How to Create an Anonymous Email

Dana Jackson

Want to send anonymous emails, but don’t really know how or why? Luckily, we’re here to help!

email description picture

Every day we use email to communicate with our colleagues, friends, and family. Usually, we never give privacy a second thought when writing out a quick email.

But, there are times when sending an email anonymously is an absolute necessity. If the information got out it would be compromising, embarrassing, or even dangerous.

Chances are, you don’t need to send 100% of your emails anonymously, but when the need arises you’ll want to know how to do it.

Below you’ll learn what anonymous email is and how it works, so you can start sending your own anonymous emails.

Table of contents

What is Anonymous Email?

In our digital world, almost every facet of our lives is out in the open. Unless you take the extra steps to protect and defend your privacy.

Email is something we use every single day. We spend hours in our inboxes and often share personal information we want to keep private.

gmail on laptop

An anonymous email account is a must-have for situations like:

  • Journalists who need to communicate privately with a source
  • People who are concerned about privacy and feel the need to go anonymous
  • Telling the truth, or whistleblowing, without a connection to your identity

Anonymous email gives you the ability to send an email that can’t trace back to you. It won’t contain any personal identifying information.

There are multiple methods of achieving this:

  • Sending emails through a proxy server, so your location is invisible.
  • Omitting personal information, like the identity of the user, the reply address, or the message time stamp
  • Using fake contact information when creating a general email account to mask your identity

Still, anonymous email accounts can be used for less than upstanding purposes. Like a hacker using an anonymous email address to send a malicious email containing a virus.

Anonymous email

These emails will contain a link that’ll install a virus or malware on the user’s computer to gain sensitive information. I know you won’t do this, but there can be some negative associations built into anonymous emailing.

How Anonymous Email Works

There are many ways to send emails at varying degrees of anonymity.

gmail bed laptop

The basic method involves entering a fake name and personal information when creating a Hotmail, Outlook, or Gmail account. This approach won’t get you complete privacy, and you’ll need a personal phone number to verify your account. But, it’ll grant you more privacy than your standard account.

The truly anonymous approach involves using a private email service. These tools and services need minimal personal information to get started.

Plus, they’re often equipped with features like:

  • Two-way email encryption
  • Hidden IP address, or IP address blocker
  • Email password protect
  • Automated email deletion or expiration

We’ll get more into these services and tools, and how to use them, below.

Anonymous Email vs. Regular Email

You’re probably wondering, what’s the difference between anonymous email and regular email?

They both accomplish the same core goal of sending an email. But, they differ in the level of privacy and protection each provides.

Why Use Anonymous Email?

Anonymous email affords you levels of security and privacy you can’t get anywhere else. You might not need it 24/7, but it does have certain benefits.

1. Freedom of Expression

Sometimes you need to convey information to a person, but don’t want to compromise your identity. It could be something that’ll ruin the relationship, or you’d like to remain anonymous nonetheless.

2. Send Private Confidential Information

If you have sensitive information you want to send to the authorities without revealing your true identity, then you can use anonymous email for this purpose.

You can easily send confidential information without fear of your identity being brought to light.

3. Whistleblowing Purposes

Whistleblowing can be a scary and stressful situation. With anonymous email, you can help to escape any harassment and persecution that might come with.

Think of it as giving an anonymous phone tip from a pay phone. Using anonymous email can be a way to whistleblow about any wrongdoing while protecting your identity.

4. Hide From Spammers

You could use a throwaway email account whenever you enter your email anywhere online. This can help to isolate your identity and any spam emails from your main inbox. But, you’ll still have a link back to your true identity.

With an anonymous email account, you can create aliases and segment your account to keep your information safe from spammers.

Why Use a Regular Email Account?

Even with the security and privacy anonymous email affords, a regular email account can be useful.

1. Build a Tangible Relationship

It can be tough to build a relationship with anyone over email if you’re completely anonymous. Think of it like contributing to an online forum. You may be able to help and make connections with people. But, it’ll be difficult to build a deep connection without actually knowing who you’re talking to.

2. Ease of Use

For those who aren’t very tech-savvy signing up and using a service like Gmail couldn’t be easier. This service, and others like it, are created to deliver the best user experience possible. They’re engineered so you need zero tech knowledge to get started.

3. Link to Apps and Services

Services like Gmail give you login privileges to other sites. Privacy buffs may scoff at this, but for some users, speedy login is a necessity.

Instead of creating multiple accounts, you can login to various sites and apps with your Google account.

How Much Does it Cost?

Some people shy away from using anonymous email, because of the associated costs. After all, services like Gmail and Hotmail are free. But, these services do run ads in your email account to make up for the “free” service.

The question becomes:

Would you rather pay for your email service with cash, or with your personal information that’s sold to third-party advertisers?

You’ll find a variety of paid and free anonymous email options.

There are pricier anonymous email services. But, you’ll also find a ton of free and cheap options.

Anonymous email, with all the protection features they provide, aren’t that pricey. Especially if you’re purchasing an account for yourself, and not for your entire organization.

Individual costs for an anonymous email account range from $25—$80+ for the entire year, with an average monthly cost of $5 per month.

And that’s just for the premium accounts, which are equipped with extra storage, and security features.

Almost every anonymous email provider also offers free accounts. These accounts are limited by the amount of email storage provided or the number of emails you can send per month.

How to Create Anonymous Email Account

Creating an anonymous email account is similar to creating any other form of email account.

For the tutorial below we’ll setup a free account with ProtonMail. The only limitation to the free account is the amount of storage provided. You’ll still have access to all the privacy features.

protonmail homepage

1. Select your account type

protonmail free plan

On this screen choose the ‘Select Free Plan’ option, unless you want to upgrade to a paid account.

2. Choose your username and password

protonmail signup screen

Here you’ll create your anonymous email address and password.

You have the option to add a recovery email, in case you ever forget your password. But, this could create a link to an existing email account, so those looking for complete anonymity might want to leave this blank.

3. Prove you’re human

protonmail captcha test

Now it’s time to prove you’re not a robot. Choose one of the four options to show that you’re a living breathing human being.

Then, click ‘Complete Setup’ and your account will be automatically created.

4. Complete your account setup

protonmail mailbox

You’re now ready to send completely anonymous emails.

On this screen, you’ll see what looks like any traditional inbox. Here you can send and receive emails, as you would any other type of email account.

You’ll also be able to upgrade your account to further support the service an unlock additional features.

How to Send Anonymous Email

Sending an anonymous email couldn’t be easier. For this example, we’re going to use the same service from the example above ProtonMail.

First, navigate to the backend of your account, and click on the ‘Compose’ button.

protonmail new email screen

Here a window will pop up and you’ll be able to compose an email, just as you would in Gmail.

You’ll also have additional options to further secure your email.

In the left-hand corner of the window, you can password-protect your email, and set an expiration date.

To set a password for the email click the box that looks like a lock.

protonmail set up a password

Then, type in your secure password. Note that the recipient must have access to this password in order to view your email.

To set an expiration date for the email click on the box that looks like an hourglass.

protonmail expiration timer

Here you’ll be able to set a time window where the recipient can view the message before it’s deleted.

Once you’ve configured your privacy settings, then click the ‘Send’ button and your email will be delivered.

There are many different anonymous email providers. But, you’ll find that most have a simple setup process and mirror the features of your traditional email provider.

How to Send Anonymous Email Without an Account

Maybe you just want to send an anonymous email without a needing a response. There are multiple tools that’ll let you send one-way anonymous email without having to register an account.

The simplest method is using an online tool called Anonymous Email.

To do this, navigate to the site.

anonymousemail.me screen

Fill out the form on the homepage as if you were sending a normal email, then scroll down and click ‘Send’.

You’ll also have the ability to forward and track any responses to an existing email address, like Gmail.

There are other tools that let you send anonymous emails without an account like:

ProtonMail Alternatives

Beyond ProtonMail and the other anonymous email providers above, there are many other tools and services you can use to send emails anonymously.

Here are 7 of the best tools:

1. Guerilla Mailguerilla mail

Guerrilla Mail is an encrypted email service that’s been operating for over a decade. Plus, you don’t have to sign up to send emails with the service. Just create your own email address, or use the scramble address feature for an entirely random email address.

 

2. MailFencemailfence

MailFence offers you a complete email suite, along with features like encrypted email, no tracking or spam, and freedom from surveillance. Plus, with its location in Belgium, it has very strong privacy protection laws surrounding the company.

 

3. Mailinatormailinator

Mailinator lets you create and give out unlimited email addresses, and check messages for those addresses on their site. This helps to keep your identity private and effectively shield you from any risk. The email address itself is public, but you’re not connected to the email address in any way.

 

4. Tutanotatutanota

Tutanota is a secure email provider that offers end-to-end email encryption. Plus, it’s open source so it’s entirely free. Since IP addresses aren’t recorded, and you don’t need to provide any personal information to setup an account, you can use the service completely anonymously.

 

5. The Anonymous Emailthe anonymous email

The Anonymous Email is a pretty basic tool that lets you send anonymous emails. The only information required to create an account is an existing email account. If you’re concerned about sharing your personal email, then you can create a burner email account to register for the service.

 

6. Secure Emailsecureemail

Secure Email is a fully anonymous email service. It routes all email traffic through an encrypted SSL connection, hides your IP address, and requires zero personal information to sign up. With the high-level of encryption offered no one will be able to read your emails, except you.

 

7. TorGuardtorguard

TorGuard has a built-in anonymous email service. If you’re already a member of their VPN service, then the service is free. This service has a lot of advanced privacy and encryption features to protect your emails. Plus, no personal information is required to create an account, so you can send emails totally anonymously.

Transitioning From Gmail to Private Email

If you’re concerned about your privacy and want to use an anonymous email provider 100% of the time, then you can transfer your existing traditional email account to a secure provider.

Below you’ll find a few walkthroughs that’ll help you transition from Gmail to three of the most widely used secure email providers.

The first transition step is emailing your most common contacts and letting them know about your email address change. The best way to do this is send an email from your Gmail account with your new ProtonMail address CC’d.

With that completed, follow the steps below:

1. Export and import your contacts

The first thing we need to do is export our contacts from Gmail.

Open up your Gmail account. On the top left-hand corner click the Gmail logo and then select ‘Contacts’.

Then, on the Google Contacts page select the ‘More’ option from the left-hand menu.

Finally, select ‘Export’ and choose the ‘Google CSV’ format.

Now, open up your ProtonMail account, and select ‘Contacts’ from the top menu.

ProtonMail import

Select the ‘Import’ option and upload the .csv file you just downloaded.

Your contact list has now been migrated to ProtonMail.

2. Import your Messages

The only way to import your existing messages to ProtonMail is to use a paid add-on called ProtonMail Bridge.

If you don’t want to upgrade to a paid account, then your best course of action is forwarding your Gmail messages to ProtonMail.

3. Setup Gmail forwarding

Login to your Gmail account and click on the gear icon, then select ‘Settings’.

Then select ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’.

Gmail settings

Select ‘Add a forwarding address’, and enter your new ProtonMail email address.

Gmail forwarding address

Then you’ll receive a confirmation email in your ProtonMail account. Verify your email address and you’re all set.

Transitioning from Gmail to MailFence

If you’re a MailFence user then follow the steps below to add your Gmail contacts to MailFence and forward any new messages to your MailFence account.

Like the ProtonMail transition tutorial above it’s a good idea to send out emails to any contacts you regularly email about your contact change. That way they can add your email to their contacts and it won’t be marked as spam.

With that done, follow the steps below:

1. Link your Gmail account and migrate contacts

If you decided to use MailFence, then migrating your contacts over to Gmail is a very straightforward process.

First, you’ll need a MailFence account, so if you don’t have one do that now.

Once you’ve activated your account, click on the ‘Contacts’ button on the top navigation bar.

Malifence contacts

Then, click the three dots, and select Import.

Malifence import

Select ‘Google contacts’ and click ‘Import’.

On the next screen you’ll be asked to enter your Google credentials, and once it’s verified your Gmail contacts will be imported into MailFence.

2. Setup email forwarding within Gmail

To setup email forwarding between Gmail and MailFence, you’ll follow the exact same steps as the Gmail Forwarding section above.

So, scroll up a tiny bit and follow those same instructions.

Just enter your MailFence email address instead of the ProtonMail address.

Transitioning from Gmail to Mailinator

Since Mailinator is such a simple tool it isn’t something you’ll want to use as a replacement for Gmail.

That being said, you can still manage your anonymous emails sent from Mailinator within your Gmail inbox.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Login to your current Gmail account and select the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner, and select ‘Settings’.

2. Find the ‘Check email from other accounts:’ section and click on ‘Add an email account’.

Gmail add mail account

3. Enter your email and click the ‘Next’ button.

Gmail add mail account 2

4. Select the ‘Import emails from my other account (POP3)’ option and click ‘Next’.

Gmail add mail account 3

5. Then enter your full email address in the ‘Username’ field, enter your account password into the ‘Password’ field, and leave the dropbox box as ‘pop.mailinator.com’ in the ‘POP Server’ field.

Gmail add mail account 4

6. Click ‘Add Account’ and you’re all set. Your anonymous Mailinator emails will now show up in your existing Gmail account.

Can You Use Outlook for Anonymous Email?

A lot of people think that you can use aliases to hide your true identity when using Outlook.

Aliases can be used for purposes like creating a more secure password recovery address or creating a junk email account for those times when you’re forced to register for an online service.

But, these aliases don’t allow you to remain truly anonymous like the tools and services highlighted above. It’s simply a pathway to create a throw-away email address.

Now, if you want to use Outlook with the greatest level of anonymity possible, then you’ll want to use the Tor browser, and send emails from an Outlook alias.

That way your location won’t be known. But, your alias can still be traced back to you as a person.

If you truly want to send anonymous emails, then use some of the tools and services highlighted above.

Conclusion

There are a variety of different tools and services you can use to send anonymous emails. Some have powerful encryption protocols to secure your messages, while others do a great job of allowing you to send one-off anonymous messages.

If you’re serious about sending anonymous emails and also want your email communication to remain encrypted, then your best option is using a service like ProtonMail, MailFence, or Tutanota.

Services like these allow you to send and track your anonymous emails, send encrypted and password protected emails, create account aliases, and even have your emails deleted after a set period of time.

The method you choose for managing and sending anonymous emails depends upon your needs and privacy concerns.

Hopefully, you’re better equipped to navigate the world of anonymous email and can protect your privacy and personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

Have any questions about which anonymous email service is best for your needs? Please share your questions and concerns in the comments below.

Truth About VPN Servers

John Mason

John Mason

There’s a lot of open secrets in the VPN space.

And one of them is VPN servers…

Most users aren’t privy to them.

But behind the scenes, it’s common knowledge. And unfortunately, VPN customers are often the victims. So we’re here to set the record straight.

Here’s the truth about VPN server claims (and how you can separate fact from fiction).

VPN Servers (Last updated 1st of May 2018)

VPN NameServers Countries
 NordVPN 3350 64
 Private Internet Access 3059 28
 TorGuard 3000 50
 ExpressVPN 1500 93
 CyberGhost 1300 61
 IPVanish 1000 60
 Speedify 1000 28
 SurfyEasy 1000 28
 HideMyAss 760 190
 PureVPN 750 140
 VyprVPN 700 72
 SaferVPN 700 34
 DotVPN 700 12
 StrongVPN 682 26
 HotSpot Shield 500 24
 WindScribe 480 51
 VPN Unlimited 400 52
 OneVPN 390 59
 Astrill 360 50
 TunnelBear 350 20
 Anonymous VPN 336 49
 PersonalVPN 300 44
 TigerVPN 300 42
 SpyOFF 300 32
 VPNArea 230 70
 AirVPN 209 19
 ProtonVPN 190 16
 ibVPN 180 57
 Mullvad 166 29
 SlickVPN 150 40
 SwitchVPN 150 32
 Hide All IP 150 30
 Trust.Zone 135 31
 VPN.ht 128 24
 Hide My IP 117 66
 Ivacy 94 55
 PrivateVPN 80 56
 VPNSecure.me 72 48
 FastestVPN 70 10
 Perfect Privacy 55 23
 Avast SecureLine 52 33
 Goose VPN 50 20
 Ace VPN 48 26
 Buffered 46 42
 VPNTunnel 43 31
 Encrypt.me 43 15
 Zenmate VPN 40 31
 LiquidVPN 40 11
 iVPN 37 13
 Hide Me VPN 35 28
 BolehVPN 35 12
 Ra4w VPN 32 22
 VPN.ac 32 21
 BlackVPN 31 18
 FrootVPN 30 18
 ZoogVPN 27 18
 Avira Phantom 25 25
 TouchVPN 25 25
 CactusVPN 23 14
 PrivateTunnel 22 12
 ProXPN 21 4
 Celo VPN 18 15
 AzireVPN 18 5
 Betternet 11 10
 SecureVPN 5 5
 BTGuard 3 3
 Anonymizer VPN 2 2

What is a VPN Server?

VPNs create a secure tunnel around your internet connection.

You’re still going through an internet service provider (ISP). But you’re also connecting to a VPN’s servers to help encrypt and scramble your data.

That way, both your ISP and the websites you visit are fooled.

How a VPN server works

Neither can see where you’re coming from, where you’re going, or who you really are.

That’s mostly a good thing.

It means your personal data can’t be tracked. Your internet can’t be censored. And you can’t be hacked by bad actors on the same network connection.

But here’s the problem.

Many (most?) VPN companies don’t actually own their own servers.

Instead, they’re often renting or leasing them from other entities.

Think about it:

Some claim they have servers in nearly every big city around the world.

You know how expensive leases for data centers would be?!

Not to mention, you’d need to hire people in each location to maintain the servers. Which means you’d also have to file to do business in each city, pay taxes to each country, and deal with all of their regulations.

Case in point:

Many companies say they have servers inside some of the toughest, most restrictive countries in the world. HideMyAss! says they’ve got two in North Korea.

Hide My Ass North Korea VPN server

All of these extra costs and regulatory hurdles… yet, the average service charges only around $6-9/month.

Something doesn’t add up here. Technically, none of it does.

Especially when it’s far cheaper and easier to simply find someone else who’s already running those data centers in each location.

Pay them a few bucks a month to rent access, and then resell that to your broad, worldwide customer base.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.

Because it causes a trickle down effect into many other areas.

Like logging, for instance.

Your VPN Doesn’t Log… But Does the Server Owner?

Visit any VPN website and you’ll see the exact same claim:

“No logging.”

Every single one says it.

And yet, almost every single one is lying straight to your face.

First and foremost, their Privacy Policy or Terms of Service will almost always admit to “some logging.” While others, like Hotspot Shield, have had complaints filed by advocacy groups to the FTC.
FTC complaint against Hotspot Shield

Each gives a different reason.

Some say it’s for performance maintenance. Others say it’s for the benefit of the user.

Either way, the end result is always the same.

We’ve confirmed this after reading through 100 different Logging Policies.

But there’s another wrinkle that most neglect.

What happens when a VPN company doesn’t actually own their own servers? What if they’re renting them from a third-party?

I’ll tell you what:

That “logging policy” is complete BS. Because even though the VPN company says they don’t log, doesn’t mean the actual server owner doesn’t.

Really?

And when a government rolls around to collect data, guess who will hand everything over at the drop of a hat? Your VPN can’t always save you then.

Free VPNs” get in trouble here, too.

They suck in users by offering a completely free VPN service.

But guess what?

It’s free for a reason. They’re collecting your behavior and browsing data, before turning around and selling it to the highest bidder.

Never Take the Number of VPN Servers for Granted

If a VPN company doesn’t own its own servers, they might not be truthful about the number of servers they have access to, either.

Unfortunately, most server numbers are also a lie.

They’re renting access to large data centers full of servers. So of course, they’re going to claim you have access to all of them.

But the honest truth is that this is almost impossible to verify.

VPNs exist to boost privacy and anonymity.

So by definition, they’re operating in a gray area. They’re not regulated and there are no third-party watchdogs that audit VPN companies.

You take a VPN’s word for it when they tell you “no logging.”

And then when subpoenas show up, fingers get pointed that result in arrests.

Hide My Ass users arrested

Now, here’s the tricky thing.

You do still want to look at the total number of servers advertised by each VPN.

I know, this sounds hypocritical.

But the number matters for two reasons:

  1. More servers means less overcrowding, resulting in better performance.
  2. Servers closest to your physical location will typically provide the best performance.

Why More VPN Servers is Almost Always Better

Servers, at their core, are pretty simple.

Each provides a certain amount of resources that can comfortably be used up by a certain number of people.

More people? Means you need more servers.

Otherwise, server resources can get bogged down and spread too thin.

That’s when performance starts to slide, and upload/download times fall off a cliff.

So no, you can’t always take a VPN’s word as Gospel. However, you should still use their advertised number as a rough estimate.

You can use it as a starting point, even if it does turn out to be less in reality.

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice security for speed.

But you will if there aren’t enough servers in location closest to where you live. Or if you’re forced to hop countries.

Why Your Physical Location to a Server Affects Performance

Escaping government surveillance is one of the main reasons behind using a VPN in the first place.

But I don’t just mean China or Russia.

VPN legal by country

This applies to most countries in Western Europe, Oceania, and North America, too.

The extended Fourteen Eyes allegiance means if (and when) the U.S.’ NSA picks up your online scent, they’re going to share it with everyone from Canada, to the:

  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Spain

Oh, and there are also more unofficial partners including Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Israel.

The point of this long, drawn-out example is that you DO want to use a server outside of these countries listed.

BUT, that’s not going to be easy. Because there’s a lot of names on this list. And you’ll usually see the best performance from servers that are still relatively close to you.

Once again, it’s simple.

Complex data that has to travel back-and-forth across longer distances means more inconsistencies and potential issues.

The end result you see is sluggish speeds or lagging streams.

A simple speed test confirms this.

First, find your benchmark connection rate without a VPN. Next, connect to a server close to you and re-test. Then, connect to a server on the other side of the globe and see what happens.

You’ll see significant differences in both upload and download speeds. You’ll also notice a drop in the ping, or connection delay between each server and your device.

And the problem is that when VPNs are really slow, you’re more likely to either downgrade encryptions or turn it off altogether.

Which opens you back up to surveillance or cybersecurity risks.

This is why you need to see lots of servers in different countries. No matter how many there actually are.

  • Too few, overcrowded servers means terrible speeds.
  • Servers only in major countries means a greater risk in those governments sharing data.
  • Servers too far away will also cause performance delays.

So you need a happy medium of enough servers in safe countries that are relatively close to your physical location.

Once you’ve found that, you’re almost all of the way across the finish line.

There’s just one last hurdle, though.

Fake VPN Locations Are Common

VPN companies will exaggerate their logging policies or the total number of servers to make themselves look better.

The honest truth is that many VPN products provide the exact same features.

Encryption standards are the same. Protocol options are, too.

So they ‘puff up’ these extra items help differentiate them from competitors.

You can kinda forgive some of those lies.

But not this last one.

After testing dozens of products, we’ve singled-out a few VPN companies that even lie about their server locations. SlickVPN, for example, told us that we were connected to a server in New York.

Except, we tested it. And the results showed we were actually connected to one in Miami, instead.

SlickVPN fake server location

That one wasn’t so bad.

But check this one out from TouchVPN:

TouchVPN fake server location

It said we were connected to a server in the United States.

Maybe we’re trying to access geo-restricted content on Netflix. Except, it didn’t work.

Because we were actually connected to a server in France!

Think about the ramifications of this.

What if VPNs were illegal in your country? What if you were trying to avoid another jurisdiction that shares browsing data? What if you were trying to bank and credit card data secure while buying stuff online?

A single fake location like this could ruin you.

That’s why you need to know more about the company behind each VPN.

That’s why you need to know more about VPN servers in general.

Because there are still a lot of shady characters out there.

Many of which, might be promising you ‘security’ and ‘anonymity.’

While they’re just ripping you off, instead.

10 Cheapest VPNs of 2018

John Mason

John Mason

In this in-depth research, I’ll uncover the 10 cheapest VPNs you can possibly use. P.S. Not all of them are recommended, though. Read why..

Cheapest VPN services
Some VPN services offer huge discounts when you sign up for a longer period of time (2 years).

The marketplace for Virtual Private Networks is filled with countless service providers who claim to have the “Fastest and Most Affordable” VPN on the market.

As most of you probably know, 99% of these claims are absolutely bogus.

Cheap VPNs are notoriously unreliable, un-secure, and painfully slow, but there are a few hidden gems among the rubble that are worth your time and (an admittedly small portion of) your hard earned money.

To help you find the perfect VPN that keeps your wallet full and your browsing activity secure, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 cheapest VPN providers in 2018.

Over the course of this guide, I’ll not only be reviewing the pricing plans available for each provider, but I’ll also be looking at the speeds, servers, customer support, and a whole host of other factors to help you decide which cheap VPN is right for you.

The 10 Cheapest VPN Providers in 2018

We’ve reviewed more than 70 VPN on thebestvpn.com and the VPNs contained in the following list were handpicked for their affordability and performance.

While there are cheaper VPN services that you can find, we included only the best providers who delivered a high-quality service in addition to a budget-friendly price.

So without any further ado, let’s dive in.

1. NordVPN: $2.75/mo

NordVPN review

Although NordVPN provides truly premium services (ranked #2nd in our overall best VPN list) they are also one of the cheapest.

NordVPN does not increase the rate of your subscription after the first billing cycle and they allow customers to pay with a card, PayPal or even Bitcoin to ensure that your transaction is completely anonymous.

All purchases are protected by a 30-day money back guarantee and the company regularly runs promotions that give you 3 days for free.

Customers receive access to all major protocols, a VPN that is fully compatible with all major devices, a true no logging policy, and P2P support.

VPN tier offers customers an affordable and reliable way to secure their browsing experience.

Get NordVPN ($2.75/mo)

30 days money back, rated #2nd in our list

Click here to see NordVPN in-depth review

2. PureVPN: $2.95/mo

PureVPN is the cheapest paid vpn

Headquartered in Hong Kong, PureVPN is (by far) the cheapest provider on the entire list. Although their one month and 6-month plans are far from budget-friendly, costing $11.95 a month and $8.95 a month respectively, they offer an unbeatable 2-year pricing package for only $2.49/month.

The 24-month pricing does require that you pay for the entire 2-year period up front meaning that a subscription with PureVPN will set you back $69.99 for the next two years.

In exchange for this relatively nominal sum, PureVPN customers receive the following features.

  1. 790+ Servers including P2P optimized servers in 141 countries
  2. Unlimited Data and Bandwidth
  3. 24/7 365 “Live” Customer Support
  4. Compatibility with all major devices and access to all major protocols.
  5. Much more

With no renewal fees and the option to pay with PayPal, Debit Card, Alipay, Paymentwall, Coin Payments, Cashu, and even gift cards, it’s easy to see why PureVPN has become the go-to budget provider.
And they don’t stop things there.

In addition to their incredibly affordable 24-month plan, PureVPN also runs regular promotions and discounts to entice potential customers even further.

A few recently concluded specials from PureVPN include:

  • Summer Sale Offer: Buy 1 year and get 2nd year for FREE
  • Holiday Season & Christmas Offer: Grab 2 years of VPN for the Price of 1.
  • Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deal: Double Up Offer for any PureVPN Subscription Plan for FREE.

Get PureVPN ($2.95/mo)

Click here to see PureVPN in-depth review and speed test (it’s slow!).

3. Private Internet Access: $2.91/mo

PIA is very cheap $3.33/mo

Although it might be the second provider on the list, Private Internet Access or PIA is one of my all-time favorite VPNs.

PIA offers some of the most budget-friendly pricing plans that I’ve ever seen regardless of the length of time that you choose to use their services. With their yearly pricing package coming in at a mere $3.33/mo and 2 year plan at $2.91/mo PIA is one of the most affordable VPN providers in the world.

Here’s a complete breakdown of their pricing plan.

  • Monthly: $6.95
  • 2 Years: $2.91/month billed at $69.95 every 24 months
  • Yearly: $3.33/month billed yearly at $39.95

Although PIA does not increase the price for your subscription after the initial billing cycle, it does state in their privacy policy that they reserve the right to alter the fees associated with their services which would be reflected after the initial one, six, or twelve month period.

Unlike PureVPN, PIA doesn’t directly offer coupons and regular discounts on their site and I have yet to see any holiday specials or last minute deals that would significantly affect their price.

However, when you consider what you get in exchange for the money, it becomes abundantly clear why PIA is one of the leading VPN providers regardless of your budget.

For only $2.91/month, PIA gives you access to more than 3,000 servers across 25 countries, unlimited bandwidth, P2P support, an ads blocker, SOCKS5 proxy, and access to all major VPN protocols. 

At this time, PIA allows payments to be made with all major credit card providers, PayPal, Bitcoin, Amazon Pay, Cashu, OKPAY, Mint, and Z-cash.

Get PIA ($2.91/mo)

Click here to see Private Internet Access in-depth review and speed test.

4. Trust.Zone: $3.33/mo

Trust.Zone is another cheap VPN provider

As the third cheapest VPN on this list, Trust.Zone is one of the best budget providers on the market today and they provide users with a premium level VPN service for less than the price of a monthly latte.

At only $3.33/month for their yearly plan, Trust.Zone is almost as cheap as PIA although the monthly and quarterly plans are a bit pricier.

  • 3 Day Free Trial: $0 and 1-Gb of bandwidth
  • Monthly: $6.99
  • 3 Months: $4.95/month billed quarterly at $14.85
  • Yearly: $3.33 billed annually $39.95

Like PIA and PureVPN, Trust.Zone doesn’t change the price of your plan once you are locked in, so what you see is what you get, and you get a quite a bit.

  1. 131 locations
  2. Unlimited data transfer
  3. Unlimited bandwidth
  4. 3 simultaneous connections
  5. Unlimited server switching
  6. 1 click install & run software

Although Trust.Zone rarely runs sitewide specials, if you are willing to search the web, they do offer a plethora of discounts and coupons, many of which allow you to enjoy their services for more than 50% off!

Trust.Zone also gives their customers a wide variety of payment methods to choose from including debit card, PayPal, Qiwi Wallet, Bitcoin, WebMoney, and Alipay.

Click here to see Trust.Zone in-depth review and speed test.

5. SaferVPN: $3.49/mo

SaferVPN review

Israel-based SaferVPN is another great provider that comes armed to the teeth with incredible features and benefits while charging less than $4 a month.

While their monthly and annual pricing packages won’t win them any awards with more frugal consumers, at only $3.49/month, their two-year plan is hard to beat.

  • Monthly: $9.99
  • Annually: $5.13/month billed annually at $71.99
  • Bi-Annually: $3.49/month billed bi-annually at $83.77

At the time of this writing (November of 2017) they are also offering a significant “Buy One Get One” discount meaning that you can purchase 2-years of SaferVPN’s services for only $71.96 or one year for $41.95

Like many of their competitors, SaferVPN does not charge a renewal fee after the initial billing cycle so there’s no need to worry about getting hit with a nasty (and unexpected) upcharge when your service renews.

SaferVPN regularly runs steep discounts and holiday specials (like the one mentioned above) so if you do need to stretch your budget as far as possible and are willing to wait until the next holiday, you can often purchase their services at a 50% discount or higher.

In exchange for your subscription fee, SaferVPN provides all of their customers with unlimited bandwidth, speed, and server switching, compatibility with all major devices, and access to more than 700 servers across 34 countries.

Click here to see SaferVPN in-depth review and speed test.

6. Ivacy VPN: $4.08

Ivacy review

Charging only $4.08/month for their 2-year pricing plan, Ivacy VPN is one of the best budget providers on the market.

Here’s how their pricing plans work out.

  • Monthly: $9.95
  • 6 Months: $7.49 billed every six months at $44.95
  • 12 Months: $4.08 billed every year at $71.99

After reviewing their ToS I can confirm that Ivacy does not charge a larger renewal price after the initial billing cycle so your prices are locked in until the company decides to increase their service prices sitewide.

Although Ivacy’s basic plans might not be the most budget-friendly options on this list, they regularly run insane specials that allow you to secure your VPN service for a significantly reduced rate.

In fact, over the past six weeks, the company has been offering an insane discount, allowing customers to purchase 2-years of VPN service for less than $2.04 a month!

So if you are on a budget or you don’t need a VPN today, wait until Ivacy’s next big sale and you will be able to steal 24 months of VPN service for only $50.

Ivacy does offer a 7-day money back guarantee to comfort any hesitant buyers, however, this refund is only applicable if you stay under 7 Gb of bandwidth usage and 30 sessions so keep a careful eye on your browsing bandwidth.

Like the other providers on this list, Ivacy allows customers to make their purchase using a wide variety of different methods including card, PayPal, BitCoin, Perfect Money, and Payment Wall.

Your VPN subscription includes access to 200 servers (many of which are P2P optimized), unlimited bandwidth, a 0 logging policy, a killswitch, and access to all major VPN protocols.

Click here to see Ivacy in-depth review and speed test.

7. VPN Unlimited: $4.17/mo

VPN Unlimited pricing

Founded in 2013 under the umbrella of Keep Solid Inc. VPN Unlimited has quickly gone from the new kid on the block to one of the leading budget VPN providers on the market, and it’s easy to see why. 

  • 7 Day Free Trial
  • Monthly: $9.99
  • 12 Months: $4.17/month (billed annually at $49.99)
  • Infinity Plan: Unlimited lifetime access for $149.99

Yes, with VPN Unlimited, you can purchase lifetime access to their VPN service for only $149.99. Considering that their annual pricing plan only costs $4.17/month it should be pretty easy to see why VPN Unlimited has become so popular.

As an added bonus, VPN Unlimited allows you to pay with almost any method imaginable. From cards, to PayPal, to Bitcoin, to Subway gift cards (no I’m not kidding), there aren’t many limits to how you can pay for your subscription.

Luckily, there are no sneaky upcharges or pricing modifications after your first year of service. The prices listed above are locked in as long as you keep an active subscription with VPN Unlimited… Or until they decide to increase the rate across their entire company. 

Your subscription includes access to more than 1,000 servers across 70 countries, compatibility with most major devices, access to all major VPN protocols, and a five device simultaneous connection limit.

Click here to see VPN Unlimited in-depth review and speed test.

8. VPNArea: $4.92/mo

VPNArea cheap cost

Charging their customers a relatively small fee of $4.92/month, VPN Area has a feature rich and affordable service that is sure to delight the budget VPN enthusiast.

  • Monthly: $9.90
  • 6 Months: $8.33 billed every six months at $50
  • 12 Months: $4.92 billed every year at $59
  • (Sadly there is no 24-month offer available at this time)

There are no upcharges or changes to the original price after your first billing cycle but, as always, you should be aware that the company’s ToS does allow them to change the market price of their services which could result in an increase to your subscription.

At this time, VPN Area allows their customers to pay with only a handful of options including MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Bitcoin, and Payza.

I haven’t seen the company run very many public promotions, however, I do know that there are numerous coupons and affiliate discounts available to the savvy bargain hunter.

In exchange for your patronage, VPNArea gives their customers access to hundreds of server across 69 countries, a 6 device simultaneous connection limit, a no logging policy, and unlimited bandwidth.

Click here to see VPNArea in-depth review and speed test.

9. CyberGhost: $5.49/mo / $1.99* (7 year plan)

CyberGhost homepage

At $4.99 a month for their yearly plan CyberGhost wins the award for both “The most expensive cheap VPN” and “The VPN With the Coolest Sounding Name Ever”.

Although they slid onto this list with a price tag that’s only $0.01 under the $5/month mark, CyberGhost brings a lot to the table.

  • Monthly: $10.99
  • 6 Months: $7.99 a month billed twice a year at $47.94
  • Yearly: $4.99

CyberGhost is far from the cheapest provider on this list and, considering that they don’t offer many discounts or specials, they might not be the best option for someone on a particularly tight budget. (unless you opt for their free version)

Although there are no renewal fees, CyberGhost has been known to change their pricing plans on a pretty regular basis so it’s difficult to determine whether they will still be considered a “Cheap VPN” this time next year.

They offer a much more limited selection of payment options for potential customers and you can only purchase CyberGhost using a card, PayPal, or Bitcoin.

The contents of your CyberGhost subscription are pretty standard fare and include, access to over 1,000 servers, unlimited bandwidth, 5 device simultaneous connection, no logging policy, and an ultra-strong double encryption.

Click here to see CyberGhost in-depth review and speed test.

10. ZenMate: $4.99/mo

Zenmate VPN review

At $4.99 a month for their yearly plan, ZenMate isn’t the cheapest provider on this list, but they are a far cry from “premium pricing”.

Here’s how all of their pricing plans break down.

  • Monthly: $8.99
  • 6 Months: $7.49 a month billed twice a year at $44.99
  • Yearly: $4.99 billed annually at $59.99

There are no upcharges on the initial price, but like the other providers on this list, ZenMate’s ToS clearly states that they reserve the right to increase or alter their pricing packages so if you do purchase a ZenMate subscription, be sure to keep a weathered eye on their pricing page.

While compiling my research for this list, I found a number of websites and third-party companies claiming to offer coupon codes for ZenMate, but my success rate with the codes was less than 10%.

Unlike many of their competitors, ZenMate doesn’t seem particularly fond of holiday specials or special discounts so it’s unlikely that you will be able to find their services for any cheaper than the above prices.

As far as payment methods go, ZenMate severely limits your options and only allows payments to be made via card, PayPal, or UnionPay/Qiwi Wallet.

ZenMate is compatible with all major devices and they provide their customers with unlimited bandwidth, servers in 30+ countries, and fully functioning applications for your mobile devices.

Click here to see ZenMate in-depth review and speed test.

What About the Renewal Prices?

While all of the VPNs on this list offer a “What you see is what you get” pricing plan, there are plenty of cheap providers who will enroll their customers in an annual subscription at a discounted rate only to change the pricing agreement right before the renewal period.

If you do find another cheap VPN that isn’t included on this list, be wary of hidden renewal fees and read their Terms of Service very carefully (actually read it) to make sure that you don’t get roped into paying double the agreed upon rate.

The Best VPNs for Netflix and Torrenting

For those of you looking to stream Netflix or anonymously torrent files, you don’t have to purchase an expensive premium VPN in order to do so.

In fact, the following cheap VPNs will suit your needs just fine.

Cheap VPNs that Allow Torrenting:

  1. NordVPN
  2. Private Internet Access VPN
  3. Trust.Zone
  4. Ivacy
  5. CyberGhost
  6. Hide.Me

Cheap VPNs that Work with Netflix 

  1. NordVPN
  2. Trust.Zone
  3. Zenmate
  4. Ivacy
  5. Hide.Me
  6. VPN Area

*Please note that due to the nature of using a VPN with Netflix, compatibility can change (literally) overnight so please do your due diligence before purchasing a VPN based solely on its Netflix Compatibility.*

Are These Cheap VPNs Safe?

It’s important to note that just because a VPN is affordable does not mean that it’s safe to use.

The safety (or lack thereof) of a given VPN is typically dependent on two things.

  1. Their jurisdiction
  2. The logging policy of the provider

While the logging policy is pretty straightforward (the fewer logs the better) I want to take a moment to discuss VPN jurisdiction.

Ever since Edward Snowden executed his infamous data breach, leaking hundreds of thousands of classified NSA files, the general public realized that our private lives aren’t quite as private as we’d like to believe.

VPN jurisdiction

In fact, there is a partnership known as the “Five Eyes Agreement” between the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada that effectively allows each country to collect, analyze, and share sensitive data with one another, effectively circumventing the privacy laws of each respective nation.

For example, if there is a law that prevents the United States government from legally surveying and spying on one of their own citizens, they can easily sidestep this law and request that one of their partners do the dirty work for them.

Meaning that the privacy laws of each nation are effectively rendered null.

But things don’t stop there.

The five countries created a “Third Party Partnership” with Denmark, France, Holland, and Norway, thus expanding the initial network to “Nine Eyes”.

But wait! There’s more.

If that wasn’t enough, the original five eyes partners expanded their network once again adding Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, and Italy to their list of partners.

The Snowden leaks also confirmed that Singapore and South Korea are also limited members of the new “14 Eyes” partnership.

So what does this have to do with VPN safety?

Basically, if you are using a VPN that is located anywhere within the 14 eyes partnership, the safety and privacy of your information are brought into question.

Although you should have very little to worry about if your VPN provider upholds their no logging policy, it’s important that you are cognizant of this partnership and its ramifications on your personal security.

Should I Choose an Expensive vs. Cheap VPN Software?

As with most things in this world, the answer to this question is far more complicated than it might first appear.

There are numerous factors to consider when selecting a VPN provider and the impact to your wallet is only one of those factors.

One of the most important things that you can remember is that a VPN is about your personal security and privacy.

Choosing the right VPN could be the difference between having all of your banking and personal information stolen and successfully thwarting a would-be hacker.

Choosing the right VPN can mean the difference between having your personal emails sent all over the internet and keeping your sensitive data safe and sound where it belongs.

If you live in or are visiting a country with draconian censorship laws, choosing the right VPN could literally mean the difference between life and death. 

When you take these realities into consideration, it should quickly become apparent that finding the most budget-friendly VPN should never be your goal.

Finding the most effective VPN to suit your goals should. 

While I personally believe that ExpressVPN is the best all-around VPN for 99.99% of consumers, if you do have real budget constraints, something like Private Internet Access or SaferVPN is probably your next best bet.

Cheap VPN Review Conclusion

At this point, it’s my hope that this guide has provided you with all of the information and insight you need to select the ideal budget VPN for your needs.

While every provider on this list offers a quality service, there can be only one “Lord of the Ring” er… Winner.

With every factor taken into consideration, Private Internet Access is the undisputed champion of the cheap VPNs.

I hope that this guide provided you with everything that you need to find the best and fastest VPN to suit your needs.

These are my results, but what about you? Have you used any of the VPNs on this list? If so, what was your experience like? Let me know in the comments or write your own review using the box below. 

How FREE VPNs Sell Your Data

John Mason

John Mason

We did an extensive research on multiple free VPNs and their privacy policy pages to find out if they have the right to sell/share your data. The results were shocking…

Selling data
Many free VPNs can sell or share your data to 3rd parties…

At TheBestVPN, we generally advise against the use of free VPNs.

The reason is simple – many of them simply sell your data to 3rd party advertisers.

And this defeats the whole purpose of having a VPN in the first place.

But there’s more:

1. Many free VPN services are not transparent about how they make money from you using their services; in most cases, when you’re not being sold a product you are most likely the product.

2. Most free VPNs simply sell your data to affiliated/partnered companies or to the third party who is willing to pay the most.

3. Some free VPNs have gotten caught using shady practices like injecting ads, referring affiliate traffic and more (more info can be found on the CSIRO research and FTC complaint against a free VPN).

10 Popular Free VPN Services That Can Sell Your Data

The following free VPNs can sell your data to 3rd parties (according to their privacy policy)

There are probably more as many free VPNs aren’t really upfront about how they make money. Below are the ones that admit selling or sharing your data (or aggregated data sets) to third parties:

1. Hola (Free VPN, 10+ Million Users)

“We may share “Anonymous” information with third parties…”
“We may share your email with our marketing partners…”
“You may be a peer for Luminati network…”

Hola VPN shares your data with 3rd parties
Image from: https://hola.org/legal/privacy

Unlike other free VPNs, Hola gives you unlimited data without displaying ads — no wonder 152 million people use their service. Unfortunately, like mom told you, if it sounds too good to be true, it most probably is.

A group of security researchers discovered multiple flaws in Hola and found that they aren’t as noble as they claim.

Besides the fact that Hola turns your computer into an exit node, they also sell access to your computer and network to third-parties through their commercial brand, Luminati. How do you opt out of this? There’s only one way: by subscribing to their premium subscription (proving once again that nothing good comes free).

It even gets worse: it was proven that Hola can be exploited to allow anybody to execute programs on the computers of its users.

In Hola’s defense, they were at least upfront in their privacy policy. They even made it clear that they may share your email with their marketing partners.

HOLA VPN sharing your info
Image from: https://hola.org/legal/privacy

They also make it clear in their TOS that by using Hola you become a peer on their paid Luminati network — in other words, access to your computer could be sold to people paying to use their services:

Hola VPN uses you as a peer
Image from: https://hola.org/legal/privacy

Here’s exactly how Hola makes money on you:

  • They share your email with their marketing partners.
  • They sell your traffic to users of their business arm, Luminati.
  • They can share your “anonymous” information with third parties.
  • They sell access to your computer and network – making it serve as an exit node through which other users (including people paying them) can access the Internet – although they didn’t indicate this on their website, it has been widely reported (since 2015) by reputable media publications.

2. Betternet (Free VPN, 38 Million Users)

Advertisers may also place cookies in your browser that may allow them to collect certain information about your browsing history…

Betternet adds advertisers cookies
Image from: https://www.betternet.co/privacy-policy

If you’ve done more than a few minutes of research about free VPNs, you’ve probably come across Betternet. This VPN service recently came out of nowhere to become one of the leading free VPN service providers. They now boast over 38 million users. They make it clear that they make money by offering free sponsored apps and by displaying video and other ads. They also allow advertisers to track and log information of users of their free VPN:

Worse, the CSIRO research paper on free VPN apps found that Betternet has the highest number of tracking libraries of all free VPN services (14 in total).

Here’s exactly how Betternet makes money on you:

  • By allowing advertisers to track and log your data – basically giving them carte blanche access to as much of your information as they need.
  • By allowing advertisers to include cookies in your browser.
  • By displaying ads, including sponsored apps, videos, and other types of ads.

3. Opera VPN (Free VPN)

“Our services include third-party technology or code that may use the collected data. We may share anonymized data and/or aggregated sets of data with our partners…”

OperaVPN shares your data with 3rd parties
Image from: https://www.opera.com/privacy

Opera’s free VPN is a free VPN service that comes embedded in the Opera browser: you install the browser and have access to the free VPN service.

On the surface, the “catch” of the free VPN seems to be simple: to drive adoption of Opera’s browser. We wish it were that simple!

Research shows that Opera’s free VPN actually engages in other practices to make money off their free VPN user. Their privacy policy makes it clear that they share your data with third-parties and allow third-party services to monitor your data.

Here’s exactly how Opera VPN makes money on you:

  • By sharing your data with third-parties and marketing partners.
  • By allowing advertisers and marketing partners to track your data.

4. HotSpot Shield (Free VPN, 500+ Million Users)

Can share your information with their “ad partners”

Hotspot shield data selling policy
Image from: https://www.hotspotshield.com/privacy/

With over 500 million users, Hotspot Shield is undoubtedly the most popular free VPN service.

When you have that many users, you have data that is a potential goldmine for advertisers… and Hotspot Shield is certainly not just being charitable by providing free VPN to hundreds of millions of people.

They make money off users in a lot of ways:

While Hotspot Shield makes it clear in its terms of service that it displays ads to users of its free VPN service, it is not very upfront about the fact that it makes money off users through other unscrupulous means.

Less than a year ago, The Center for Democracy and Technology issued a complaint to the FTC claiming that Hotspot Shield not only shares data of its free VPN users, but it also redirects their traffic to third-party affiliate sites.

Here’s how Hotspot Shield makes money on you:

  • May share your data with 3rd parties.
  • By redirecting your traffic to affiliate partners (FTC Complaint in 2017).
  • By displaying advertisements in front of apps and websites you use.
  • By setting you a data cap of 500Mb/day.

5. Psiphon (Free VPN, 1+ Million Users)

“We may use technology such as cookies and web beacons. Our advertising partners’ use of cookies enable them and their partners to serve ads based on your usage data…”

Psiphon data sharing policy
Image from: https://www.psiphon3.com/en/privacy.html

When it comes to the free VPN game, Psiphon is no newbie. They’ve been offering their free VPN service since 2008, which is a long time in the Internet age. However, they support their ability to offer this free VPN by sharing your data with advertisers and letting advertisers track your data usage.

While they generally defer to their advertising partners’ privacy policies, the policies of these partners show that they do use and share your data. With annual revenue estimated to be over $2.2 million, Psiphon sure seems to be making some money!

Here’s exactly how Psiphon makes money on you:

  • By sharing your data with their advertising partners.
  • By allowing their advertising partners to track your Internet usage.
  • By displaying ads to you.

6. Onavo Protect (Free VPN)

“We may share (or receive) information, including personally identifying information, with our Affiliates…”

Onavo Protect policy
Image from: https://www.onavo.com/privacy_policy/

Onavo Protect is a VPN service owned by Facebook. Facebook has been in the middle of several scandals relating to how they collect and use user data, so it won’t be surprising to find that Onavo has the same issue — they were recently in the news due to their data usage practices. Onavo makes it clear from the get-go that they do log user data and share this information with third-parties:

Here’s exactly how Onavo Protect makes money on you:

  • They share your information with affiliates and third-parties.
  • They use your information for several purposes including advertising and marketing purposes.
  • They display ads to you.

7. ZPN (Free VPN, 8+ Million Users)

 “May share, sell and rent your personal information with affiliated companies/people..”

How ZPN sells/shares your data
Image from: https://zpn.im/privacy-policy

With more than 8.2 million users, ZPN is certainly not a free VPN service you can ignore. The 10GB monthly data they offer is generous compared to what is offered by other VPN services.

According to them, they won’t share your data with “non-affiliated” companies unless under conditions including…

Read that again.

What about “affiliated” companies?

According to their Privacy Policy, they seem to do that…

Here’s exactly how ZPN makes money on you:

  • There’s a high possibility of sharing your data with their partners.
  • By limiting your monthly data to 10GB per month in order to get you to upgrade to a paid plan.
  • By limiting your bandwidth in order to get you to upgrade to a paid plan.
  • By disabling P2P (and torrenting) and limiting your access to five locations in order to get you to upgrade to a paid plan.

8. Hoxx VPN (Free VPN, 5+ Million Users)

“We may collect, process, and use the information that you provide to us and that such information shall only be used by us or third parties acting under our direction, pursuant to confidentiality agreements…”

HoxxVPN data sharing policy
Image from: https://hoxx.com/privacy-policy/

Overall HoxxVPN has a very sketchy logging policy. It’s very long and confusing. However, if you try to read it over and over again, you’ll soon understand that HoxxVPN has several ways that let it continue making money from a free user.

Here’s how exactly HoxxVPN makes money on you:

  • They log your information for their own purpose to share it with 3rd parties.
  • They let you upgrade to their paid version.

9. FinchVPN (Free VPN)

“We may share with third parties certain pieces of aggregated information…”

FinchVPN data sharing policy
Image from: https://www.finchvpn.com/privacy

FinchVPN seems more secure than most free VPN services. They have a generous 3GB monthly data and seem to take user privacy more seriously than most free VPN services. However, they limit the number of servers you can access in order to get you to upgrade.

They may also share data of user activity with third parties.

Here’s exactly how FinchVPN makes money on you:

  • They may share aggregate data of users with third-parties.
  • They limit your monthly data to 3GB and restrict the number of servers you can access in order to get you to upgrade to a paid plan.

10. TouchVPN (Free VPN)

“We may share your “anonymous” information with third parties, for additional purposes, including marketing…”

TouchVPN data sharing policy
Image from: https://www.northghost.com/privacy
touchvpn marketing

TouchVPN is another shady, free VPN that adds Cookies, Pixel Tags, and Web Beacons to your browser while you use their service.

Though they are some-what upfront about sharing your “anonymous” data with third parties for marketing purposes.

Sadly, they don’t elaborate much on “anonymous data”.

11. Private Pipe VPN (Free VPN)

“We may share “personal data” and “anonymized information” with affiliated and non-affiliated third parties…”

Private Pipe VPN promises “a simple, no nonsense, VPN” that offers completely free service, unlimited data, and malware protection without requiring its users to have any technical knowledge. However, in their privacy policy, they do not hide the fact that they make money by sharing/selling user data:

privatepipevpn privacy policy 1
Image from: https://www.privatepipevpn.com/privacy-policy-us.html

Now, while they claim that personal identifiers are removed in data they share/sell, another part of their privacy policy indicates that they may share “personal data” with affiliates — whatever that means!:

Privatepipevpn priacy policy 2
Image from: https://www.privatepipevpn.com/privacy-policy-us.html

Here’s exactly how Private Pipe VPN makes money on you:

  • By selling/sharing your data with advertisers.
  • By displaying targeted ads when you browse websites using their app.

12. #VPN by Apalon (Free VPN)

“We may share “aggregated information”… with third parties, including advisors, advertisers, and investors…”

With over 5,000 ratings on the Apple store, #VPN is one of the more popular free VPN services available to Apple device users. It promises multiple virtual locations and unlimited data to enable you access websites and apps privately. However, besides the fact that ads and in-app purchases are offered to users of #VPN, they also make it clear that they may share your information with third-parties:

#VPN by Apalon privacy policy
Image from: https://www.apalon.com/vpn/privacy_policy.html

Now, while they claim they only share aggregate information, they collect so much more information that it’s worrisome. #VPN collects the following information:

  • your timestamp
  • device information
  • location data
  • service provider information
  • hardware device information
  • they may also collect your movement data.

That’s more than is necessary for a free VPN app!

Here’s exactly how #VPN makes money on you:

  • By sharing your information with advertisers and third-parties
  • By displaying ads to you
  • By offering in-app purchases to you

13. Tuxler (Free VPN)

“We also share “technical data” that we collect about your browsing habits and your device…”

“Here at Tuxler, your privacy is our business – not someone else’s,” Tuxler boldly states on its homepage. But really?

While Tuxler touts the fact that users of its free VPN service can choose from “millions of locations,” we had to dig deeper to see what the catch is. We didn’t have to dig too long. It’s right there on their privacy policy page: they share data about your browsing habits and your device with advertising companies in order to allow them target ads to you.

Tuxler privacy policy
Image from: https://tuxler.com/privacy-policy/

Here’s exactly how Tuxler makes money on you:

  • By sharing your data with advertisers and third-parties.
  • By displaying advertisements to you.

14. GO VPN (Free VPN)

“We also cooperate with a third party in various ways to utilize data collected, processed and handled…”

If you’ve tried looking for a free VPN app on the Google Play Store before, you’ve most likely come across the GO VPN app offered by the VPN Master team. Like almost every other free VPN, this app promises unlimited data with no registration or settings. All you need to do is “install and push the ON” button.

Unfortunately, our investigation revealed that there is something sinister going on: The high number of permissions required should be the first red flag. This app requires the following permissions:

  • Access to your device and app history
  • Access to read your phone status and identity
  • Access to read, modify and delete your phone media
  • Access to read your phone status and identity
  • Access to check your Google play license
  • Access to prevent your device from sleeping

We believe that’s too much access for a VPN app, but some extra digging makes clear why: The GO VPN app is offered by Talking Data, a Chinese big data company that sells data and information to willing buyers, and their privacy policy makes it clear that when you use their apps you are giving them permission to share/sell your data to their partners, and that they will use your information to build their data database:

Talking Data privacy policy
Image from: https://www.talkingdata.com/privacy.jsp

Here’s exactly how GO VPN makes money on you:

  • By selling/sharing your data with third parties for marketing purposes.
  • By displaying advertisements to you when you use their free VPN.

15. Hexatech (Free VPN)

Hexatech promises 100 percent free unlimited VPN access to users — and with over 1 million installs there must be a catch!

Hexatech was created by Betternet, one of the major data abusers on our list. Don’t let the fancy name deceive you, though! Hexatech is governed by the same principles and privacy policies as Betternet, and the same rules apply: they allow advertisers to track and log your data and do with it whatever they please.

Here’s exactly how Hexatech makes money on you:

  • By allowing their advertisers to track and log your data — and to use your information however they deem fit.
  • By displaying ads — including sponsored apps, videos, and other types of ads.

We Don’t Recommend Using FREE VPNs

Besides the obvious, using you as a product, free VPNs often go an extra mile to get more money from you.

Despite advertising themselves as “free VPNs”, they often set a very low data cap (bandwidth) so you can only use their service a few hours a month. Common data caps are 250mb/day, 500mb/mo, 2GB/mo and 10GB/mo.

Many free VPNs like TurboVPN and Betternet also include additional ads in your browsing activity.

Last, but not least, the vast majority of free VPN servers are overwhelmed with other folks who make your browsing (or streaming) activity extremely slow.

Free VPNs also tend to leak your DNS and keep your log files.

In a nutshell, if you want to stay secure and safe, free VPNs aren’t the best option. You’d be better off relying on your ISP instead of a sketchy, money-hungry VPN provider.

15 Best Torrent Sites

John Mason

John Mason

Torrent sites come and go. But some of them stick around for a longer period of time. In this article, I’ve included 15 most popular torrenting sites and compared their size, formats and download speed towards each other.

Finding a site for torrenting can be very tricky.

First, the cat-and-mouse game between political authorities and some of the popular torrent sites often results in torrent sites shutting down really quickly.

Second, there are a lot of torrent sites riddled with ads and malware that provide low-quality torrent files or even fake torrents all together. To address this, we decided to compile a list of the best torrent sites for 2018 while providing the following information to give you a true assessment of the state of a torrent site:

  • Year established: This is a sort of “reliability gauge.” The older a site the more reliable it is. A popular torrent site that’s been able to survive five, 10, or more years without being shut down must be very reliable.
  • Popular content formats: We include some of the popular content formats available on the torrent sites we feature.
  • Banned in the following countries: If we have information that a torrent site has been banned in a particular country, we include this information.
  • Supports instant downloads: We indicate whether a torrent site supports instant download or not.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: We include mirror sites and/or IP addresses to allow you other means of accessing a torrent site in case it has been blocked by your ISP.
  • Number of torrents: We include the total number of torrents available on a site at the time of compiling this list.
  • Speed test: We downloaded the same file from all of these websites using ExpressVPN and listed the results under each torrenting website (100MB/s connection out of Estonia).

1. Torrentz2

TorrentZ2 torrent site

Torrentz2 is a popular torrent search engine that sprang up in 2016 when Torrentz shut down. Torrentz2 combines results from other search engines to provide one of the biggest databases of torrents. The torrent search engine boasts of having over 61 million torrents and our research shows that it has more movie torrents than other types of torrents.

  • Year established: 2016
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Series, Music, Applications, Games.
  • Banned in the following countries: None.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: Torrentz2.me, Torrentz2.is, Torrentzwealmisr.onion
  • Number of torrents: 61 million+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 1.9MB/s

Torrentz2 download test

 

2. iDope

iDope torrent site

iDope is a torrent search engine that provides direct magnet links to torrents. Besides having a massive database of over 18 million torrents, it features a clean UI and has a mobile version that makes torrenting on smartphones easy.

  • Year established: 2016
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Shows, Music, Games.
  • Banned in the following countries: None.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: idope.bypassed.bz
  • Number of torrents: 18,450,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 3.7MB/s

iDope download test

 

3. Torrent Downloads

TorrentDownloads torrent site

Torrent Downloads is a torrent index with one of the biggest databases out there. At the time of compiling this list, it features over 16 million torrents.

  • Year established: 2007
  • Popular content formats: TV Shows, Movies, Music, Books, Games, Software.
  • Banned in the following countries: United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: torrentdownloads.unblockall.org, torrentdownloads.unblocker.cc
  • Number of torrents: 16,121,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 1.8MB/s

Torrent Downloads download test

 

4. LimeTorrents

Limetorrents torrent site

With over 9.8 million torrents, LimeTorrents is one of the torrent sites with the biggest databases out there. It offers torrents for several content types such as movies, TV shows, games, and applications. It is currently banned in Australia and France.

  • Year established: 2009
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Series, Music, Games, Applications, Anime.
  • Banned in the following countries: Australia, France, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: limetorrents.asia, limetor.club, limetorrents.info
  • Number of torrents: 9,833,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 2.8MB/s

Lime torrents download test

 

5. Bit Torrent Scene

Bit Torrent Scene torrent site

Bit Torrent Scene is one of the leading sources of torrents online. It allows users to torrent movies, TV series, music, games, software and ebooks.

  • Year established: 2017
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV series, Music, Games, Software, Ebooks.
  • Banned in the following countries: None.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: btsproxy.com, btscene.unblocker.cc, bittorrentstart.com
  • Number of torrents: 5,118,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 3.6MB/s

BitTorrentScene download test

 

6. Torlock

Torlock torrent site

Torlock is a torrent index and search engine mainly focused on TV series and movies. Torlock is particular about ensuring that users have access to only genuine torrents, and it takes this so seriously that it once introduced a program that pays users $1 for every fake torrent they are able to find on its site.

  • Year established: 2010
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Series, Games, Music, Applications, eBook, Anime.
  • Banned in the following countries: Australia, India, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: torlock.unblocked.mx
  • Number of torrents: 4,440,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 3.1MB/s

TorLock download test

 

7. The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay torrent site

The Pirate Bay is certainly the biggest torrent site in the world and one of the most controversial to ever exist. It has been blocked in at least 28 countries and has survived battles with some of the world’s most powerful governments. This site is over 15 years old, however, and as a result ranks high in terms of reliability. It allows users to torrent movies, TV series, books, applications, games and music. Our research shows that the majority of torrents on TPB are movies and TV shows.

  • Year established: 2003
  • Popular content formats: TV Shows, Movies, Music, Games, and Applications.
  • Banned in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: ThePirateBay.red, Tbp.tw, TPBMirror.org
  • Number of torrents: 3,286,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 3.1MB/s

ThePirateBay download test

 

8. Zooqle

Zooqle torrent site

Zooqle is relatively younger compared to most of the other torrent sites featured on this list. It’s a torrent index specializing in verified torrents, and with a database of over 3 million torrents it certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted. While it features content in a variety of categories, movies and TV series are especially popular on the site.

  • Year established: 2013
  • Popular content formats: TV Shows, Movies, Music, Games, Applications, Books.
  • Banned in the following countries: None.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: zooqle.unblocked.mx, zoqle.bypassed.org
  • Number of torrents: 3,200,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 3.5MB/s

Zooqle download test

 

9. 1337x

1337x torrent site

At the time of compiling this list, 1337x has been online for 11 years. That ranks it high in terms of reliability. It provides a directory of torrent files and magnet links, and is often touted as the best alternative to The Pirate Bay. Our analysis shows that over 90 percent of the top 100 torrents on 1337x are movies.

  • Year established: 2007
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Series, Games, Music, and Applications.
  • Banned in the following countries: Austria, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: 1337x.st, x1337x.ws, x1337x.eu
  • Number of torrents: 2,375,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 686.3KB/s

1337x download test

 

10. YourBittorrent

YourBittorrent torrent site

YourBittorrent has a somewhat controversial history. While founded in 2009, it really began operation in its original form in 2003 as a collaboration between two partners — the product of which was myBittorrent; one of the partners wanted the website eventually shut down while the other partner wanted it to become bigger. This led to a split, the product of which is YourBittorrent.

  • Year established: 2009
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Series, Software, Games, Music, Anime, Ebooks.
  • Banned in the following countries: Portugal, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: 104.31.17.3
  • Number of torrents: 1,190,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 1MB/s

YourBitTorrent download test

 

11. Demonoid

Demonoid torrent site

When it comes to reliability, you can count on Demonoid. The popular BitTorrent tracker was launched in 2003, the same year as The Pirate Bay, and it’s had its own fair share of downtime due to political pressure. The site with over 10 million users has over 800,000 torrent files and provides torrents for movies, TV series, music, books, applications, and games. Our research shows that Demonoid has more movies and TV series than other files, followed by music.

  • Year established: 2003
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV series, Music, Books, Applications, Games.
  • Banned in the following countries: Ukraine, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: Dnoid.me, Demonoid.unblocked.bet
  • Number of torrents: 893,000+

Download Speed

The average download speed was 1.8MB/s

Demonoid download test

 

12. RARBG

RARBG torrent site

RARBG is a popular torrent site that was established in 2008. Our research shows that the popular torrent site that provides torrent files and magnet links has more movies than other types of files.

  • Year established: 2008
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Shows, Games, Music, Software.
  • Banned in the following countries: Bulgaria, Denmark, Indonesia, Ireland, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: 185.37.100.122
  • Number of torrents: 811,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 1.3MB/s

RarBG download test

 

13. TorrentsGroup

torrentsgroup torrent site

This torrent site was established in 2016 and has since grown to host over 225,000 torrents. It allows users to torrent movies, TV series, apps, and documentaries amongst other types of files.

  • Year established: 2016
  • Popular content formats: Movies, TV Series, Anime, Apps, Documentaries, Games.
  • Banned in the following countries: None.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: 104.18.52.165
  • Number of torrents: 225,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 5.5MB/s

TorrentsGroup download test

 

14. EZTV

EZTV torrent site

Many avid torrenters will know EZTV, a popular TV torrent distribution site that was founded in 2005. After experiencing a hostile takeover, EZTV was claimed by a new group operating at EZTV.AG. While many popular torrent sites ban releases from EZTV due to its history, many have found its torrents to be of great quality.

  • Year established: 2015
  • Popular content formats: TV Series/Movies.
  • Banned in the following countries: Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom.
  • Supports instant downloads: Yes.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: eztv.red, eztv.unblocked.mx, eztv.unblocked.bet
  • Number of torrents: 153,000+

Download Speed

The average DL speed was 3.7MB/s

EZTV Download test

 

15. YTS.AM

YTS.AM torrent site

YIFY movies are known to have excellent video quality at the smallest file sizes. YTS.AM is the leading source of YIFY torrents online.

  • Year established: 2011
  • Popular content formats: Movies.
  • Banned in the following countries: Ireland.
  • Supports instant downloads: No.
  • Mirrors/Alternate URLs/IPs: yts.unblocked.mx, yts.unblocked.mx
  • Number of torrents: 7,200+

Download Speed

The average download was 1.8MB/s

YTS.AM download test

What torrent sites you have you used or use? Leave a comment below :).

VPN Usage, Data Privacy & Internet Penetration Statistics

John Mason

John Mason

In this in-depth research, we’re covering all the important statistics and figures for VPN usage, Internet penetration and data privacy. Here’s a full list of resources used in this article.

VPN Usage Statistics – Table of Contents

VPN Access by Device

The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) has grown considerably in recent years, as public awareness and applications continue to rise. In fact, one quarter of all Internet users have accessed a VPN in the last month, with mobile access growing in popularity:

  • Desktop – 17%
  • Mobile – 15%
  • Tablet – 7%
VPN access by device

VPN Usage Frequency

For many users, VPNs have become an integral part of daily life. Of those who accessed a VPN in the last month:

Every day4-5 times a week2-3 times a weekOnce a week2-3 times a monthOnce a month
Desktop: 35%Desktop: 15%Desktop: 14%Desktop: 10%Desktop: 7%Desktop: 6%
Mobile: 42%Mobile: 13%Mobile: 11%Mobile: 9%Mobile: 6%Mobile: 5%
VPN usage frequency

VPN Usage by Age & Gender

Across all users, VPNs remain most popular amongst younger generations, particularly males. The number of females accessing VPNs has increased on previous years, however:

VPN Users by Age:VPN Users by Gender:
16-24: 35%Male: 62%
25-34: 33%Female: 38%
35-44: 19%
45-54: 9%
55-64: 4%
VPN usage by age and gender

Regional VPN Usage (of all internet users)

The Asia-Pacific region continues to be heaviest users of VPNs, although they are continuing to grow in popularity among Latin American and Middle Eastern users:

  • Asia Pacific: 30%
  • Europe: 17%
  • Latin America: 23%
  • Middle East & Africa: 19%
  • North America: 17%
Regional VPN usage

Emerging Markets Lead for VPN Usage

Given their applications in bypassing Internet censorship and hiding browsing activity, it’s no surprise that emerging markets lead for VPN usage:

Top Ten Markets

  • Indonesia: 38%
  • India: 38%
  • Turkey: 32%
  • China: 31%*
  • Malaysia: 29%
  • Saudi Arabia: 29%
  • Brazil: 26%
  • Vietnam: 25%
  • UAE: 25%
  • Philippines: 25%
Top ten markets for VPNs

*China’s percentage is likely to drop in 2018, as the Government attempts to crack down access to VPN providers in the country.

Reasons Why People Use VPN

So, why are people using VPNs? Although motivations differ depending on the region, the top motivations across all users are:

Access better entertainment content:50%
Access social networks, or news services:34%
Keep anonymity while browsing:31%
Access sites / files / services at work:30%
Access restricted download / torrent sites:27%
Communicate with friends / family abroad:25%
Hide my web browsing from the government:18%
Access a Tor browser:17%
VPN usage motivator

But a stronger pattern begins to emerge when we look at the regional differences:

VPN usage motivator by region

Accessing entertainment remains the strongest motivator even when regional differences are factored in, although retaining anonymity while browsing the Internet is a major application in certain countries:

ArgentinaIrelandSingapore
AustraliaItalySouth Africa
BelgiumJapanSouth Korea
BrazilMalaysiaSpain
CanadaMexicoSweden
ChinaNetherlandsTaiwan
EgyptNew ZealandThailand
FrancePhilippinesTurkey
GermanyPolandUAE
Hong KongPortugalUK
IndiaRussiaUSA
IndonesiaSaudi ArabiaVietnam

Access better entertainment content
Keep my anonymity while browsing
Access restricted download / torrent site

VPN usage motivators by country

VPN Users Paying for Content

Despite the primary motivation being entertainment content for most users worldwide, those who access VPNs are not pirates. 77% of VPN users are buying digital content each month, across a wide range of formats:

Percentage of VPN users who paid for the following in the last month:

  • Music download: 33%
  • Music streaming service: 27%
  • Movie or TV streaming service: 27%
  • Mobile app: 27%
  • Movie or TV download: 26%
VPN users paying for content

Online Users & Digital Statistics

It’s worth considering the growth of VPN usage alongside the global increase in overall Internet access, alongside the dramatic and continued growth of social media and mobile phone usage:

In 2018, there are:

  • 4.021bn Internet users (7% increase on last year)
  • 3.196bn social media users (13% increase on last year)
  • 5.135bn mobile phone users (4% increase on last year)
Online users in 2018

Social media use has continued its impressive climb since 2017, with one in every three minutes spent online now devoted to social media. Globally, digital consumers are now spending an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes per day on social media networks and messaging. According to a recent survey, the top motivations for accessing social media in 2018 are:

  • To stay in touch with what friends are doing: 42%
  • To stay up-to-date with news and current events: 41%
  • To fill up spare time: 39%
  • To find funny or entertaining content: 37%
  • General networking with other people: 34%
Reasons for social media usage

The average internet user now spends around 6 hours each day using internet-powered devices and services – approximately one-third of their waking lives. If we add this together for all 4 billion of the world’s internet users, we’ll spend a staggering 1billion years online in 2018.

Global Internet Penetration

Although internet use is growing, access is not distributed evenly around the world. Internet penetration rates are still low across Central Africa and Southern Asia, but these regions are seeing fast growth in internet adoption.

The global average for Internet penetration is 53%. By region however:

North America: 88%Southern Europe: 77%Western Asia: 65%
Central America: 61%Northern Africa: 49%Southern Asia: 36%
The Caribbean: 48%Western Africa: 39%Eastern Asia: 57%
South America: 68%Middle Africa: 12%Southeast Asia: 58%
Northern Europe: 94%Southern Africa: 51%Oceana: 69%
Western Europe: 90%Eastern Africa: 27%
Eastern Europe: 74%Central Asia: 50%
Global internet penetration by region

 

The highest penetration percentages in the world belong to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, both of whom boast an incredible 99%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lowest is North Korea, with a shockingly low 0.6% penetration rate.

Internet Access by Device

As you might expect, more people are now accessing the Internet via smartphones, accounting for a greater share of web traffic than all other devices combined:

  • Laptops and Desktops – 43%
  • Smartphones – 52%
  • Tablet devices – 4%
  • Other devices – 0.14%
Internet access by device type

In addition to a greater number of devices, mobile connections are also getting faster worldwide. GSMA Intelligence reports than more than 60% of mobile connections can now be classified as ‘broadband’:

The percentage of broadband connections compared to population
Northern America: 95%Western Europe: 98%Middle Africa: 12%
Central America: 62%Eastern Europe: 92%Southern Africa: 83%
The Caribbean: 30%Southern Europe: 97%Eastern Africa: 22%
South America: 82%Northern Africa: 59%Central Asia: 40%
Northern Europe: 109%Western Africa: 33%Western Asia: 63%
Broadband connections

The fastest mobile Internet connection speeds are found in Norway, where the average speed is 61.2 MBPS. The slowest is in Iraq, with an average speed of 4.2 MBPS. Thanks in part to the continued global increase in download speeds, the average global smartphone user now uses 2.9GB of data every month – a rise of more than 50% on last year.

This continued growth of mobile-first Internet use is, unsurprisingly, being driven by Millennials. Of 34 tracked online activities:

MillenialsGen XBaby Boomers
Mobile first – 31Mobile first – 17Mobile first – 7
Laptop first – 3Laptop first – 17Laptop first – 27
Millenials Lead Mobile - First

As you might expect, much of the growth in social media and mobile-first Internet is down to the US and, to a lesser extent, the UK:

United Kingdom snapshot:United States snapshot:
Population: 66.38 millionPopulation: 325.6 million
Internet Users: 63.06 millionInternet Users: 286.9 million
Active Social Media Users: 44 millionActive Social Media Users: 230 million
Mobile Subscriptions: 73.23 millionMobile Subscriptions: 340.5 million
Active Mobile Social Media Users: 38 millionActive Mobile Social Media Users: 200 million
UK Internet penetration US Internet penetration

Data Privacy

With an increase in cyber attacks and ever-growing internet access, concerns around data privacy have become far more prominent. As the general-public becomes more informed about the information businesses and governments collect on them, their worries about the use or mismanagement of this data have increased:

  • 95% of Americans are concerned about how companies use their data.
  • More than 80% are more concerned today than they were a year ago.
  • More than 50% of Americans are looking for new ways to safeguard their personal data.
Privacy Concerns

It would seem their concerns are warranted too, with 31% of Americans saying their online life is worth $100,000 or more. Despite this, only one in four Americans believe they’re ultimately responsible for ensuring safe and secure Internet access, and 51% of consumers have had online and mobile accounts compromised in the previous year.

Most people place the responsibility for safe Internet access and the safeguarding of their data with corporations, but many IT professionals are concerned about businesses ability to effectively protect this data:

  • 95% of businesses have sensitive data in the cloud.
  • 93% of IT professionals report challenges with ensuring data privacy.
  • 82% of businesses have employees who do not follow data privacy policies.
Why businesses remain vulnerable

These concerns have led to a significant lack of trust from the public, with consumers expressing growing anxiety over the security of their records with corporations:

few express confidence that records will be kept secure

Five Eyes, Nine Eyes & 14-Eyes Countries and VPN Jurisdiction

John Mason

John Mason

In this article, I’ll share the differences between different alliances (4 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes) as well as how it affects your anonymity when using a VPN.

Here’s all you need to know about VPN jurisdiction, five eyes, nine eyes and fourteen-eyes alliances and countries. It’s highly recommended that you choose a VPN outside these jurisdiction for full anonymity and data protection.

VPN Definitions:

VPN Jurisidctions

1. VPN – The acronym VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” As we wrote in our VPN Beginner’s Guide post in November: The truth is, no VPN allows perfect digital invisibility – from government bodies or hackers – but it is astounding how well the best VPNs protect your online privacy, and conversely, how unprotected and vulnerable internet users are without a VPN.

2. VPN Jurisdiction – This refers to the laws and regulations surrounding virtual private networks in a given country. Most countries allow citizens and residents to use VPNs under their legal system, but it is important to consider the level of control a given national government retains over your VPN use.

3. VPN Provider Location – This refers to where the VPN provider is located as a business, which may not be the same as where the company maintains its VPN servers. Again, depending on the extent to which the relevant authorities oversee VPN use, you may want to choose a VPN provider located outside of your country of residence.

4. VPN Server Location – This refers to where the VPN provider has decided to set up“ servers, which may not be the same as where they operate on a day-to-day basis. One VPN provider may have servers in multiple locations, and often, you the user will be able to choose from a number of VPN server locations from a single VPN provider.

 

Country-by-Country Guide to VPN Jurisdictions

At TheBestVPN, we always try to be as thorough as possible. Below you will find 31 countries listed with the legality of VPNs in that country, whether or not they are a member of a 5, 9 or 14-Eyes member, some commentary and one or more VPN providers you can start your search with.

For your convenience, here is a list with jump-to links for easy reference:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Australia

  • Are VPNs legal in Australia? Yes
  • Five Eyes Alliance member
  • VPN use is completely legal in the land down under. However, since Australia is a member of the Five Eyes alliance, any data passing through and stored on VPN systems domiciled in the country is still subject to the surveillance protocols implemented by the intelligence-sharing alliance.

Sources:
Regional Overview: Australia & New Zealand. Open Net Initiative.

Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Australia. Freedom House.

Popular Australia-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands

  • Are VPNs legal in the British Virgin Islands? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • While an overseas territory of the UK, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an autonomous nation with its own legislature and code of laws. Lacking its own foreign intelligence apparatus, the BVI is not a member of any international signals intelligence-sharing alliance. That means VPN systems based in the territory are not subject to surveillance laws enabling intelligence agencies to legally access or intercept customer data. Moreover, there are no data retention laws in the territory.
  • BVI-based ExpressVPN consistently ranks among the top-rated VPN providers around the world.

Sources:
Regional Overview: Australia & New Zealand. Open Net Initiative.

Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Australia. Freedom House.

Popular BVI-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Bulgaria

  • Are VPNs legal in Bulgaria? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • A member nation of both the EU and NATO, Bulgaria embraces freedom of speech and a free press but reportedly monitors citizen’s internet usage. The country’s constitution prohibits arbitrary incursions into citizens’ privacy and there are no reported government restrictions on internet access. However, Bulgaria’s intelligence services can legally access digital data related to cyber crimes and serious national security threats, having the ability to request such data from VPN providers even without court authorization.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Bulgaria. Wikipedia

Popular Bulgarian-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Canada

  • Are VPNs legal in Canada? Yes
  • Five Eyes Alliance member
  • Canada consistently ranks in the top ten happiest countries in the world and is among the freest territories on the planet. However, it adopts comparatively stricter policies on issues such as net neutrality, data retention, and surveillance. Some government- sanctioned ISPs are authorized to block access to certain sites such as those related to child pornography. As a Five Eyes alliance member, Canada also implements a legal framework that empowers its intelligence agencies to access and share electronic data with other member nations in certain situations.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Canada. Freedom House.

Popular Canadian-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Cayman Islands

  • Are VPNs legal in the Cayman Islands? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Like the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands is an autonomous territory in the Caribbean Sea associated with the British constitutional monarchy. The Cayman Islands also has its own legislation and policies governing privacy and electronic data. The territory passed a comprehensive Data Protection Law in 2017 that reflects many of the principles underlying EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a legal framework strongly safeguarding privacy and consumer data.

Sources:
Cayman Islands Seek to Supplement Its Data Protection Law. Lexology.

Popular Cayman-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: China

  • Are VPNs legal in China? Not all. Only government-approved VPNs are allowed to operate.
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • While running the planet’s second-biggest economy and pioneering many innovations in IT, China remains a repressive regime when it comes to what its citizens can access and use online. This long-standing policy led to the spread of the internet meme “The Great Firewall of China.” For purposes of personal safety and to mitigate liability, consider VPNs illegal. The only legal cross-border private networks are those that can be leased from or duly approved by government agencies. Any person in the country who gets caught using any other type of VPN will be apprehended and fined up to a few thousand dollars.
  • Many popular VPNs have been blocked by the government. Turbo VPN is among the few based in the country that still operates but glitches, warning notices, and other usage issues have been reported. If you can take the risk, consider using offshore VPN providers instead.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: China. Freedom House.

Country Profile: China. Open Net Initiative.
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: China. Wikipedia.

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Czech Republic

  • Are VPNs legal in the Czech Republic? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • The Czech Republic is a high-income market economy, considered among the freest, safest, and most egalitarian countries in the world. Its citizens are also among the least restricted internet users on the planet. Freedom of speech and of the press are safeguarded, with the law prohibiting arbitrary interference on privacy, family, or home. However, exceptions apply against hate speech, Holocaust denial, and websites promoting child pornography and racist content. Based on reports, the government has been initiating moves to gain more control over Internet activity using a proposed but currently unpopular ID system.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Czech Republic. Wikipedia.

Popular Czech Republic-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Denmark

  • Are VPNs legal in Denmark? Yes
  • Nine Eyes Alliance member
  • As part of EU, Denmark implements the sweeping privacy standards of GDPR and remains one of the freest jurisdictions when it comes to online access. However, the country is known for drafting and promulgating laws that make it easier for the state to control access to or filter certain websites. To date, the country has already censored more than 3,000 websites including those that promote child pornography, facilitate digital piracy, and sell regulated drugs. Its membership to the Nine Eyes alliance also binds Denmark to share electronic data with other member countries in certain situations.
  • While Denmark has the legal authority to restrict online access, VPN use remains legal.

Sources:
Regional Overview: Nordic Countries. Open Net Initiative.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Denmark. Wikipedia.

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Finland

  • Are VPNs legal in Finland? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Finland is among the most prosperous countries in the world and its citizens – who consistently rank among the happiest – can access considerable social safety nets. Democracy, republicanism, human rights, and equality encapsulate the socio-political history of Finland which was the first country in the world to grant all its adult citizens the right to run for public office. While its citizens enjoy considerable freedom, however, Finland is known for filtering or attempting to restrict access to unwanted websites (child pornography, piracy, gambling, etc.). The government has been reported to have wrongfully censored non-malicious sites in the process.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Finland. Wikipedia.

Regional Overview: Nordic Countries. Open Net Initiative.

Popular Finland-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Germany

  • Are VPNs legal in Germany? Yes
  • 14 Eyes Alliance member
  • Germany strongly supports people’s right to privacy and is a driving force in the enactment and implementation of GDPR. While having long established a comparatively free online environment for its citizens, Germany has not escaped criticism for some of its actions viewed by many as attempts to censor the Internet to protect minors, eradicate hate speech, suppress fake news, and curb terror-related extremism. Proposals have been filed to enable the state to monitor social media sites.
  • Even amid these issues, it is perfectly legal to use VPN in Germany.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Germany. Freedom House.

Country Profile: Germany. Open Net Initiative.
Are VPNs Legal In Your Country? TheBestVPN.
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Germany. Wikipedia.

Popular Germany-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Gibraltar

  • Are VPNs legal in Gibraltar? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Gibraltar is an autonomous British overseas territory that governs its internal affairs via an elected parliament. In matters of defence, foreign policy, and security, however, the UK – represented by a governor – assumes decision-making and executive powers. This means that in certain circumstances, British intelligence agencies may have the authority to monitor the Gibraltarians’ online activities. As part of Europe, the island territory is also subject to GDPR which provides strong protections for privacy and personal data.
  • You can use VPNs legally in Gibraltar.

Sources:
Jurisdiction snapshot: Data Security & Cybercrime | Gibraltar. Lexology.

Popular Gibraltar-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Hong Kong

  • Are VPNs legal in Hong Kong? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy, with the territory’s Basic Law outlining residents’ rights to privacy, association, and freedom of expression. Compared to their compatriots in the mainland, Hong Kong residents are not hindered by the notorious Great Firewall of China and they can access virtually any site on the Web, even those that advocate positions that differ from the official party line of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. There is minimal censorship beyond legislation that penalizes digital piracy, pornography, and other crimes. However, government agencies do monitor Internet use, with some activists claiming their emails and other online activities are being surveilled.
  • In recent years, the territory has been under increasing threat of greater interference and control from Beijing. The advocacy group Freedom House downgraded the territory’s internet freedom status from “free” to just “partly free.” Nonetheless, VPN use is still considered legal in Hong Kong.

Sources:
Country Profile: China including Hong Kong. Open Net Initiative.

Internet censorship in Hong Kong. Wikipedia.
Freedom in the World 2017. Freedom House.

Popular Hong Kong-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Israel

  • Are VPNs legal in Israel? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Israel is a representative democracy in the Middle East with an advanced economy and one of the highest living standards in the region. The government generally seeks to maintain a free online environment and rarely attempts to interfere with or censor internet activity. However, legislation enabling the government to fight crime more effectively by blocking certain websites has been recently introduced. Previously, a few sites and hateful posts on social media have been blocked.
  • VPN use in Israel is legal.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Israel. Wikipedia.

Are VPNs Legal In Your Country? TheBestVPN.
Country Profile: Israel. Open Net Initiative.

Popular Israel-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Italy

  • Are VPNs legal in Italy? Yes
  • 14 Eyes Alliance member
  • The Italian constitution guarantees press freedom. The country, however, has censored many mass media materials over the years for largely socio-cultural reasons. Italy has also restricted access to around 7,000 websites including those that promote child pornography, gambling, hate, and intellectual copyright infringement. Following terror attacks in other European countries, measures that limit wi-fi access have been initiated to counter the threat. Currently, the state legislature is drafting laws that further strengthen the government’s ability to censor and monitor online access and content. Despite these restrictions, general internet usage in Italy can still be considered free.
  • Using VPN is legal.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Italy. Wikipedia.

Are VPNs Legal In Your Country? TheBestVPN.
Country Profile: Italy. Open Net Initiative.

Popular Italy-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Japan

  • Are VPNs legal in Japan? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Freedom of speech and of the press are protected under Japanese law, with government adhering to its principles in practice. There are no notable restrictions on internet access (penetration rate is at 90%) nor overt censure of online content. Instead, ISPs adopt self-censorship in filtering pornographic and “immoral” materials.
  • Virtual private networks such as University of Tsukuba’s VPN Gate are completely legal to use.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Japan. Freedom House.

Are VPNs Legal In Your Country? TheBestVPN.
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Japan. Wikipedia.

Popular Japan-based VPN provider:

  • VPN Gate

VPN Jurisdiction: Malaysia

  • Are VPNs legal in Malaysia? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Malaysia’s internet climate has been promising until corruption scandals associated with key political figures triggered a wave of censorship, clampdowns on websites, and arrests of bloggers and internet users critical of the government or espousing controversial views. Freedom House rates the country’s internet status as “partly free” while it is listed by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) as “under surveillance.” With a recent election toppling politicians associated with the corruption scandal, a return to a freer internet might be on the horizon.
  • Normally, the government refrains from censoring online content, upholds internet users’ civil liberties, and enforces no mandatory data retention laws.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Malaysia. Wikipedia.

Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Malaysia. Freedom House.
Country Profile: Malaysia. Open Net Initiative.
World Press Freedom Index: Malaysia. Reporters Without Borders.

Popular Malaysia-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Moldova

  • Are VPNs legal in Moldova? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Moldovans generally enjoy unrestricted internet access but notable legislation and government action prompted the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) to classify the country’s web openness as “selective” when it comes to online political content. Industry stakeholders believe a new bill introduced by the government grants it more power to censor the internet. Authorized to monitor the internet and collect information related to unlawful activities, state agencies have directly interfered with internet access to stem dissent.
  • Even amid government’s selective surveillance, access to the internet can still be considered unfettered.

Sources:
Are VPNs Legal In Your Country?
TheBestVPN.
Country Profile: Moldova. Open Net Initiative.
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Moldova. Wikipedia.

Popular Moldova-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Netherlands

  • Are VPNs legal in the Netherlands? Yes
  • Nine Eyes Alliance member
  • Residents of the Netherlands enjoy one of freest internet systems in the world, with virtually no government censorship of online content nor restrictions on internet access (with the notable exception of Pirate Bay, access to which has been blocked as ordered by the Dutch Court in 2017). The Netherlands is also a member of the Nine Eyes Alliance which establishes an intelligence-sharing framework where members can cooperate to circumvent local laws related to gathering and sharing of electronic data.
  • VPN use is completely legal in the country.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Netherlands. Wikipedia.

Popular Nethelands-based VPN provider:

VPN Jurisdiction: Norway

  • Are VPNs legal in Norway? Yes
  • Nine Eyes Alliance member
  • Norway has one of the world’s most open environments when it comes to media and freedom of expression. The right of the public to access government information is guaranteed by the constitution. Internet penetration is also among the highest at around 97% in 2017. There are no government restrictions and censorship, with major ISPs volunteering to use DNS filters that block child pornography sites.
  • VPN use is completely legal in Norway.

Sources:
Regional Overview: Nordic Countries. Open Net Initiative.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Norway. Wikipedia.

Popular Norway-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Panama

  • Are VPNs legal in Panama? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Panama’s constitution safeguards the freedoms of expression, association, and the press. Arbitrary interference with privacy, correspondence, family, or home is prohibited. However, corruption remains a challenge that often leads to government attempts to repress criticism of public officials and to cut off mobile and internet access in some volatile areas. Wiretaps related to criminal prosecution requires judicial oversight and incidence of email monitoring have been reported. Amid these exceptions, Panamanians still generally enjoy unhindered access to the internet.
  • Panama residents can legally use VPNs.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Panama. Wikipedia.

Popular Panama-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Romania

  • Are VPNs legal in Romania? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Romanians enjoy relatively unrestricted access to the internet with the exception of sites related to gambling, pornography, and paedophilia that have been blocked or filtered by the government. Many observers claim that laws aimed at curbing gambling websites may be abused to censor citizen’s online activities.
  • The use of VPNs is legal in Romania.

Sources:
Are VPNs Legal In Your Country?
TheBestVPN.
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Romania. Wikipedia.

Popular Romania-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Russia

  • Are VPNs legal in Russia? Not all. Only government-sanctioned VPNs allowed.
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Given its recent track record of filtering mass media materials, surveilling citizens, and leaning further towards authoritarian tendencies, Russia understandably receives less-than-ideal scores from rating organizations. Freedom House gives the country a “not free” rating on internet freedom in 2017 while Reporters Without Borders (RWB) lists Russia as an “internet enemy” in 2014. The Russian government also actively participates in shaping public opinion in cyberspace using mass information campaigns. Moreover, a blacklist of internet sites including those on child pornography, prohibited drugs, and extremist content was implemented in 2012 amid widespread criticism. The professional networking site LinkedIn has been blocked in Russia since late 2016.
  • As of November 2017, residents in Russia can only use government-sanctioned VPNs allegedly to prevent the spread of extremist materials and unlawful content. The penalty for non-compliance was set at around US$5,100 for the user and US$12,000 for the service provider.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Russia. Freedom House.

Country Profile: Russia. Open Net Initiative.

Popular Russia-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: San Marino

  • Are VPNs legal in San Marino? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • San Marino is a republic that safeguards its citizens’ full internet rights and does not impose censorship on online content. All independent observers rate the country’s media and internet systems as “free.”
  • Not surprisingly, VPN use is completely legal in San Marino.

Sources:
Are VPNs Legal In Your Country?
TheBestVPN.

Popular San Marion-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Seychelles

  • Are VPNs legal in Seychelles? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Seychelles is a sovereign state in the Indian Ocean composed of dozens of islands and characterized by an unusually high Human Development Index (HDI) for an African country. However, it also faces long-standing problems of unequal wealth distribution, corruption, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Internet usage in the country is generally unfettered but occasional access restrictions occur due to an extreme case of partisan politics. There are strict defamation laws in place.
  • VPN use is legal.

Sources:
2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. The US State Department.

The 2018 World Press Freedom Index: Seychelles. Reporters Without Borders.

Popular Seychelles-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Singapore

  • Are VPNs legal in Singapore? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • While a prosperous and technologically advanced nation in South East Asia, Singapore implements a less open internet environment compared to those of similarly affluent countries. To suppress political dissent, the government actively censors internet content and even shuts down websites that are highly critical of public policies. Due to its well-documented stance and actions on press freedom and the freedom of expression, Singapore earns only a “partly free” rating from Freedom House. The government uses licensing controls and legal tactics to regulate internet access and to curb unwanted online content and activities. State authorities maintain a list of blocked websites that are inaccessible within the territory.
  • Despite aforementioned restrictions, VPN use is legal in Singapore.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: Singapore. Freedom House.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Singapore. Wikipedia.
Country Profile: Singapore. Open Net Initiative.

Popular Singapore-based VPN provider:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Slovakia

  • Are VPNs legal in Slovakia? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Slovakia’s constitution safeguards the freedoms of speech and the press. However, media outlets occasionally experience political pressure. Even if the government’s relations with journalists is, Slovakia still earns a “free” rating from the Freedom House primarily due to the state’s minimal to zero interference in citizens’ internet access. With the exception of sites spreading hate speech, state authorities do not monitor emails, online chat rooms, and other activities without judicial oversight.
  • Using virtual private networks is legal.

Sources:
Freedom in the World 2017: Slovakia. Freedom House.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Slovakia. Wikipedia.

Popular Slovakia-based VPN provider:

VPN Jurisdiction: South Korea

  • Are VPNs legal in South Korea? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • South Korea is among the most technologically and economically advanced countries in the world. The country’s internet landscape is innovative and thriving even amid restrictions on content that undermines the country’s “traditional values,” offends public morality, or threatens national security. The government is known for censoring, monitoring, and blocking such online content and activity. Reports of systematic manipulation of online discussions have also been documented. Service providers that break internet policies face fines of up to US$18,000.
  • VPN use is completely legal.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: South Korea. Freedom House.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: South Korea. Wikipedia.
Country Profile: South Korea. Open Net Initiative.

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Sweden

  • Are VPNs legal in Sweden? Yes
  • Nine Eyes Alliance member
  • Sweden is an affluent European monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The country’s constitution guarantees civil liberties and prohibits arbitrary interference on privacy, correspondence, home and family. The government strongly respects these rights, establishing one of the freest socio-political environments in the world. The law requires intelligence agencies to obtain court permission before monitoring cross-border online traffic to combat national security threats. With the exception of blocking Pirate Bay, the state does not interfere with citizen’s access to the internet.
  • VPN use is completely legal.

Sources:
Regional Overview: Nordic Countries. Open Net Initiative.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Sweden. Wikipedia.
Freedom in the World 2018: Sweden. Freedom House.

Popular Sweden-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: Switzerland

  • Are VPNs legal in Switzerland? Yes
  • Non-member to Five-, Nine-, 14 Eyes alliances
  • Founded in 1300, Switzerland is a federal republic whose constitution guarantees freedoms of speech and of the press while penalizing discrimination, hate speech, and breach of privacy. The government does not restrict its citizens’ access to the internet nor does it monitor email or chat rooms without judicial oversight. However, nearly 70% of its citizens voted in a referendum in support of a bill enabling the state to legally surveil its citizens’ online activities. Even then, no incidence of abuse of authority has been reported.
  • VPN use is completely legal in Switzerland.

Sources:
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: Switzerland. Wikipedia.

Freedom in the World 2017: Switzerland. Freedom House.

Popular Switzerland-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: United Kingdom

  • Are VPNs legal in the United Kingdom? Yes
  • Founding member of the Five, Nine, and 14 Eyes Alliances
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is a constitutional monarchy that has adopted democratic values through a parliamentary form of government. The UK implements strong safeguards for civil liberties, freedom of expression, privacy, and political rights. However, it also sanctions surveillance activities on residents, an example of which is the Investigatory Powers Act that authorizes state agencies to monitor any online activity. It has taken surveillance and police measures to combat child abuse and terrorism. The Freedom House rates the UK as “free” when it comes to internet freedoms while Reporters Without Borders list it as an “Internet Enemy.”
  • While using VPN is legal, VPN companies based in the UK may be subject to the same data retention laws applicable to internet service providers. The UK has also reportedly blocked some VPNs.

Sources:
Country Profile: United Kingdom. Open Net Initiative.

Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: United Kingdom. Wikipedia.
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: United Kingdom. Freedom House.

Popular UK-based VPN providers:

 

VPN Jurisdiction: United States of America

  • Are VPNs legal in the United States of America? Yes
  • Founding member of the Five, Nine, and 14 Eyes Alliances
  • The United States of America is known for its staunch support for human rights, civil liberties, privacy, and freedoms of speech and of the press. However, the country – which functions as a federal republic – has been involved in controversies concerning internet use and regulation. While the state does not actively censor online content, there have been reports that its intelligence agencies have been monitoring ISPs. Furthermore, recently introduced laws grant more legal space for ISP monitoring. Freedom House rates the country’s internet policies and actions as “free” while Reporters Without Borders listed the US in 2014 as an “Internet Enemy.”
  • VPN use is completely legal. The US arguably hosts the world’s largest number of VPN service providers.

Sources:
Freedom on the Net 2017 Country Profile: United States. Freedom House.

Regional Overview: United States & Canada. Open Net Initiative.
Internet Censorship and Surveillance per Country: United States. Wikipedia.
2018 World Press Freedom Index: United States. Reporters Without Borders.

Popular USA-based VPN providers:

 

Cyber Security Statistics

John Mason

John Mason

I’ve updated these statistics to reflect 2017 and 2018. If you want to point out any corrections, let me know.

cyber security stats and factsCyber attacks are growing in prominence every day – from influencing major elections to crippling businesses overnight, the role cyber warfare plays in our daily lives should not be underestimated.

In fact, billionaire investor Warren Buffett claims that cyber threats are the biggest threat to mankind and that they are bigger than threats from nuclear weapons.

We have compiled a list of relevant cyber-security statistics for you as we head into 2018:

1. In 2016, the U.S government spent a whopping $28 billion on cyber-security – and this is expected to increase in 2017 – 2018.

TwitterClick to tweet

For perspective, just nine years ago, in 2007, the U.S government spent $7.5 billion to combat malicious cyber attacks. While that’s measly compared to the 2016 cyber security spend of $28 billion (a whopping 373 percent increase from that of 2007), $7.5 billion is no small change — that amount, even though it was spent by the U.S on cyber security in 2007, is bigger than the total budgets of many countries even in 2017 [1].

2. According to Microsoft, the potential cost of cyber-crime to the global community is a mind-boggling $500 billion, and a data breach will cost the average company about $3.8 million.

fact number 2

Now, that’s a lot of money. But this can easily be fixed once we get a few facts right: 1) about 63 percent of all network intrusions and data breaches are due to compromised user credentials, so taking measures to protect your credentials (using a good VPN) should give you an added layer of protection. 2) An attacker spends about 146 days within a network before being detected — that’s quite a lot of time. Knowing this, regular measures could be taken to audit a network and ensure its security [2].

3. According to data from Juniper Research, the average cost of a data breach will exceed $150 million by 2020 — and by 2019, cybercrime will cost businesses over $2 trillion — a four-fold increase from 2015.

We were still gasping at the cost of $3.8 million Microsoft said a data breach costs the average company. However, data from Juniper Research shows this amount will increase by a massive 3,947 percent to over $150 million by 2020 [3]. As your company grows, and as the Internet continues to develop at a massive pace, it might be a good idea to increase the percentage of your budget that goes towards security.

4. Ransomware attacks increased by 36 percent in 2017.

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Research from Symantec shows that Ransomware attacks worldwide increased by 36 percent in 2017 — with more than 100 new malware families introduced by hackers. More interestingly, though, is that people, especially Americans, are willing to pay. 64 percent of Americans are willing to pay a ransom after becoming victims of ransomware attacks, compared to 34 percent of people globally [4].

5. The average amount demanded after a ransomware attack is $1,077.

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This is an increase of about 266 percent. Naturally, seeing that more people are willing to pay a ransom considering how reliant on the Internet their activities are, hackers are upping their stakes and demanding significantly more. We can only expect this to increase as ransomware attacks increase in 2018 [4].

6. 1 in 131 emails contains a malware.

fact number 6

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Emails are now being increasingly used by hackers, and an estimated one in every 131 emails contain a malware. This is the highest rate in about five years, and it is further expected to increase as hackers attempt to use malware like ransomware to generate money from unsuspecting people [4].

7. In 2017, 6.5 percent of people are victims of identity fraud — resulting in fraudsters defrauding people of about $16 billion.

This data is based on a comprehensive study by Javelin Strategy & Research, involving 69,000 respondents who have been surveyed since 2003. The research revealed that the victims of identity fraud in the U.S increased to 15.4 million in 2016, an increase of 2 million people from the previous year [5].

8. 43 percent of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses.

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While we’ve been reading a lot in the media about major companies like Target, eBay, Yahoo and Sony being hacked, small companies are not immune. As it is today, at least 43 percent of cyber attacks against businesses are targeted at small companies, and this number will only keep increasing. [6]

9. Unfilled cyber security jobs are expected to reach 3.5 million by 2021 — compared to about 1 million in 2016.

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While this might not seem like much, it is worth paying attention to: the projected increase in the number of cyber security-related jobs is proportional to a projected increase in cybercrime, and a more than 200 percent increase [7] means we can expect cybercrime to increase by at least that much by 2021.

10. According to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, cyber attacks is the BIGGEST threat to mankind — even more of a bigger threat than nuclear weapons.

TwitterClick to tweet

Now, this isn’t exactly a “statistic.” However, Buffett has an astute mind, and his statement [8] isn’t exactly without logic. From influencing elections in powerful nations to crippling entire corporations, cyber warfare is seeming to be much of a bigger threat than many have anticipated — and if the threat it poses will only increase as experts have predicted, then it’s worth taking note of this wise man’s saying.

11. 230,000 new malware samples are produced every day — and this is predicted to only keep growing.

fact number 11

This is according to research from Panda Security, estimating Trojans to be the main source of malware — being responsible for about 51.45 percent of all malware [9].

12. China is the country with the highest number of malware-infected computers in the world.

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According to research from Panda Security, an estimated 57.24 percent of all computers in China are infected by malware. The runner-up is Taiwan, with 49.15 percent of all computers infected… and followed by Turkey with 42.52 percent of all computers infected [9].

13. More than 4,000 ransomware attacks occur every day.

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This is according to data from the FBI [10]. That’s a 300 percent increase in ransomware attacks compared to 2015, and it is projected to only keep increasing as hackers continue to choose ransomware as their preferred method of attack.

14. 78 percent of people claim to know the risks that come with clicking unknown links in emails and yet still click these links.

Fact number 14

According to data from a researcher from the Erlangen-Nuremberg University, while many people claim to be aware of the risks of unknown links in emails, a good portion of them still click unknown links in emails [11].

15. 90 percent of hackers cover their tracks by using encryption.

Hackers are also wisening up to the use of encryption techniques like VPNs, and they are now more effectively covering their tracks — making it much easier to arrest them. The most effective method to combat cyber attacks as hackers get more sophisticated is by using the right preventative methods. It’s getting more and more difficult to catch them [12].

16. It takes most business about 197 days to detect a breach on their network.

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That’s more than six months! Many businesses have been breached and still have no idea, and as hackers get more sophisticated it will only take businesses even longer to realize that they have been compromised [13].

17. Android is the second most targeted platform by hackers after Windows.

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The number of malware targeting Android devices is increasing rapidly — and an estimated 98 percent of mobile malware target Android [14]. Hackers aren’t just limiting themselves to desktop computers, they are also targeting mobile devices — as we continue to use mobile devices for even more important activities and financial transactions, the cyber attacks will only increase.

18. 81 percent of data breach victims do not have a system in place to self-detect data breaches.

fact number 18

Instead, many of them rely on notification from third parties to let them know about a data breach on their network — this significantly increases the time it takes to fix a breach from 14.5 days if they had self-detected it to about 154 days if it were detected by an external party [15].

19. 95 percent of Americans are concerned about how companies use their data.

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A lot of Americans are concerned about how companies use their data [16]. This is understandable considering the number of high-profile cases of data abuse that have made the news in recent times. However, why worry unnecessarily when you could simply cover your tracks and completely encrypt your data by using a reliable VPN service?

20. The two most important reason people use VPNs is to browse anonymously and to unlock better entertainment content: 31 percent of people use VPNs mainly to browse anonymously, while 30 percent of people use VPNs to unlock content.

The number one reason why people use VPNs is to access the internet anonymously, with 31 percent of people citing this as their reason for using VPNs. The second major reason is to unlock sites that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to unlock — like Netflix and the Apple Store — with 30 percent of people citing this as the main reason they use VPNs [17].

21. 42 percent of VPN users use a VPN at least 4 to 5 times a week — with most of them using it every day.

Indonesia is the country with the highest VPN usage — 41 percent of all Internet users in Indonesia use a VPN. This is followed by Thailand where 39 percent of all Internet users use a VPN, and the UAE, Turkey, Brazil and Saudi Arabia where 36 percent of Internet users use a VPN [18].

Cyber Security

With a substantial increase in Internet access, concerns around Cyber Security are particularly prominent. This growth in concern is, of course, fuelled by the dramatic increase in online fraud and hacking. Emails have become a particularly popular delivery method for online criminals, with an incredible 1 in 131 emails containing malware.

Ransomware – the malicious software that locks personal and business computers until a ransom is paid – has seen a substantial increase over the last 12 months, rising 36% globally in the last year:

  • The average amount demanded by a ransomware attack is $1,077, an increase of 266% on the previous year.
  • Research from Symantec suggests that 34% of people globally are willing to pay a ransom to get their data back – increasing to 64% for Americans.
  • The FBI suggests there are more than 4,000 ransomware attacks globally every day.
growth of ransomware

Identity fraud has also seen a significant rise, particularly in developed countries like the United States and the UK. In 2016, 6.15% of consumers became victims of identity fraud, with the costs associated with also increasing. In 2017, the total amount of losses due to identity fraud in the US reached $16 billion.

Data Breach Cost

Fears around security are notably prevalent among businesses, many of whom are responsible for huge swathes of customer data. Looking at the associated costs, it’s easy to see why businesses are so concerned:

  • A single data breach will cost the average company $3.8 million.
  • Juniper Research suggests that this will exceed $150 million by 2020.

data breach cost

The impact on affected businesses is also cause for significant concern, with 60% of small companies going out of business within six months of an attack. Given the potential sums available to cyber criminals, they remain an appealing target.

As with attacks against private citizens, email remains a popular delivery method for malware and phishing:

  • Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams targeted over 400 businesses per day last year, draining $3 million over the last 3 years.
  • 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses.
business a major target

While cyber crime is a global problem, some regions are seeing significantly higher levels of infection:

Most infected countriesLeast infected countries
China: 57.2% of computers infectedFinland – 20.32% of computers infected
Taiwan: 49.15% of computers infectedNorway – 20.51% of computers infected
Turkey: 42.52% of computers infectedSweden – 20.8% of computers infected
regional levels of infection
Sources

  1. http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/cyberspending-database
  2. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/advanced-threat-analytics
  3. https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/cybercrime-cost-businesses-over-2trillion
  4. https://www.symantec.com/security-center/threat-report
  5. https://www.javelinstrategy.com/press-release/identity-fraud-hits-record-high-154-million-us-victims-2016-16-percent-according-new
  6. https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/01/cyber-security-statistics-small-business.html
  7. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3200024/security/cybersecurity-labor-crunch-to-hit-35-million-unfilled-jobs-by-2021.html
  8. http://www.businessinsider.com/warren-buffett-cybersecurity-berkshire-hathaway-meeting-2017-5
  9. https://www.pandasecurity.com/mediacenter/press-releases/all-recorded-malware-appeared-in-2015/
  10. https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/ransomware-prevention-and-response-for-cisos.pdf/view
  11. http://www.businessinsider.com/expert-phishing-emails-2016-8?IR=T
  12. https://www.venafi.com/assets/pdf/wp/Venafi_2016CIO_SurveyReport.pdf
  13. http://www.zdnet.com/article/businesses-take-over-six-months-to-detect-data-breaches/
  14. https://www.computerworld.com/article/2475964/mobile-security/98–of-mobile-malware-targets-android-platform.html
  15. https://swimlane.com/10-hard-hitting-cyber-security-statistics/
  16. https://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/over-80-percent-of-americans-are-more-worried-about-privacy-security-than-a-year-ago.html
  17. https://www.comparitech.com/vpn/vpn-statistics/
  18. https://www.techinasia.com/indonesia-world-leader-vpn-usage

The Best Alternatives to DNSCrypt

Dann Albright

Dann Albright

Taking steps to hide your internet traffic from prying eyes is something that we’re passionate about here. Which is why we feel like we should warn you: there’s a potential vulnerability hiding in plain sight. Your DNS queries might be unencrypted.

If you have no idea what this means, don’t worry; we’ll explain it for you. And if you do know what this means, you probably know about DNSCrypt. But DNSCrypt.org is no longer working, and it might be time to find an alternative.

Let’s start with the basics, and then we’ll get to our recommendations.

Why Your DNS Queries Should Be Encrypted

DNS stands for “domain name system,” and it servers a bit like the internet’s phone book. When you type a URL into your browser, like www.thebestvpn.com, your computer gets in touch with a DNS server, and the server sends an IP address back. The IP address is the actual location of the site.

Once your computer has the IP address, it can connect to the server where the site is hosted. All of this happens in the background, and you might not even knows it’s happening.

There’s a problem, though: your query to the domain name server might be unencrypted. And if it is, someone snooping on your web traffic might be able to see the sites you’re going to, even if you’re using HTTPS or a VPN.

They won’t be able to see what you type into the site, or what you do there, but just knowing which site you’re going to could be enough to make you a bit less secure. Remember the big controversy over the NSA collecting cell phone metadata? This is sort of like that. No one can see what you’re doing on those websites, but they can still see which sites you’re going to. And that’s enough to make a lot of people (including us) uncomfortable.

If you’re worried about government surveillance, you definitely don’t want your DNS queries unencrypted.

In addition to security problems, it can also be cause for concern about privacy. If you’re using your ISP’s DNS server, they’ll know which sites you’re going to. And if they’re under national jurisdiction — or you’re in the US, where that information could be sold to advertisers — that’s a violation of your privacy.

Many people use Google’s DNS servers because they’re very fast. But that’s another potential privacy concern, as Google is always collecting as much information as possible about every user they can. And while they state that they don’t keep permanent records of DNS queries or match your DNS queries to personally identifiable information, the fact remains that they’re out to make money. And if they can use your DNS traffic to do it, they will.

These are all reason why unencrypted DNS queries are bad. It’s time to start encrypting your DNS traffic.

Do VPNs Protect DNS Queries? What About HTTPS?

You’d think that using a VPN would protect all of your DNS queries. In many cases, you’re right. But that’s not always the case. Some VPNs, when confronted with certain situations, will send your DNS queries along normal lines of communication — which means they’re probably going to your ISP. And you won’t even know it’s happening.

So the answer is “yes . . . most of the time.” The best VPNs out there have DNS leak protection, and it works well. But if you’re using another VPN or you have this particular feature turned off, you could be exposed to data collection or snooping.

We always recommend VPNs with DNS leak protection, which stops this behavior before it can become a problem.

And if you’re not using a VPN, your DNS queries are definitely unencrypted, even if you use HTTPS. The secure version of HTTP encrypts all of the information that you send to sites. So no one can see what you’re doing on the site, the password you used to access it, or which pages you go to. But an unencrypted DNS query allows snoopers to see which sites you’re making requests to.

HTTPS is a great security feature — and we strongly recommend using it at all times to protect your online privacy. But it still leaves you open to DNS query surveillance, and that’s something a lot of people don’t realize.

The Best Alternatives to DNSCrypt

DNSCrypt is a protocol that encrypts your DNS requests, and it’s long been one of the most popular options. It encrypts your queries to the OpenDNS servers, which are maintained by Cisco. But DNSCrypt.org was taken offline at the end of 2017, as its creator stated that he no longer uses it.

A group called Dyne.org has taken over maintenance of DNSCrypt-Proxy, an interface for using the protocol, but has committed only to patching bugs, and not further developing the technology. The proxy will be available for the foreseeable future, but there’s no telling what the future holds for the app.

You can also still get DNSCrypt directly from Cisco, but it’s not going to do you any good if you’re not using their DNS servers.

While DNSCrypt is certainly one of the more robust options, there are others. Here are four choices you have when you want to encrypt your DNS traffic.

1. Use a VPN with DNS Leak Protection

This is the simplest alternative to DNSCrypt. You should be using a VPN anyway, and all you need to do is make sure that the one you’re using has DNS leak protection.

These VPNs — including two of our favorites, ExpressVPN and NordVPN — prevent your computer from routing DNS requests outside of the VPN.

Both of these services run their own DNS servers, so all of your DNS queries are routed through secure channels, both to and from the servers. This is the ideal situation; if your VPN has its own DNS servers, you won’t need to use those provided by your ISP (or another traffic spy, Google) and potentially reveal your browsing habits.

And that provides all the security you could need.

If you’re not sure whether your VPN is protecting your DNS traffic, we recommend using ExpressVPN’s leak test. It will tell you whether your DNS queries are visible to people who are trying to see them. If you’re not protected, it’s time to get a new VPN (and make sure to use it all the time).

ExpressVPN's DNS leak test showing an open DNS requestIn fact, you should use a leak test like this one whenever you’re working to secure your DNS traffic. They’ll let you know if your chosen solution, no matter what it is, is working.

2. Use DNS-over-TLS

Transport layer security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol that’s used around the internet for secure data transfer. And some DNS services are now compatible with DNS queries sent over TLS. That means your requests are encrypted and safe from your ISP’s snooping.

Interestingly, the original creator of DNSCrypt-Proxy now recommends using DNS-over-TLS. This protocol is becoming more popular, but there aren’t too many options yet. Your best bet is probably Tenta, an open-source DNS project.

Tenta sends DNS requests over secure TLS

Their servers support DNS-over-TLS, and they have setup guides for using those servers on numerous systems. If you’re not using a VPN, it’s a good way to add security to your DNS requests. Of course, we always recommend that you use a VPN, as it protects more information than just your DNS queries. But if you can’t use a VPN, Tenta is a good security system to have in place.

You can also use their Android browser, which has a built-in VPN and automatically uses their secure DNS servers. The browser is only offered on the Google Play Store at the moment, but you can sign up for updates so they can let you know when they release the browser for other platforms.

At the moment, Tenta is the best choice for DNS-over-TLS. As more people realize the importance of securing their DNS traffic, and as more development goes into this protocol, we’ll have more options. Active work is taking place in this area, and it’s a good bet that we’ll see useful innovations that bring DNS-over-TLS to the masses in the near future.

3. Use DNSCurve

While not as widely supported as DNSCrypt, DNSCurve is another option for cryptographically protecting your DNS queries. Any request sent between a user and a DNS server is protected using elliptical curve cryptography, which is extremely secure; even more secure than the RSA encryption used by other security measures.

DNSCurve is an older project, and OpenDNS replaced it with DNSCrypt a while back. So it’s very difficult to tell whether or how many servers support it. There’s documentation online, but it’s not especially user-friendly.

Your best bet is to install DNSCurve, make sure you’re using the OpenDNS servers, and run a leak test. You can try it with other servers, too.

It’s not clear whether this is an effective option, but it’s one of the few alternatives to DNSCrypt that uses similar tactics. You’ll require more technical skill and understanding than you’d need for the previous options, but if you’re willing to put in the time and you want to support a system that uses very strong cryptography, DNSCurve is worth looking into.

4. Stick with DNSCrypt-Proxy 2

This isn’t really an alternative, but it’s an important option to mention. The future of DNSCrypt is unclear, but you can still download clients that use the specification. DNSCrypt-Proxy is one of the best options available, and the second version is actively maintained.

DNSCrypt can still protect your DNS traffic, but after DNSCrypt.org went down, it cast a bit of doubt on the future of the project.

Still, if you use DNSCrypt-Proxy 2 and you pass a DNS leak test, you know that your DNS queries are protected. But we’d recommend that you test regularly, in case anything changes.

The Simplest Way to Encrypt Your DNS Queries

As you can see above, using a VPN with its own DNS servers and DNS leak protection is definitely the best way to protect your DNS traffic from spying. There certainly are other solutions, but many of them are quite technical. If you have the technical literacy to implement these or other cryptographic methods, we encourage you to do so!

If you’d like to find out more about DNS privacy and what people are doing to improve it, DNSprivacy.org is a great resource. There’s lots of technical information there about the problems, potential solutions, and ongoing work in DNS privacy. You can even get involved with development and testing if you’re so inclined.

But for most people, the best way to further increase your privacy is to use a solid VPN. When we review VPNs, we look for proper DNS leak protection. If a particular VPN doesn’t have it, we’ll let you know. Our top recommendations, however, will always encrypt your DNS traffic.

And remember that you should always run a leak test with your VPN. There are lots of useful DNS leak test tools (we like ExpressVPN’s tool because it’s very easy to use), and they’ll all let you know if your DNS queries are protected. If they’re not, it’s time to tweak your settings or get a new VPN.

No matter what you decide to do, if you’re concerned about your security and privacy, you need to make sure your DNS queries are safe! It’s an easy thing to forget, but it’s also an insidious backdoor into your browsing habits.

The Best Android VPN Apps

Dann Albright

Dann Albright

Here’s what we compared: Download Speed, Usability on Android, Cost, User Reviews on Google Play, Jurisdiction and Logging Policy.

Protecting your internet connection while you’re at home or on your laptop on the go is important. But why protect just one part of your internet use?

If you’re using an Android phone, you should be using a VPN whenever you connect to the internet.

Let’s talk about why that’s a good idea, then discuss the best VPNs for Android phones. We’ll go over our selection criteria, then provide our recommendations.

Why Use an Android VPN?

Just like the internet traffic that you send from your home or work computer, the traffic you send from your phone should be protected. A VPN provides that protection.

For a detailed explanation, check out our full beginner’s guide to VPNs.

In short, though, using a VPN on your Android

  1. Keeps people from spying on your internet connection
  2. Bypasses geo-restrictions (especially useful for streaming Netflix)
  3. Lets you torrent files without reprisal
  4. Help keep your personal data secure
  5. Protects your anonymity online

You might not think that you have any reason to hide the internet traffic coming from your phone, but remember that you send texts, photos, and emails from it. Would you want someone spying on those? Even if you’re not sending anything particularly private, you still don’t want anyone snooping.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recommends using VPNs to avoid surveillance by your ISP. The same is absolutely true of your mobile data provider, and for all the same reasons.

There are certainly other reasons you might use a VPN, but these are the most popular. Protected browsing is crucial for streaming and torrenting from your phone, but the security benefits alone are worth setting up a VPN.

 

5 Best VPN Apps for Android Devices

1. ExpressVPN – Fast, Premium VPN

ExpressVPN reviewSpeed: 83.15 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.1/5.0
Cost: $6.67/mo
Logging Policy: No Logs
Netflix: Working
Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest providers that we’ve tested, clocking over 83 Mbps download speed on our 100 Mbps connection.

While the speed you get on your Android phone will vary largely based on your phone and your connection, you can be confident that you’ll get about as fast a speed as possible with ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN's Android app
Here’s how ExpressVPN app will look on Android

The Android app works with a variety of Android installations, from the latest version, Oreo, all the way back to Jelly Bean. Even if you’re running an old version of Android, your VPN will work and be secure.

One of the great features included in ExpressVPN’s Android app is the recommended location; as soon as you fire up the app, it will recommend servers to you based on where you’ll get the best connections. With a tap, you can connect to their fast servers all over the world. It doesn’t get much easier than that. You can also save your favorite servers for faster access.

We also like that the app defaults to OpenVPN, the most secure VPN protocol. And the 4.1 rating is confidence-inspiring, as well.

ExpressVPN's 4.1-star rating on Google Play

The only place ExpressVPN falls notably behind its competitors is in price. If you pay for a full year up front, it works out to $8.32 per month. If you pay 15 months upfront, it’s $6.67/mo.

That’s on the more expensive side of top-tier VPNs. That being said, if you’re going to use your Android VPN a lot—which we recommend—it’s worth it.

Read full ExpressVPN review here

 

2. NordVPN – Smooth, Easy and Affordable

Speed: 74.15 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.4/5.0
Cost: $3.29/mo
Logging Policy: No Logs
Netflix: Working
Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed

NordVPN is a top contender in every category, but it stands out among Android VPNs for the remarkably high reviews it gets from its users: Nord’s app earned a 4.4 ranking, one of the highest we’ve seen:

NordVPN's 4.4 average review on Google Play
Rating on Google Store

In addition to one-tap access to over 2,000 servers in 60 countries, the app also has a built-in adblocker so you can browse the internet more freely and use less data. All you need to do is tell NordVPN where you want to connect, and you’ll be instantly connected to their network.

We also love that they offer a free seven-day trial, so you can check out the Android app to see if you like it. If you don’t, all you have to do is cancel the service.

NordVPN's Android app
Android application as it is after buying

We think you’ll like it, though; with solid speed scores (74 Mbps download on our 100 Mbps connection), industry-standard encryption, and a mind-boggling number of servers, there’s not a whole lot more you could ask for. It’s not the fastest out there, but it should be plenty fast for anything you’re doing from your phone.

Another great feature is NordVPN’s extra-secure Double VPN.

It routes your traffic through two VPN servers instead of a single one to give you doubly encrypted data. This feature might slow down your connection, but if you need to be absolutely sure that no one knows what you’re doing online, you can be confident in Double VPN.

NordVPN's Double VPN provides extra security

When you top all of that off with a very affordable pricing structure, you get a winner. If you sign up for a two-year plan with NordVPN, you’ll only pay $3.29 per month. Not many VPNs charge less than that.

Read full NordVPN review here

 

3. VyprVPN – Good Option for Geo-Restrictions

Speed: 74.48 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.3/5.0
Jurisdiction: Switzerland
Cost: $5.00/mo

Despite their questionable logging policy (which you can read more about in our full review), VyprVPN makes a great VPN for your Android device. If you’re not worried about your VPN provider keeping some of your information, it’s definitely worth downloading.

One of the big advantages of VyprVPN is its Chameleon encryption. This takes standard OpenVPN technology and scrambles the metadata to make it more difficult for your ISP, wifi provider, or anyone else to figure out that you’re using a VPN. This is great if someone is blocking VPN traffic.

VyprVPN's Chameleon encryption gets past VPN blockers

Beyond that, the app has everything you’d expect from a top-tier Android VPN app. Simple server choice, easy kill-switch on and off, the ability to mark certain servers as your favorites, and recommendations for the fastest server from your current location.

When we tested it on our 100 Mbps connection, we got 74 Mbps downloads, which is one of the fastest we’ve tested. Again, remember that you won’t get these same speeds on your phone. But you can bet that you’ll get better speed with VyprVPN than you will with many other mobile VPN providers.

VyprVPN's Android app
VyprVPN app on Android phone

The 4.3 rating on the Play Store is also reassuring; that’s one of the highest among Android VPNs that we’ve checked out.

VyprVPN's 4.3 star rating on Google Play

An annual plan will see you paying $5.00 per month, which falls around the middle of VPN prices. It’s certainly not expensive.

But it doesn’t compete with NordVPN’s super-low prices, either. You can also try the mobile VPN with 1GB of data to see how it works in your area.

Visit VyprVPN.com

Read VyprVPN review here

 

4. PrivateInternetAccess – Solid Budget Option

Speed: 81.46 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.0/5.0
Jurisdiction: United States
Cost: $2.91/mo

PIA is known for its high speeds. It maintained 81% of our 100 Mbps connection speed when we tested it on a PC, logging one of the fastest speeds we’ve ever seen. So if you’re looking for the fastest Android VPN, you should give Private Internet Access a shot.

The app also has a 4.0 rating in the Play Store—people really like it. It’s not hard to see why, with easy connections, automatic server recommendations, per-app VPN rules, and ad blocking.

PIA's 4.0 rating on Google Play

Although we recommend using a VPN for any internet connection on your Android, we understand that you might want more speed when you’re using certain apps. Letting some of them connect outside of the VPN will do that.

Private Internet Access's Android app
PIA VPN Application

PIA has over 3,000 servers, which is a staggeringly high. You’ll always be able to find one in the country you want that’s not getting slammed with traffic. And because you can get a two-year subscription that brings your monthly cost under $3, it’s also one of the most affordable VPNs.

Visit PrivateInternetAccess.com

Read PIA review here

 

5. TunnelBear – Favouring User Reviews, but a Little Slow

Speed: 52.26 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.4/5.0
Jurisdiction: Canada
Cost: $4.16/mo

As we mentioned previously, the app itself has to be good for us to recommend an Android VPN. And TunnelBear has a fantastic app—which is one of the reasons why it’s currently rated 4.4 on the Play Store, one of the highest we’ve ever seen for a paid VPN.

TunnelBear's 4.4 rating on Google Play

That’s not much of a surprise, considering how fun the app is to use. Like everything else made by TunnelBear, it’s full of fun graphics and cute bears. Which might not sound like it’s worth anything, but if the app is easy and pleasant to use, you’re more likely to use it.

And the VPN itself is great, too. Android, unlike iOS, gets 256-bit OpenVPN encryption, which means your traffic is secure. It’s not the fastest VPN out there (we got 52 Mbps download speed on our 100 Mbps connection), but it is stable and they have a no-logging policy that we really like.

TunnelBear's Android app on phone and tablet
TunnelBear’s Android app

Their paid plans, which start at $4.16 per month, paid annually, are some of the cheapest we’ve seen. And there’s a free plan so you can try the app out to see how it works for you. You’ll be limited to 500MB, but you shouldn’t need much more than that to see if it’s worth paying for.

Visit TunnelBear.com

Read TunnelBear review here

 

Why We Don’t Recommend Free VPNs for Android

Lots of people know that they should be using a VPN. But fewer are willing to pay for it. That’s why there are thousands of people out there looking for the best free Android VPN. As you’ll see in a moment, we don’t recommend any free VPNs.

Why not? Because free VPNs come with compromises. First, they’re often not very reliable. Providers of paid VPNs aren’t likely to prioritize the traffic of their free users, and if you aren’t willing to pay, you’re going to get second-rate service.

The same applies to speed. Free Android VPNs just aren’t going to be able to compete with paid options on speed. You’ll get faster, more stable connections from a paid provider, and that’s worth a lot.

Second, providers of free VPNs still have to make money. And if they’re not getting it from you, they’re getting it from advertisers. Free VPN providers are more likely to log your information, sell your data to third parties, and display ads while you’re connected. While ads are annoying, having your data collected and sold is a violation of your privacy.

And because privacy is one of the most important underlying principles of any VPN, that’s bad news.

For all of these reasons, we recommend that you always use a paid VPN for Android. You’ll get faster, more stable service, and your privacy will be better protected. And with the low costs of many of the VPNs below, you can get those things affordably.

What We Look for in Android VPNs

So what makes a great Android VPN? In most cases, it’s the same factors that make any VPN a good one. High speeds. No logging of any kind (or, at the very least, minimal logging). Solid encryption for security and privacy.

We also prefer that VPNs not be headquartered in countries that have strict surveillance and data retention laws, like the US, Canada, the UK, and much of western Europe. Some VPNs in these places are very trustworthy, but we prefer that they be housed in more lenient jurisdictions. Though any worthy VPN will have servers all over the world.

Simple, straightforward apps are also a big plus. If you have to spend a long time figuring out how to get online with your VPN, you’re much less likely to use it regularly. And that could expose you to security and privacy risks. The easier it is to get online, the better.

We also look at app reviews in the Google Play Store to see how users feel about the app. If a VPN app has more one- and two-star reviews than other apps, it’s cause for a closer look.

And, of course, we look at price. We know that an expensive VPN doesn’t fit into everyone’s budget, so we try to highlight the options with the best value.

The Best Android VPNs Are at Your Disposal

The five VPNs we listed above are fantastic options for Android users. They’ll keep your traffic private, help you get around geo-restrictions, and keep your ISP from throttling your traffic. And because they’re at least relatively affordable, they’ll do it all without breaking the bank.

  1. ExpressVPN – $6.67/mo
  2. NordVPN – $3.29/mo
  3. VyprVPN – $5.00/mo
  4. Private Internet Access – $2.91/mo
  5. TunnelBear – $4.16/mo

If you’re not using an Android VPN, you should start doing it now. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices, so pick one and start browsing more safely today!