There’s been so much talk about how China and Russia are close to kill the VPN industry by banning these services from their territories for good. While the situation in Russia looks bad things are much worse in China where all VPNs will become illegal by February 2018, a fact that has already made Apple remove the largest majority of VPN apps from its Chinese store during the summer. This is a major setback to the VPN companies of the world, particularly those that supported the American tech firm in privacy-related cases in the past, such as the infamous battle against the FBI.
This means that these VPN companies are now alone in the fight and without support against the increasing internet restrictions of China, which in turn means that they must find their own solutions to keep their services up and running. Thankfully some of the biggest and best VPN companies have already come up with some solutions. While it’s important to keep in mind that the situation may change very quickly and therefore new blocking methods can arise, these new fixes could spark hope for the VPN industry.
Using Mirror Sites
Since often it is not only VPN services that are being targeted but their websites too, companies often opt for providing alternatives to their main online outlets. This is the case of GoldenFrog, the company behind VyprVPN, whose main website is not always available in China. The solution was to develop not one but two mirror sites (goldenfrog.biz and goldenfrog.website) that look exactly the same as the .com equivalent but are running without any problems in the country.
In the particular case of VyprVPN, though, on the morning of September 1 2017 China blocked access to the company’s servers, but due to the quick work of their engineers the block was circumvented and the service is still available in the country. But let’s not forget that the Great Firewall gains new powers every day, so what’s true today may not be tomorrow.
Creating Virtual Servers
Another way that companies are getting around the tightening Chinese restrictions is by offering virtual servers. This is the case of HideMyAss for instance, where instead of providing a physical server located in China it gives users a virtual Chinese server which is physically located elsewhere but given a Chinese IP address on it. Other than that, ExpressVPN’s Chinese server are also still working, though its iOS app was also one of the apps removed by Apple in late July. But even if the app is no longer in the store, this doesn’t mean clients can’t use it.
If you’re traveling to China then one of the best ways to ensure access to blocked VPNs is to download the app for mobile devices before traveling to the country. Since the app is already installed, once you land there will be no barriers and therefore access to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other services will still be available. For those who are already in China and saw the app vanishing from the store, it’s also possible to access free and uncensored internet via certain manual setups.