Thwart online snooping with VyprVPN
VyprVPN for Android, Mac OS X, Apple iOS, and Windows revs up your digital privacy.
A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure network connection over a network you don’t fully trust, such as the Internet. By creating secure tunnels between endpoints, VPNs are a way of disguising (encrypting) your data traffic so that third parties (such as hackers, ISPs, and state-sponsored authorities) cannot see your true source IP address or the content of your online activities.
Many businesses, government agencies, and educational institutions use VPN technology to enable remote access for their users. With VPNs these users can securely connect to their work networks from their homes, airports, hotels, etc. What if you could connect not just to one destination, but to the whole Internet in such a way? After all, in light of the recent flood of revelations in regard to online spying committed by various facets of the American government (and by foreign states as well), all Internet users have a valid reason to increase their level of online privacy. VyprVPN by Golden Frog, a global online service provider, is an easy and highly effective way to do so.
Getting started with VyprVPN
Visit the VyprVPN website and click the link to start a 3-day free trial of the software. On the next page, you will need to select the the service level you would want from VyprVPN should you choose to purchase it.
VyprVPN is available in three plans: Basic, Pro, and Premiere. The Basic plan allows you one VPN connection using the PPTP protocol, along with 10 gigabytes of online storage courtesy of Golden Frog’s DumpTruck product. The Pro plan entitles you to two simultaneous connections (i.e., one on your PC and one on your smart phone) along with access to 25 gigabytes of DumpTruck storage and four VPN protocols: PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec and Chameleon. With the Premiere plan you get all these features but with three simultaneous connections and 50 gigabytes of online storage.
You most likely are unfamiliar with the Chameleon protocol. That is because Chameleon is a proprietary 256-bit SSL protocol created recently by Golden Frog for the specific purpose of bypassing firewalls which attempt to block VPN traffic. Here is a simple graphic demonstrating how it can be useful to those who are hampered by restrictive Internet access.
After you select your plan, you will need to create a VyprVPN account and enter your payment details (credit card or PayPal) which Golden Frog will use if you decide to keep VyprVPN. After you log in to the website, you will be presented with your account’s dashboard.
Choose VyprVPN, then download the software for your platform(s). For Android devices, click ‘VyprVPN for Android’ and you will arrive at the VyprVPN for Android page which links to the Google Play Store. The ‘VyprVPN for iOS’ link will take you to the VyprVPN iTunes page. VyprVPN is even available for Ubuntu Linux as described here (OpenVPN) and here (PPTP).
Choose ‘VyprVPN for Windows’ for any PC running the Windows operating system. You will be prompted to download the installation file. Run the .exe file to begin the installation.
During the Windows installation process, you will be presented with the interface below which asks for your permission to install the OpenVPN software. Choose ‘Install’ if you have opted to go with the Pro or Premier service plan.
Once the software is installed on your Windows device, you will see an entry for ‘Golden Frog, GMBH’ in your Start menu. You will also see one for ‘TAP-Windows’; this is the OpenVPN software. When you launch the VyprVPN application, you will see its main interface below. Enter the username and password you specified on Golden Frog’s website when you created your account.
After you log in, the GUI will change and allow you to select which VyprVPN server to connect to. Start out by selecting the server that is geographically closest to you.
If you click the gear-shaped button, you will be presented with the interface for configuring VyprVPN options.
Once you have selected your preferred server and configured any desired options, you are ready to connect to the Internet through VyprVPN’s privacy service. Click ‘Connect’ and after a few seconds the interface should change to look like this.
Your Internet access is now being cloaked by the VyprVPN server you selected. An extra layer of security is provided by VyprVPN’s NAT Firewall feature. You will find that VyprVPN is particularly beneficial when you connect to unencrypted wireless networks, such as those at coffee shops or libraries. Normally in such situations, any data you transfer to websites which don’t use SSL/TLS can easily be read by network sniffers. With VyprVPN, however, all your data traffic is encrypted whether the wireless network itself utilizes encryption or not.
VyprVPN: does it decrease connection speed?
By adding a layer of encryption and an extra hop in your Internet connection, your speed will decrease but with VyprVPN this is slight and barely noticeable. I tested my home Internet connection with and without VyprVPN enabled, and I did not notice a difference. However, several websites that measure download and upload speeds reported a minimal decrease with VyprVPN enabled. I performed the test over a cable modem and wireless LAN (WPA2) on a weekday afternoon.
I also performed another test in which I simultaneously downloaded the .iso files for four Linux distributions with and without VyprVPN. I initiated the downloads, waited about thirty seconds, and recorded the download speeds. You can compare the results below. The first graphic shows the download speeds without Vypr and the second shows the speeds with Vypr enabled.
Pros: Ease of installation and usage. Internet surfing is still fast with VyprVPN enabled. Rock solid encryption algorithms available. Bundled with online storage provided by Golden Frog’s DumpTruck service. Can be a lifesaver when you need to connect to the Internet over unencrypted wireless networks (WLANs).
Cons: The Basic plan limits you to the PPTP VPN protocol which is not recommended as it is not as cryptographically sound as L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, and Chameleon.
Be aware that while Golden Frog does not restrict the use of P2P applications (such as BitTorrent) on its service, it is against their terms of service (ToS) to transfer copyrighted materials. See the links below for more details.
Colin Nederkoorn, VyprVPN enables bypass of Verizon bandwidth restrictions
Golden Frog copyright policy
Golden Frog terms of service
Lifehacker, Why you should start using a VPN
VPNpick, VPN Newbie Guide: Picking between OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP
VPN Consortium, VPN Technologies: definitions and requirements
VyprVPN support page – FAQs and setup instructions
YouTube, Virtual Private Networking tutorial by Eli