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Evade Internet censorship with Psiphon

Please Note: This is only a review and for support you should visit the Psiphon FAQ or contact the support team directly at info@psiphon.ca

Update 21 November 2014: We have expanded this  article into a full review of the Psiphon Windows and Android software, available here.

Psiphon is a powerful free tool which is designed to evade internet censorship. Developed and maintained by Psiphon Inc. (although originally written by researchers at Citizen lab on behalf of the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), it uses a combination of VPN, SSH and HTTP Proxy secure communication and obfuscation technologies to bypass the kinds of internet filtering (i.e. censorship) systems commonly used governments.

The beauty of the Psiphon system lies in the fact that it utilizes multiple transport systems, so that if one protocol is blocked by a censor, it will automatically switch to an alternative mechanism. China for example, has been trying to block OpenVPN connections over the last year in a crack-down on VPN use. If Psiphon encounters such a block, it will automatically detect it, and attempt to use a SOCKS Proxy over an SSH tunnel, an SSL proxy, or an HTTP Proxy.

psiphon windows

The system works by the Android or Windows client connecting to servers run by Psiphon Inc. Each client has a list of these servers, which are added to over time so that as older servers become blocked there is a backup list of new servers to connect to. System integrity is maintained through each client being digitally signed to certify its authenticity, and each server having embedded certificates to ensure it is the authentic server for that client.

It should be noted that although Psiphon is does not store usage data in a way that allows individual user’s IP addresses to be associated with any individual website visited, Psiphon is intended primarily as a censorship evasion tool, rather than one that guarantees anonymity (for which a regular VPN service or Tor are probably better).

Psiphon is only currently available for Windows and Android, and can be downloaded from here.

Speedtest.net results

We decided to put Psiphon’s various transport protocols to the Speedtest, and got these results on our 20 Mb/s UK connection:

st none
Just our straight internet connection

st http
With Psiphon SSH+

st vpn
With Psiphon VPN

st ssh
With Psiphon SSH

Note that for some reason we are not too clear about, Psiphon’s SSH+ and SSH results were faster than without any such connection (especially the upload speeds!). Connection through VPN was painfully slow however.

Update: A spokesperson from Psiphon contacted us to explain that SSH is fast because Psiphon compresses data in this mode. The VPN mode has its bandwidth deliberately restricted, as Psiphon is keen to be all about censorship evasion , and not about downloading movies.

The spokesman also wanted to clarify a slight technical misunderstanding of ours – Psiphon no longer switches automatically between protocols, and if OpenVPN is blocked then users should manually switch to obfuscated SSH or L2TP.


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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171 responses to “Evade Internet censorship with Psiphon

  1. I’m working on the cruise ship, Psiphon is perfect for us, because it is so expensive, thank you so much, how ever my question is can we be tracked over some surveillance system ? Can Internet management locate my phone and my ip address? Thanks

    1. Hi AL,

      Physically locate your phone? No. See you phone’s IP address when it is connected to the system? Yes. Your IT department will not be able to see what you get up to on the internet when using Psiphon, but may be able to determine that you connecting to the internet using Psiphon (depending on how sophisticated its capabilities are).

  2. @Douglas Crawford

    Thanks for taking the time to post this and reply to everyone’s questions. Your work is much appreciated. Thank You

    1. Hi anish,

      Please contact Psiphon (email address is at top of this article). This is just a review.

    2. You have to find a free Internet server of ur country. Write the server on back query and proxy server.set host to real host and save.When psiphon opens go to more settings and select connect using http,select use network settings. Then ur ready to go.

    1. Hi Sunday,

      The Psiphon app is free, and using it over WiFi is 100% free. Using Psiphon over your mobile internet connection will incur the usual data charges from your mobile provider.

  3. Hi Psiphon
    recently i installed psiphon through my friend and there is no doubt that psiphon #WorkAwesome I used psiphon without data pack and WiFi but now its showing problem to connect with 0MB can u please guide me the way how can I use it again
    two more guys facing same thing please revert me soon that we can solve it…

    1. Hi rosina,

      Psiphon allows you to evade internet censorship, but it cannot hide the amount of data you use from your ISP/mobile provider. When suing Psiphon you will still be charged for the data you use according to your data plan.

  4. hello***I was trying to use psiphon handler in Zimbabwe but I don’t have the settings can you help pliz
    if you have the settings send them on my email;momentchin@gmail.com.I would appreciate it if help…….thank you.

    1. Hi Max,

      Looking at the recently updated Android app, I cannot see an option to switch to SSH mode (I’m sure it was there earlier!) You can try contacting the devs at info@psiphon.ca (and please let us know to result!)

  5. Como hago para conectar la app. Hay alguna configuración nueva? Ya no conecta para nada. Por favor.
    Configuración para colombiano q sirva.

  6. no puedo conectarme que pasa . el tecnico que lo instalo dijo que podria ser la saturacion y que no cambie la configuracion . es de la empresa TIGO . que puedo hacer

  7. vivo en combia me funciono una semana me parecio exelente luego funvionava arraticos y ya no funciona me pueden ayudar a y la vateria se dedcarga rapido

  8. hey bro i have used the psiphone fro six month but now our collage blocked the psiphon access it isn’t connecting at all please give any solution.

  9. @Douglas Crawford
    Thanks for article
    But I have several questions.I really appreciate for your answer them
    I am using LAN in my office which I connect to server then connect to internet.
    1-By using VPN Psiphone ,server can discover my activities
    2-How I can even hide my downloads content from internal server
    3-When I download trough Tor Browser is it support anonymous or not
    How I can safe through InertntDownloadManager or Bit torrent .
    Sorry about my poor English grammar
    Thanks

    1. Hi mo,

      Using VPN on your local computer will hide your internet activity from the internal LAN server, as your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer. It is possible, however, for your system admins to determine that you are using VPN, which may get you into big trouble if VPN use is banned. The same goes for Tor… they cannot see what you download through the Tor browser, but they can be able to see that you are using Tor (at least in theory – they may not even bother looking). In general we recommend not using VPN (ect.) to bypass work/college restrictions, as the cost of discovery is not usually worth the benefit …

  10. Por fabor arreglen el problema de la actualizacion soy de mexico donde el internet movil es demaciado caro y lento, utilizaba esta aplicacion pero desde que la actualize ya no sirbe

  11. dedes el primero de abril dejo de funcionar esna muy buena herramuenra para las personas q somos de escasos recursos ino contamos para comprar un pakete de ineternep ya q en mexico el internep es muy caro

  12. I was using psiphon just fine…. but a days it canont be conect … i think the wifi servers has it blockd or somethin… can you guyss fix it??? And inform me????

  13. La aplicación cumplió con todas las expectativas. Fue muy eficiente y lo digo ya que depende de la señal de la empresa telefónica local.
    PERO: la ultima versión v82… dejo mucho que pensar. Fue un retroceso gigante.
    Mi Mobil es un s4 y el software es 4.4.2
    Gracias. Esperare solución

  14. i am using iphone that using ios , so this apps desnt work for iphone i want to know are there any apps works as same as spiphon?

    1. Hi ayesha,

      There is no direct equivalent to Psiphon for iOS, but a regular VPN service will meet most needs. See here for more details.

        1. Hi Matthew,

          We will say this once more… THIS IS JUST A REVIEW OF PSIPHON. WE ARE NOT THE DEVELOPERS!!!! Please direct technical questions to the devs – email address clearly stated at thee beginning of this article.

  15. Buenas tardes yo tengo una gran duda desde el 31 de marzo a dejado de funcionar Psiphon por cual razon .! Sucede esto ya lo actualize y sige igual se queda en seleccionando servidor Y n pasa de ahi por que sucede esto.!

  16. Hello ,
    Before PSIPHON was working very good on my android mobile with download, browse and watch youtube. Everything were working fast.but now from last few months it’s very very slow.how can I improve the speed?? And as you said that if we use SSH+ or SSH tunnel so the speed will be fast..please help me how can I run my app on SSH+ or SSH ?? Because there is no any option to turn SSH+ SSH on . except VPN .please please reply me . Thanks to you

  17. Plss fix, i use version 70 before then when i update the new version 78 it dosnt work anymore, i work in a cruise ship and it help me a lot pls help me how to install the version 79

  18. where did i get the host address and port og psiphon…,please send it to my email thank you and more power…

  19. Not working at all here in phillipines ..
    Can you do something aboyt this ? I think its not including our country in your server list ..

    1. It’s the first line of the review.
      “Please Note: This is only a review and for support you should visit the Psiphon FAQ or contact the support team directly at info@psiphon.ca

  20. hello, I would like to know when psiphon put IOS platform? How long will I wait? I am eagerly waiting too not give! I’m waiting for you your news

  21. hi psiphon developer I really want to thank you for doing a great job it really help us access internet even without a load. ….Even though we can no longer used this app here I still salute u guys

    1. Thanks Francis but we merely reviewed the software and highly value it. I think the developers would really appreciate it if you left them an email (address is right at the beginning of the article).

  22. hi
    i don’t have any issue
    i like this vpn app
    because better then all others vpn
    but psiphon is realy fast.
    plz more improve.
    thanks for free

  23. Sir I have been using your product psiphon. Its a very good app. A lot of thanks for that. But sir I want to confirm you about your any product that can connect my mobile phone with WiFi modem without confirming the password ie. I want to use the internet of my college but does not have the password. What can I do then to connect it.
    Waiting for your response
    Thankssss…….

  24. Since upgrading to Psiphon version 80 I’ve found that my SSH+ speed test results have plummeted. Could you try running another speed test with the latest version to confirm my results? Thanks.

    1. We have just recently (at the beginning of this month) expanded this article into a full review, complete with new speed test results (we have switched to using testmy.net rather than speedtest.net for greater accuracy). The review is available at bestvpncom.wpengine.com/blog/11635/psiphon-review/. As you can see, we achieved pretty decent results, so it may be worth you contacting the Psiphon team (info@psiphon.ca).

  25. recently I down load your app but I find hard of making a connection. what should I do? I’m leaving here in philippines. please help.

    1. Hi Mario,

      We are now aware that the Google Play page for this app links to our review. However, all we are is a review site, so please visit the Psiphon Inc. webpage instead.

  26. I cannot connect to the internet through psiphon version 67 using gprs connection on my Android ICS phone. What should I do?

    1. Hi
      We recently reviewed FrootVPN and there is also VPNGate. You can find both by looking at our Top 10 list

  27. Hi, I am from Davao Phil. I tried downloading it from play store. But I still can’t connect to free data service. Would there be any settings I should update or change?
    Thanks.

  28. Hi. My friends are using psiphon and i wanna try it myself. Im from manila and my phone is locked to sun cellular but it has dual sim. My sim card slot1 is empty because it is locked and i dont wanna use sun cellular. so my TM sim card is inserted to the second slot. Ive already downloaded the app and even changed the settings but my data connection never turned into “H” and its always “E”. Is it because my phone is locked with sun cellular even if i use TM sim card? My sim card slot1 is empty. Please do help me.

    1. Hi tinchu,

      It will not be a issue with your sim card – if you can access the internet then you should be able to use Psiphon. As to why its not working, I’m afraid you will have to contact the devs.

  29. Pues aqui en el salvador funcionaba pero tigo sv lo bloqueo nose si exista alguna manera de configurarlo para q funcione de nuevo… Porq veo q tiene dos espacios uno par imgresar una direccion http y un puerto nose si me pueden ayudar…

  30. It is sad to make you know that psiphon is no use for viber in UAE. Couple of weeks ago, it was smoothly working. Now it suddenly stopped working. Do I need to do something else to carry out your service in near future?

    1. Hi narun,

      Thanks for the info. Not being based in the UAE it is difficult for us to know exactly what does and what does not work there, but if you want a free option you could perhaps try the Hola and/or ZenMate browser extensions. There is of course always VPN, and you can take advantage of free trials to make sure the service works in the UAE. CyberGhost also runs a very good free service, so you might want to give that a try…

    1. Hi Leonard,

      The system look pretty secure to me, but the Psiphon team go to some lengths to point that that Psiphon is an anti-censorship tool, not an anonymity tool.I would take this to mean that they take no responsibility for the safety of users’ data…

  31. Hi peter

    the thing is i have another pc & it works on it
    it find a socks proxy port 1080 then its establishes the connection …!

    i will check with the developers
    thanks mate

    1. Hi Speed
      Doug might be able to give you insight but that won’t be until Monday.
      Unfortunately we deal with a lot of softwares and while we get some bugs here and there we aren’t specialised in troubleshooting for them.
      If you figure out the problem/ get a solution please let us know.
      It might be also useful providing them with a detailed log of what you’re doing so they can help troubleshoot your problem better.
      Peter

  32. i have a problem with psiphon 3 client version 79
    its keep attempt to connect to a server & it failed to
    what is the problem …..?!?

    1. Hi pangagidempire,

      It is a while since I checked out Psiphon, but it may be possible to share a WiFi connection with Psiphon in a similar way to how a VPN connection can be shared (see bestvpncom.wpengine.com/blog/10418/how-to-share-your-vpn-connection/). When I have the time I will experiment, and update the article accordingly.

  33. PLS BE HURRY TO LAUNCH THIS APPLICATION FOR THE IOS MAINLY FOR THE IPHONE USER WE ARE VERY EAGERLY WAITING TO USE THIS APPLICATION . Pls launch this application for ios.
    Regards,
    AAMIR VORA

    1. Psiphon on the android won’t provide protection to a laptop tethered to it via hotspot. You’ll need to install Psiphon on the laptop.

    1. Hello Francis,

      We understand that the Psiphon team is working on iOS and OSX versions, but have no idea when these will appear. In the meantime, other than Tor itself, you might want to try the iOS compatible Lahana, which creates a VPN that you connect to, and which then tunnels your internet traffic through Tor. It is available from http://lahana.dreamcats.org/, and we have an article on it at bestvpncom.wpengine.com/blog/6507/lahana-service-aims-to-circumvent-censorship-in-turkey/.

  34. Psiphon is actually impressive and I was using it in Zimbabwe until recently when I started having trouble connecting to the net with it, what’s up with that?

  35. Please do not ban the Psiphon app here in the Philippines. It is of really great help to us, Filipinos. Besides, quoting from what you said in your website, “After dealing with repressive regimes AROUND THE WORLD, we are uniquely suited to help you get to the content you want, WHENEVER AND WHEREVER you want it.”

    what’s the use of that sentence if you will ban it here, if you would disregard us..

    “WHENEVER AND WHEREVER you want it” would mean nothing, right?

    Pease reconsider this.
    Thank You.

  36. Thank you so much Dev for making this app its working in philippines… its perfectly Great. I can’t define myself how happy I am. Please please keep continue operating psiphon don’t give up . I beg you dont ban this app in Philippines please developer of psiphon. We are so glad for this app.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      BitTorrent traffic puts a huge strain on any network, so it is understandable that the devs don’t want Psiphon clogged up with Game of Thrones downloads. In addition to this, the devs told us that they designed Psiphon to be used as an anti-censorship tool. It is a free service, so what the devs choose to allow is up to them. If you want to BitTorrent anonymously, there are are plenty of low-cost VPN services out there that are ideal for the purpose…

    2. psiphone is a tunneling software.. from name it self “Tunneling” it routes your data all around the world then send it back to you.. better try bitTorrent..

    1. Hi Mark,

      As we note in the article, the devs are keen to stress that ‘ Psiphon is intended primarily as a censorship evasion tool, rather than one that guarantees anonymity.’ If you want to stay ‘safe’ then VPN or Tor (or VPN through Tor if your threat model justifies it) are probably better solutions…

  37. Hi. Im first time user of pshipon. And im impressed because its work to my android tablet. But I have a question. How long can this apss. Work is this forever free internet. And can this apss harm my device?

    1. Hi Sam,

      Psiphon is an open source tool developed and operated by Psiphon Inc., and will therefore remain free and operational for as long Psiphon Inc. want it to be. As far as we know, Psiphon Inc. are happily supporting Psyphon, and plan to continue doing so, and to keep it free, for the foreseeable future. The Android app should in no way harm your device.

  38. how on my android tablet .. when i starting to launch psiphon then i use the same procedure but ssh it is not came out .. and still finding the server and network plsss help !!!!!! how can i fix that problem Sir/Maam

    1. Hi angelo,

      I’m afraid that we just review the software, and cannot provide technical support (it seems to work fine on my Android tablet, if knowing that helps). You can email the developers however on info@psiphon.ca, and they should be able to assist you .

  39. I’m using this a long time ago and the internet is not to fast and not to slow it just met my expectation but is there anyway to make it faster or can you provide me the best setting of Psiphon. I hope you’ll answer my question/request. Thanks

    1. Hi Mark,

      As we note in the article, in SSH (and SSH+) mode Psiphon compresses the data, so SSH is faster than the other (VPN) modes (we achieved results almost as fast as with a straight internet connection when using SSH and SSH+). This is the only setting we are aware of that can improve your speeds (Psiphon does not really come with much in the way of options). An alternative is to use a paid-for VPN service (Tor will likely be too slow for you).

  40. 1. If I use Psiphon open Wi-Fi network, whether I have my personal data to intercept intruders?

    2. You write that Psiphon does not provide confidentiality. Only bypassing censorship. So it is safe or not to use? I’m afraid.

    3. You write that Psiphon uses a combination of VPN + SSH + HTTP proxy. And what is the difference from one VPN?

    4. What settings are best? What is “Simulating HTTP”? It gives? Why is not enabled by default “Use HTTP proxy when connecting to the network”? What makes this work?
    —————–
    1. Если я использую Psiphon в открытой Wi-Fi сети, смогут ли у меня перехватить мои личные данные злоумышленники?

    2. Вы пишете, что Psiphon не обеспечивает конфиденциальность. Только обход цензуры. Так он безопасный или нет для использования? Я уже боюсь.

    3. Вы пишете, что Psiphon использует комбинацию VPN+SSH+HTTP прокси. А в чём здесь разница от одного VPN?

    4. Какие настройки оптимальные? Что такое “Симулирование HTTP”? Что оно даёт? Почему по умолчанию не включено “Использовать HTTP прокси сети при соединении”? Что даёт эта функция?

    1. Hi Сергей,

      Psyphon was designed to evade censorship blocks, not to provide privacy or protect your data. In practice, if you connect using OpenVPN or an SSH or SSL tunnel then you should have a high degree of privacy, but this is not guaranteed. The point of using different kinds of connection (VPN, SSH, HTTP proxy etc.) is that if one is blocked then you can switch to another. If OpenVPN works then use that, as it is the most secure option. If you want to know more then it is probably best to contact the Psiphon team at info@psiphon.ca. I’m sure they can answer your questions better than I can.

  41. Hi, sorry to disturb, but your progi not work at android 2.3 please make it progress to work it whith in, because in our country blocked every thunh thats why i m ask it thank you

    1. Conecta y luego tarda en cargar. No se por que y se calienta mucho el células.es un blu 5.5 que pasa 🙁 y aveces solo carga por las noches.
      Aunque funciona bien.

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