Which VPN Providers Take Your Anonymity Seriously? VPN services have become an important pia vpn bitcoin download to counter the growing threat of Internet surveillance, but unfortunately not all VPNs are as anonymous as one might hope.
In fact, some VPN services log users’ IP-addresses and other private info for months. To find out how anonymous VPNs really are, TF asked the leading providers about their logging practices and other privacy sensitive policies. By now most Internet users are well aware of the fact that pretty much every step they take on the Internet is logged or monitored. To prevent their IP-addresses from being visible to the rest of the Internet, millions of people have signed up to a VPN service. Using a VPN allows users to use the Internet anonymously and prevent snooping. Unfortunately, not all VPN services are as anonymous as they claim, as several incidents have shown in the past.
In addition to questions about logging practices, we also asked VPN providers about other privacy sensitive policies, so prospective users can make an informed decision. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold and for how long? What tools are used to monitor and mitigate abuse of your service? In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice or European equivalent, how are these handled?
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What steps are taken when a valid court order requires your company to identify an active user of your service? Does your company have a warrant canary or a similar solution to alert customers to gag orders? Which payment systems do you use and how are these linked to individual user accounts? What is the most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm you would recommend to your users? Below is the list of responses we received from various VPN providers, in their own words. In some cases we asked for further clarification. VPN providers who keep logs for longer than 7 days were excluded, and others who simply failed to respond.
Please note that several VPN companies listed here do log to some extent. The order of the VPNs within each category holds no value. VPNs That keep No Logs NordVPN 1. Seriously, we have a strict no-logs policy over our customers.
NordVPN is based out of Panama. No tools are used to monitor our customers in any case. We use the third-party live support tool, but it is not linked to the customers’ accounts. When we receive any type of legal notices, we cannot do anything more than to ignore them, simply because they have no legal bearing to us.
Since we are based in Panama, all legal notices have to be dealt with according to Panamanian laws first. Luckily they are very friendly to Internet users. If we receive a valid court order, firstly it would have to comply with the laws of Panama. In that case, the court settlement should happen in Panama first, however were this to happen, we would not be able to provide any information because we keep exactly nothing about our users. We do not have a warrant canary or any other alert system, because as it was mentioned above, we operate under the laws of Panama and we guarantee that any information about our customers will not be distributed to any third party. Bitcoin is the best payment option to maintain your anonymity as it has only the paid amount linked to the client. We have high anonymity solutions which we would like to recommend to everyone seeking real privacy.
One of them is Double VPN. The traffic is routed through at least two hoops before it reaches the Internet. The connection is encrypted within two layers of cipher AES-256-CBC encryption. Firstly, the traffic is encrypted within NordVPN layer and later sent to the Tor network and exits to the Internet through one of the Tor exit relays. DNS leak protection which provide the maximum possible security level for our customers.
We choose to operate in the US in order to provide no logging service, as there is no mandatory data retention law in the US. Additionally, our beloved clients are given access to some of the strongest consumer protection laws, and thus, are able to purchase with confidence. We do not monitor our users, period. That said, we have a proprietary system in place to help mitigate abuse.
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Our support system is in-house as we utilize Kayako. We have a proprietary system in place that allows us to comply in full with DMCA takedown notices without disrupting our users’ privacy. Because we do not log our users’ activities in order to protect and respect their privacy, we are unable to identify particular users that may be infringing the lawful copyrights of others. We do not log and therefore are unable to provide information about any users of our service.
We have not, to date, been served with a valid court order that has required us to provide something we do not have. PIA has received subpoenas but since the requested information was not on file the company had nothing to produce in response. We do not attempt to filter, monitor, censor or interfere in our users’ activity in any way, shape or form. We utilize a hashing system to keep track of payments and credit them properly while ensuring the strongest levels of privacy for our users.
The most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm that we would recommend to our users would be our suite of AES-256, RSA 4096 and SHA1 or 256. However, AES-128 should still be considered quite safe. Kill Switch : Ensures that traffic is only routed through the VPN such that if the VPN connection is unexpectedly terminated, the traffic would simply not be routed. IPv6 Leak Protection : Protects clients from websites which may include IPv6 embeds which could leak IPv6 IP information. DNS Leak Protection : This is built in and ensures that DNS requests are made through the VPN on a safe, private no-log DNS daemon. Shared IP System : We mix clients’ traffic with many clients’ traffic through the use of an anonymous shared-IP system ensuring that our users blend in with the crowd. We are currently using our own DNS caching.
We utilize third party datacenters that are operated by trusted friends and, now, business partners who we have met and completed our due diligence on. We never keep traffic logs, and we also don’t keep any logs that might enable someone to match an IP and timestamp back to a user. We work entirely on the basis of shared IPs, meaning that a single IP does not track back to an individual user. We are incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and operate according to BVI laws. We block outgoing connections to port 25 to prevent SMTP abuse, and we use firewall rules to prevent some types of DOS attacks. We believe these to be secure, and if we had any indication that our customer communications were compromised on either of these channels, it would be straightforward to migrate to a different platform. There is nothing to take down, as we are not a content host.
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We maintain the anonymity of our customers and would not attempt to identify users on the basis of DMCA notices. This hasn’t happened to date, but we would need to receive a court order from the BVI. Not yet, although we are trying to understand how it would be practical to implement one. We do strongly support Twitter’s lawsuit against the US Justice Dept. We respect our customers’ freedom to use these services and their right to privacy from ISPs and other parties who attempt to monitor such traffic. The information you are required to submit varies with the payment method selected.
With Bitcoin we require only an email address so we can communicate with you, and no other personally identifying information. This depends on the platform, but most of our apps use OpenVPN by default, and that’s also our recommendation for best security. Some of our apps have DNS leak protection and maintain VPN routes even when a connection has unexpectedly dropped. We’re actively working on making these features more complete and easier for customers to understand what they do and when they’re active. Sometimes we also recommend Google DNS. We work with multiple data centers in 78 countries around the world.
At the time of this writing our headquarters currently operates from the United States. Due to the lack of data retention laws in the US, our legal team has determined this location to be in the best interest of privacy for the time being. Our network team uses a combination of open source monitoring apps and custom developed tools to mitigate any ongoing abuse of our services. For basic troubleshooting and customer service purposes we utilize Livechatinc for our chat support. All clients retain full control over account changes in our secure member’s area without any information passing through an insecure channel. In the event a DMCA notice is received it is immediately processed by our abuse team.
Due to our shared network configuration we are unable to forward any requests to a single user. In order to satisfy legal requirements from bandwidth providers we may temporarily block infringing protocols, ports, or IPs. If a court order is received, it is first handled by our legal team and examined for validity in our jurisdiction. Should it be deemed valid, our legal representation would be forced to further explain the nature of a shared IP configuration and the fact that we do not hold any identifying logs. No, we remain unable to identify any active user from an external IP address and time stamp.
No, at this time we do not have a warrant canary. Paysafecard, Alipay, CashU, Gift Cards, and many other methods. No usage can be linked back to a billing account due to the fact that we maintain zero logs across our network. For best security we advise clients to use OpenVPN connections only and for encryption use AES256 with 2048bit RSA. ISP so you can access the open web freely even from behind the Great Firewall of China. These options are available on select locations and offer excellent security due to the cryptography techniques used to obfuscate traffic.
44 countries around the world and we continue to expand the network every month. We retain full physical control over all hardware and only seek partnerships with data centers who can meet our strict security criteria. SlickVPN does not log any traffic nor session data of any kind. We operate a complex business structure with multiple layers of Offshore Holding Companies, Subsidiary Holding Companies, and finally some Operating Companies to help protect our interests. We will not disclose the exact hierarchy of our corporate structures, but will say the main marketing entity for our business is based in the United States of America and an operational entity is based out of Nevis. We do not monitor any customer’s activity in any way.
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We have chosen to disallow outgoing SMTP which helps mitigate SPAM issues. We do utilize third party email systems to contact clients who opt in for our newsletters. If a valid DMCA complaint is received while the offending connection is still active, we stop the session and notify the active user of that session, otherwise we are unable to act on any complaint as we have no way of tracking down the user. It is important to note that we ALMOST NEVER receive a VALID DMCA complaint while a user is still in an active session. Our customer’s privacy is of top most importance to us. We are required to comply with all valid court orders.
We would proceed with the court order with complete transparency, but we have no data to provide any court in any jurisdiction. We would not rule out relocating our businesses to a new jurisdiction if required. We keep user authentication and billing information on independent platforms. One platform is operated out of the United States of America and the other platform is operated out of Nevis. All customer data is automatically removed from our records shortly after the customer ceases being a paying member. Our IP leak protection proactively keeps your IP from leaking to the internet. This was one of the first features we discussed internally when we were developing our network, it is a necessity for any good VPN provider.
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To ensure redundancy, we host with multiple providers in each location. In all cases, our network nodes load over our encrypted network stack and run from ramdisk. No, this is fundamental to the service we provide. It is also in our interests not to do so as it minimizes our own liability. In 2014 we decided to move the company from Malta to Gibraltar in light of the new 2015 EU VAT regulations which affect all VPN service providers based in the EU. We have built a number of bespoke systems over the last 5 years as we’ve encountered and addressed most types of abuse. At a high level we use Zabbix, an open-source monitoring tool that alerts us to incidents.
As examples we have built an anti-spam rate-limiter based on iptables so we don’t have to block any email ports and forked a tool called PSAD which allows us to detect attacks originating from our own network in real time. We made a strategic decision from the beginning that no company or customer data would ever be stored on 3rd party systems. In addition, we never store the IP addresses of customers connected to our network nor are we legally required to do so. That would depend on the information with which we were provided.
IP address then we would reply factually that we do not store this information, so we are unable to provide it. If they provide us with an email address and asked for the customer’s identity then we reply that we do not store any personal data, we only store a customer’s email address. Yes absolutely, we’ve published a canary since August 2014. We accept Bitcoin, Cash and Paypal.
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When using cash there is no link to a user account within our system. When using Bitcoin, we store the Bitcoin transaction ID in our system. With Paypal we store the subscription ID in our system so we can associate incoming subscription payments. AES-256 with OpenVPN, which we believe is more than secure enough for our customers’ needs. If you are the target of a state level adversary or other such well-funded body you should be far more concerned with increasing your general opsec than worrying about 2048 vs 4096 bit keys. DNS, network failures, WebRTC STUN, IPv6 etc.
We don’t keep ANY logs that allow us or a 3rd party to match an IP address and a time stamp to a user of our service. The only thing we log are e-mails and user names but it’s not possible to bind an activity on the Internet to a user on PrivateVPN. If there’s abuse, we advise that service to block our IP in the first instance, and second, we can block traffic to the abused service. They do not hold any information about the chat session. This depends on the country in which we’re receiving a DMCA takedown. For example, we’ve received a DMCA takedown for UK and Finland and our response was to close P2P traffic in those countries.
If we get a court order to monitor a specific IP then we need to do it, and this applies to every VPN company out there. We’re working on a solution where we publish a statement that we haven’t received legal process. One we receive a legal process, this canary statement is removed. Every payment has an order number, which is linked to a user. Otherwise we wouldn’t know who has made a payment. To be clear, you can’t link a payment to an IP address you get from us.