Virtual private networks are rapidly becoming a necessity, even for casual internet users. Threats to your online identity and general privacy are at every corner, right down to the ISP that provides your connection to the internet! With a good VPN in the background, though, you can mask your activity and stay hidden online.
There’s one downside to using a VPN, however. Some websites and ISPs have started blocking VPN connections by default, preventing anyone from accessing their content without first disabling the VPN. Netflix is one of the best-known users of this method. People in the privacy community see this as an unacceptable imposition. There’s nothing wrong with using a VPN, so why lock out access?
Fortunately there are ways around these VPN blockades that don’t involve disabling your software and exposing your identity to the world. Keep reading for some of the best ways to keep your identity safe and make your VPN undetectable.
- 1 Detecting and Blocking VPNs
- 2 How to Make a VPN Undetectable
- 2.1 Step 1 – Start with the Right VPN
- 2.2 Step 2 – Change VPN Settings
- 2.3 Step 3 – Alternate Protection Methods
- 3 Conclusion
Detecting and Blocking VPNs
There are countless reasons why a website may block VPNs. Netflix does it to prevent unauthorized access to geo-restricted content, for example. If they didn’t, they could lose their licensing deals with TV and movie studios. No matter the reasoning behind the block, the end result is the same: disable your VPN, leave the site, or try a workaround.
How VPN Blocks Work
Bypassing VPN blocks is usually a pretty simple affair. It all depends on how the service detects and filters VPN traffic, however. There are dozens of ways to block access. The good news is that the most common methods are also the easiest to circumvent. Below are just a few of the tools sites and services use to detect your VPN and disallow access.
- IP blocks – VPNs assign their IP addresses to your device whenever you connect. These aren’t associated with your name or location, but they can still be used to block access. All a site needs to do is compare your IP to a list of known VPN IP addresses and in an instant your VPN has been detected.
- Deep packet inspection (DPI) – One of the more technically advanced forms of VPN blocking includes deep packet inspections. This method analyzes encrypted data passed from a VPN to check for unique cryptography signatures. If they’re present, the service can block access right away. DPI isn’t as common as other methods, but it’s much more difficult to hide from.
- Port blocking – Most VPNs send data through certain ports, which are like hallways or tunnels to the internet. Each port has a number, so all a website has to do is check for traffic coming from that port, then block it. This isn’t as common as simple IP blocks, but it’s actually much easier to circumvent, especially if you’re using a powerful VPN.
How to Make a VPN Undetectable
There are several things you can do to lock down your VPN and make it undetectable to outside sources. Follow the steps below to choose the right methods that best suit your needs.
Step 1 – Start with the Right VPN
All the obfuscation techniques available can’t improve a low-tier VPN. Using free proxy services or no-charge VPNs may make you feel like you’re doing something to boost your privacy, but in reality you’re just harming it by providing companies with data they’re free to store or sell. To maintain an undetectable VPN presence, start with a quality reliable service.
We’ve selected a few of the best VPNs below that offer just the right mixture of powerful features and easy to use software. Any one of them is perfect for keeping your online activities safe and sound. Sign up for a VPN first, then come back and follow our tips to make these VPNs undetectable.
1. ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN
ExpressVPN has earned its reputation for being one of the fastest VPNs around. The company runs a network of hundreds of servers spread across 94 different countries, plenty of options to ensure you always have a great connection no matter where you’re located. ExpressVPN backs this up with smart software that includes a built-in speed test for optimal results. If video streaming is your priority, ExpressVPN gets the job done.
On the privacy side of things, ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption on all data along with a zero-logging policy on traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. Its software comes with DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch features to keep your identity secure, as well.
When you need to make your VPN connection undetectable, ExpressVPN offers a few options right out of the box. You can quickly switch between encryption protocols from the settings menu, changing from OpenVPN to L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, or even SSTP. All of these are great alternatives to the standard connection, letting you access websites without sacrificing your personal privacy.
2. IPVanish – Stay Hidden Online
IPVanish is a superb VPN for privacy conscious individuals who aren’t willing to sacrifice a fast connection. The IPVanish network is over 950 servers strong, covering 60 different countries with excellent speed results all around. Data is secured by DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch, along with 256-bit AES encryption and a zero-logging policy on all traffic. No matter your online privacy concerns, IPVanish can keep you safe.
When you need a little extra power behind your security, IPVanish is ready to deliver. The configuration menu lets you switch to both L2TP/IPSec and PPTP connections, both of which are a little slower than the standard OpenVPN protocol but are harder to detect by conventional methods.
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3. NordVPN – Powerful Protection
With NordVPN on the job, you’ll never have to worry about your privacy. The stable and reliable VPN offers an impressive list of features, including a massive network of over 3,300 servers in 59 different countries! This impressive number of servers allows NordVPN to offer some unique features other providers can’t touch, including double encryption, DDoS protection, and onion over VPN, all of which are perfect for securing your identity while browsing the internet..
NordVPN’s other privacy features are also worth mentioning, starting with a thorough zero-logging policy on bandwidth, traffic, time stamps, and DNS access. An automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection features hide your identity, and 256-bit AES encryption keeps every packet of data locked down tight.
NordVPN has some of the best extras that are perfect for keeping your connection undetectable. Right out of the box you can switch on the “obfuscated servers” option, scrambling your source data so firewalls and blocking algorithms will have a hard time figuring out whether or not you’re using a VPN. On top of that, NordVPN also delivers L2TP & PPTP connection options alongside SSTP encryption.
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4. VyprVPN – Top Tier Privacy
VyprVPN makes it easy to stay safe online. Sturdy 256-bit AES encryption, an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a zero-logging policy that covers traffic and DNS requests form an impenetrable bedrock of web security. On top of this, VyprVPN’s fast network of 700 servers in 70 different countries gives you plenty of connection options for fast, low-latency servers no matter your location.
When it comes to keeping your VPN undetectable, you really can’t beat VyprVPN. As soon as you launch the software you’ll have several amazing obfuscation tools at your disposal. The most powerful is Chameleon, VyprVPN’s proprietary technology that masks VPN traffic to defeat deep packet inspection in an instant. You can also toggle L2TP/IPSec 256-bit encryption or use PPTP 128-bit for added protection.
Step 2 – Change VPN Settings
Once you’ve got your favorite VPN set up and ready to go, there are some important tweaks you can make to boost security. Several of these can make your traffic completely undetectable, all without installing or configuring any additional software.
Switch Encryption Protocols
The type of encryption your VPN uses can make a huge difference. Most deploy the standard 256-bit AES with the OpenVPN protocol, which is a good balance between speed and unbreakable cryptography. Many blocking algorithms work by checking for OpenVPN traffic and blocking it, however. By switching to a new encryption standard, you can bypass firewalls to access any website you like.
The encryption protocol features vary widely depending on the VPN you’re using, but it can be the easiest way to make your VPN undetectable. All you have to do is find the right settings, switch them on, restart your VPN, and you’re set. Go to your VPN’s configuration page and look for some of the below options to get started.
- OpenVPN – The default protocol used by most VPNs. Switch to this if you don’t need to make your VPN undetectable.
- L2TP/IPSec – Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) paired with Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). When combined, these two create a strong encryption environment that’s slower but more secure than OpenVPN. Use this if speed isn’t crucial, but staying undetectable is.
- SSL/TLS – Transport Layer Security and its predecessor Secure Sockets Layer are less common in the VPN market, but if you’re able to switch to them, they can be the best option to make your traffic undetectable.
- SSH – Secure Shell tunnel traffic rarely offered by VPNs. If you can access it, you can break through almost any blockade or firewall, however.
Switch VPN Ports
Data ports work just like a door or a tunnel. Your device uses different ones to send information to your ISP and eventually the internet at large. By monitoring various port numbers companies can check for traffic types and apply blocks as they see fit. VPN traffic often passes through specific ports, making it easy to monitor or throttle.
You can keep your VPN undetectable by switching which port it uses for traffic. If your VPN software has the option, try switching to any of the ports listed below to stay hidden.
- 1194 – The official OpenVPN port. Avoid using if you want to stay undetectable.
- 2018 – A good alternative port to slip by ISP blocks.
- 41185 – Good to use in case your traffic is blocked across lower port ranges.
- 443 – The standard port for encrypted traffic. Rarely blocked because HTTPS secured sites utilize it.
- 80 – Another default encrypted port that’s rarely blocked.
Step 3 – Alternate Protection Methods
Not all VPNs offer top tier obfuscation. That’s perfectly fine, too, since it’s easy to deploy other methods to hide your traffic and keep your VPN connection undetectable. You’ll need a little extra time and technical knowhow to pull these off, but they can do some amazing things once set up properly.
SSH tunnels are a unique method of wrapping data in an extra layer of encryption, allowing them to pass through filtering services undetected. SSH is used in all sorts of applications, including sending and receiving files via FTP. For this reason it’s rarely blocked or monitored, making it a great way to slip your VPN connection through without a trace. SSH tunnels are noticeably slower than just a standard VPN, however, which makes them ill-suited for streaming videos. For more details, check out our complete guide to setting up and using SSH tunnels.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) connections power over half of the web. Have you ever seen sites with URLs that start with HTTPS? The “S” comes from SSL encryption. Online shopping, e-mail, web banking, and other services that deal with private data use SSL to offer secure connections. Blocking these ports or otherwise interfering with HTTPS traffic would shut down most of the web, which is why most ISPs and websites don’t even bother.
SSL tunnels are a great way to mask your connection to make your VPN undetectable. For the best results you’ll need a VPN that supports the protocol by default, such as NordVPN. Otherwise it’s a matter of downloading the stunnel software and setting up yourself, which can be time consuming.
The Tor Browser has been helping people stay hidden online for years. You can actually use it in tandem with your VPN to make your connection undetectable, but it comes with some serious drawbacks. First of all, you won’t be able to stream videos with Tor, so forget about Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Second, Tor is extremely slow, so much so that you’ll want to stop surfing after visiting just a few sites. If making your VPN traffic undetectable is a high priority, though, running Tor is one of the best ways to stay hidden.
To learn more about Tor, including complete installation instructions for a variety of platforms, check out our guide How to Use Tor: A Guide to Getting Started.
Shadowsocks (SOCKS5 Proxy)
Shadowsocks was made to help users in censorship-heavy countries like China and Turkey access the internet without restriction. It works by using the Socket Secure 5 protocol which transfers data between clients and servers by using a proxy server. SOCKS also provides a layer of authentication to make sure only the intended user can access the proxy, making it a powerful method for sending and encrypting traffic.
Shadowsocks is quite a bit faster and more reliable than some of the tunneling methods listed above. It’s not as easy to set up, however, and can be far more costly than a VPN. This method is best used as a last resort.
Run Your Own VPN Server
Want complete control over how your VPN works and which encryption protocols it uses? The best way to do that is to set one up yourself! It’s not as expensive or complicated as you might think. Follow our complete guide to set up your own VPN server.
Staying safe online is more than just running a VPN and not clicking on suspicious links. It takes some research and effort to know how to remain undetectable, even when sites are actively trying to block you. Instead of disabling your VPN for quick website access, try the obfuscation techniques listed above. With a little luck you’ll be able to stay hidden behind your cloak of encryption while breaking through all kinds of firewalls and blockades with ease.