Not long ago, I wrote an article dealing with some of the negatives of using a VPN. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend that you check it out. Lots of interesting comments were written, and one asked about what's up if someone use a VPN in #China? Can they be punished for using a VPN?
I knew most of the answer at once, but instead of just writing what I knew, I asked some representatives of big VPN services so that they could tell me directly what they would answer. And yes, that is when the expression VPN obfuscation came up.
If you don't know what a VPN is yet, check this article first.
Why is VPN obfuscation important for people in China?
First of all, obfuscate is a word we seldom use. So, let us take a look at the dictionary definition of the word.
- to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy.
- to make obscure or unclear:
- to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.
- to darken.
This is already helping us a lot. Some VPN providers don't use the word obfuscation, but instead, they call it stealth mode, hiding mode, or someone even calls it the chameleon mode. No matter what, it is all about the same, and it is especially needed in China and some other countries.
When you use a VPN, you are using different protocols. These are encrypting your data and sending your information securely online. The problem is, most ISP will see that you are sending traffic, and if they do so-called "deep-inspection" of the packages you are sending, they will see that you are using a VPN.
In China, the Great Firewall of China is blocking such traffic by default, meaning that they will stop your traffic if they see that a VPN is being used.
Based on my knowledge, people have not been punished for using a VPN in China. They might try to hinder you from using one, but there are no stories that I know of punishing people simply because they have used a VPN.
Now it is time to add the word obfuscate to the job.
Do you remember the definitions? How obfuscation is about making something obscure or unclear, to confuse, or to darken? When a VPN is using obfuscation technology, they are making the traffic sent unclear, or hard to read. Instead of coming dressed up like VPN traffic, it will look like normal traffic, even though it cannot be read or intercepted. In other words, they are removing the signature from the traffic (for example that it is using the OpenVPN protocol), and instead, it will look like normal traffic.
You will still be protected, but the signature has been removed, and it will not be able to discover that you are using a VPN.
So, that is a short terminology and explanation when it comes to what VPN obfuscation is all about.
Which VPN providers will let me enjoy this technology?
Many VPN providers now support this. They might call it stealth mode, hidden mode, or obfuscation mode, but it is still there.
Some of the best and most famous VPN providers currently supporting this technology are:
These VPNs are not just good for obfuscating your traffic or to keep you safe online, but they can also be used to bypass geo-blocks. As a result, they can be used to watch Netflix content available in other countries, to watch TV channels abroad, and more like that.
If you are interested, it is also nice to know that they are good for Peer-to-peer activities (P2P), also referred to as Torrenting. In certain countries, you will be fined if you download illegal material using Torrent apps. But, if you use a VPN, your activities will be hidden and they will not be able to punish you for doing so.
Thank you for reading this short article about VPN obfuscation! If you have further comments or questions, write them in the comment field!
This is an original article written by me for Project Hope!