Private Internet Access Review

As public WiFi hotspots become increasingly available, the possibility of having your information and identity compromised also increases. If you regularly access the internet through open networks, it is almost inevitable that someone will eavesdrop on your online activity and sniff through your information. If you don’t have some kind of way to block them, you’re identity and information is as good as compromised.

This is where Private Internet Access comes in. Aptly-named, Private Internet Access is a VPN-service that passes the information from your computer to wherever you are browsing online through an encrypted tunnel, keeping out malicious individuals who are after your data. It’s a lightweight, no-nonsense service that requires only one click to instantly protect your data while browsing. Sure, there are a number of other popular VPN services, but Private Internet Access has a few features that set it apart from the competition, which you can learn more about in this review.

Private Internet Access Logo

What is VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a way for you to anonymously surf the internet and keep your information safe. It passes whatever information you send from your computer to a destination site through an encrypted tunnel so that information eavesdroppers can’t pick up your data while in transit. Take note, that a VPN can only protect your information while it’s going from point-A (your computer) to point-B (the destination website) and vice versa. That’s why it’s still important to be wary of the sites you visit since phishing sites and even legitimate websites that have been compromised will still be able to capture your information.

How Private Internet Access Works

A VPN service also allows you to mask your location, which happens to be very convenient if the site or online service you are trying to access has location restriction. This is awesome if you have a US Netflix subscription you would like to access while vacationing in Singapore or live in Asia and want to access a YouTube video that’s been restricted for US viewers only. There are many other situations where this would come in handy, but these are the most common.

What Sets Private Internet Access Apart From Competing VPN Services?

Naturally, Private Internet Access gives you all the basic functionality that you expect from a typical VPN service, but it’s the advanced features that really set it apart from the competition. My favorite feature is the VPN Kill Switch, which automatically kills your internet connection if the VPN created via Private Internet Access gets disconnected. This ensures that malicious individuals won’t suddenly have access to your information when the VPN goes down.

You can also turn on something called DNS Leak Protection, which routes all DNS requests through the VPN. This is quite possibly the best way to secure your information and keep your identity anonymous, but it can be buggy when you use it in a non-standard environment. Still, it’s a very nice feature to have when the environment supports it.

Private Internet Access also allows you to setup the VPN service on the network router itself. Just make sure that your router supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP and other consumer level VPN services. It’s a great way to make the most of your 3 device license limit but is only something that network administrators and networking gurus will really appreciate.

One cool thing that I noticed that isn’t necessarily feature is that using the internet while using the Private Internet Access VPN was that speeds were often considerably faster compared to when I wasn’t using it. And it was consistent, too. No matter what city I was in at the time or which free WiFi hotspot I had decided to mooch off of, speeds never dropped below what they would have been if I wasn’t connected to VPN, and they were often a lot faster.

Despite all the advanced features, Private Internet Access is surprisingly one of the most lightweight VPN services I’ve ever used. There’s no fancy control dashboard or application window; just a small icon in the system tray. You can right-click on it to bring up some options, but that’s about as heavy a UI as you’re going to get.

A Few Cons

If there’s anything I can’t like about Private Internet Access, it’s the fact that there’s no free version or some sort of trialware that I could use to try the service out first. Being a paid VPN service, it would have been nice to know what you’re getting into and find out exactly what it can do for you. A service can be really good, but if customers shun it in favor of another one that allows them to try it first, that’s a lot of potential revenue lost, and there are a lot of free VPN services, as well as those that offer free trial periods.

Another thing I don’t like is that it’s only available for PCs and Macs. An Android app is in development and the iOS version will be close behind, but there’s no definite time frame for when they will come out. With more and more people accessing the internet through their mobile devices, this is definitely a biggie.

Pricing and Recommendation

Payment Plans

Private Internet Access offers three different payment plans: monthly, biannual and annual plans. The one with the lowest up-front cost is the monthly plan, which is $6.95 a month. Then there’s the biannual plan that gives you 6 months for $35.95, or the equivalent of $5.99 a month. Finally, there’s the annual plan that allows you to buy 1 year of VPN access for $39.95, or the equivalent of just $3.33 a month.

If you want to try out the service before committing to as long as a year, I’d recommend trying it out for a month for $6.95 so you can decide if it has what you want. Sure, you’re losing out on the dollar equivalent of an extra month’s worth of service on the one year option, but it’s better than wasting $39.95 for a year of service for something you don’t like. Also, if you’re going to choose a longer plan, go with the one year plan as it’s only $4 more from the 6 month plan.

It’s hard not to like Private Internet Access. It’s so successful at being able to satisfy both advanced users and complete beginners to networking. It does so many things while remaining light and streamlined. At the moment, Private Internet Access is the only VPN service I would recommend regardless of the experience level of the user.

download Private Internet Access

ASIC Brings New Internet Censorship To Australia

asicThe Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), an independent corporate governance body that acts as Australia’s financial regulator, was revealed as the group responsible for shutting down close to 1,200 websites temporarily in April, including the community-based educational website of the Melbourne Free University.  The Australian federal government has confirmed that the ASIC has the authority to require Internet service providers to shut down sites suspected of committing financial fraud.

This black-hole action comes only months after Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy agreed to abandon a nationwide mandatory Internet filtering program in November 2012, in favor of a still widespread voluntary filtering policy.  The voluntary program involves the Australian Federal Police (AFP) requesting that service providers black out certain sites that Interpol labels as criminal, such as child pornography rings or blatant financial scams.  Australia’s largest telecommunications companies, including Optus, Telestra, and Vodafone, have complied with federal filter requests.  The Telecommunications Act that allows for this censorship offers no requirements for government transparency or civilian oversight.

Minister Conroy defended the recent shutdown in April: “ASIC believed that the website in question was operating in breach of Australian law, specifically section 911a of the Corporations Act 2001,” Conroy’s office said. “Under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, websites that breach Australian law can be blocked.”

Of the many sites shut down for over a week with little explanation, only one was the fraudulent website in question: a group of sites called Global Capital Wealth.  The group’s websites operate a cold-calling investment scam that had been discovered by the ASIC in March.

The nearly 1,200 sites shut down in April were not given notice as to why they were suspended, only that the ASIC suspected their site of illegal activity or hosting illegal material.  Thousands of users of the community education initiative of the Melbourne Free University site were particularly bemused.  Conroy’s office eventually issued a statement claiming that “Melbourne Free University’s website was hosted at the same IP address as [a] fraud website, and was unintentionally blocked . . .The government is working with enforcement agencies to ensure that Section 313 requests are properly targeted in future.”

The blocking of IP addresses as opposed to specific web addresses is a method used only by the ASIC in Australia — the AFP, for example, blocks site addresses.  Internet freedom advocates, including the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), called the IP blackout “reckless” and warned of future problems due to lack of transparency on the part of Australian authorities.  The arbitrary but firm nature of the shutdown has free information advocates worried about future unilateral filtering actions without oversight, and the potential of a slippery slope.

“Decisions that affect the global connectivity of the Internet should be made transparently,” the April EFF response memo reads, “whether they are made in the offices of ISPs, or in the courts and corridors of government.”  The EFF has publicly opposed Australia’s budding but growing Internet censorship policy since before the April incident, and they suggest that Australian users operate through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or peer-to-peer software like Tor to maintain Internet freedom.

Leaked Slides Offer Insight Into Prism Spying

nsa-logoIn the continually developing story of the NSA’s use of its Prism program to broadly collect data, newly released slides show how the program works with Internet companies like Google and Apple to mine users’ information.  The slides, published this week with some redactions in the Washington Post, show a presentation of PRISM’s workflow and details the targeting process, confirming that both the NSA and the FBI have the ability to conduct real-time digital surveillance.

The leaked slides reveal that the surveillance process begins when an analyst gives Prism the task of gathering information about a specific target.  The system then has a built-in stall mechanism, as the program requires permission to target from a supervisor.  This supervisor must determine that there is a “reasonable belief” of threat, at least 51% certainty, as detailed in the slides.  This initial supervisory process appears to be the only human check on the system.

The data collection process then begins with the FBI, using interception units installed at the private companies involved, including Google, Skype, and Apple.  As the Washington Post reports, the FBI “deploys government equipment on private company property to retrieve matching information from a participating company, such as Microsoft or Yahoo, and pass it” on for analysis.  The information can be forwarded without review to the CIA, NSA, or within the FBI.  At this point, based on certain “selector” key words determined by analysts, data like chats and e-mail can be monitored live, with content mined through the service providers.  This data can also include location information, real-time video and voice events over IP addresses, and unique device signatures.

The latest four slides give further detail about the extent and timeline of Internet companies’ involvement with the program.  Microsoft joined first in 2007, followed by Yahoo, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple most recently in 2012.  The evidence leak has left some companies scrambling to explain their initial denials of involvement earlier this June.  The companies are currently legally barred from discussing their involvement in the program, although both Google and Microsoft have petitioned for this gag order to be lifted.

The leak reveals that as of April 2013, 117,675 targets were being monitored using the Prism system.  The NSA and other agencies do not need a warrant to use the Prism program to target individuals, as Prism is approved by a court order through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  There is no report yet as to how many of those targeted so far have been foreign nationals or American citizens.

The government and intelligence community maintain that the Prism program was built to spy on foreign targets operating outside of the US, but worries about lack of transparency and accountability suggest the potential for “incidental” data mining of the private lives of American citizens.  There are checks against this for stored content, as opposed to live real-time monitoring: towards the end of the process documented in the new slides, the FBI runs the target through its own databases to make sure their information does not match that of any known Americans.  For real-time monitoring, there remains no oversight for American personal data falling into the surveillance net.

The Washington Post reports that these latest slides claim that Prism is the number one source of raw information used today by the NSA.

Texas Email Privacy Law Now The Strongest In The Nation

On June 14, 2013, Texas governor Rick Perry signed an unprecedented online privacy bill into law.  The bill, HB 2268, previously passed unanimously in both the Texas House and Senate.  The new law demands that Texas law enforcement acquire a warrant before searching private email and other online data, giving Texans the strongest Internet privacy protection in the country.

The law takes steps toward updating the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a still-in-effect federal law that allows law enforcement officials to access any citizens’ email and other online data without a warrant after 180 days.  An unopened email sitting on a server for six months, for example, or any opened email regardless of its age, could be used in an investigation without a warrant in most states.  This new act will give Texan inboxes greater protection from state investigations, but federal law enforcement still may access data without warrants by going straight to Internet service providers under the ECPA.

Advocates for online privacy see the Texas law as the beginning of a shift that may eventually reach Washington and federal policy.  Organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU are both vocal supporters of the Texas law.  Chris Soghoian, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, has said that the passing of the bill “sends a signal to Congress.  It sends a signal to conservative members who might not yet be on board that this is something being supported in their own states and it helps the courts to see that this is a safe space to venture into.”  Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, also noted the Texas example as indication of bipartisan support for this civil liberties issue: “it’s significant proof that privacy reform is not only needed but politically feasible.”

A sea change in American digital privacy policy would involve reform of the 1986 ECPA, and there are suggestions of this potential shift at the federal level.  Elana Tyrangiel, acting Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy, testified before Congress in March that provisions like the 180 day rule in the ECPA “may have made sense in the past but have failed to keep up with the development of technology.”  She also noted, referring to the Stored Communications Act (SCA) that allows for inbox-mining under the ECPA, how “acknowledging that the so-called ‘180-day rule’ and other distinctions in the SCA no longer make sense is an important first step.”

Much of technology and privacy policy in the United States was developed before smart phones, before Facebook messaging, before geo-tagging devices; and a recognition of outdated laws in other states may soon follow Texas’ lead.  A similar bill recently passed in the California Senate (SB 467), and a domino effect amongst other state legislatures may ultimately encourage a change in federal privacy policy.

New Solution For Breaking Through China’s Great Firewall

raspberry piWhile the Chinese government invests its time and resources on Internet censorship at a massive scale, individuals in the country continue to create simple hacking solutions that give them free access to information.  A new blow to the nationwide online blackout, dubbed by many as the Great Firewall, has surfaced in the form of a small Raspberry Pi computer.

A Reddit user going by JaiPasInternet recently posted a technique that involves turning the simple single-chip Raspberry Pi into a wi-fi hotspot.  The user connected to a virtual private network (VPN) in France through the open-source software OpenVPN.  VPNs, used by many companies to allow their employees to connect to private networks when they are not in the office, are also crucial tools for uncensored Internet access overseas and peer-to-peer Internet privacy anywhere.  OpenVPN allows users to authenticate the peers who are helping them connect.  This extra encryption is a powerful tool for overcoming firewalls, as China is increasing its attack on foreign VPNs by programming its security system to discover and block such networks.  While some protocols for VPNs have been discovered and shut down in China, there are still others that offer free access to information.

With the Raspberry Pi chip connected to a VPN, the user JaiPasInternet simply plugged the device into a wi-fi dongle, setting up a hotspot like any Internet cafe.  The software daemon hostapd helped create the hotspot connection.  The Reddit user said that although it took some time initially to connect to the VPN server, the connection was strong and consistent once established.

JaiPasInternet continues to successfully use this technique to out-fox the firewall in China:

“I use it on a daily basis with my iPhone and Android tablet (way better than the included VPN client) but the good thing is that, wherever I go, I just bring my Raspberry, plug it into ethernet and to any usb plug, and after a few minutes, I have my censor-free Wi-Fi hotspot.”

The Reddit poster also claims that this method is relatively easy to set up, citing an ELinux Wiki page that gives instructions for the technique.

The Raspberry Pi method makes the Internet user and the overseas VPN client much more difficult for authorities to track and shut down, essentially hiding the activity.  As word spreads about the ease of this method, there may be many more users in China with unlimited access to websites like Twitter, Facebook, and any number of Western news media sites — at least until the Great Firewall develops a new tracking method, causing hackers in China to scramble for a new solution for their delivery of free information.

What Is A VPN And Reasons To Use One

VPN is an acronym for “Virtual Private Network” which simply means that you are able to connect securely over the Internet with another secure network. These can be very useful for people who need to access websites which are not available in their geographical region or to hide browsing activity when users are on a public WiFi network. Basically the VPN forwards traffic first to the network effectively bypassing any censorship on the Internet.

So What Exactly is a VPN

Whenever you connect your computer, smart-phone, tablet or other device to the VPN it acts just the same as if it was connected to the local network – any internet traffic is directed to the secure connection of the VPN which means that your computer has access to the resources of the local network of the VPN even from across the other side of the globe. This can be very beneficial for people who need access to information sites which are only available to specific geographic locations and they are not present in that location.

The VPN effectively acts as a go between forwarding any requests for you and bringing back the correct response via a secure connection. Many people use this type of facility to access sites like Netflix or other television sites – as far as Netflix is concerned it will think that you are based within the United States no matter where you are in the world.

Why Use a VPN

VPN’s are actually quite a simple idea which can be used effectively for many different reasons:

  • A VPN can be used whie traveling as a means to access a home network – so no matter where you travel to in the world you can access the internet securely.
  • A VPN can also be used whilst traveling as a means of accessing a business network – this can help to increase internet security for business travelers as the local resources are not directly exposed on the Internet.
  • VPN’s are also very useful for people who regularly, or even occasionally use public WiFi networks. People who use a public WiFi network are leaving their browsing activity open to exposure to anyone close by who knows where and how to look for the data. By using a VPN the only thing that they will be able to discover is the single, secure connection to the VPN and all other activity will be hidden from view.
  • VPN’s are also terrific for people who want or need to access websites which are intended for use only within a specific geographical area. Americans will be able to access sites like Netflix, Hulu and Pandora for example when they are traveling in other parts of the world, well, just so long as the VPN is in the USA they will anyhow!
  • VPN’s can also be used as a means of bypassing internet censorship. The Great Firewall of China is an example of this, many of the people of China gain access to the entire internet via a VPN connection.

As you can see VPN’s have many different uses for many different people.

 

Rank
Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
1
Private Internet Access
12
$6.95
2
Hide My Ass
140
$11.52
3
IPVanish
41
$10
4
PureVPN
18
$9.95
5
VPN4All
50
$9.95

T-Mobile and the iPhone – Proceed With Caution

T-Mobile made huge headlines when they announced that they were now supporting the iPhone on their network.  Overall, there is no doubt this is a great opportunity for T-Mobile customers who want an iPhone.  At the same time, there are a few reasons to be cautious until everything starts to settle down.

The Good News

To make this big news even bigger T-Mobile announced that users don’t have to pay for the entire iPhone upfront.  Instead, you can pay $149 down plus $20 per month for 24 months.  There is no annual contract.  If you decide to leave T-Mobile, you can either switch your iPhone to another carrier and keep making the $20 payment or simply return it for “fair market value”.  Overall this is great news.  It makes the iPhone easier to afford and easy to use.

The Bad News

The 4G LTE Network

One of the biggest potential problems with the T-Mobile – iPhone marriage is the 4G LTE network.  To date, T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network is only in 7 metropolitan areas although they are trying to quickly expand it to reach more than 200 million users.  To make matters worse, not every iPhone is designed to be compatible with T-Mobile’s 4G network.  During the first wave of iPhone buyers, a lot of people were coming home with an older iPhone version which wasn’t compatible with the T-Mobile network.  This undermines the entire purpose of owning a 4G device.  If you buy a phone which isn’t compatible, your connection speed will slow down noticeably.  The reason for this is because T-Mobile’s 4G network doesn’t operate at the same frequency as AT&T’s.

No 4G Means More Reliance on Wi-Fi

Using a Wi-Fi connection to browse the web with your iPhone isn’t inherently a problem, but it does raise a few security issues.  Wi-Fi networks are notorious for not being secured properly.  This means everything you do on your iPhone is potentially exposed to malicious 3rd parties who are trolling Wi-Fi connections to steal personal data.  This problem doesn’t only apply the iPhone; it is true of any mobile device.  The difference is the iPhone will automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi hotspots whenever the 4G connection isn’t available.

Back to Some Good News

Fortunately, there is an easy way to solve this problem – a VPN.  By setting up a VPN connection on your iPhone, your internet connection becomes encrypted.  This allows you to take advantage of Wi-Fi hotspots without worrying about whether or not it is secure.  Data thieves lurking around Wi-Fi hotspots are looking for easy targets.  They aren’t looking to spend days or weeks trying to crack data that has been encrypted.  The best part is the iPhone can easily be set up to automatically establish a VPN connection anytime it connects to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

In most cases, you don’t need to worry about a VPN connection if you are using the 4G LTE network because telecom signals are typically already encrypted.  This is how they stop people from listening into your phone calls.

While T-Mobile’s ability to support the iPhone is great news, it is important to make sure you are taking proactive steps to protect your personal data.  Setting up a VPN is one of easiest and most effective steps you can take.

Rank
Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
1
Private Internet Access
12
$6.95
2
Hide My Ass
140
$11.52
3
IPVanish
41
$10
4
PureVPN
18
$9.95
5
VPN4All
50
$9.95

The Dangers Of CISPA And Its Threat To Online Privacy

The controversy over CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) has not abated. Since initially introduced in the United States House of Representatives in 2011, numerous protests and protest groups have arisen seeking to prevent the passage of this very dangerous legislation. Perhaps you are not entirely familiar with what the bill includes, or even why it is dangerous. We will spend a few moments examining CISPA and the ramifications that its passage would have to privacy.

The CISPA was initially presented before the US House of Representatives in late 2011 under the sponsorship of well over one-hundred congressmen and women. Officially, it is an actual amendment to the National Security Act signed into law in July 1947. If CISPA becomes law it will legally allow your privacy to be taken away without your knowledge or consent.

The greatest concerns about this bill relate to its affect on privacy and freedom. Although it is known that the NSA already monitors all internet, cellphone and text traffic, CISPA will give them legal authority to permanently monitor, collect, store and share all information about every American citizen. If a person is considered a threat to the country they can be arrested without a warrant, and detained for an unspecified amount of time without being charged. None of the data will be “anonymized” and it will be freely shared between every other agency (including the Department of Defense, CIA, NSA, FBI and IRS). It also gives your employer the right to demand your password to any social media website that you subscribe to. You can even be charged as an threat to national security for downloading an MP3 or movie without permission.

CISPA was rejected by the Senate in 2012, but as many had expected it was reintroduced when the controversy seemed to die down and people distracted by other news. It again passed the House on April 18, 2013 in a vote of 288 to 127, with 18 abstaining.

One of the obstacles that we face is that many of our congressmen are unaware of the consequences of passing this bill. Most of them have only heard sound bites from television news, or received inaccurate information from their personal aides. It is up to you, the citizen, to properly educate them. They are called our “representatives” for a reason – we vote for them to be our voice in Washington. The pressures to pass this bill are immense therefore the efforts to prevent it must be equally strong. Our arguments must be more convincing than those made by special interest groups who are seeking to deceive and stifle all debate.

Please read more about CISPA, learn everything you can, then get involved. Tell everyone about the dangers inherent in this bill, but most importantly, contact your local congressman. Tell them why you oppose CISPA, and explain in detail why it is dangerous for our country, contrary to the US constitution, and violates the Bill of Rights.

Using VPNs Get Around The Great Firewall Of China

In late December, a number of VPN companies and their users reported a number of VPN outages.  The latest developments support earlier reports that China has taken a proactive stance at clamping down on VPN technologies.  The question now is whether or not a VPN is still the best way to try and circumvent the Great Firewall of China.

The Recent VPN Blockages Are Based on the Protocol Being Used

The most important factor to consider when trying to get uncensored access to the Internet in China with a VPN is how China has identified popular VPN networks.  In most cases, the VPN companies are not what is being identified, but rather the VPN protocol being used.  This means that the only way to get around this is by using a VPN service that offers multiple protocols.  For example, the popular P2P protocol has long had only limited success in getting around the Great China Firewall.  This is because it is one of the least complex which makes it easy for ISPs to spot and block.  Recent reports note that a new technology used by China to filter the web can carry out complex encrypted traffic analysis.  Essentially, it learns what connections to block.

A No-Win Situation for Some VPN Companies

The biggest problem VPN companies face is that they do not have a bargaining chip with China.  This is because the Chinese government believes that VPN companies are operating outside of their laws.  As a result, VPN companies are forced to continually improve their methods to stay ahead of Chinese censorship.

What Other Options Are There?

While some VPN companies have faced some struggles against the Great Firewall of China, this isn’t a reason to disregard the VPN technology altogether.  The first thing to keep in mind is that there aren’t any other consistent options available.  Switching away from a VPN connection isn’t possible because there are not any viable alternatives.  The key is choosing the right VPN company.

The Focus Should Be on Available Protocols

Since China primarily blocks VPN companies based upon the tunneling protocol being used, it is essential to choose a VPN service which offers multiple protocols.  This not only provides maximum flexibility from one device to another, but also gives users the ability to switch VPN protocols as needed.  This makes it more difficult for Chinese ISPs to track and analyze the encrypted data.

VPN Companies Are Finding Solutions

As soon as consistent VPN outages were reported, VPN services started to release a variety of quick fix solutions to their customers.  The most common fix is modifying protocols; however modifying MTUs and ports have resolved the problem in some cases as well.  The highest success rates have been reported when TCP adjustments were made.

Stick with a VPN

VPNs are still the best way to get around the Great Firewall of China.  While China is working hard to block VPN traffic, it remains the most viable option that is readily available.

Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
Hide My Ass
140
$11.52
IPVanish
41
$10
VPN4All
50
$9.95

4 Ways to Identify VPN Services Which Truly Care About Anonymity

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VPN services do not inherently provide a vast amount of additional privacy when browsing the web.  While they do provide an additional layer of protection from 3rd party monitoring, many minimize this benefit by logging user activity internally.  There are a variety of different types of logging a VPN service may undertake.  To complicate matters, most VPN services to do explicitly state what type of user activity they log unless you take a close look at the term of service.  There are a variety of different ways to identify no logging VPN services to make choosing the right one easier.

1. Where is the Company Located?

One of the easiest ways to determine whether or not a VPN service will log user activity is by looking at where they are located.  A growing number of countries have passed laws requiring VPN service to track user activity.  If a VPN service is located within a country, they must follow the countries logging laws.  This doesn’t mean they will hand out user activity to any 3rd party, but it does mean it is required to log activity and hand it over to authorities if it is requested.

2. What Type of Payment Options Do They Offer?

Another way to discover how much value a VPN service places on protecting user privacy is by looking at the payment options.  Many VPN services require users to pay for the service via verified payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and verified digital currency.  All of these payment methods can be easily tied to specific users.  VPN services which allow for anonymous payment methods, such as Bitcoin, are more likely to understand the importance of user privacy.

3. What is Their History of Cooperation with User Data Requests?

Along with looking at how much logging a VPN service does, it is equally important to find out how willing they are to share it.  Some VPN services go to great lengths to make it difficult for 3rd parties to access the data.  They challenge the legality of every log request.  At the same time, many VPN services readily share user data when it is requested.

4. What Type of Data Do They Log?

There are some VPN services which do log user data because they are forced to by local regulations.  To minimize the risk of putting their user’s anonymity at risk, they only log activity which happens within their servers.  This makes it incredibly difficult for third parties to determine which user took a particular action.  While the user’s actions are technically logged, the actions are not assigned to specific users.  Instead, the actions are logged to specific VPN servers.

What is the Best Option?

For maximum anonymity the best option is to choose a VPN service which does not log user data at all.  If no data is collected, it is impossible to share.  The problem is identifying which VPN services log data and to what extent.  The following list includes all of the best VPN services which do not log user data at all to guarantee maximum anonymity.

Service
# Of Countries
Monthly Price
Visit
Private Internet Access
12
$6.95
BTGuard
3
$6.95
VPN4All
50
$9.95
BolehVPN
9
$10.50
TorGuard
8
$5.95
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