Since 1989 with the introduction of the Stealth Bomber and other similar vehicles, the term stealth has become part of the culture. If you have seen it as part of the term Stealth VPN, you may have wondered what makes it different from normal VPNs. In this post, we will provide you with a definition, purpose, an explanation of how it works, and several applications. Then you can decide if using a Stealth VPN is the best choice for your needs. Let’s start by taking a look at our list of the best Stealth VPNs.
What is Stealth VPN and how does it work?
The word Stealth is a middle English word that means stolen. If you take off the ending of the word, the root becomes pretty clear. In modern times, it is used to describe something that can not be seen. When used in the context of a Stealth VPN, it is a server or protocol that has the ability to hide VPN traffic and make it look like simple encrypted data. Since some companies, schools, and governments use what is known as deep packet inspection, it is designed to be virtually invisible. That can be useful if you are in a country, school, or business that has a firewall or bans VPNs. If you need to use one but do not want to get detected, using a Stealth VPN is the way to help tunnel through those types of firewalls.
When you connect to a server that has obfuscation (stealth), your traffic is masked and made to look like standard HTTPS traffic. You may have noticed the addition of the S at the end of many popular sites that stands for secure. As an example, typing in www.google.com will automatically redirect you to the secure version of the site. If you have never noticed it before, take a look at the address bar the next time you type in a web address. Because HTTPS connections are necessary for everything secure, even the worst of the firewalls won’t block those types of packets.
How does obfuscation work?
When you use standard encryption, there are two components. You may have realized that it shares a similar structure to an email. The first component is called the header. It identifies the packets and routing information. Next, you have the body or payload. That is the encrypted part of the packet (or message) that is routed to the right place by the VPN server. Since the header includes the port number and the information on the type of encryption message, it is not hard to see why this is a bad thing.
When obfuscation is used, the metadata is stripped. Now, it can be made to look like standard HTTPS traffic. The packet now gets a second layer of encryption and the port is switched to #443, the normal port for HTTPS traffic.
How will a Stealth VPN help you?
Now that you have some idea of what a Stealth VPN does and how they work, we’ll talk about where to use them. If you are visiting or work in countries like China, Iran, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, or others, using a stealth VPN is crucial. That is because, for the most part, VPN usage is frowned upon (if not an outright crime).
Another good reason you may want to choose a stealth-styled VPN is to help you get around firewalls. Often times, companies, schools, the governments, or even some hotels have firewalls that block users from accessing content. While it does work and may increase productivity in many cases, you should not be blocked from a free and open Internet. In the case of some hotels, firewall blocks can make it difficult to fully browse the web.
The last big area where a stealth VPN would help deals with throttling problems. Though it should not happen, some ISP’s and mobile carriers will slow down users that stream content. The thought behind that is if the user is having difficulties with streaming, they will not want to keep trying. If your traffic is obfuscated, the provider does not realize you are streaming. All they see is encrypted traffic on their side.
What is the Best Stealth VPN?
Finding a good stealth VPN is not always easy to do. This is the list of things we looked for and why it matters.
- Server obfuscation – If you are trying to be stealthy in your VPN usage, obfuscating the VPN server you choose is important. You can also do this with port forwarding. There are several providers in our list that offer one or the other, or both. We like providers that have these options.
- Advanced features – Stealth VPNs are great to use, but you have to look for advanced features. These days, most providers have advanced features. For stealth VPNs, we look for VPN kill switches, split tunneling, port-forwarding, server obfuscation, and more.
- Money-back guarantee – A money-back guarantee may not seem like much for a stealth VPN, but if you have issues with the service, you want to know this one is an option. All of our providers have at least a 30-day money-back guarantee, but they have different rules on each one.
- High-speed and stable network – Server speed and network size are always important. If your service doesn’t have the speed or enough servers, using a stealth VPN won’t matter if it’s not usable for your activities.
Let’s take a deep dive into each of our top stealth VPNs:
1. Best Stealth VPN: ExpressVPN
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ExpressVPN is our top choice of stealth VPNs to use. Of course, you want to have a high level of security when dealing with VPNs. However, if the VPN is not fast enough, it does you no good. That’s where ExpressVPN’s protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and their proprietary Lightway come into play. Lightway is new to the community, and not only offers you great encryption, but it also has great speeds.
Of course, protocols aren’t everything when it comes to being stealthy. Luckily, ExpressVPN has excellent features to help you. These include features like IPv6 leak protection (when you are using IPv6), a kill switch (to stop your traffic from transmitting if the connection drops), split tunneling (so you don’t have to route everything through the VPN), launch on startup, and more.
ExpressVPN has a top team of researchers and support staff available 24/7. They’ll be glad to answer any questions you have and help you get everything set up correctly. The team also offers you a 30-day money-back guarantee and support for up to five simultaneous devices.
2. Best Stealth VPN: NordVPN
NordVPN does a good job at being a stealth VPN. That is because of some of the features it offers like obfuscated servers, invisibility on LAN (to keep your device hidden on a local network), auto-connect on WiFi (great for open WiFi networks), a kill switch (to disable internet access when not connected to a VPN), split tunneling, and more.
The encryption protocols NordVPN uses are also important. It offers the users the next-generation encryption protocols of NordLynx (the company’s tweaking of the WireGuard option), IKEv2, and OpenVPN. WireGuard is the newest protocol in the community, offering great speeds and low VPN overhead. They offer their users a 30-day money-back guarantee, up to six simultaneous devices, and a 24/7 support team.
3. Best Stealth VPN: PIA
Private Internet Access is well-known in the privacy space and is a good choice for stealthy VPNs. They offer a multi-hop and obfuscation feature using Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 Proxy. You can also use advanced split tunneling and encryption settings, access to dedicated IP addresses, ad and malware blocking (through their MACE feature), and more. While those features will help you be stealthy, that isn’t all PIA offers.
For speed and security, PIA uses the next-generation protocols of WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. Those will help you take advantage of their more than 30k servers divided between 75+ different countries. When you combine those factors with up to ten simultaneous devices, a 24/7 support staff, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a strict no logs-policy, PIA is a decent choice to make for stealth VPNs.
4. Best Stealth VPN: CyberGhost
When it comes to using a stealth VPN, CyberGhost has some good benefits. CyberGhost is highly privacy-centric and has specialized NoSpy servers in their headquarters in Romania. Features such as split tunneling, a kill switch, DNS & IP leak protection, and more help as well. They also have the top-of-the-line encryption protocols of WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2. Those will help keep your connection stealthy.
Additionally, CyberGhost has a massive network of over 7600 servers in 91 countries. All those server options mean you can not only be fast on their network, but you can also protect your traffic and help you remain stealthy. With up to seven devices, an industry-leading 45-day money-back guarantee, custom VPN apps, and a 24/7 support staff, CyberGhost will cover you well.
5. Best Stealth VPN: IPVanish
IPVanish is no stranger to keeping itself in the stealth VPN conversation. IPVanish focuses on privacy and offers several features that make it well-suited for the task. The primary one is OpenVPN scramble which which will help you hide your VPN traffic. Others include DNS leak protection, server obfuscation, a SOCKS5 proxy, split tunneling, automatic start-up, port forwarding, and more. These are all important options for a stealth VPN.
Encryption protocols are also important, and IPVanish has the next-generation options of WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN. Of those three, WireGuard offers the lowest overhead. That way, you can get solid speeds and keep your connection stealthy. We suggest you stay away from protocols like L2TP and IPSec. You’ll love their 24/7 support staff, their 30-day money-back guarantee, and their unlimited simultaneous devices.