How to Use a VPN to Bypass Internet Censorship
Internet censorship uses filters to censor certain images, keywords or sites. This is often used within workplaces, or public internet access points such as those in libraries or schools to prevent certain internet sites being accessed, or images being disseminated. This can be circumvented with a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN uses a private network to transfer data over the internet via a remote server which can only be seen by the user’s computer, the VPN provider and the website server. This means that if a VPN is used to access blocked sites in the workplace, those monitoring internet usage will not be able to see the type of data being transferred, only that a VPN is being used. This has all the benefits of being able to use a public network, but ensures that the VPN provider encrypts any data so that it cannot be read. This will prevent the data being automatically flagged up by the censorship filters.
VPN’s can be set up by installing software on the individual computer, however many operating systems such as Windows have the support software for VPNs already installed. Point to Point Tunnelling Protocols (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocols (L2TP) are supported, and setting up a VPN involves entering the VPN server’s internet protocol (IP) address on the internet settings on the computer. Here is a comparison of the Top 10 VPN Services.
The disadvantage of VPN’s is that some networks have a filter that prevents the transfer of data through commercially known VPN providers on their firewall. This is the case in China, where VPN providers are blocked by the nation’s internet services. Furthermore, searches and internet history are still visible to anyone with actual or remote access to a computer, as website search history is cached even when deleted.