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3 Stealth-Mode VPN Features You Need to Know About

If you’re not using your VPN’s stealth-mode features, you’re not really using your VPN.

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Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated Jan 25, 2024
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Jan 25, 2024

You know all about virtual private networks. First and foremost, you know you should never log on to a public Wi-Fi without one. You also know VPNs keep your data secure by routing your internet connection through an encrypted tunnel. And you know they assign you a new IP address so you can surf the web anonymously. Heck, you even know which VPNs out there are the best VPNs.

But … do you know how to take advantage of all of your VPN’s stealth-mode features? The thing is, when it comes to VPNs, getting an anonymous IP address is only the beginning. A VPN can do way more than just conceal your identity when you’re online. It can also: give you access to unlimited streaming content, help you avoid ISP throttling, and can even conceal the fact that you’re using a VPN.

ISP throttling can slow your internet down to unusable speeds
ISP throttling can slow your internet down to unusable speeds

Below, we get into three of the best stealth-mode features of VPNs and discuss how you can use them to improve your safety, have more fun, and be more productive when you’re online. After all, if you’re going to pay for a VPN, you might as well use it to its full potential.

Just the Basics

Yes, OK, a VPN’s first priority is to keep you safe when you’re online and to ensure all your activities are private and secure. To do this, your VPN must be able to do two things.

  1. Provide Encryption
    A VPN is essentially an encrypted tunnel. When you sign on to a VPN, the VPN encrypts your internet connection so that no one can view your data. As long as you’re in the tunnel, no one should be able to steal your information, and no one should be able to track your movements. That’s job one.

    VPN Encryption
    VPN Encryption
  2. Conceal Your IP Address
    Job two is to conceal your actual IP address. When you log on to a VPN server, it should issue you an anonymous IP address that can’t be traced back to you. This means no one knows what you’re up to when you’re online. You have the freedom and privacy to surf the web as you choose.

Pro Tip: All VPNs claim they are secure, but if you use one that has a WebRTC or DNS leak, your data is easily accessible to anyone who happens to be looking. 

3 Stealth-Mode Features You Just Have to Have

Basic is great. You need safety and security. You can do better, though. These days, VPNs offer even more great features, with new technologies that can transform how you surf the web. Here are the three that we like best and the ones we look for whenever we review a new VPN.

    1. Kill Switches
      A kill switch shuts down all your apps and browsers the moment you lose your VPN connection. Why is that so important? It guarantees that no one can see what you’re up to, even if you suddenly find yourself outside of your VPN’s protective encrypted tunnel. There’s zero chance anyone can steal your Personal Identifiable Information (PII) or monitor your activities.
Kill Switch Configuration
Kill Switch Configuration
  1. Multi-Hop
    Multi-hop does just what it says. A typical VPN routes your internet connection through one secure server. In other words, it provides you with one hop. A VPN with multi-hop routes your internet connection through multiple secure servers. Again, why would you need something like that? In a word: security. One hop is secure. Multiple hopping is more secure. Each time you connect to another server, your data is further encrypted, making it exponentially harder for any would-be hackers or the government to decode it. In addition, every time you hop to a new server, you become more difficult for those hackers to follow.

    Multi-hop VPN
    Multi-hop VPN
  2. Camouflage Mode
    Finally, one of the newest technologies in the VPN world, camouflage mode, conceals the fact that you’re using a VPN at all. You’re safe, secure, and untraceable, but to anyone who might be watching, it also looks like you’re using a regular internet connection.

Just What Can You Do With These Stealth-Mode Features?

Basically, stealth-mode features super-charge your VPN, making all your online activities even safer and easier than when you’re just using a VPN.

Keep Yourself Even Safer From Hackers

Online security starts with keeping yourself safe from hackers. If a hacker can intercept your internet connection, they can wreak all sorts of havoc on your device and in your life. They can steal your data directly from the stream itself, or they can execute so-called man-in-the-middle attacks to convince you to turn over your data willingly. Of course, if you’re using a VPN, your data is encrypted, so it can’t be stolen in transit.

Surfshark Connected to VPN
Surfshark VPN Connected

A VPN on its own isn’t foolproof, though. If you want total protection, you need to activate those stealth-mode features.

  • With a kill switch, there’s no danger your data might leak if you lose your connection.
  • If you’re using multi-hop, you’re exponentially harder for any hacker to follow.
  • Add camouflage mode and no one even knows you’re using a VPN — which means no one even knows to try and break your encryption.

Definition: In man-in-the-middle attacks, hackers present you with a dummy version of the website you’re trying to reach. Such sites can trick you into typing in personal information or they can convince you to click on links that install adware, spyware, and other kinds of malware onto your device.

Avoid All Censorship

If you live in a location that censors certain parts of the internet, a VPN can help you get around these restrictions. When your connection is encrypted and you have an anonymous IP address, your government can’t track your movements online or prevent you from going anywhere you want, even to censored sites.

Governments have gotten much savvier in recent years, though. Many countries have taken the additional step of outlawing the use of VPNs altogether. Law enforcement can’t follow you when you’re online, but they might still be able to arrest you for using the VPN itself. Camouflage mode, however, means they can’t discover you’re using a VPN in the first place. Meanwhile, a kill switch ensures you’re never accidentally visible on any of these forbidden sites.

Get Around Blackouts and Geo-Restrictions

One of the most popular, everyday ways people use VPNs is to access international content on streaming services. It turns out Netflix and other sites have different libraries of material in different countries. However, they limit access to these other libraries by screening out IP addresses that originate outside the country. A VPN lets you log on to a server in that country and pretend you’re a resident. Presto, more content.

» Learn more: How to Change Your Location on Netflix

Private Internet Access App
Private Internet Access App

Like governments, many of these streaming services have gotten smarter in recent years and now employ technology designed to detect if you’re using a VPN. Then, they simply block anyone who seems to be using one. If you’re using camouflage mode, though, they don’t even know to block you, and you’re free to stream TV and movies to your heart’s content. Which VPNs let you do this? Check out our lists of the best VPNs for Netflix and the best VPNs for Hulu.

Avoid Throttling

Another popular reason for using a VPN is to avoid ISP throttling. Throttling is when your ISP monitors your data usage and slows down your connection once you’ve reached a monthly limit. VPNs, of course, let you avoid such throttling by hiding just how much data you’re using. However, like governments, streaming services, and universities, many ISPs have caught on to this trick and have begun using software that can detect VPNs. So you can see how camouflage mode helps here as well.

Final Words

These days, a good VPN is standard equipment if you’re on the internet. A VPN prevents hackers from gaining access to your personal data, and it ensures no one, not even law enforcement or government agencies, can monitor your online activity. If you’re not using one, you’re vulnerable to identity theft, censorship, and intrusion into your personal life.

Enabling Android Always On VPN
Enabling Always-On VPN, Android’s built-in kill switch, in Secure Access VPN

If you want to take full advantage of all a VPN has to offer, though, you need one that offers stealth-mode features like kill switches, multi-hop, and camouflage mode. These tools help you get around firewalls and geo-restrictions so you can access more of the internet. They make you harder to track, even if you should lose your VPN connection. The bottom line is, if you don’t have these features, or you’re not using them, you’re just not as safe as you think you are.