How to Bypass Internet Filters Using VPN
By Brian Flax
There could be several reasons why certain websites or services are blocked online, including restrictions in the country you live in, or filters at school or work. Services such as peer-to-peer file sharing, Facebook, and even email access may be blocked or inaccessible. Several subscription services are available online that will allow you to bypass Internet filters at your location, including a virtual private network, or VPN.
What is a VPN
A VPN is a service that allows you to encrypt your Internet connection and appear as though you are connecting from a different geographical location. Depending on the service you use, you may be connected to a server with an IP address in a different city or country altogether. For example, you may live in New York City, but with the use of a VPN, appear to be in Tokyo. This will allow you to bypass any restrictions of the country in which you reside.
How Does it Work
Your IP address is a unique set of numbers that gives you an "address" on the Internet. An IP address is usually assigned by your Internet service provider, or ISP, and includes information such as geographical location. When you connect to a VPN, your IP address is replaced by the VPN provider, making it appear as though your connection is coming directly from their location. Most VPN providers host servers all over the world, allowing you to choose an IP address from several locations. Using a VPN encrypts your Internet connection so that the ISP is unable to see the data that is being transmitted by your computer.
Unblocking Websites & Services
Since all traffic traveling over a VPN is encrypted and unable to be seen, filters that have been put in place by an ISP, government, school, or workplace can be bypassed. If you are traveling overseas and want to appear as if you are in the United States, you can connect to a U.S.-based VPN server and change your IP address and connect to services such as Gmail, Netflix, and Skype which might otherwise be blocked. VPNs also help protect your data from being stolen when connected to Wi-Fi hotspots and public Internet connections. There are hundreds of VPN services to choose from, and most can get you set up in as little as 24 hours.
There are many different types of VPN technology, including Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, but they all work in the same way to bypass Internet filters. Many providers allow you to download a small program that configures the VPN connections automatically. For advanced users, you may choose to use programs like Tunnelblick, Viscosity, or OpenVPN to create VPN connections. Once your connection has been setup, you click "connect", and enter your username and password to start the service.
Based in the Washington DC area, Brian Flax holds a Master of Science in education technology, and a Bachelor of Science in entertainment business from Full Sail University. His articles have been published on FindTheBest.com, where he was a daily writer in the smartphones and tablets section.