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 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 PPTP VPN on Linux

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. We are also using Ubuntu as an example for Linux.

Install the Network Manager PPTP plug-in
1) Go to the System menu in the taskbar on Ubuntu, expand the Administration menu and click on Synaptic Package Manager.

2) In the search box, enter “pptp” and hit enter.

3) Click the box next to “network-manager-pptp” and select Mark for installation. If the network-manager-pptp is already installed (the check box will be grey), exit the Synaptic Package Manager and proceed to VPN setup instructions below.

4) The system may prompt you to install additional necessary components. Click on the Mark button to select the additional components.
a) Click the green check mark in the toolbar to apply all selected changes and install the PPTP plug in.
b) When prompted to apply the changes, click the Apply button.
c) Close the Synaptic Package Manager

Setup the PPTP connection
1) Expand the System menu and click on Network Connections to open the Network Connections control panel

2) Click on the VPN tab. If the Add button on the VPN tab is grayed out, follow the instructions above to install the PPTP plug-in.

3) Click the Add button to add a new VPN configuration.

4) When prompted to choose a VPN connection type, choose Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and click the Create button.

5) In the Connection name: textbox, enter “KOVURT VPN”

a) In the Gateway field enter the “server” name that Kovurt or your service provider sent you. That should something like vpnserver-usa.vpn.com or something like that.

b) In the Username field, enter your VPN username.
c) In the Password field, enter your VPN password.
d) Click the Advanced button to bring up an additional settings dialog.
e) Check the Use Point-to-Point encryption (MPPE) box.
f) Click the OK button
g) Click the Apply button (you may be prompted to enter your password to store the configuration securely)
h) Restart Network Manager (The best way we have found to restart Network Manager is to open a terminal and type “sudo /etc/init.d/network-manager restart”. This will disconnect all of your network connections)

6) In the taskbar, click on the Network Manager applet to bring up the connection menu. Then expand VPN Connections and select “KOVURT VPN”.

How to setup PPTP 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 Kovurt VPN:

1) Go to your “System Preferences” and then click the “Network” icon.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 1

2) Click the “+” button on the bottom left. This will allow you to create a new connection.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 2

3) On the dropdown menus, please choose “VPN” and “PPTP”. For the “Service name”, please type “Kovurt”. Then click “Create”.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 3

4) In the “Server Address” area please add the details we sent to you. For the “Account Name”, please input your “Username” that we sent to you. Then click “Authentication Settings…”.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 4

5) Now enter your “Password” that we already sent to you. Then click “OK”.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 5

6) Now click “Advanced…”.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 6

7) Please tick the “Send all traffic over VPN connection” box. Then click “OK”.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 7

8) Please make sure the “Show VPN status in menu bar” box is ticked. Then click “Apply”.
How to use Kovurt on Mac 8

9) You are now finished. You can click “Connect” to start using your Kovurt VPN!
How to use Kovurt on Mac 9

How to setup PPTP 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 iPhone or iPod Touch. Follow the easy steps below to start using Kovurt VPN:

 

1) Tap the “Settings” icon on your iPhone or iPad.
How to use Kovurt on iPhone or iPad 1

2) Tap the “VPN” row to enter the VPN settings.
How to use Kovurt on iPhone or iPad 2

3) Tap the “Add VPN Configuration”.
How to use Kovurt on iPhone or iPad 3

4) First, choose the “PPTP” tab at the top. Then enter your details similar to how we have described them in the graphic: your “Server” will be the “Server” or “IP Address” we sent to you, 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! After you enter these details, please tap “Save” in the top right.
How to use Kovurt on iPhone or iPad 4

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 to use Kovurt on iPhone or iPad 5

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 to use Kovurt on iPhone or iPad 6

How to setup PPTP 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 PPTP on your Kovurt VPN on your iPad:

1) Go into your “Settings” on your iPad and tap “General” and then tap the “Network” link.

 

2) Next tap the “VPN” menu.

3) Tap the “Add VPN Configuration…” link.

4) First, choose the “PPTP” tab at the top. Then enter your details similar to how we have described them in the graphic: your “Server” will be the “Server” or “IP Address” we sent to you. For example “us4.kovurt.com” or “uk3.kovurt.com”. 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! After you enter these details, please tap “Save” in the top right.

5) Now go back to your main “settings” area. Click the “Off” on the VPN area and it will turn “On”.

6) Your connection may take a few moments to connect. When you see the smal “VPN” symbol in the top of your iPad, you have successfully connected! If for some reason you can not connect, try clicking the “VPN” button again — sometimes your connection times out and it may take a few extra seconds to make the initial connection.

How to setup PPTP VPN on Android 4

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 Android 4 device. Follow the easy steps below to start using PPTP on your Kovurt VPN on your Android 4 device:

1) Open your “settings” and then tap the “More…” in the ‘Wireless and Networks’ area.

2) Tap the “VPN” at the top.

3) Then tap “Add VPN Network”.

4) Now you will add your own details to connect to Kovurt:
a) In the “Name” area please type “KOVURT VPN”
b) In the “Type” choose “PPTP”
c) In the “Server address” you can choose one of our many servers to connect. We emailed you a list and you can choose any, such as “uk3.kovurt.com”, “us4.kovurt.com”, us8.kovurt.com”, “sg2.kovurt.com”, or many more.
d) The tap “Save”.

5) Now to turn it on, you should go back to the main “Settings” area and tap “More…” in the ‘Wireless and Networks’ area.

6) Tap the “VPN” choice.

7) Tap “KOVURT VPN”.

8) We emailed you your VPN Username and VPN Password. Please check your email and enter those details here. Then click “Save account information”. Finally, click “Connect”.

9) Your KOVURT VPN will now be connected. Enjoy!

How to setup PPTP VPN on Windows 7

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 Kovurt VPN:

First choose “Network and Sharing Center” from the Control Panel. Then choose “Set up a new connection or network”.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 1

Then select the “Connect to a workplace”.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 2

Next you should select “Use my Internet Connection (VPN).”
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 3

Now you should enter the server address of your Kovurt account. You will see those details on the email we sent to you. For the “Destination name” box you can type “Kovurt”.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 4

Next you should enter your username and password – we sent you those details by email. Then click “Create”.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 5

Click the “Close” button to return to the “Network and Internet” screen.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 6

In the “Connect to a network” screen, you should see the Kovurt connection that you have just created.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 7

Right-click on the Kovurt connection document, and choose “Properties” from the menu.
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 8

In the Kovurt Properties, you should select tab “Security”:
1) click on the Type of VPN – “Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)”
2) click on the Data encryption – “”Optional encryption (connect even if no encryption)”
3) select “Allow these protocols” and tick as shown in the following picture:
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 9

Next select tab “Networking”: put the ticks as shown in the following picture and click “OK”:
How to use Kovurt on Windows 7 10

You are now finished! To connect/disconnect to Kovurt, right-click on the connection icon (viewable at Change adapter settings) and select connect/disconnect.

How to setup PPTP VPN on Windows Vista

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.

1) From the Start button, select “Connect To.”

2) Windows Vista Start menu: Select “Set up a connection or network.”

3) Creating a new VPN connection: Select “Connect to a workplace” and click “Next.”

4) Choosing a connection option: Select “Use my Internet Connection (VPN).”

5) If prompted for “Do you want to use a connection that you already have?”, select “No, create a new connection” and click “Next.”

6) Input the Internet Address and Connection name:
Internet Address: [we emailed you a list of server addresses]
Destination Name: KOVURT VPN

Click “Next.”

7) Input the username and password:
User Name: [Kovurt emailed you the Kovurt VPN Username]
Password: [Kovurt emailed you the Kovurt VPN Password]

8) Click the Create or Next button

9) Click the Close button

10) To connect, click on “Start,” then “Connect to.” Then select the KOVURT VPN connection in the window and click “Connect.”