VPN Account Buyers Guide and General Info

What matters most about VPN providers in 2024?

We are highly suspicious of VERY LARGE VPN providers that have LOW PRICES and HUGE DISCOUNTS.  The suspicion is that for those who know what costs are involved to purchase thousands of IPs and servers are not small.  At the prices that many of the big mainstream providers offer, it is likely unprofitable or barely profitable.  Then, how are those companies making money or is that even the goal?

There used to be a big push for "Free VPN" but smart users learned the dangers of those and we'd argue that CHEAP VPN is the new "Free VPN", with even more dangers.

Even if we assume that the mysteriously large and barely profitable LARGE VPN companies are trustworthy and not selling or intercepting your information, they are a huge and attractive target for both government and hackers.  They are on the radar of everyone you don't want knowing about your VPN provider.

VPN services with a trial period or a money-back guarantee are particularly attractive to hackers for several reasons, and their misuse can indeed impact other users of the same service. Here's a breakdown of why this happens and the potential implications:

Risks with VPN Services with Trial Periods or Money-Back Guarantees and Why Hackers Choose Those Services

  1. Anonymity: VPNs hide the user's real IP address, making it difficult to trace malicious activities back to the hacker. This anonymity is appealing for conducting activities without fear of immediate identification.

  2. No Financial Trace: A trial period or money-back guarantee allows hackers to use the service without committing financially or leaving a financial trace that could be tracked back to them. It minimizes the risk of exposure through payment methods.

  3. Disposable Access: Since these services can be used temporarily, hackers can exploit them for a short-term operation and then discard them without consequences, moving on to another service once the trial or guarantee period expires.

  4. Testing Malicious Strategies: Hackers may use the trial period to test the effectiveness of their hacking strategies or to conduct reconnaissance without risking a paid account being banned or blocked.

Impact on Legitimate Users and Potential Security Threats

  1. IP Blacklisting: If a hacker uses a VPN server to launch attacks, that IP address can get blacklisted by various online services, RBLs (Real-time Blackhole Lists), and cybersecurity systems. Legitimate users connected through the same server might find themselves inadvertently blocked from accessing certain websites, services, or resources online.

  2. Degraded Service Quality: An influx of hackers can lead to increased server load, potentially degrading the quality of service for legitimate users. This could manifest as slower connection speeds or less reliable connections.

  3. Reputation Damage: VPN providers associated with malicious activities might suffer reputation damage, making it more difficult for legitimate users to trust these services for secure, private browsing.

  4. Potential for Data Exposure: While reputable VPNs claim not to log user activity, the mere association with malicious activities could lead to increased scrutiny by authorities or attempts by cybercriminals to breach the VPN's systems. In worst-case scenarios, if a VPN provider is not as secure as claimed, it could become a target for attacks aiming to harvest user data.

 

When selecting a VPN (Virtual Private Network) in 2024, it's crucial to carefully evaluate your options, particularly given concerns about privacy, the potential for data selling by large, inexpensive VPN providers, and the risk of VPN services being fronts for governmental agencies like the NSA. Here are key factors and best practices to consider to ensure you choose a secure and trustworthy VPN service:

1. Reputation and Transparency

  • Independent Audits: Look for VPNs that have undergone and passed independent security audits. These audits should be recent and publicly available, offering transparency about the VPN's privacy practices and security protocols.
  • Transparent Ownership: Choose a VPN with clear, transparent ownership. Be wary of companies that hide their ownership structure, as this could indicate they have something to conceal.

2. Jurisdiction and Laws

  • Privacy-Friendly Countries: Consider the country where the VPN company is registered. Some countries have stringent data retention laws that could force VPNs to log and hand over user data upon government request. Opt for VPNs based in countries known for strong privacy protections.

3. No-Logs Policy

  • Verified Claims: A "no-logs" policy means the VPN does not store records of your internet activity. Look for VPNs whose no-logs policies have been verified through independent audits or real-world tests (e.g., court documents proving they couldn't provide user data).

4. Security Features

  • Strong Encryption: Ensure the VPN uses strong encryption methods (such as AES-256) to protect your data from interception.
  • Kill Switch: A kill switch automatically disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection drops, preventing data leaks.
  • DNS Leak Protection: This prevents your DNS requests from being leaked to your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

5. Performance and Reliability

  • Speed: A good VPN should not significantly slow down your internet connection.
  • Server Network: A broad server network can provide better speeds and access to geo-restricted content.

6. Customer Support

  • Responsive Support: Look for VPNs with a reputation for responsive and helpful customer support, available through multiple channels (e.g., live chat, email).

7. Payment Options and Refund Policy

  • Anonymous Payment Options: Some VPNs accept cryptocurrencies or gift cards, allowing for more anonymous subscriptions.
  • Refund Policy: A transparent and fair refund policy is a good sign of the company's confidence in its service.

8. User Reviews and Recommendations

  • Community Feedback: Search for user reviews and discussions in forums or on social media. Real user experiences can provide valuable insights into a VPN's reliability and performance.

9. Avoid Free VPNs

  • Risks of Free Services: Be cautious of free VPNs. They may have weaker security, slower speeds, and could potentially monetize your data by logging and selling it.

Conclusion

Choosing the right VPN in 2024 requires due diligence and a careful evaluation of the VPN's policies, practices, and the legal framework of its jurisdiction. Opting for a reputable, transparent VPN service with a strong commitment to privacy and security is essential, especially for users concerned about their data being sold or surveilled by entities like the NSA.

 

What does VPN stand for?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a secure way of connecting networks and devices.

In the context we're talking about it will usually be a client-server solution and not connecting whole networks or businesses.

The assumption is that most people reading this are trying to secure their internet connection, privacy and hide or change their IP address.

Why use a VPN?

There are many reasons especially now that the average person realizes there is no internet privacy (there never was) with the PRISM and other systems around the world collecting and intercepting all communications.

A VPN makes it much harder for them to spy on you and is a legitimate and legal way of protecting yourself for many valid reasons.

A VPN protects your identity, communications and also anonymizes you while changing and hiding your IP address.

What types of VPNs are there?

The most common ones are L2TP, PPTP and OpenVPN.

Most providers and people use OpenVPN and/or PPTP and some offer L2TP though it tends to be more unreliable in our experience.  It is wise to have access to both because sometimes one works better than another and sometimes one is blocked (VPN can be blocked easily from most routers and is sometimes blocked by default so you may have trouble even if you're in a country that isn't known to block it).

How can I get a VPN?

There are literally dozens of companies if not more out there but we will try and cover, compare and review the top ones.

What should I look for in a VPN provider?

Since they become your ISP when connecting to them you want to make sure they are trustworthy, have a reliable network and server setup and are a established provider.  For this reason we don't recommend "free or cheap VPNs" and some have surmised that the free ones may be honeypots for government agencies or are being used for other nefarious purposes to spy on people.

Privacy Guarantee & Server Logs

Why should you care about privacy even when you're not doing anything wrong (eg. maybe just watching Hulu or going to Facebook)?  Because a situation could arise where you are accidentally identified for someone else's behvaior or perhaps you posted on a sensitive topic or something politcally unpopular.  Think of it as insurance or like saying "why should I get insurance on my house or car unless I'm careless?".  

Most companies DO NOT have any privacy guarantee or state how they will protect you if a government or law enforcement agency asks to reveal your identity.   In fact many like HMA (Hide My Ass) have had scandals for freely and without any process or even challenge, have turned over customer information so it's important to be aware of the history and policy in effect.

Now it may be hard to identify you specifically because of how many people use a certain server which is good.  But in some cases you may be identifiable by your provider and the question becomes what does the provider do?   Do they simply turn over your information without proof of wrongdoing

Most companies don't keep server logs for long and should declare this or you can ask them.

VPN Provider Comparison

Privacy means the provider will not release your details without a court order but will not fight it or notify you.

Extreme Privacy means the provider will not release your details and will notify you and attempt to fight any court-order to release your details. 

We've ommitted unnecessary comparisons that others use such as platform since virtually all providers support every OS by the nature of the VPN.  We're focusing on factors that show the company is long-term (not a fly-by-night) and not a free or cheap provider without any privacy protection.

Name Years in Business Privacy Extreme Privacy Bandwidth Limit Network Speed Bandwidth Limit
 Pro VPN Accounts 15 Y  Y No 1000M Unlimited
 VyprVPN 9 Y N N Unknown Unlimited
StrongVPN 17 Y N N Unknown Unlimited
HMA HideMyAss 10 N N N Unknown Unlimited
EarthVPN 11 Y Y N Unknown Unlimited
Express VPN 8 N N Unknown Unknown Unknown
Hotspot Shield 15 N N Unknown Unknown Unknown
Private Internet Access 9 Y N N Unknown Unlimited
SaferVPN 7 N N No Unknown Unlimited
IPVanish 8 N N Unknown Unknown Unknown

 


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