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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.

All of our content is written by humans, not robots. Learn More
Gabe Turner
Gabe Turner Chief Editor
Last Updated Jun 7, 2024

At its core, the job of a VPN is to encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address so you can surf the web anonymously. Every VPN should be able to do at least those. That said, the best VPNs to use often come with features slightly beyond what most VPNs offer. We like seeing stealth-mode features, in particular – features that will help you stay more anonymous or provide extra protection for your privacy.

What are those features, you ask? Well, after testing over four-dozen VPNs, we listed here the top three stealth-mode features most top-ranking VPNs offer, as well as how to use them to improve your safety. After all, if you’re going to pay for a VPN, you might as well use it to its full potential.

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

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, that server becomes your intermediary to the internet. That means your device doesn’t interact with websites directly, which keeps your real IP address hidden and you, anonymous. Rather than seeing your IP address, the websites you visit will see the VPN’s IP address.

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 your device’s network the moment you lose your VPN connection. It prevents you from accidentally accessing the internet without encryption from your VPN. If you can’t connect to the internet, 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
    Remember the two basic functions of a VPN? Well, using a multi-hop connection performs those functions twice or more. It sounds simple, but it’s actually one of the strongest privacy features a VPN can offer. An encrypted VPN connection is nearly uncrackable. Now, picture a VPN connection that’s encrypted twice. Every time you hop to a new server, you become more difficult for those hackers to follow.

    FYI: Multi-hop has one side effect, which is slower internet connections. Since your traffic has to be encrypted twice and routed through more than one server, it takes more time for it to reach its intended destination. Because of that, we recommend using multi-hop only for activities that require the utmost privacy.

    Multi-hop VPN
    Multi-hop VPN


  2. Obfuscation
    Finally, one of the latest technologies in VPNs is called obfuscation, which conceals the fact that you’re using a VPN at all. VPN traffic is highly monitored in some places like China and Russia. Connecting to a VPN in those countries could put a target on your back. Aside from that, some networks (like school and office networks) have firewalls set up to block VPN traffic – often to prevent users from accessing blocked websites through a VPN. With obfuscation active, those networks won’t see you’re using a VPN.

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.