Simple Censorship Circumvention

This page lists tools that do not need a page of their own. Some of these tools are free, either because they don’t need a server or because servers are donated by volunteers.

Different tools will work in different countries. Simple methods of censorship circumvention may work against unsophisticated adversaries. If none of the simple methods works, you may need to evaluate the more complex solutions described elsewhere on this site. There is often a trade-off between convenience and effectiveness.

In some cases, clients are available for iOS and Android. Note that we do not generally recommend mobile computing in environments where your security is threatened.

1. Free Browser

Free Browser is a free browser app for Android from the Great Fire anticensorship project. Website freebrowser.org. Email support@greatfire.org.

2. DNS Servers

Changing your DNS servers from national DNS servers to international DNS servers works against simple DNS poisoning by repressive governments. The method has been used in Turkey. Popular choices for alternative DNS providers are Google (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) and Cloudflare (1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1). The methods of changing your DNS provider varies from operating system to operating system. On Windows, it’s found under Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings. Right-click on your network interface, then select Properties > Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) > Properties > Use the following DNS server addresses. This method does not require a server-side change.

3. GoodbyDPI

GoodbyeDPI is designed for countries such as Russia, where censorship rules are made centrally by Roskomnadzor, but implemented locally by thousands of small ISPs. It is a client-side technique that works by disrupting the patterns by which Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) recognizes requests that must be censored. Available for Windows from GitHub.

4. GreenTunnel

GreenTunnel disrupts Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) systems that small ISPs use to block access to certain websites. Available for Windows, macOS, and Linux from GitHub.

5. Hosts File

Adding entries to the hosts file is a workaround for simple DNS poisoning. On Linux, the file to add to is /etc/hosts. On Windows, it’s C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts (with no file extension). This method does not require a server-side change.

6. IEPL, IPLC, or MPLS

International Ethernet Private Line (IEPL), International Private Lease Circuit (IPLC), or Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) are available for enterprise use at a cost of several thousand dollars per month. Contact your telco.

7. Lantern

Lantern is an anticensorship tool with servers in different countries around the world. Lantern is free, while Lantern Pro is a paid service. Client software is available for Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, and Ubuntu Linux. Website getlantern.org. Email support@getlantern.org.

8. OpenVPN

OpenVPN by itself is usually blocked by censors. The articles on this website offer various methods of disguising OpenVPN by combining it with other tools. Website openvpn.net.

9. Pidgin + OTR

Pidgin + OTR is more secure than the large, commercial messaging systems. Linux packages are available in many distributions’ repositories. Websites pidgin.im and otr.cypherpunks.ca.

10. Psiphon

Psiphon 3 is a free anticensorship tool for Android, iOS, and Windows. Website psiphon3.com. Email get@psiphon3.com (if the website or download links are blocked or censored, you may request to have the downloads sent to you via email).

11. Tails

The Tails live operating system incorporates Tor Browser. It has a couple of drawbacks in countries that censor the Internet. First, it is a huge download. Second, it does not support meek-azure bridges. Nevertheless, it may be useful in your use case. Website tails.boum.org.

12. Telegram Messenger

We generally recommend avoiding mobile technology and accounts tied to your phone number. We include Telegram Messenger here only because it has become so popular. It can use a proxy server to overcome censorship, either one that implements its own protocol (MTProto) or a standard SOCKS5 protocol (e.g. Shadowsocks). Website telegram.org See also our page on Telegram Privacy Settings.

13. Tor

Since 2006, the Tor project has provided tools for anonymous browsing, with servers donated by volunteers. The Tor Browser is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Although plenty of countries would like to block Tor, it continues have many users in not-free countries. Website www.torproject.org. If the website is blocked in your country, send an email to gettor@torproject.org. The email responder will automatically send you alternative download links for Tor Browser. The built-in obfs4 and meek bridges work in many countries. If you need more bridges, email bridges@torproject.org. See also the Introduction to Tor Browser

14. Ultrasurf

Ultrasurf is a free tool allowing users to bypass censorship. It was originally designed for Internet users in mainland China. Clients are available for Windows and Android. Website ultrasurf.us.

15. VPN Gate

VPN Gate is a network of 6,000 volunteers organized by the University of Tsukuba, Japan. The volunteers run SoftEther on their own computers, allowing VPN Gate users behind government firewalls to reach the Internet. Clients are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Website www.vpngate.net.