Unfortunately for people living in Vietnam, there is major internet censorship within the country. The Vietnamese government actively prevents people from accessing websites which are critical of the government, and they also block websites for other political parties and human rights organisations. The government claims that it blocks websites to prevent accessing to obscene or pornographic materials, but it is clear that large amounts of non-obscene sites are blocked for criticising the political or religious outlook of the regime. The censorship has become so extreme that it is referred to as the Bamboo Firewall.
Over the last few years, several bloggers have been jailed for writing articles which criticised the government, and this crackdown has come to a head with a team of more than 10,000 internet censors put together by the Vietnamese military. In 2013, a law was introduced which banned members of the public from using social media or blogs to discuss current affairs, largely stifling people’s ability to express themselves online.
This intense censorship means that many people in Vietnam opt to use a VPN in order to access content freely and to prevent the government from tracing their internet activities. A VPN creates a way to access blocked content and also protects users by encrypting their data so that it can’t be tracked by the government. Today we’ll talk about how to use a VPN to get around censorship and then share recommendations for the best VPNs for Vietnam.
Access Censored Websites With A VPN
In order to get around internet censorship, you can use a VPN to access blocked sites. If you are living in or travelling through Vietnam and you want to access the internet freely, without being blocked by censors, then you need a VPN. A VPN works by installing a piece of software onto the device you are using to access the internet, so that this software encrypts all of the data that is sent out from your device. The encrypted data is then sent to a server in the location of your choosing, where it is decrypted and sent on to its original destination.
The benefit of this procedure is that when you access the internet, it is as if you are accessing from the location of the server rather than your actual location. Because your data is encrypted when it leaves your device, blocks cannot be activated to prevent you seeing content. So, for example, if you try to visit amnesty.org, the website for Amnesty International, normally this would be blocked in Vietnam. But with the encryption, the request bypasses the government filters and goes straight to the server. When the data is decrypted at the server, it gets passes along to the amnesty.org site and you can then access that website.
This works because you can choose where in the world the server which you connect to is located. If you’re based in Vietnam and you connect to a server in the UK, for example, you’ll be able to use the internet as if you were actually in the UK. When you visit websites you’ll see the UK versions of them. You can use this same trick to connect to a server anywhere in the world and browse the internet freely as if you were in another country.
Protect Yourself From Government Snooping With A VPN
Another big worry in highly censored countries like Vietnam is that the government will observe and track your internet use, and even prosecute you if you post controversial comments on social media, blogs, or other website. To make sure that the government or military cannot track your internet use, it’s advisable to always use a VPN in Vietnam.
Because a VPN encrypts the data that you send over the internet, it means that no one can read your data without decrypting it. Not even your ISP will be able to see what you are doing online, and even if the government intercepts your data they will not be able to view your activities or track you online. Once you data has passed out of the country while still encrypted, it can be decrypted somewhere else in the world and sent to its destination in safety.
A VPN can be used on a phone, tablet, or computer to protect you from government observation whenever you use the internet. A good VPN will operate quickly and efficiently so that you don’t even notice it’s running and you can use the internet as usual. You just need to open the VPN software on your device, connect to a server, and go back to using the internet as usual. The experience of using the internet will be the same but now you will be protected from outsiders like the government observing your internet activities.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A VPN
You can see just why a VPN is an essential security tool for internet users in Vietnam, both to get around censorship and to keep yourself safe online. But there are many VPN providers out there, so how do you choose one which will keep you safe and which has the features that you need? We’ve put together a list of factors that are most important when choosing a VPN:
- Strong security. In order to keep your data private and to be sure your encryption can’t be cracked by the government, you should look for a VPN with encryption of at last 256 bits to prevent anyone from being able to decrypt your data. You also need to look for a provider with a strict no logging policy, which means that the VPN does not keep any records of your internet activity. This way, even if the government demands that the VPN hands over their data on you, there is no data for them to give, which is the best way to keep you safe.
- A large network of servers. You choose a server to connect to from the list of servers owned by your VPN provider. The longer this list, the more options you have and the better your chances of finding a server that works for your needs. It also helps to have servers in many different countries so you can access the internet as if you were in any of these counties.
- Fast connection speeds. You want a VPN with fast and reliable connection speeds, so that your internet browsing isn’t slowed down by annoying delays.
- Software with support for many different platforms. You can use one VPN subscription to protect all of your devices at once, like your phone, tablet, and computer. So you should look for a VPN provider that has software support for all of the platforms that you use.
When we considered these factors, we came up with this list of the VPNs that we recommend for use in Vietnam:
ExpressVPN is a one of the most popular service with serious internet users. For those who are looking for the best of all worlds in terms of speed, security, and ease of use, this is a great choice. The service offers strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy so that you can be sure your data will be kept sfe and private, and the connections are super fast even for streaming high definition video. The massive server network consists of over 1000 servers in 145 locations in 94 different countries so you’ll have plenty of options for finding a server.
The software can be install on devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, and has a bunch of extra features like a kill switch to prevent you from accidentally sending data over an unsecured connection and a speed test to help you find the fastest server available.
IPVanish is ideal if you want the absolutely fastest connection speeds possible. This service is known for its lightning fast connections which are so speedy that you won’t even notice they are there. But fast speeds doesn’t mean a compromise on security, as the service also has 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy to keep you safe and give you peace of mind. The large server network of 850 servers in more than 60 countries means you’ll be able to use the internet freely as if you were in any of these countries.
You can install the software on platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, and it has advanced features like DNS leak protection, periodic IP address change, and DNS configuration.
If you are particularly concerned about the government tracking your internet use then we recommend you try NordVPN. It has the best security in the game, with the strong encryption and no logging policy that you’d expect, plus a killer feature in its special double encryption protocol. The double encryption works by encrypting your data and sending it to a server where it is encrypted again and sent on to another server. At the second server the data is decrypted and sent on its way to its original destination. This double encryption means that you have the absolute highest level of security which is almost impossible to crack, even with the latest in cracking technology, so it’s ideal for keeping your data safe from the government.
The service also offers a large server network of more than 1070 servers in 60 different countries, with speeds sufficient for everyday use. The software supports many platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Sometimes you might need to hide the fact that you are using a VPN at all. This is because some networks, like those commonly found in China, using VPN detection to prevent people using VPNs from accessing them. This kind of VPN blocking could become a problem in Vietnam too, so you need a VPN that can get around these blocks.
Enter VyprVPN, a service with a special feature called the Chameleon protocol. This protocol encrypts not only your data, but also the metadata, meaing the information about the data such as its origin and destination. Often VPN blocking works by comparing the origin of the data with the origin in the metadata, and rejecting the connection if they do not match. But with Chameleon, the metadata is encrypted too so no mismatch is detected and the connection is allowed to go through. This is how it can get around VPN blocks.
In addition to this key feature, the VPN also has strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, plus a server network of more than 700 servers in 70 different countries. The software is available for platforms including Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.
PureVPN is a top choice for those who are looking for not just a VPN but also a whole security package. The VPN has excellent security with strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, plus good connection speeds and a large server network that includes more than 750 servers in 140 different countries.
In addition to the VPN, you’ll also get access to other security services like anti virus and anti malware protection, an anti spam filter to keep your email inbox clear, app filtering, DDoS protection, a kill switch, the option for a dedicated IP, and a NAT firewall. This makes it perfect for users who want a simple, all in one package that can cover many aspects of digital security. You can install the PureVPN software Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Android TV devices, plus browser extensions are available for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
It’s an unfortunate reality of life in Vietnam that internet access is highly restricted and that citizens are blocked from accessing a large number of websites. In addition, there are concerns about government observation of online activities and crackdowns on people who use internet sites to criticise or question the government. For both these reasons, it is highly recommended to use a VPN in Vietnam to both get around internet censorship and to protect yourself and preserve your anonymity. We’ve recommended five top VPNs that are suitable for use in Vietnam and which can help to make the internet more free and to keep users safe.
Do you have experience with using the internet in Vietnam? What security protections do you take when browsing there? Tell us about it in the comments below.