Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

October 1, 2015

Much like Psiphon and Lahana, Lantern VPN is a free and open source (FOSS) anti-censorship tool. Unlike these tools, by default Lantern only become active when it detects that you are attempting to visit a blocked website.

When this happens, Lantern behaves as a proxy server, routing your internet connection through either its own servers, or those run by volunteers (choosing a server that is not blocked from accessing the website).

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Pricing and Features

Lantern is free, and is currently available for Windows Mac OSX and Linux (Debian/Ubuntu). An Android app is apparently being worked on, but we have no idea when this might turn up.

Privacy and Security

Lantern is developed by the US-based non-profit Free Software Foundation, Inc. Like Tor, it may receive some funding from the US government, but all code is open source, and can therefore be independently audited to ensure nothing fishy is going on.

Its developers are keen to stress that Lantern is designed as an anti-censorship tool, and does not provide protection against surveillance. Connections to proxied websites are protected using HTTPS (TLS), but connections to all other websites are unencrypted. Those looking for anonymity while online are recommended to use Tor.

Internal connections between Lantern ‘nodes’ are protected using strong AES-256-CBC encryption with ECDHE (elliptic curve) RSA key handshake, and SHA hash authentication.

Users can choose to provide the Lantern team with “useful information and analytics that will help us improve the Lantern program”, but this is strictly optional.

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Lantern in Use (Windows)

At only 4.4 MB, Lantern is extremely lightweight, and to use it all you need do is download and run the executable file.

Lantern 1

Some suggested websites that are unblocked by many repressive regimes

lantern 2

The latest version of Lantern now features a “Proxy all traffic” option. This means that Lantern can be used to unblock any website

Here in the UK the main reason websites are censored is due to copyright piracy. To test the service for this Lantern VPN review, we therefore ran the software, and then visited some well-known torrent websites. In our initial tests these remained blocked when using Lantern’s default settings, but could access be accessed with the ‘Proxy all traffic’ setting turned on. It seems, however, that were suffering from some teething problems, and in subsequent tests we could access every blocked website using just the default settings.

Lantern VPN Review Conclusion

We liked

  • Free
  • Open source
  • ‘Proxy all traffic’ option

We weren’t too sure about

  • Nothing

We hated

  • Nothing

This lightweight, free and open source anti-censorship app can be used to unblock any website. What’s not to like?

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