VyprVPN Review Part 1: Introduction, Android, Chameleon

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Introduction

Thanks to GoldenFrog & GeekBrainDump.com I was given a free 3-month trial of VyprVPN.  I was not paid by either GoldenFrog or GeekBrainDump to create this review. This blog post is based only on my first day with the service, and I will focus on the service with my Android device. There is alot to talk about here, and alot I still haven’t even touched, so I will run a continuous series about the service with more devices and from different host networks.

What is VPN

According to Wikipedia, a VPN is defined as:

virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables a computer to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if it is directly connected to the private network, while benefiting from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network.[1] A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated connections, virtual tunneling protocols, or traffic encryption

As such, VPNs have a wide variety of uses. Because of its security, It allows employees of a firm to access their company’s private network from anywhere in the world. VPN’s can also allow home users to access their private documents over the internet. More recently, however, users have been turning to VPN technology for enhanced security and anonymity on the internet, and that is the goal of VyprVPN.

What is VyprVPN

VyprVPN is a service that is designed for its users to have the ability securely surf the web. You have the ability to tunnel all of your internet through one of their servers. VyprVPN claims to have:

 “40+ worldwide server locations across 5 continents. With 700+ servers and 200,000+ global IPs, connections are always available”

This gives you the ability to make it appear that you are accessing the web from nearly anywhere in the world, which allows you to bypass filters and access content you otherwise would not be able to. It also claims that none of your data passes through a a 3rd party VPN server, they own and manage all of the infrastructure, and because of this they claim to have the “Worlds fastest VPN”. I do not have the resources to test this claim, nor do I know how GoldenFrog could accurately come to that conclusion in order to make such a bold statement. I can tell you, it is pretty fast, almost unnoticeable in most cases.

VyperVPN has also stated that it does not store any user traffic data. In an interview a spokesperson said:

 We don’t keep any logs on bandwidth, network traffic, or data. We have a record of connect and disconnects that expires after a few days.

The Android App

I downloaded the Android app from the Play Store, which was easily found by searching for VyperVPN. A link is also available on their website. Once you download the app, all you have to do is login, and you will have full access to the VyprVPN service. Please not that your username is case-sensitive. Below is a screenshot of the main page.

All you have to do is choose the serve you wish to connect to and touch “Connect”, and Presto! you are on their network. I confirmed the change in my external IP address by using “What’s My IP?” on the Google Play store.

Speed Testing

To test the speed I used the Ookla Speedtest.net app from the Play Store. I ran the speed test without being connected to the service and got a download of about 4Mbps down and a little less than 2Mbps up. From previous speedtests, this  seems to be an average for the service area I was in for the test. After Connecting to the VyprVPN service, on Washington, DC server ( I am in the Hartford, CT area), I achieved nearly identical speeds. When I connected to the Hong Kong server, I was getting about .8Mbps down and .4 Mbps up, with a ping of 528.  So, obviously, the further the server is from your actual location, the more of a performance hit you will take.

A note about anonymity: While speed testing I noticed an interesting quirk. the What’s My IP? app and several web based solutions confirmed my IP was changing, and it did appear that I was actually moving around the world based on what server I was connected to. However, the Speedtest.net app kept saying that the Hartford, CT server was the closest server. I thought it may be using the GPS, but even after turning it off and restarting the app, it still thought the Hartford, CT server was the closest. I will continue experimenting with this, and try to disable location services ( I keep it enabled because I use Google Maps frequently) and try and deny permission to location with ApOps to see just how difficult it is to hide where you are. Anyone who uses Google services or Facebook– beware– these applications may still be guessing your TRUE geographical location, even if your IP says you are somewhere else, and even with GPS disabled.

How Chameleon™ Defeats VPN Blocking?

I was intrigued by VyprVPN specifically because of its Chameleon encryption system, which is supposed to be very good at hiding the fact you are on a VPN, and still using the security of the 256-bit OpenVPN standard. Sadly, in my case it just doesn’t.  I work for a large insurance firm, and our “public” wifi network is very secure, and has some pretty restrictive filters in place. Almost all VPNs and Proxy servers are blocked. Attempted to connect to any of the servers, even with Chameleon selected as my encryption, results in the following:

Screenshot_2014-06-26-13-31-16

 

 

Finishing Up

This post has been probably my longest so far on GBD, and I have only begun to scratch the surface of the service. So far I am impressed with the service as a whole, but I am disappointed in the limitations of the technology. To truly secure your Android device and provide at least some anonymity, more than a VPN is needed. This is not the fault of GoldenFrog, but it is something that users must realize. Furthermore, I am disappointed in the way Chameleon is marketed.

Chameleon scrambles OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it’s not recognizable via deep packet inspection (DPI), while still keeping it fast and lightweight. The Chameleon technology uses the unmodified OpenVPN 256-bit protocol for the underlying data encryption. The result is that VyprVPN users are able to bypass restrictive networks put in place by governments, corporations and ISPs to achieve an open internet experience without sacrificing the proven security for which OpenVPN has long been known. Experience a truly open and uncensored Internet with Chameleon VPN.

While certainly  its an interesting idea, but in practice it did not work for me. With anything in tech though, your mileage may very. Perhaps it does defeat some networks, I just have no way of showing you. But there are definitely still going to be those networks which are properly secured, and will laugh at any attempt to go around the system. If you are interested in VyprVPN for this feature, go ahead and try it out, they offer a free 3-day trial before locking in.

Author

Nicholas Fusco

Nick Fusco is a young IT Consultant and "geek"! As a contributing author on GBD, he covers all things tech and writes reviews for a variety of products and services.

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