How ‘Stealth VPN’ Technology Works: 2023 Edition
Many individuals and organizations are starting to realize the essence of connecting to public online services over a secured channel. For some, it’s to protect user identity, and for others, it’s to preserve data integrity. For the mentioned problems, various Virtual Private Network (VPN) services provide support. They do this using encryption protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, or L2TP as a solution.
If you are constantly seeking better ways to protect your privacy on the internet, you are likely to have stumbled across a technology called Stealth VPN or ‘Obfuscation’. This article explains what it is.
What is Stealth VPN?
Stealth VPN is a step away from the norm of VPN technology. With the increase in VPN usage, cybersecurity experts are starting to detect and nip data originating from VPN networks. In a bid to detect packets sent from VPN networks, online watchdogs use data flow patterns to differentiate between packets originating from a non-anonymous system and a VPN network.
A Stealth VPN service consists of a unique protocol, a network of obfuscation servers, or a combination of both. It scrambles the patterned data flow of VPN networks, making it seem to be from a regular network. Stealth VPN gets its appellation from the Airforce plane that cannot be detected by radar. VPN services with stealth technology can easily bypass cybersecurity roadblocks like online service censorship or the outright internet access restrictions enforced in countries like Cuba, UAE, Iran, Pakistan, and the Great Firewall nation – China.
How Does Stealth VPN Protocol Work?
To appreciate the functionality of stealth VPN, it becomes essential to understand what makes regular VPNs vulnerable. Data sent from VPNs without the stealth capability mostly utilize the OpenVPN protocol – the most vigorous VPN encryption protocol. OpenVPN encrypts data packets. The encrypted data is structured such that it has two parts – a header and the central data capsule.
The header of encrypted data contains the routing and identification information, while the capsule bears the data payload en route to the queried website. Network administrators and ISPs can easily detect packets from conventional VPNs. Deep inspection routines on the header section of data packets reveal your connection as being from a VPN network, thus making you an open victim of censorship and restriction.
VPN services with stealth technology achieve unfettered anonymity using ‘obfuscation’. Obfuscation means that the data from your network is ‘obscured’ and made to appear similar to the regular secured HTTPS connections. A good analogy of how the obfuscation technology works is this: wiping off the serial number, logo, and other indicators that may assist inquirers in identifying the manufacturer of a censored product.
HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, and HTTPS is its secure version. HTTPS is widely acclaimed as secure because the data packets transferred using this protocol are encrypted using either an SSL or TLS encryption. All reliable commercial websites and online services like Facebook, Google, and financial institutions share and collect user data using HTTPS. Relative to the HTTPS standard of online data communication, data from traditional VPNs are in the HTTP format, making it easy for ISPs and Network Administrators to flag them as unwholesome.
Most VPN users are aware of the ability of firewalls to block off VPN usage, particularly firewalls that sport Deep Packet Inspection technologies.
Obfuscation with Stealth VPN Protocol
In Stealth VPN protocol, the obfuscation cascades data packets from a VPN network in these two steps:
- The stealth VPN utilizes its obfuscation servers to double encrypt the OpenVPN packets using the TLS or SSL standard.
- HTTPS packets are only channeled through port #443. Stealth VPN does precisely the same to data originating from its network.
These encryptions imply that the data exiting the network nodes secured by a Stealth VPN appears precisely the same as other secured connection queries on the World Wide Web.
Why Should I Use Stealth VPN?
Are you still in doubt of the essence of the entire Stealth VPN brouhaha? Here are some circumstances that are likely to make you take Stealth VPN services seriously.
1. Prevents Local Geo-restriction
Some countries have strict laws about the use of some online services. The government of such countries are investing heavily to ensure their firewalls are almost impossible to bypass. In these countries, authorities recruit geeky cybersecurity analysts who know all the ‘tricks from the book’ to bypass firewalls. These analysts then track down and block off efforts to access the internet over a conventional VPN connection.
A Stealth VPN service will cascade the obfuscated connection and make your VPN usage undetectable.
2. Eliminates Speed Throttling
Internet Service Providers may be able to tell when users access the internet via conventional VPN. Though they may not outrightly cut off user access, they alternatively throttle the connection speed of such users. That is, those that their systems have automatically detected to be using a VPN. The speed throttling makes the connection via a VPN as good as not having access at all.
As in the case of firewalls, a Stealth VPN service covers the trail of your VPN usage. This makes it impossible for your ISP to detect that you are using a VPN.
3. Top-notch Privacy
In some cases, internet access or VPN usage restriction may be the least of your problems. The awareness that your online activity may be monitored even while using a conventional VPN service may nudge you to subscribe to a Stealth VPN. With a Stealth VPN, your ISP and other bodies – like the NSA will find it challenging to detect your VPN usage as all packets from your network will behave like regular ones.
4. Saves from Potentially Embarrassing Situations
Imagine having to explain to your employer or university faculty head why you’ve been using a VPN on the network of your affiliate organization. There is every likelihood that the VPN is for some activity you wouldn’t want to divulge to a third party. Also, some organizations restrict access to their libraries to networks identified to be making use of VPNs. This can be quite a nuisance in some cases. However, with a stealth VPN, the network administrator will be ignorant that you are using a VPN.
Possible Disadvantages of Stealth VPN
Despite all the highlighted benefits of Stealth VPN services, it may end up falling into the hands of users who would utilize it for nefarious purposes. For example, with just the right amount of technical know-how, Stealth VPN protocols are strong enough to allow users to access the internet without paying for the services to the host ISP. Multiple internet subscribers having the advanced encryption capabilities afforded by Stealth VPNs will spell a tremendous loss for ISPs.
Browsing with a Stealth VPN encryption helps to bypass the complicated restrictions posed by sophisticated firewalls. Summarily, a VPN service that comes with a stealth encryption protocol becomes necessary to erase the footprints left behind by other conventional VPNs.