Adding Some Key Facts In WSJ.com’s China’s Internet ‘Wall’ Hits Business Article

VPNs are useful for creating a private connection online. Most users around the world use VPNs specifically for privacy. But a growing number of users in places like China and Iran also use VPNs for circumvention. The Wall Street Journal’s


This news was originally syndicated from the news at VPN Instructions. We have permission to syndicate this article, and the original is © VPN Instructions.

VPNs are useful for creating a private connection online. Most users around the world use VPNs specifically for privacy. But a growing number of users in places like China and Iran also use VPNs for circumvention.

The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com has a decent article (China’s Internet ‘Wall’ Hits Business) related to VPN usage in China among businesses built around a recent American Chamber of Commerce in China press release. The article is written by Paul Mozur and Carlos Tejada. The article is pretty good but there are a few things that caught our eye that need more explanation:

1) The article states “it is illegal for foreign companies to operate a VPN in China without a local partner”. That is true, as Internet Service Providers must be primarily owned by local Chinese. But it skims over the subtleties about whether it is illegal to use a VPN in China, period. It is not illegal to use a VPN in China if the Virtual Private Network’s nodes and servers are outside of mainland China. The Shanghai-based lawyer we conferred with, along with our deep understanding of China’s Internet landscape, shows us that there are no laws on the books in China that prohibit any user in China from connecting to a VPN outside of mainland China.

2) The article states “the government has been closing ports used by VPNs, and that the company has maintained services by switching to new ports each time an old one is closed.” Yes, this is true and this began around October 20, 2012. However, according to the monitoring from VPN provider Kovurt.com based in Hong Kong, as of around November 27, 2012, new actions were taking place in China: not only were ports closed, but also highly encrypted packets started to be filtered. So even when using alternate ports, it was the more enhanced packets that were being captured for possible further analysis and/or blocking. In the VPN world, we call that “filtering”. The bottom line: even changing ports does not work in the end because all encrypted packets using OpenVPN are filtered. That means VPNs using the OpenVPN protocol do not work.

3) As an important addition to #2, we should note that not all VPN protocols are blocked. Only OpenVPN protocols are blocked. But PPTP and L2TP, which users can easily use from their laptops, desktops, or mobile devices, are not blocked in China. Why? Because they use traditional ports used by e-commerce sites. Is it possible to block PPTP and L2TP? Yes it is, but that means either a DNSBL is used or the entire Internet is shut down to SSL traffic. So people complain that VPNs do not work in China are only usually trying to use OpenVPN, which is only one of the triumvirate of useful VPN protocols and technologies. This article fails to mention that VPNs are used and running fine if OpenVPN is not relied upon. Providers like Astrill, Kovurt, and Witopia all provide their users a choice of OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP.

Let us know more about how you are using VPNs around the world and your experiences with VPNs in China.


This news was originally syndicated from the news at VPN Instructions. We have permission to syndicate this article, and the original is © VPN Instructions.

What’s the difference between PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SOCKS when talking about VPNs?

Deciding on the type of “protocol” to use for your VPN is like choosing the best tasting ice cream: there are many choices, and some people prefer one choice over another.

For VPNs, the 3 main choices are PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. We also include SOCKS, but that is not really a VPN protocol. Some people also use SSTP too, but that is not being used so much these days (yet!). Then you also hear of “IPSec”, but that is really a marketing brand used by Cisco and other companies and really refers to L2TP.

Did we confuse you yet?

Yes, it can be a little confusing. So we will only concentrate on the differences between PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SOCKS. There is a good comparison chart on Kovurt.com, but here is our own chart too:

 

VPN Protocols

PPTP

L2TP

SOCKS

OpenVPN

Ease of Setup Fast Fast Moderate Moderate
VPN Speed Fast Fast Moderate Moderate
Security Moderate Very Good Very Good Best
Stability Good Good Better Best
Suggested Systems iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac Mac, Ubuntu Mac, Windows 7

PPTP and L2TP do not require any software for you to install! So many people like to use them because you only need to enter your username and password once on your computer or phone, and in the future you can connect with a click of a button

OpenVPN is a little more cumbersome because you must download software first to use it. Then you must install the software and maintain the software when there are upgrades. OpenVPN is a little more stable, but most people agree that PPTP and L2TP are just so much easier to use. Plus, PPTP and L2TP can be used on iPads, iPhones, and Android mobile phones, but OpenVPN can not be used on those devices (unless you “crack” them).

So those are our thoughts on the differences. Please leave your comments below to let us know what you think.

How to setup L2TP VPN on Mac OS X

For our instructions and tutorial, we are using the VPN services from Kovurt.com. You can use any service you like, but we prefer Kovurt.

After you confirmed your Kovurt subscription, we sent you an email. Inside that email you should see something like the following:

===============
Your VPN Username: username
Your VPN Password: password
===============

The good news is that you do not need to install any more software! Everything you need is already on your computer. Follow the easy steps below to start using “L2TP over IPSec” on Kovurt VPN:

1) In your “System Preferences…” click the “Network” icon.

2) A window will open and in the bottom-left corner you should click the “+” icon.

3) In the “Interface” please choose “VPN”. Then for “VPN Type” choose “L2TP over IPSec”. Finally, for the “Service Name” you can anything you like, so “KOVURT VPN” is a good choice to type in this field. Finally, click “Create”.

4) Now in “Server Address” you can choose ot add any server from the list we emailed to you after you registered. For example you can add “us2.kovurt.com” or “uk2.kovurt.com” or jp2.kovurt.com” or any of more than a dozen more. Then in “Account Name” you should type your “VPN Username” that we emailed to you — usually this will be your email address, but you should double-check the email to make sure. Finally, click “Authentication Settings…”.

5) In the “Password” area please type the “VPN Password” that we emailed to you after you registered. In the “Shared Secret” please type “mysecurevpn“. Then click “OK”.

6) Next click the “Advanced…” button.

7) Make sure the “Send all traffic over VPN connection” link is ticked. Then click “OK”.

8) First click the “Apply” button. Then click the “Connect” button. You will then connect!

9) Another easy method to connect is to go to the top of your computer screen and dropdown the “VPN” icon. Then click the “Connect KOVURT VPN”.

How to setup L2TP VPN on iPhone

For our instructions and tutorial, we are using the VPN services from Kovurt.com. You can use any service you like, but we prefer Kovurt.

After you confirmed your Kovurt subscription, we sent you an email. Inside that email you should see something like the following:

===============
Your VPN Username: username
Your VPN Password: password
===============

The good news is that you do not need to install any more software. Everything you need is already on your computer. Follow the easy steps below to start using “L2TP over IPSec” on your Kovurt VPN:

 

1) Tap the “Settings” icon on your iPhone or iPod Touch.
How Do I Use L2TP/IPSec On Kovurt On My iPhone or iPod Touch?

2) Tap the “VPN” row to enter the VPN settings.
How Do I Use L2TP/IPSec On Kovurt On My iPhone or iPod Touch?

3) Tap the “Add VPN Configuration”.
How Do I Use L2TP/IPSec On Kovurt On My iPhone or iPod Touch?

4) First, choose the “L2TP” tab at the top. Then enter your details similar to how we have described them in the graphic:
a) Your “Server” will be the “Server” or “IP Address” we sent to you.  For example “us3.kovurt.com” or “uk2.kovurt.com” or “sg3.kovurt.com”.
b) Your “Account” will be the “Username” we sent you, and your “Password” is the same “Password” we sent to you. Remember that this is case-sensitive!
c) Under “Secret” you will add the phrase “mysecurevpn“.
c) After you enter these details, please tap “Save” in the top right.
How Do I Use L2TP/IPSec On Kovurt On My iPhone or iPod Touch?

5) You now have successfully created your new Kovurt VPN account. Your screen will look similar to this. Next, you must tap the “Off” and then it will turn “On” after a few moments. If you receive an error, please repeat step #4 above and ensure your Account and Password were entered correctly.
How Do I Use L2TP/IPSec On Kovurt On My iPhone or iPod Touch?

6) Success! If you see a small, blue “VPN” logo at the top of your iPhone or iPod Touch, you are now connected. Good luck and enjoy the Internet as you Go Kovurt!
How Do I Use L2TP/IPSec On Kovurt On My iPhone or iPod Touch?

How to setup L2TP VPN on iPad

For our instructions and tutorial, we are using the VPN services from Kovurt.com. You can use any service you like, but we prefer Kovurt.

After you confirmed your Kovurt subscription, we sent you an email. Inside that email you should see something like the following:

===============
Your VPN Username: username
Your VPN Password: password
===============

The good news is that you do not need to install any more software. Everything you need is already on your iPad. Follow the easy steps below to start using “L2TP over IPSec” on your Kovurt VPN on your iPad:

1) Go to your “Settings” and click the “General”. Then tap “Network”.

2) Next, tap the “VPN” selection.

3) Now tap “Add VPN Configuration…”

4) Now tap the “L2TP” menu at the top. You will now need to add the following information:
a) For “Description” you can write “Kovurt”.
b) For “Server” you can choose from dozens of servers. We emailed you a list and you can use somethign like “us6.kovurt.com” or “uk3.kovurt.com” or “jp2.kovurt.com”. You decide which server is best for you.
c) For “Account”, that is the VPN Username we emailed to you. Usually iy is an email address.
d) For “Password”, that is the VPN Password we emailed to you. Please check your email for that password.
e) For “Secret”, you should use “mysecurevpn“.
f) Then click “Save”.

5) Now back in your main “Settings” area, click the “OFF” button next to “VPN”.

6) The VPN will connect and a button at the top of your iPad will say “VPN” when you are fully connected to Kovurt’s Shield network.