In A Nutshell
To bypass the Internet restrictions, the are the best VPNs for Iran:
- StrongVPN: reliable, known for supporting international users, confusing sign-up process
- TorGuard: stealth servers available for users in Iran
- HMA (Hide My Ass): inexpensive, easy to set up
- PureVPN: good support, fast servers around the world
These VPNs services will unblock sites like Gmail and YouTube and make all your internet connections encrypted. If you want to read more about how a VPN (Virtual Private Network) works see this article.
OpenVPN is generally best type of VPN connection to use, because it cannot be blocked simply by cutting off traffic to a specific port. L2TP security is excellent, but it requires the use of a specific port, making it fairly easy to block it using a firewall. PPTP is not secure enough for use in such situations. OpenVPN, however, is secure and it can bypass national firewalls.
There are over 36 million Internet users in Iran, according to EFF. These users are subject to very limited access to the Internet, however, and the restrictions appear to be getting worse. The Iranian government has expressed interest in filtering the Internet completely so that it meets their standard — and this means that there may be further restrictions coming down the line for Iranian Internet users. Already, bloggers and other individuals who have spoken out against the government online have been punished. EFF mentions that one Iranian blogger’s wife was beaten because of complaining of how security forces in the nation conducted themselves.
In October 2006, all Internet Service Providers (ISP) were mandated to cut down their download speed to 128kbits for private and commercial Internet users. In order to restrict internet access in Iran, the government uses SmartFilter content control software by Secure Computing which is based in San Jose. Also, it is alleged that Iran has electronic surveillance system made by Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).
Recently, Iran passed legislation which stipulates that Iranian ISPs must keep all data received and sent data, and the data is not deleted until 3 months after the contract of the client has expired. ISPs also filter sites with pornographic and political content in nature.