VPN Gate Overview

VPN Gate Academic Experiment Project is an online service as an academic research at Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan. The purpose of this research is to expand the knowledge of "Global Distributed Public VPN Relay Servers" .


Why VPN Gate?

You can take these advantages by using VPN Gate:

  1. You can get through the government's firewall to browse restricted web sites (e.g. YouTube).
  2. You can disguise your IP address to hide your identity while surfing the Internet.
  3. You can protect yourself by utilizing its strong encryption while using public Wi-Fi.

Unlike traditional VPN services, VPN Gate can get through most firewalls.
VPN Gate is free of charge. Not a single registration is required.


VPN Gate Public Relay Servers

There is a list of Public VPN Relay Servers on the VPN Gate Academic Project Web Site.
Anyone online can hook up to any VPN servers on the listthe list.
No user registrations are required.



How does VPN Gate work?

  • VPN Gate network consists of many VPN servers, which are provided by volunteers around the world.
    You can provide your own computer as a VPN server to join this experiment.
  • Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android are supported.
  • Supports SSL-VPN (SoftEther VPN) protocol, L2TP/IPsec protocol, OpenVPN protocol and Microsoft SSTP protocol.
  • Anonymous connections are accepted.
  • No user registrations are required.
  • Each VPN server has a dynamic IP address. Therefore it may change at random period.
  • VPN servers appear and disappear at any time. Therefore, an IP address may not always connect to a VPN server.
  • All VPN servers are capable of routing your traffic to the Internet, so you can disguise your real IP address.
  • Using a server located somewhere other than your region may provide you some more accessible websites, because the comminucation would look as if it is originated from the country the VPN server resides.


The problem that this research solves

Out motivation to begin the VPN Gate Experiment are to solve the following problems exists currently:

Problem #1. Governmental Firewall Blocks Accesses to Certain Websites

The Internet is a revolutionary network to enable everyone to communicate with each other with computers and servers without any restriction. Any websites provided by individuals or companies can be reached from anywhere around the world. Everyone in the world is a potential customer of a web service, so many web corporates are trying hard to develop and improve their services. This will make competitions between corporates worldwide, helping their product become better and better, time after time.

Free competition around the globe is essential for improving online services. Internet provides such a great field for fair competition. However, some countries are attempting to disrupt fair competitions. For example, great video-sharing sites such as YouTube, or excellent SNS sites such as Twitter or Facebook are out. However, some governments do not let their people access these great websites within the country. Such filtes are commonly called "Firewall" . People in such country are often affected by the government's firewall.

In United States, Japan and most Europian countries, people do not let their governments placing such firewall, as their Constitutions state. However, it is said that some other countries have such firewall for the sake of censorship.

The government's firewall forces their people to use only domestic web services instead of those available around the world. Under such control, people cannot visit global web services which compete with domestic web services. In other words, such government provides unfair advantages to the few domestic web-service providers at the cost of convinience that would have satisfied the users in that country. Ultimately, such government's overprotection will cause decline in public interests, as most people in such country are kept away from the worldwide, valuable web services.

It is convenient for users behind the government's firewall if they have freedom to access YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or other wonderful web services. This will prompt domestic web service providers which are overprotected by the government's firewall to get involved in the worldwide fair competitions. Ultimately, the competitions will refine domestic web services just like many worldwide web services, thus everyone will be satisfied.




Problem #2. It is possible to identify an individual by tracing the supposed IP address which is found in the logs of the server.

If you access to a website, or send an email, your source IP address will be logged on the destination web server, or on the headers included in the payload of an email.

An IP address itself is not directly connected to a person, However, an IP address can be traced to an individual who visits multiple websites. This gives online advertisements an advantage of tracking a person with a supposedly personalized ads.

Additionally, an IP address can be used to identify the person who initiated a suspicious activity by investigation. Police agencies, prosecutors or lawyers can abuse their privileges to request the logs regarding the allocation of IP addresses, which are held by ISPs. Such logs are normally kept private by ISPs. However, once someone obtains the logs, one can investigate who sent a particular email, who posted a certain message to a website, etc. It might be abused to revenge to the one who conducted an indictment for public interests. The risk of tracable IP address is that it may discourage the good people to criticize wrong things.

Moreover, since an IP address and a person is considered linked together, therefore the person who has had the IP address in question is responsible of every communication it involved. Recently we have seen a serious incident that our law enforcement agencies had arrested an innocent person who allegedly sent offensive contents to several companies. However, he has done nothing wrong-- it was all done by a remote person using a Trojan horse. The innocent was finally released, but it was one of the worst false accusation incidents in Japan's recent history.

Therefore, a method to temporarily hide your real IP address is favorable. The key benefits are anonymity, untracability, and safety. You will stay low-profile, be free from tracking advertisements, and be safe from false charge, even if your computer is compromised by malwares.



Problem #3. Public wireless networks are vulnerable to packet sniffing.

Most public Wi-Fi networks can be eavesdropped by anyone as they are commonly unencrypted. Wired networks are also vulnerable to eavesdropping when applied a technique, for example, ARP spoofing. Moreover, the network administrator or the facility owner may have the opportunity to tap into your communication. Even if you are hooking up to the Internet at your home, there is a risk that the employee of your ISP or telecom company might be wiretapping to observe your plaintext packets. (In fact, there was a criminal incident that an employee of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company had wiretapped in the building the company resides. So we can never trust employees of ISPs or telecom companies.)

When using HTTP, POP3 or IMAP in plaintext on the Internet, you are vulnerable to eavesdropping. For example, HTTP-over-SSL (HTTPS) is secure against eavesdropping, however, most web sites uses HTTP, whose packets are transmitted in plaintext.

It is favorable that there may be a method to encrypt all online activities automatically. When such technique is applied, nobody can snoop into your transmissions.



VPN encrypts and relays your packets

VPN is the solution to all of these problems.



Benefit 1. VPN can bypass the governmental firewall.

If the governmental firewall is malfunctioning, or when some websites abroad are unreachable within the firewall, you can access them by relaying your connection to VPN servers located outside of your territory of residence.


Benefit 2. VPN can hide your actual IP address.

While your connection is relayed through a VPN server, the source IP address disclosed to the target server will be the VPN server's, not your actual one. This will be very helpful to you because nobody can trace back to your original IP address, eliminating the risk of being spied on. VPN enables you to post contents on BBS or send emails completely anonymously, providing safety to just activists who intend to bring an accusation for public benefits. You will be safe from revenges or lawsuits by the accusee. Finally, even if your computer has been compromised by a malware and hijacked by a criminal, VPN protects you from being framed up and thrown to jail because your actual IP address will be concealed.


Benefit 3. VPN can prevent eavesdropping.

When using VPN, all transmissions will be automatically encrypted. Even if your local network is compromised by snoopers, your transmissions will remain intact.

Note that this solution can only encrypt within the VPN tunnel, therefore packets forwarded from the VPN server to the destination are not within the scope of this solution. (i.e. it will not be encrypted.)


VPN Gate's advantage over traditional VPN services

As described above, VPN can solve many problems upon using the Internet. However, normally you are required to have at least one VPN server in a remote physical location (overseas) to take advantage of the functions of VPN.

Most Internet users have difficulties to prepare their own VPN servers in remote territories. There are, however, traditional paid shared-VPN services for them which are provided by some Internet companies. Such services require user registrations and often with credit-card number for payment. After registrations users will acquire the right to utilize the shared VPN servers for a specific period according to the contract.

So what are the differences between VPN Gate and such traditional paid VPN services? The two seem to be similar when seen from consumers. However, VPN Gate has more advantages over traditional VPN services as described below.


Problems with traditional shared VPN services

traditional VPN services are hosted by companies on their datacenters. This traditional way of providing shared VPN servers has a problem that the IP addresses of the VPN servers are on the same or close IP address allocation block, generally because the servers are hosted via the same ISP. Also, these IP addresses are generally static, so they seldom change.

Such shared VPN service are weak against "unknown trouble on the government's firewall" . The "unknown trouble on the government's firewall" usually exhibits problems that a certain IP address or a range of IP addresses become completely unreachable from inside the protected area. If the "unknown trouble" strikes the IP address range of the IP address blocks of their VPN server clusters, all VPN servers within the area become disabled. In fact, recently it is reported that one day a specific cluster of traditional shared VPN servers became suddenly unreachable from a certain country which has a governmental firewall running.

Another problem with the traditional shared VPN servers is the conjunction of bandwidth. traditional shared VPN servers are physically condenced inside a datacenter. All transmissions made by their users will be concentrated on a certain line of the datacenter's uplink. Also, all workloads affect the physical servers that host the VPN servers. The service provider may consider expanding the server clusters or enforcing the uplink, however, such expansions are costly. The fee may increase when such expansions are made, or otherwise, the speed may drop due to cost reduction. To sum up, most shared VPN services lack quality.


Advantages of VPN Gate Academic Experiment

As you can see on the List of VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers, there are a lot of running VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers. These VPN servers are neither physically placed on a specific datacenter nor a specific IP address range; they are hosted on different ISPs and on a wide variety of physical locations.

Every VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers are distributed and hosted by many volunteers. A volunteer is a person who owns a computer which is kept hooked up to the broadband that connects to the Internet. A volunteer agrees to provide the CPU time and the bandwidth to support the VPN Gate Academic Experiment. You can become a volunteer, too.

Volunteers are distributed throughout the world. The ISPs of volunteers also vary. So IP addresses of every VPN servers are distributed, showing no particular patterns of their assigned IP addresses. The total number of volunteers changes from time to time, so as the servers' IP addresses. Therefore, if something wrong happens to the governmental firewall, most VPN Gate servers should survive such incident. If a few VPN Gate servers become unreachable, you may choose among more servers located in a different territory.

VPN Gate is available free of charge, because our servers are hosted by volunteers and they do not spend very much for bandwidths and CPU times for the servers they have. Not only that it is free, but also you are not required to register a user account upon using this service.

To sum up, unlike the traditional shared VPN services, the VPN Gate Academic Experiment Service can be used at no costs.


Mirror servers of VPN Gate web site

Once you successfully establishes a VPN session to one of the VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers, you will gain the freedom to access the Internet from any country.

However, if the www.vpngate.net web site (this web site) is unreachable from your country, you may not be able to obtain the VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers List at first.

So we are providing many Mirror Sites to help users who are suffering from such difficulties. If you can access at least one of these mirror sites, you can browse the VPN Gate Public VPN Relay Servers List page.

If you are a resident of the country which has a governmental firewall which exhibits unknown errors preventing accesses to the www.vpngate.net, please take a look at the Mirror Sites List page. You may copy the URL list and paste it onto SNS, Blogs or community forums of your country to help VPN users in your country.


VPN Gate is an extended plug-in for SoftEther VPN Software

Visit our another VPN project, "SoftEther Project".
This is the parent project. VPN Gate is a child project of SoftEther Project.