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Why VPNs Don’t Work In Every Country

Considering the rise of digital interconnectivity and cybersecurity concerns, it is no wonder that VPNs are among the most prevalent cybersecurity tools in use. They help secure otherwise unsecured networks, encrypt data transmissions, and guarantee a fair level of anonymity. 


Why VPNs Don’t Work In Every Country

However, VPNs are not infallible. That is because different providers can’t guarantee the same quality, and this leads to an accompanying variability in effectiveness. External factors can also affect VPN performance in some countries. For example, some countries’ governments don’t feel that the right to privacy is a basic human right.

To clarify all the VPN restrictions-related questions, in this article, we look at aspects affecting VPN functionality and how this tool affects internet freedom and digital rights.


How Do VPNs Work?

A VPNs primary function is to establish privacy and security for its user. There are three ways in which it ensures security: via tunnelling, encryption, and rerouting.

  1. The VPN creates a tunnel, encapsulating data or web traffic for safe transmission to the VPN server.
  2. The encapsulated traffic is also encrypted to prevent tampering from external parties during transmissions. A reputable VPN would use a high-end, virtually uncrackable encryption algorithm. The most secure encryption algorithm around is currently the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
  3. Once at the server, the VPN routes the traffic to the destination server of the website, application, or resource you wish to access.

The consequence of the three processes is that your data transmission is encrypted within a virtual tunnel and originates from another IP address. Eavesdroppers cannot see your information, tamper with it, or even determine your location. 

In the case of a corporate enterprise solution, a VPN will create a private network through which offices in distant locations can securely communicate at significantly reduced risk. Meanwhile, casual internet users with a VPN in tact can anonymously transmit sensitive data over public networks. They can also bypass geo-restrictions on content or digital censorship. 

It’s recommended that you research well what kind of provider suits your business needs before you choose one, though. Reddit is a good source of VPN comparison tables with reviews from the platform’s users.


Limitations of VPN Use

The inherent limitations of VPN usage are expected drop-off in speed and performance and the prospect of placing your trust in a service provider. The speed and performance problem is expected, given that VPN-mediated web traffic takes a roundabout route to reach its server.

Furthermore, there is a need for encryption and decryption before and after traffic exits the tunnel, respectively.  

As for service providers’ related challenges, they can see as your data approaches their servers. If they are not reputable, that is a security risk. However, within the scope of this article, the biggest limitation is that some countries try to block VPN use.

Some countries, such as North Korea, Belarus, Iraq, etc., deem VPN use illegal. Others, like China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, only accept the use of government-approved VPNs. In the case of the latter countries, using their VPNs is equivalent to putting your data at the mercy of a suspect vendor.

Sometimes, it’s not the country but the provider that limits its scope of availability around the world. For example, some VPNs that work in most countries don’t work in India. Then, you can search for the best VPN for India, and you’ll be sure to find one.


How Do Countries Enforce Blocks on VPN Usage

There are a number of ways that countries and companies with vested interests have attempted to block VPN use. Some of them are:

  • Deep Packet Inspection. Inspection of data packets by network administrators can expose VPN protocols and inform bans.
  • Collaboration with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs might collaborate with the government to facilitate the blocking of any connection to foreign IP addresses. 
  • Pattern Recognition. Network administrators might use a database of protocols and methods to identify patterns of VPN use and inform their blocking strategy.
  • IP Address Blocking. Some companies may monitor requests to identify abnormally high requests from certain IP addresses or a range of IP addresses. Once identified, those IPs are blocked.
  • Geolocation Blocking. Some companies might also use geolocation data present in web traffic and requests to predict the location of a request. If the observed location differs from the expected location, they ban the IP address and associated accounts.

How Do VPN Providers Counter Attempted Blocks

VPN providers have upped their game to employ increasingly more sophisticated methods in a bid to avoid getting blocked. While we may not be familiar with some of the most recent measures, here are some popular ones:

  • Scrambling of packet metadata to stump detection efforts
  • Relocation of servers and consequent use of virtual servers
  • Disguising of VPN protocols
  • Regular changing of server IP addresses
  • Using Multi-hop VPN functionality

Consequence of VPN Blocking

It is important to note that VPN usage is associated with some illegal or, at least, unethical activities. VPN use is indicated in content piracy, financial crimes, fraud, etc. However, a Statista report showed that in a controlled study of internet users, a sizable number admitted to using VPNs as a security measure. This would indicate that not all VPN use is for criminal endeavours.

There are other reasons for countries, in particular, to chase the blocking of VPNs. Two such reasons are state censorship and a need to control internet freedom and digital rights. The consequence of VPN blocking in such countries is, thus, an inability to express themselves freely – a denial of their fundamental human right


VPN

Despite the best efforts of some governments and companies, the success rates of VPN blocking are mixed. Factors affecting their success are the tech-savviness of network admins, regulators, VPN providers, and the general populace. 

One thing is clear, though – the need for internet regulation is creating wiggle room for certain governments to silence their people. VPN providers are fighting back, but for how long? 

For more advice have a look at my article on the 10 best cameras to take with you travelling.


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