Cybersecurity is becoming one of the most pressing issues in today’s world. With internet providers and nefarious third parties being able to access your data and your browsing history with ease, you’ll have to go the extra mile to protect your privacy online.
For some internet users, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be a good enough solution to surf the internet privately and stop Internet Service Providers (ISPs), governments, and third parties from spying on their internet activities.
However, there are many cases in which a simple VPN service won’t cut it. This is when obfuscation comes in. This article is here to precisely explain what are obfuscated servers (and why you need them).
Table of Contents
What Are Obfuscated Servers?
The word obfuscation is defined as “the act of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible,” but what differentiates between simply using a VPN and using obfuscated servers?
Obfuscation is a technology that many privacy protection tools like VPN and Tor employ. It aims to camouflage your VPN traffic and instead make it look like regular traffic. This technology is sometimes also referred to as “cloaking technology” or “stealth VPN.”
While using a VPN, the data shared between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. However, VPN connections usually have a recognizable signature. Even though they can’t decrypt your data, your ISP, the government, or even a third party can recognize this signature and detect VPN traffic.
They can do so via Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). This type of data processing identifies and classifies specific data packets to determine if a VPN protocol is encrypting them. DPI can also use advanced packet filtering to block VPN traffic once it spots its signature.
Why You Need Obfuscated Servers
There are various reasons why you may need to hide that you’re using a VPN:
- Evade government censorship
- To stop ISP throttling
- To bypass network blocks
- To stream geo-blocked content
1. Evade Government Censorship
Some countries, such as China, Iran, and Russia, have strict surveillance, censorship, and internet regulations. For example, some governments may limit access to foreign news websites, while others may choose to block social media platforms.
The government and ISPs usually implement additional measures to stop their citizens from accessing blocked websites. For example, they may try to detect VPN traffic and block standard VPN protocols to prevent access to such websites. In that case, obfuscation is pretty much the only way to bypass VPN blocks and avoid legal trouble.
2. Stop ISP Throttling
ISPs can throttle your bandwidth if they see you’re heavily streaming or downloading. But since VPNs can hide your traffic, ISPs have to get creative. Some ISPs throttle your VPN traffic if they detect you’re using one.
Since using a VPN already reduces your internet speed considerably, further throttling the speed can render your internet connection unusable. However, by hiding your VPN traffic via an obfuscated server, your ISP will be none the wiser, and you can continue browsing at high speed.
3. Bypass Network Blocks
Even in countries where it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN, your school or workplace may block certain websites or internet services. They may also prohibit the use of a VPN to go around their firewall. In order to bypass this block, you’ll need to connect to a VPN with obfuscation servers.
4. Stream Geo-Blocked Content
Due to copyright agreements, most streaming services block access to specific titles outside the country in which they’re based. Using VPNs used to do the trick in the past, but not anymore.
Some streaming platforms such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer work hard to detect and block VPN traffic that visits their website. Luckily, you can go around this by using obfuscated servers that mask your VPN traffic.
Will Your Traffic Still Be Encrypted if You Use Obfuscated Servers?
Absolutely. When using obfuscated servers, your traffic remains encrypted. It just seems like it isn’t to fool DPI into not intercepting it.
Obfuscated servers disguise your VPN traffic to make it look like regular HTTPS traffic. But this VPN traffic is already encrypted, and VPN obfuscation doesn’t undo what encryption has already done. If anything, it only adds an extra layer of encryption to camouflage your data further.
Now you know what are obfuscated servers (and why you need them), but let’s have a quick recap anyway.
Obfuscated servers take cybersecurity to the next level by masking your VPN usage patterns. By making your VPN traffic look like regular traffic, no one will be able to detect it.
Therefore, if you want to connect to an internal network that doesn’t allow VPNs, use a VPN in a country where it’s banned or prevent ISPs from snooping on your internet activity, employing obfuscated servers would be the right call.