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Most VPN Services are Terrible

Most VPN Services are Terrible

Short version: I strongly do not recommend using any of these providers. You are, of course, free to use whatever you like. My TL;DR advice: Roll your own and use Algo or Streisand. For messaging & voice, use Signal. For increasing anonymity, use Tor Browser for desktop, and Onion Browser for mobile.

This mini-rant came on the heels of an interesting twitter discussion: https://twitter.com/kennwhite/status/591074055018582016

Again I strongly do not recommend using any of these providers.

Provider / known "Secret" Key

Astrill / way2stars  
CyberGhost VPN / CyberGhost
EarthVPN / earthvpn
ExpressVPN / 12345678
GFwVPN / gfwvpn  
GoldenFrog / thisisourkey  
IBVPN / ibVPNsharedPSK!  
IPVanish / ipvanish  
NordVPN  / nordvpn
PrivateInternetAccess (PIA) / mysafety  
PureVPN / 12345678  
SlickVPN / gogoVPN
TorGuard / torguard 
TigerVPN / tigerVPN
WormholeVPN / wormholelab
UnblockVPN / xunblock4me  
VPNReactor / VPNReactor  
VPN.sh / mysecurevpn

Yes, I know. Many/most of these offer OpenVPN, or special clients for IPSec. But for all of the above, they are actively placing a significant portion of their user base (particularly those with older Androids and desktops) at risk by not using per-user PSKs. If your threat model is streaming BBC or helping your cousin geo-shift Hulu, go wild and plug into the Mad Max-esque Thunderdome commons and take your chances. If you're a dissident in Tehran or Riyadh, be extremely cautious of any of these providers.

Lastly, a VPN Hall of Shame honorary mention goes to DoubleHop.me* on general principle for blatant sexism and utter insincerity. Their privacy/legal policy section includes LGBT slurs and literally has your-mom jokes. But even ignoring that, as of this writing, there is virtually zero technical information provided, only YouTube videos apparently intended for 10 year-old boys.

Moral of the story: Don't believe everything you read on, say, TorrentFreak and PCMagazine. And (crucially) think about your threat model—are you guarding against amateur WiFi snoops at Starbucks or Marriott? Reducing identity monetization profiling by ISPs (ie ad tracking)? Minimizing exposure to government surveillance? Trying to be anonymous online? If the latter, a VPN won't help much.

Citations:

https://www.google.com/#q=goldenfrog+thisisourkey Archive: http://archive.is/qlrLK

http://www.gfwvpn.com/?q=node/224 Archive: http://archive.is/EdpFV

https://www.vpnreactor.com/android_l2tp_ipsec.html Archive: http://archive.is/uwJvk

http://unblockvpn.com/support/how-to-set-up-l2tp-on-the-android.html Archive: http://archive.is/4To5Y

http://www.ibvpn.com/billing/knowledgebase/34/Set-up-the-VPN-connection-on-Android-handsets.html Archive: http://archive.is/srptW

https://www.astrill.com/knowledge-base/50/L2TP-IPSec-PSK---How-to-configure-L2TP-IPSec-on-Android.html Archive:http://archive.is/PZpRU

http://billing.purevpn.com/knowledgebase.php?action=displayarticle&id=33 Archive: http://archive.is/R4JTi

https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/client-support/ Archive: http://archive.is/U1bkL

http://torguard.net/knowledgebase.php?action=displayarticle&id=58 Archive: http://archive.is/iKJjl

https://www.ipvanish.com/visualguides/L2TP/Android/ Archive: http://imgur.com/IQU1mdg

http://www.earthvpn.com/android-l2tp-setup-guide/ Archive: http://archive.is/roKtf

https://nordvpn.com/tutorials/android/l2tpipsec/ (scroll down) Archive: http://archive.is/BQumt

https://help.tigervpn.com/support/search/solutions?term=shared+secret+tigerVPN Archive: http://archive.is/xZ136

https://www.slickvpn.com/tutorials/ipsec-for-iphone/ and http://archive.is/h4rI9

*DoubleHop.me: Archive:http://archive.is/G11WQ and http://archive.is/MZgWE and http://imgur.com/Zn5HSIj

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