Obfuscation (called Camouflage mode on Surfshark) is a tool used by a lot of privacy protection technologies. Its goal is to mask the fact that a privacy protection tool is being used. With Surfshark, obfuscation will hide the fact that you’re using a VPN, even from your ISP.
Use obfuscated servers for extra privacy
- Hide your VPN use
- Avoid government censorship
- Bypass restrictions at work
What is obfuscation?
How does VPN obfuscation work?
The process involves creating special algorithms or other codes. This makes your traffic look like any old regular traffic, and your provider can’t see that you have privacy software on!
Why would you need obfuscated servers?
If you live in a country that has a censorship problem - like China or Russia - then obfuscation is most likely crucial. You will need it for your VPN to work in the first place as it will allow you to bypass restrictions!
Feel like your Internet Service Provider cares about and controls too much of what you do online? Obfuscation will hide the fact you are using a VPN from your ISP.
Some governments track their citizens more than others, e.g., China. If you have a reason to worry your government is tracking you, obfuscated servers are the way to go as governments will be unable to see any “suspicious” VPN use.
Strict internal networks
Some universities or schools ban the use of VPNs. In such a case, obfuscation can work as a VPN for your VPN and hide the fact that you’re using privacy-protection tools. They cannot block a VPN if they do not know one is being used.
How can your ISP tell you’re using a VPN?
Generally, your ISP can do this by looking at the patterns of your traffic. All VPNs work in a very similar way – they send your traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel, which involves multiple layers of protection. Since regular online traffic isn’t protected like that, it looks different. These differences are how your provider can tell that you’re using a VPN.
How do you use obfuscated servers?
If you don’t have an account yet, creating one is easy!
Go to the settings
Click on Advanced, and you’ll see “Protocol”
Click Protocol and choose one of the OpenVPN options. That’s it!*
*The OpenVPN protocol automatically applies obfuscation to your traffic.
Can a VPN be detected?
Yes, it’s possible to see that somebody is using a VPN by looking at their traffic. That doesn’t mean your activities are visible, but it does mean that the fact you’re using a VPN may be apparent.
Can obfuscated servers bypass the Great Firewall Of China?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. While obfuscated servers are an important part in bypassing China’s firewalls, they alone cannot guarantee that your VPN provider will work in China.
It takes complicated algorithms, among other technologies, as well as continuous maintenance to keep a VPN service up and running for users in China. However, if your provider offers obfuscated servers as Surfshark does, it’s a step in the right direction!
What does a VPN blocker do?
A VPN blocker is a tool that governments, ISPs, or website administrators use to deny access to a particular service or services when you connect to the internet with a VPN. The most common method used to block VPNs is blocking specific IP addresses. Another common way is blocking ports that VPN tunneling protocols use, e.g., PPTP and L2TP.
Can anyone track you using a VPN?
Anything can eventually be tracked – however, the effort levels vary quite wildly. When you use a VPN, you are exceedingly challenging to track, and somebody would have to pay a lot of special attention, as well as effort, to achieve that. That is because a good VPN encrypts your data and makes it unreadable to anyone else. Surfshark, for example, uses AES-256 encryption, which is currently considered impossible to decrypt.
How do you know if a server is obfuscated?
There’s no easy answer to this. If you live in a country that blocks VPNs and your VPN works, you’re probably using obfuscated servers. Does your university ban the use of VPNs on their internal networks? If your VPN works, you’re probably connecting to obfuscated servers.
However, to know for sure, you’d need to look into your traffic patterns. Traffic with a VPN has specific patterns due to the technology being used. If you know what these patterns are and your traffic doesn’t show them when you turn on your VPN, you’re probably connected to an obfuscated server.
This does require quite extensive technical knowledge, so if you’re not sure where to start, you can always contact the support team of your VPN provider and ask.