For over 10 years, Psiphon has helped internet users around the world to defeat censorship. This free, open source tool allows you to bypass online censorship effectively, thanks to its combination of technologies (such as VPN, SSH and HTTP Proxy) that can overcome the filters and restriction systems implemented in some countries. Psiphon uses a variety of solutions to transport data, giving users more possibilities to evade censorship. If one protocol is blocked, you can simply change to a different option. The flexibility and ease of use that Psiphon has attracted many customers and here, we will take a closer look at the performance and features that this anti-censorship solution offers.
Privacy and Security
When you use Psiphon, your online activities are disguised so that you can access services and websites that are blocked in your location. However, the tool is not intended as a way to secure your data against attacks, and it doesn’t enhance the protection to your online privacy. They don’t collect information like your email address and IP, but it is important to keep in mind that Psiphon is a service offered by a company, and not an independent project. While the software is open source, the company may share data with other parties for commercial purposes. Your online activity is not monitored, but they do keep logs of timestamps and other non-identifying details for maintenance and troubleshooting. Although this is disappointing for those seeking for privacy protection, Psiphon is clear and transparent about the logging process.
It should also be noted that while Psiphon will allow you to bypass restrictions and geo-blocks, third parties may be able to detect that an anti-censorship tool is in use. Psiphon uses obfuscation for SSH+, which may help to conceal the fact that this technology is being used. However, this may not work in all cases. L2TP/IPSec is the protocol used for the VPN setting. This may not be as secure as OpenVPN, but as previously mentioned, Psiphon doesn’t intend to be a tool to protect your data, or to provide online anonymity. Its main focus is to offer a solution for people in countries that apply heavy censorship on the internet such as China and Iran. Psiphon is primarily a tool to reclaim your online freedom and it works with activists and content creators that are committed to defend that right.
In order to start using Psiphon, you just need to download the tool from the website. You won’t be required to provide personal details, or create an account. Psiphon can be downloaded for free, but at the moment, it only works with Windows and Android. The website doesn’t offer a great deal of information, but Psiphon offers support via email and it also has a Facebook and a Twitter profile. The Windows client is light and if you are unable to access Psiphon’s website due to blocks imposed in your country, you can contact them to request that the app is sent by email. This is a practical solution that will help people in countries that are cracking down on anti-censorship software. In the Windows client, you can choose between SSH+, standard SSH or VPN.
The Android app is available in Google Play and the Amazon AppStore, but it can also be sideloaded in case you are unable to access these app stores. You can select the language of your preference and there is an extensive list of options available. You can select the location you want to connect to and Psiphon runs a network of servers to which its client can connect via SSH or VPN. The app supports a whole device mode and a Psiphon browser mode. If you select whole device, all your internet traffic is routed through a VPN to SOCKS connection. The browser included is simple, but it works well and the app offers access to usage stats and other information.
In terms of speed, the results obtained with the VPN setting were decent, but would not be enough for activities that require fast performance such as gaming or downloading content. However, this is understandable since Psiphon places restrictions on bandwidth to avoid abuse of the system and ensure that all users can enjoy a good experience. The service is ideal for unblocking websites and content that are not available due to censorship, and it aims to help people to enjoy freedom to access information. But, it is not intended for P2P. If you are looking for an option to download content securely, bypass geo-blocks to be able to stream content, or to access game servers in another region, you would be better off getting a commercial VPN.
While it is fairly basic, Psiphon is a convenient option for Windows and Android users who want to unblock websites and overcome online censorship. It offers flexibility to bypass censorship with the help of multiple technologies. Psiphon doesn’t provide strong protection for your privacy, but if you live in a country that has implemented restrictions over the content that can be accessed, this free solution can help you to enjoy a more transparent and versatile browsing experience.