What is obfuscation
PUREVPNCybersecurityWhat is obfuscation?

With more and more people using VPNs to access restricted content, repressive governments, streaming websites, and internet service providers (ISPs) are using anti-VPN measures to identify and block VPN traffic.

This is where obfuscation comes in handy. What it does is hide the fact that you’re connected to a VPN service, allowing you to bypass VPN blocks and access unavailable content without the fear of getting detected.

Read on to learn what obfuscation is, how it works, and why you need it:

What is obfuscation in VPNs?

In simple words, obfuscation masks VPN traffic so that it looks like regular traffic and stays hidden from anybody trying to detect it. These techniques don’t change VPN traffic but rather just obscure it. 

Most VPN providers use OpenVPN as their default protocol. While it does protect data by using encryption, it also adds a unique signature – this can be detected by Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and other detection techniques.

The goal of obfuscation is simple: to continue transferring data in a safe and secure (encrypted) manner while concealing the nature of the traffic in order to get around VPN blocks and firewalls. 

PureVPN now offers obfuscation on all its apps (available only with OpenVPN).

How does obfuscation work?

As mentioned, obfuscation is a useful method for circumventing VPN blocks. To make this possible, all VPN-related information needs to be removed from your data so that it appears like regular data. How a VPN provider masks VPN traffic is dependent on the type of obfuscation they use. 

For instance, they can hide data packets using an additional layer of SSL/SSH encryption so that VPN metadata stays out of reach. Another way is to scramble data, which strips the metadata from the packet header. In this way, it looks like normal HTTPS traffic that can’t be recognized by firewalls. 

Why do you need obfuscation?

Is a standard VPN sufficient to protect your privacy online and give you access to restricted content? Not necessarily! In some cases, a VPN with support for obfuscation is the only thing that will work for you. 

Here are some reasons why you might need to hide your VPN usage:

To stop ISP throttling

Many ISPs will slow down your internet connection if they notice you engaging in bandwidth-intensive activities like downloading or streaming. A VPN should stop this from occurring as your ISP won’t be able to view the destination or contents of your traffic. 

That said, your ISP might be able to identify that you’re using a VPN. Some users have even complained about ISPs throttling their VPN traffic. If so, obfuscation should help in preventing this practice.

To access geo-restricted streaming sites

Streaming platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer are becoming increasingly inventive when it comes to maintaining their geo-blocking practices and battling the use of VPNs. They employ different techniques like DPI and IP blacklisting to block VPN traffic.

A VPN that offers obfuscation will enable you to remain undetected while enjoying streaming content that would otherwise be unavailable. Another method is to opt for a VPN provider that big streaming sites don’t target, but let’s face it – that’s a rarity. 

To dodge network blocks

If you’re on an office or school network and want to use a VPN to bypass blocks, it might not always work. After all, some network administrators have methods in place to automatically block VPN traffic if it’s detected.

You may also incur fines if you use a VPN to circumvent the firewall. However, with obfuscation, you can get around firewalls worry-free because it will become close to impossible for admins to spot your traffic. 

To evade government censorship 

In some countries like Iran, China, and Egypt, the government heavily restricts internet access. Plus, the use of VPNs is blocked and illegal as well. This leaves citizens with no way to use the internet freely. Using a VPN that supports obfuscation, it’s possible to securely and privately gain access to blocked sites, services, and apps.

To improve privacy and security

Whether you’re a security-conscious individual or a journalist looking for extra online privacy, obfuscation can prove useful. It will make it very difficult for snoopers like cybercriminals, governments, and ISPs to detect that you’re using a VPN by adding an extra layer of protection to your already encrypted connection.

How to obfuscate your VPN traffic 

Even though obfuscation is a beneficial feature, not all VPNs offer them –  PureVPN is one of the few that does! Just follow these simple steps to connect to our obfuscated servers:

  • Open the PureVPN app and log into your account. (Click here to subscribe if you haven’t already).
  • Go to Settings and disable the Automatic Protocol Selection option. OpenVPN will be marked as TCP and UDP in the app. Select UDP as it’s faster. 
  • Hit the Quick Connect button or choose a server on your own by clicking/tapping the globe icon.

That’s about it. Obfuscation will automatically be applied to your traffic. We also recommend setting up the Kill Switch to stay safe in case the VPN connection drops.

Related readTCP vs UDP: What is the Difference Between Both Protocols?

Wrapping things up

An obfuscated VPN is useful because it lets you access content that’s blocked by your government, school or office, your ISP, or sites that use anti-VPN technology. You’ll be able to access geo-restricted streaming services and content, circumvent social media bans, and access other restricted sites by using obfuscation. Furthermore, it  provides enhanced online privacy and security as well.

Got any questions? Feel free to use the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

author

Haris Shahid

date

January 1, 2024

time

5 months ago

Haris Shahid has a genuine passion in covering the latest happenings in the cyber security, privacy, and digital landscape. He likes getting out and about, but mostly ends up spending too much of his time behind a computer keyboard. He tweets at @harisshahid01

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