports the iOS platform.
Lahana is a derivative product of Tor.
Developers behind Lahana designed the tool to solve one of Tor’s greatest problems:
Or more specifically, the fact that organizations could easily block Tor exit nodes.
How does Lahana solve the problem?
It makes it stupidly easy to create new Tor nodes.
In essence, Lahana developers designed the tool to also defeat various internet censorship measures in Turkey.
But of course, its effectiveness is not just limited to Turkey but to every country that makes use of these internet censorship tools.
Psiphon utilizes several technologies in order to enable users to bypass VPN blocks and enjoy a free internet.
- Other obfuscation techniques
for the purposes of evading internet control.
Users who detect a VPN block while surfing the internet, can just switch to options such as SSH and/or obfuscated SSH (SSH+).
The other great thing about using Psiphon is that the service has made arrangements for when the user finds the official Psiphon website unavailable and/or blocked.
Users can just send the service a request for a software download link and they can receive it via email.
On that point, our research shows that good VPN service providers also have this service where they enable users to sign up and then download their VPN client via just an email.
All that the user has to do is to ask the VPN service for such a link/email.
Alter port numbers
It isn’t that difficult to change the ports that VPN clients use.
In fact, many dedicated or custom VPN client ship with such a feature.
Changing one’s port numbers helps in bypassing VPN blocks when the government agency or the internet service provider has blocked internet access via port blocking.
So which are the two most well-known and widely-used port choices?
They are as follows,
TCP Port 80
All unencrypted online internet traffic (sometimes also known as normal traffic) uses TCP port 80.
To put it another way, HTTP traffic makes use of TCP port 80.
If an organization is able to block this port, then it can effectively block the internet for a given user or population even.
This is also the reason why government agencies and internet service providers almost never ever block this port.
The obvious downside of using TCP port 80 is that even organizations who only know the most primitive of DPI techniques can spot all the VPN traffic that makes use of this port.
TCP Port 443
This is the port that HTTPS traffic uses.
HTTPS secures all websites that want to be secured because this is what it does.
In other words, it is an encrypted protocol.
We can also thank HTTPS for enabling online activities such as banking and/or shopping because without HTTPS activities like these would never exist.
For online commerce to exist, the internet had to come up with a protocol like HTTPS.
And because this port is so important for activities on the internet, you would rarely find some organization blocking this port.
Apart from the obvious security, this port also offers a bonus feature.
Any VPN traffic that makes use of TCP port 443 gets the opportunity to get routed inside the Transport Layer Security (or TLS) encryption that HTTPS uses all the time.
This is exactly why it is so hard to spot VPN traffic even with techniques such as DPI.
So if a user wants to bypass VPN blocks then he/she has to favor TCP port 443 over TCP port 80.
As mentioned before as well, there are a few VPN service providers that offer users the feature of changing port numbers.
The user can usually tell if a VPN service provider offers this feature if it has a custom software application.
VPN service providers who make use of the OpenVPN protocol definitely offer the ability to modify port numbers.
But users should not worry if their VPN service provider does not offer this option.
Why do we say that?
Because even those VPN services that don’t usually have support for OpenVPN over TCP port 443 at least at the server level.
In order to enable port 443 for such VPN services, users have to switch the port option by editing their OpenVPN or .ovpn configuration file.
We won’t go into the details of that because every VPN service has a different process of doing that.
The best way to move forward is to simply call one’s VPN service provider and then ask their customer support about the issue.
One final option is for the user to utilize the SSTP protocol.
We’ll admit that not many VPN service providers offer this feature.
But the great advantage of using the SSTP protocol is that it makes use of the TCP port 443 by default.
More Involved Solutions
When it comes to VPN services, not all of them are the same.
Some like to offer users advanced VPN settings.
Or more specifically, advanced solutions for bypassing VPN blocks.
Developers design these solutions specifically for defeating various sophisticated DPI techniques.
What are these sensitive DPI methods?
These methods analyze the given packet’s timing and/or size in order to detect the OpenVPN protocol’s distinctive handshake.
And the fact that the packet has HTTPS available to hide it doesn’t help either.
Users need to keep in mind that we are talking about some very sensitive DPI techniques here.
These DPI techniques usually require a lot of skill and a lot of money.
Hence, it is very rare to see an organization making use of these techniques to monitor packets of data.
But if some organization is using them then even the most advanced ways to bypass VPN blocks, including the ones listed below, will not work and the DPI techniques will detect the use of a VPN service.
In any case, users who want to get started on advanced approaches to VPN concealment should start with,
SSL Tunneling or Stunnel
Stunnel is a program that helps users create SSL/TLS tunnels.
It supports multiple platforms and is open source.
And we know that SSL/TLS tunnels are very secure because HTTPS also uses TLS/SSL for encryption purposes.
VPN services that use OpenVPN for their connections usually route traffic via these SSL/TLS tunnels.
Hence, it becomes very hard for anyone to tell the VPN traffic apart from just normal looking HTTPS internet traffic.
But why is it so difficult to spot?
It is difficult because all OpenVPN data has the advantage of a special kind of wrapping.
That wrapping is fundamentally an additional security layer of SSL/TLS encryption.
This outer layer of SSL/TLS encryption is so strong that even DPI techniques don’t always find success in penetrating them.
Moreover, they also fail in detecting what’s inside the OpenVPN encryption.
If a user wants to create SSL tunnels then he/she has to use a stunnel software.
Click here to read more about that.
The user must configure SSL tunnel settings both on his/her computer and the VPN server.
This makes it necessary for users to contact their VPN service and discuss the security situation with them.
That is the best way of using SSL tunneling without any problems.
But are there any VPN service providers that offer stunnel functionality right out of the box?
In fact, there is, rather.
It is called AirVPN.
Currently, AirVPN represents the only VPN service on the market that offers this feature.
AirVPN makes use of a custom open source software application to achieve this feat.
There is also Anonyproz.
But we can’t vouch for how reliable it is.
Secondly, users have to configure the stunnel settings on their own.
There may be other providers as well but we don’t know many worthy of a mention here.
SSH tunneling has a lot of similarities with SSL tunneling.
The only difference is that SSL tunneling wraps the VPN data inside an additional layer of SSH or Secure Shell encryption.
People primarily use SSH in order to access shell accounts on operating systems based on UNIX.
Since it isn’t all that newbie-friendly, the use of SSH is restricted to just the business world.
SSL is clearly the more popular choice when it comes to tunneling.
And just like with SSL tunneling, the user will have to discuss SSH tunneling with his/her VPN service provider so that both can work out a solution.
VPN services such as AirVPN support SSH tunneling right out of the box.
In contrast to SSL tunneling, SSH tunneling makes use of the official PuTTY SSH/telnet client.
Here is a decent looking guide for setting up PuTTY on Windows.
There are other similar sounding technologies as well that do exactly the same thing as Obfsproxy.
But what is Obfsproxy?
It is nothing but a tool.
Obfsproxy’s main aim is to wrap the user’s data into an additional security layer that obfuscates the data even more.
What does this do?
It makes it very hard for organizations to detect that the user is utilizing a VPN protocol such as the OpenVPN protocol.
One can easily vouch for Obfsproxy as an effective tool by looking at the fact that the Tor network has adopted it.
The Tor network came under pressure from the Chinese government when it blocked access to many publicly available Tor nodes.
Users have to keep in mind here that Tor is actually independent of obfsproxy.
Moreover, users can configure it for OpenVPN as well.
In order to make it work users first have to install obfsproxy on both the VPN server and the client computer.
The user can select any port (examples include port 1194).
After the user has installed obfsproxy on both machines, the next step is to type a simple command via the server machine.
The command is:
obfsproxy obfs2 –dest=127.0.0.1:1194 server x.x.x.x:5573
What does this command do?
It instructs obfsproxy to start listening to port 1194 (from our example above).
The command also tells obfsproxy to form a local connection to port 1194.
After that, the command tells obfsproxy to go ahead, take the de-encapsulated data and then forward that to obfsproxy itself.
The user should replace x.x.x.x in the command with his/her machine’s IP address.
Alternatively, one can also use 0.0.0.0.
This way, obfsproxy will start to listen on all available network interfaces.
We recommend that users should set up a simple static IP, in the beginning, to use with their VPN service provider.
This way the server machine would have no problem in knowing the port it has to listen to.
How does obfsproxy compare with SSH tunneling and stunnel?
Well, it doesn’t provide as much security as the former two.
Why is that?
Well, obfsproxy does not have any mechanism to wrap the user’s traffic in any sort of encryption.
With that said, it is also true that obfsproxy is slightly easier for users to set up and then start to configure.
Moreover, obfsproxy doesn’t have as big a bandwidth overhead when compared to SSH tunneling and stunnel.
The reason for that is obfsproxy doesn’t have to carry and process an additional security layer of encryption.
Obfsproxy is best suited to people living in regions such as Ethiopia and/or Syria.
That is because bandwidth is limited in these regions and often regarded as the critical resource.
We know some VPN service providers make use of alternative technologies in order to provide obfuscation features to users.
For example, BolehVPN makes use of XOR obfuscation.
It offers that function via its xCloak VPN servers.
More On UAE and VPN Blocks
We have presented a good number of advanced VPN block solutions.
They will prevent anyone from detecting that the user is taking advantage of a VPN service.
Even the most highly sophisticated DPI techniques will have a tough time cracking that information.
With that said, the government in UAE has invested a lot in advancing its internet surveillance equipment.
Some believe that internet service providers in the UAE are required to maintain a massive database that contains all the IP addresses of VPN servers.
In such cases, it becomes easier for governments and internet service providers to know if a user is tapping into a VPN service in order to watch US Netflix in the region.
We caution users that they should try their best to not annoy the government in any way.
If the government finds out that a particular user is employing a VPN service that they have a pretty good excuse to make life difficult for that particular user.
Again, users should give a lot of thought to the possibility of using a VPN service in the UAE
Websites That Use VPN Blocks to Keep Out Specific Users
Needless to say, this is perhaps the most difficult form of blocking for users to overcome.
As mentioned before, selecting a VPN service that has a low profile may help users.
VPN services that regularly renew their IP addresses should also prove more resilient against such measures.
What we mean to say here is that users should not hesitate to engage in a bit of trial and error here.
It is a good idea to read up on the VPN services that offer free trials.
Users should know that they can take advantage of free trials without feeling guilty.
Free trials are there for a reason.
So use them.
There are also those official money-back guarantees that a lot of users ignore.
When they are on offer, the user should use them whenever a need arises.
Such actions will only help users to find out on their own which of the good VPN service providers actually allow them access to the content that they want access to or want to stream.
Keep in mind that any VPN service that is working with a particular streaming site or content website today, may not work with it tomorrow.
Hence, the best practice here is to always sign up for a monthly subscription and not for a longer period of time.
Signing up for a longer period of time always puts the user in a dangerous position since they have to sign up for another VPN service if the first VPN service stops working with their streaming site.
So avoid paying annually.
And stick to monthly subscriptions.
A lot of people have gotten the short end of the stick when they signed up for a VPN service for a full year only to find out after one month that the VPN service stopped working with their favorite site.
If you are on a budget then you should definitely give a look to Smart DNS services.
They are cheaper than VPN services.
But offer less security.
Moreover, streaming websites and general websites find it easier to block Smart DNS proxy services than VPN services.
However, streaming sites pay less attention to Smart DNS services because VPN services have dominated the market.
So you might find out that smart DNS proxy may perform better than VPN services when it comes to unlocking streaming sites.
We know of some VPN service providers who offer Smart DNS services for free with their VPN packages.
AirVPN is one of them.
StrongVPN is another one.
They also make use of new techniques such as DNS routing.
Such techniques enable users to connect to streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and US Netflix even if they are not connected to a VPN server that is based in the UK or US respectively.
As mentioned before, just like VPN services, Smart DNS services aren’t 100 percent guaranteed to work.
But they are impressive in their own right.
Governments and internet service providers find it easy to block the majority of VPN services available in the market today.
But we have listed ways in which users can bypass VPN blocks with nothing but a bit of lateral thinking.
With our techniques, users can bypass VPN blocks even when governments are using highly sensitive and sophisticated DPI techniques.
In the end, for advanced Deep Packet Inspection techniques, the best line of defense are services such as obfsproxy and stunnel.
For the standard VPN protection, there is always IPVanish.
Click here to sign up for IPvanish right now and forget about ISPs or governments spying on you.
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