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.
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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?
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 unblock access to 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. Being in the British Virgin Islands puts ExpressVPN outside the 5 eyes and 14 eyes countries. They maintain a no-log policy that has been verified through high profile legal requests over the years.
ExpressVPN manages a very large VPN network. Beyond the USA, the ExpressVPN network boasts thousands 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 streaming services 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.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of using ExpressVPN is their support for a wide range of devices. ExpressVPN offers custom VPN software for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Connect from your desktop and mobile at the same time with up to 3 simultaneous connections. You can also install the ExpressVPN web extension for Chrome or Firefox. Want to protect your entire home network with a single VPN account? If so you can use the ExpressVPN router app to get all set up. The MediaStreamer feature adds Smart DNS support to game consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, etc.), media boxes (Apple TV, Roku, Nvidia Shield TV, etc.), and Smart TVs.
ExpressVPN performed very well in our speed tests. They are a great choice for privacy and to unblock geo-restrictions. Customer support is available 24/7 to provide assistance and answer any questions. Enjoy the best VPN for less with confidence as ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
NordVPN is based in Panama which some users prefer to using a VPN company that’s actually headquartered in the United States. You will find that NordVPN has a strong presence in the US with servers located throughout the country. Members have full access to their network in the USA and beyond for a very good price.
You will find that NordVPN has perhaps the best mix of services for the price if you subscribe to an account for a longer period of time. All users have full access to their network and custom software. You can connect using the VPN client for Windows or Mac. They also have an easy-to-use mobile app for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad) devices. You can use the NordVPN browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. NordVPN offers some advanced privacy features like double VPN, P2P servers, and dedicated IP that really helps the service stand out.
Want to access streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world? If so NordVPN is a great choice. They are one of the only VPN services that can still unblock Netflix. You can sign up for unlimited VPN and SmartDNS service with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Private Internet Access (PIA) gives users a few different options. Unlike in the past, you no longer have to set up a profile for each VPN server. Now, you can connect to any of their server locations in 29 countries. The PIA team has organized their servers by region, country, and city. You will find the speed to be fast most of the time.
There are a lot of torrent users who love Private Internet Access. The service includes a feature that will stop your system from communicating if the connection to their service drops. Meaning if your encrypted VPN access is dropped for any reason it will keep you safe.
PIA offers a Windows client and other apps that are simple and easy to use. However, you won’t want to underestimate it. PIA offers different levels of privacy protection depending on your needs. You can control encryption levels to help you find the right balance between privacy and speed.
When it comes to their Windows client the PIA team has included an Internet kill switch. The kill switch will kill your Internet connection anytime the VPN fails. That can really come in handy for those wanting to ensure anonymity. Private Internet Access offers members a 30-day money back guarantee.
CyberGhost was founded in 2001 by 7 enthusiastic young team members in Bucharest, Romania. Since that time the company has grown into one of the largest VPN services in the world. The team of 50+ members is focused on protecting users privacy. Robert Knapp, co-founder and CEO, continues to lead the team even after they joined the Crossrider group in 2017. Since that time the CyberGhost network has expanded quite a bit.
CyberGhost offers a nice mix of server locations, strong encryption, and the ability to unblock popular streaming services like Netflix, YouTube Red, and Amazon Prime. Some of the channels even let you unblock geo-restrictions for multiple regions. For example, you can access Amazon Prime video content in the US, Germany, or UK. The Windows client also gives you the option to surf anonymously, protect WiFi, torrent anonymously, unblock basic websites (Google, Facebook Instagram, etc.), and choose a server.
The CyberGhost VPN client is one of our favorites. It is very easy to use and includes a number of advanced features to help protect your online privacy. They have a development team in Germany that is continually adding features to the client and mobile apps. You can sign up for full access to the CyberGhost network with a 45-day money back guarantee.
The USA is home to several popular VPN services, but none faster than IPVanish. We know from personal experience that IPVanish will work quite well no matter what region of the country you are in. Their servers are fast and the VPN service has more server locations in the United States than most VPN providers.
Along with a large footprint in the USA, IPVanish hosts servers in every continent other than Antarctica. Their VPN network has consistently been the fastest in North America in our speed tests. You will find multiple server locations in countries like the US and UK. You can select a location or get more specific by picking an individual server. IPVanish is excellent for gaming but can be hit and miss for unblocking popular streaming services.
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. You can even set up your router to protect every device on your network. A 7-day money back guarantee covers all new members.
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.