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 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?
We focused on the following criteria to determine our list of the best Stealth VPNs:
- The ability to hide VPN traffic as normal encrypted data
- Success in not being detected by deep packet inspection
- Use of obfuscation to make the VPN appear as normal HTTPS traffic
- High levels of encryption to protect your online privacy
- Ability to circumvent throttling by ISPs and streaming services
Without further delay, here is a list of the best stealth VPN services:
ExpressVPN is hands down the best solution for those in China. They use stealth technology and techniques to help those in restrictive countries (like China) overcome firewall restrictions. The key is to connect to their VPN servers in Hong Kong. From there you will be able to access websites and apps that would otherwise be blocked.
ExpressVPN brings together fast VPN access with MediaStreamer which acts as a Smart DNS service to help unblock access to some great geo-restricted content. The VPN service will help encrypt your connection and unblock live sporting events. You will even find a list of the latest live entertainment and sporting events on their website.
ExpressVPN manages a very large VPN network. Beyond the USA and Canada, the ExpressVPN network boasts hundreds of servers in key locations to help protect their user’s privacy. You can use their network to protect your privacy, unblock censorship, and watch your favorite teams from anywhere.
The ExpressVPN app allows you to select a server location down to the city but you can not choose a specific server. Instead, the client will select a server in your chosen location. You also need to know that some cities are not shown on the recommended tab inside the client. To find one in the US, simply select the “All” tab, open Americas, and then open the United States. At this point, you can select servers there.
While ExpressVPN is sold at a higher price point than the other services in our list, the value is high given the size of their network and service features. You can connect a computer, handheld device, router, and game console (SmartDNS) with a single VPN account for just $6.67 a month with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Our favorite, as far as using this feature goes, is IPVanish. They make obfuscation easy to toggle on and off. Whether you are using the full version on a computer or the mobile version, you can find the setting for it inside the software. Simply go to Settings and then Connection. On the computer version, you would click the checkbox that says “Obfuscate OpenVPN traffic” under the OpenVPN heading. If you are using the mobile version, turning on obfuscation happens when you move the “Scramble” slider from left to right. The port may also be selected, but 443 is usually the best choice. You may also notice that the obfuscation seems to have a minimal impact on speed in comparison to a normal connection. The ease of use on both versions makes IPVanish our go-to choice.
Along with a large footprint in the USA, IPVanish hosts servers in every continent other than Antarctica. The network has consistently been the fastest VPN in North America and Europe in our speed tests. You will find multiple server locations in countries like the US and UK. You can select a location or an individual server.
When it comes to value, IPVanish is hard to beat. They offer unlimited access to their VPN network and custom software for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Firestick and more for $7.50 a month or $58.49 a year. That works out to just $4.87 a month on the annual plan. Members are covered by a 7-day money back guarantee.
StrongVPN is headquartered in the United States and has one of the best VPN networks in the country. It is also one of the most seasoned. In the past, the company charged users based on the number of server locations and protocols they used. We’re happy to share that StrongVPN now offers members full access to their network with hundreds of servers worldwide.
When using this client, the scramble/obfuscate option is available for the OpenVPN protocol. It is located in the customer area and may be switched on at any time. Then, it will stay activated until you turn it off. As with some of the other options we have mentioned, it is easy to use and toggle between both modes.
The latest addition to the StrongVPN service is the StrongDNS feature. Everyone who signs up for a StrongVPN account also receives free access to StrongDNS which is a smart DNS service used to circumvent geo-restrictions. It is a great solution for those who plan to travel outside the USA and want to access various streaming content.
StrongVPN has been kind in offering our visitors a 25% discount. The coupon stacks on top of their normal term discounts. You can enjoy unlimited VPN and free SmartDNS access for just $7.50 a month or $52.49 a year. The annual account works out to just $4.37 a month. New users are covered by a 7-day money back guarantee.
The VyprVPN team is based out of Austin, Texas and has a long history of fighting for user’s Internet privacy. They have hosted an annual privacy panel at SXSW for several years and have even spent time in Washington, DC lobbying for privacy reforms. You will find the VPN service to be in line with their values.
The way the VyprVPN team hides VPN traffic is through the use of their proprietary protocol called Chameleon. It is a 256-bit encryption OpenVPN Protocol with obfuscation built into it. Instead of the need to change the settings of your VPN software, simply connect to the Chameleon profile and you are all set.
You will notice some added features with VyprVPN depending on which account you choose. The VyprVPN Premium plan includes 5 simultaneous connections, VyprVPN Cloud, and Chameleon protocol. The VyprVPN Cloud feature allows you to control your own VPN server in the cloud. Of course, they also have a way to obfuscate their data.
VyprVPN has been kind in offering our visitors a 25% discount. The coupon stacks on top of their normal term discounts. You can enjoy unlimited VPN and VyprVPN Cloud for just $12.95 a month or $60 a year. The annual account works out to just $5.00 a month. New users are covered by a 3-day money back guarantee.
TorGuard was launched in 2012 by team members located in Nevis, West Indies. When you compare it to other services, this VPN service is relatively new. However, they have more than 1250 servers located in 42 different countries around the world. Their target audience is the torrenting community, so they do their best to make torrenting easy and fast for the users.
TorGuard has a solid mix of server locations, strong encryption, and the ability to unblock popular streaming services like Netflix, YouTube Red, and Amazon Prime as well as torrenting activities. Often times, you can gain access to Amazon Prime video content in several different locations. When using the Windows client, you have the option to surf anonymously, protect WiFi, torrent anonymously, unblock basic websites (Google, Facebook Instagram, etc.), choose a server, and more.
The TorGuard VPN service is a favorite in the file-sharing community. Everything is easy to use and straightforward so you can easily protect your online privacy. There are frequently features added to the mobile versions as well. You can sign up for full access for as low as $4.99 a month during their current promotion.
Final Thoughts on Using a Stealth VPN
In conclusion, we hope we have answered some of your questions and educated you on the reasons for using a stealth VPN. As you can see, there are definitely some good reasons to do so. If you fall into one of the categories we mentioned earlier or just want extra privacy, it is not something you should be without.