VPN Woes

I’ve been using ProtonVPN to encrypt my internet traffic for about a year now, and I decided to collect some of the many strange woes of using an always-on VPN on the modern web. This list will be constantly updated as I run into new weird roadblocks.

Table of Contents

  • Autodesk
  • FontAwesome
  • Imperva
  • Microsoft Store
  • Panera Bread App
  • ProtonMail

Autodesk

For a college Game Design and Animation course, I needed to install Autodesk Maya on my personal computer. Easily enough, I was able to register for an education license, download, and install Maya 2019 through the student portal. However, my school uses Maya 2019.2, so I needed to update to that service pack to make sure all my files could be read correctly by my professor. Unfortunately, the Autodesk update utility displayed this when I went to install said update:

No Updates Available, (x) Doubt

Of course, after disabling my VPN, I was able to install the update flawlessly. It seems Autodesk has decided to stonewall VPN users not to prevent any fraud at the account-creation or product install level, but rather at installing service packs. Odd.

FontAwesome (yes, really)

Now this is a strange one. For whatever reason, FontAwesome blocked ProtonVPN users from accessing the use.fontawesome.com CDN for a while. There was no notification of an outage, and no DNS resolution errors. This could have been an automatic DDOS-prevention measure taken against a specific, high-traffic IP range (understandable given the amount of websites that use Font Awesome), but there should be some measure taken to ensure good-faith VPN users can still use the web.

Imperva

Disabling VPN is the only thing needed to gain access to this site. My computer is, in fact, not infected by malware. Leading less-tech-savvy VPN users into thinking their computer is infected is not ideal.

To add to this, completing the captcha did not grant access to the site; I was stuck in a reload loop of this block screen until I disabled my VPN, after which I was instantly let in.

Microsoft Store

No connectivity whatsoever over VPN. You need to disconnect periodically in order to update apps, or download new ones.

Panera Bread App

Ordering functionality is maintained over VPN, but the CDN responsible for serving the image assets seems to have ProtonVPN blocked.

ProtonMail

Surprisingly enough, ProtonMail has a few quirks as well. You can’t upload large attachments (my example case was a 13 MB file) over VPN, but you can send/receive email just fine. This one is especially ironic given that the company behind ProtonMail is the same one behind ProtonVPN.

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