What is VPN Obfuscation? How Does It Help Me Hide?  

What is VPN Obfuscation? How Does It Help Me Hide?

Data encryption is only part of what makes an effective VPN. There are many features and technical jargon aspects to consider; one of those terms you see thrown around is VPN obfuscation. 

This article will go through the details to educate people on the topic. So you can reach an informed decision and select the best VPN for you, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about obfuscation and why you should keep it in mind. 

What Does Obfuscated Mean?

 According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to obfuscate is to confuse. You might think that VPNs already do that with geolocation spoofing. However, hiding your location isn’t enough for most VPNs. 

How Does Obfuscation Apply to VPNs?

Obfuscation in a more VPN-centric term confuses the receiving client into thinking that you are not using a VPN. The primary benefit of tricking your client into thinking you aren’t using a VPN is overcoming standard VPN blocks. 

As data packet scans become more advanced, they are trained to catch VPNs. Because of some ill-informed reasons, some sites reject all connections coming from VPNs. In cases where you see the “cannot connect” message, it might be coming from a site-side block of your attempts to connect. 

Much of this issue comes back to the natural stigma of people using VPNs. Some people would say, “why would you go to great lengths to hide your connections?” The reality is that these people don’t understand the importance of owning the rights to your data. 

Through obfuscation, you overcome the natural policy of some service providers to deny VPN users based on the concept. While we cannot recommend you violate any TOS policy (mainly to avoid jail time), we agree that people shouldn’t be shocked at the idea that you should hide your data. 

How Does VPN Obfuscation Work?

 VPN obfuscation uses the same port that HTTPS traffic uses (Port 433). Because VPN services use the same port, connections coming through this method are expected and accepted. As a result, you overcome most of the blocking issues from standard VPN ports. 

The detailed process for how it works depends on the obfuscation type. Below, we will go into further detail on different types of obfuscation commonly in use. 

Who Benefits From Using Obfuscation?

All casual (and serious) VPN users benefit from using obfuscated servers. Overcoming standard VPN blocks enables you to get back to using your regular services.

Despite some of the companies you use not liking VPNs (for example, if you have a Netflix account), they have no right to impose their security opinions on you. Companies typically don’t like when you argue with them and take control of your rights as an online consumer. 

Different Types of Obfuscation 

There are a few different forms of obfuscation on the market. To use them, you need to have one of the two situations exist:

  • Your VPN provider needs to support it
  • You need to know how to apply it manually

In case number two, it requires quite a bit of technical skill to pull off. If you manually set up a VPN, you might find obfuscation among the steps. There are four major types of obfuscation:

Obfsproxy

Obfsproxy (obfuscation proxy)  is a result of users of the Tor network being unable to access specific sites due to government censorship. It is a type of pluggable transport (PT) that acts as an external tool for bypassing censorship.

This information is found through a Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). This inspection is the same that VPN review specialists use to determine the encryption effectiveness of your VPN. You’ll need to have a tool that supports OpenVPN to use this. It is part of a small number of mainstream VPNs. 

OpenVPN Over SSL/SSH 

OpenVPN is already built using SSL connections. Its connection to SSH is only through existing relationships, making it not a regularly available protocol association. 

From our earlier section, this reliance on the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) makes it easier to obfuscate. You’ll need to pick out the suitable servers from the list of those that use SSL. 

Typically, you’ll see these servers listed as “obfuscated,” identifying them right out of the gate. These labeled servers will tell the receiving end what location you are at. 

OpenVPN Scramble

OpenVPN Scramble is a feature made available from a small number of VPN providers. Typically, you’ll find these among the connection settings of VPNs. 

OpenVPN Scramble relies on the XOR encryption algorithm. XOR is a simple replacement-based algorithm that involves replacing single characters for encryption.

Because of this, the protocol is seen as primarily insecure. However, alongside the more secure OpenVPN protocol, it does have some potential in the right hands. Needing an improved patch is necessary for XOR to be helpful. 

Many VPN developers frown upon its use in favor of its more advanced cousin: Obfsproxy. Because it is so easy to implement for developers, it can be just as easy to overcome. 

Shadowsocks

Shadowsucks is a fast tunnel proxy made by a Chinese developer in 2012. Being driven by a Chinese developer means it exists for one primary purpose: to overcome the great firewall of China.

Shadowsocks isn’t known for being particularly strong but is excellent at confusing clients. Paired with alternative VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, etc.), it can easily fool users into believing you come through HTTPS traffic.

Stunnel

As a specific VPN obfuscation method that routes through a TLS/SSL tunnel, this is a form of Shadowsocks with a less specific focus. As you might imagine, this obfuscation method also requires you to pair up with a robust VPN protocol.  

Reasons Why You Should Use Obfuscated Servers

 Obfuscated servers come with a few benefits:

  • Seeking obfuscated servers enables you to overcome the most common VPN blocks. Obfuscation essential prevents websites from identifying you as VPN traffic. Because of this, you won’t have to struggle with disconnecting and reconnecting. 
  • Because you aren’t likely to run into blocks, you can expect fewer interruptions from streaming services. You will not expect the standard Netflix messaging telling you that you need to disable your VPN to keep viewing. 
  • To overcome ISPs throttling your traffic, fool them into thinking you live elsewhere. Your can confuse you provider by the general VPN traffic but they might overcome it with data throttling regardless. Obfuscation might allow you to avoid standard throttling nets. 
  • Governments and countries also might have issues with VPNs. Obfuscation will fool local internet into thinking you aren’t in a restricted location. If you want to overcome government sponsorship, obfuscating yourself is an excellent way to do this. 
  • An extra layer of privacy can come from using obfuscation. What’s better than giving people nothing? Giving people the fake version of something real. That way, ISPs and other blocking entities will have less reason to pursue the “real truth.” 

Situations Where Obfuscation Won’t Be Helpful

Of course, not all situations call for obfuscation.

  •  If you are trying to overcome workplace blocks, fooling them into thinking you are from the Netherlands won’t help. You might have to answer some uncomfortable questions after the administrators identify you from the mac address. 
  • Not all websites will block you based on you using a VPN. Most websites are cool with it as long as you aren’t trying to doxx them. Getting a VPN with obfuscation is more of a situational need. 
  • Obfuscation is excellent at fooling some people but doesn’t work in all situations. Most times, you won’t see any increased security due to obfuscation. Instead, it is more of a bandaid for an overall security risk issue. 
  • Obfuscation sometimes requires you to route your information through another proxy server. As a result, it can slow down your connection further, which isn’t ideal for streaming. This situation doesn’t happen in most cases but is possible while using Shadowsocks. 

How To Ensure Your VPN Performs Under Obfuscated Servers

If you want to be sure your VPN continues to perform well despite obfuscation, here are some tips:

  • If possible, stick with servers in nearby countries (in the same region would be best). This prevents you from routing through a distant server that can slow down your connection.
  • Find servers with low loads and a small number of entrants. The fewer people are there, the faster your connection speeds will likely be.  
  • If you live in a restrictive country, make sure you have a kill switch. A kill switch enables no more accidental data sending

Conclusion – Are Obfuscated Servers Worth It?

There are two reasons you should consider obfuscated servers:

  • If your service providers block VPN connections
  • If you live in a restrictive country that tracks VPN connections (China, North Korea, etc.).

Using server obfuscation is wasteful when someone isn’t actively looking for VPNs. Obfuscation provides few security benefits, as ISPs won’t care one way or another unless government leadership tells them otherwise. 

Your ultimate goal should be to find a secure VPN with military-grade encryption to ensure you remain safe. By prioritizing this layer of security, you will avoid most problems from this exposure. The Fast VPN provides this high level of protection while maintaining your internet speed at the best levels. 

Give us a shot with a 7-day free trial

Try The Fast VPN for free for 7 days on iOS, macOS, and Android with 30-day money-back guarantee

Get free trial

Download FastVPN mobile app for iOS & Android platforms.