Why Doesn’t Freedome VPN Work in China?
China has introduced increasingly restrictive measures to try and prevent the use of any VPN service that isn’t explicitly whitelisted by the government. This includes all foreign-owned VPNs, such as F-Secure Freedome.
For a blacklisted VPN to reliably bypass China’s Great Firewall it now needs to offer three essential features:
- Unbreakable encryption
- Effective obfuscation tools
- A large server network
Here’s how F-Secure Freedome performs in each category:
Encryption & Security Features
From a security perspective, Freedome is a very good VPN. It uses industry-leading AES-256 and OpenVPN encryption to secure all connections with air-tight protection.
The VPN also comes with important security features including an automatic kill switch to ensure you’re protected if the VPN connection drops, and first-party DNS servers to prevent DNS leaks.
We tested the VPN extensively and found no data leaks or security vulnerabilities whatsoever.
To learn more about VPN encryption, read our introduction to how VPNs work.
Simply having unbreakable encryption is no longer sufficient to circumvent Chinese censorship. The Great Firewall uses deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques to analyze browsing traffic and hunt for internet connections that are routed through a VPN server.
The system doesn’t need to decrypt your traffic or understand its contents to identify it. Instead, it simply uses DPI to identify common patterns in VPN traffic and block it accordingly.
To work in China, a VPN needs to use obfuscation technology. Effective obfuscation camouflages your VPN traffic to make it appear like regular HTTPS traffic, making it much harder for authorities to locate and block it.
Normal VPN encryption prevents observers from reading your traffic, while obfuscation stops them from identifying it as suspicious. Freedome VPN does not offer any obfuscation.
Without obfuscation, Chinese censors can detect the use of Freedome VPN within their borders and block the VPN traffic entirely.
Server network size is an important factor to consider when using a VPN to bypass censorship. F-Secure Freedome operates a disappointingly small network, with VPN servers in just 22 countries.
With fewer servers, it’s easier for the Chinese authorities to simply identify and blacklist the IP addresses that belong to F-Secure’s network.
Overall, F-Secure Freedome is a relatively fast, secure, and easy-to-use VPN. However, its lack of obfuscation tools and limited server network mean it’s simply not good enough to bypass censorship in China.
The situation is unlikely to improve, either. F-Secure makes clear on its website that it is “unable to solve” the issue.
This may be a blessing in disguise, though. Regardless of its stance on censorship, Freedome is not a VPN we’d recommend you use in any setting. Its logging policy is overly intrusive, it isn’t safe for torrenting, and it rarely works with streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, or Amazon Prime Video.
In short, there are far better VPNs than Freedome by F-Secure – especially if you’re traveling to or living in China.