It’s time for the third edition of VPN news and updates. Last time, we covered the top events from April. Now let’s see what happened during the last month of spring.
In this article, you’ll find out which VPN has 100% accurate Apple’s privacy labels, which top provider got a poor review from Techradar, and which service failed at its own cricket challenge.
As always, if you have any suggestions for the content or format of these articles, you’re more than welcome to express your opinions in the comments below. Happy reading!
WePN protocol priorities explained
A user asked about the protocol priorities when choosing Automatic on the WePN app. Turns out the list goes like this:
That’s probably the way to go if you’re connecting with a particular tunneling protocol as well. It seems that the times, they are a’changin – OpenVPN, which was the #1 for so long, has now dropped down to the third place.
WePN joins TorGuard in Reputable VPN Program
Only recently, TorGuard was the most important VPN promoted by Tom Sparks, a VPN reviewer. From now on, expect to see WePN endorsements as well.
At the moment, the WePN subreddit has less than 400 members. It will be interesting to see how much this changes during the summer.
Hide.me partners with Internxt
Last year was the time when VPNs started spicing up their deals with secure cloud storage. IPVanish was one of the first, and Hide.me now jumps into the wagon by making a deal with Internxt.
Hide.me, loved for its free service among other things, now adds 2 TB of free cloud storage. It seems that similar bonuses are due to become an industry-standard feature.
TunnelBear independently audited for the 4th time
At the very end of May, TunnelBear announced their fourth independent audit. Just like the others, this one was performed by Cure53.
The TunnelBear sleuth is very proud to announce the results of our 4th annual, independent, security audit! 🥳 As with every year, we’re calling on all VPN providers to meet the “bear-minimum”. 🐻https://t.co/wLze9nwjMS
— TunnelBear (@theTunnelBear) May 31, 2021
Two low, two medium, and one high-risk vulnerability were found, and TunnelBear fixed them in no time.
Atlas VPN news
Atlas VPN iOS app now independently-audited
Even a small step towards better security is welcome. And that’s what Atlas VPN did in May by getting an independent audit for the iOS app. According to VerSprite, they found small and medium risks that don’t put users in any danger.
Atlas VPN took no time to fix all five issues and shared the audit results with their community.
The top 10 most-cybercrime-ridden states
Yet another research was done in May. This time it consisted of Atlas VPN collecting and analyzing data about cybercrime in every US state. In less than 8 years, losses due to cybercrime rose by a whopping 629%.
California ended up as the most cybercrime-ridden state, with $621M in losses. The second place went to New York, with “only” $415M.
14 new locations added
Atlas VPN had a busy May, also adding 14 new server locations around the world.
Great news: 14 new server locations are now available to Atlas #VPN users! 🌍
— atlasVPN (@AtlasVPN) May 25, 2021
Among these, we found Hong Kong, Japan, and 4 new US cities. This should be a good step towards expanding Atlas VPN’s global coverage. Currently, they don’t have many servers, but that’s not an issue until they get overcrowded.
Ivacy VPN news
Ivacy VPN partners with Internxt, offers cloud storage
Hide.me wasn’t the only VPN that landed a deal with Internext. The same package is available for Ivacy VPN users as well.
From now on, this company will offer “100% security for your data using a zero-knowledge, decentralized cloud-based infrastructure.” There’s client-side encryption and fragmentation, along with zero access to user data.
This limited offer is now available with the bi-annual and a 5-year pricing plan. All users will get 2 TB of Internxt cloud storage.
People demand an easy-to-use split tunneling feature
Mullvad users just couldn’t sit and wait for changes. Instead, they took the matter into their own hands and demanded the VPN to change the Windows split tunneling feature to work as it does on the Android app. The request was taken to r/mullvadvpn, which is an unofficial subreddit with about 3,500 members.
Unsurprisingly, this post was ignored by Mullvad, which would probably have repeated the same “soon” mantra found on its website.
No more lag spikes on WireGuard servers
At the very end of May, Mullvad announced that they’d fixed the lag issue people were complaining about earlier. Every 10 minutes, there was a lag spike on servers that use WireGuard. It turns out it had to do with removing old keys, which takes about 100 times more time than adding a new one.
#PureVPNCricketChallenge fails miserably
Earlier, we wrote about PureVPN’s Cricket Challenge, where people could win a one-year membership and… cricket stuff. Now it appears that after less than a month, the company has canceled the event and deleted all related info on social media.
Originally, #PureVPNCricketChallenge was planned for 50 days, meaning that it would still be running today. There was no explanation on why PureVPN decided to discontinue it. Maybe there just weren’t enough people who are both into cricket and VPNs.
Pure Secure Podcast S01E05 + E06
At least one thing still going for PureVPN is their podcast. In the fifth episode, they interview Joshua Liberman, who co-founded Net Sciences Inc. and has been setting up and securing networks in New Mexico for the past 20 years.
The guest mostly talked about network security in SMBs, but some of the tips he gave are relevant to all internet users.
Robert Baugh on privacy and GDPR
For the next Pure Secure episode, PureVPN invited Robert Baugh, a tech lawyer with more than 20 years of experience. This episode was dedicated to those working from home and on the road, which is quite a wide audience.
The 45-minute interview is available on PureVPN’s website.
Private Internet Access news
PIA’s non-existent student discount
A Reddit user has found that PIA’s student discount shows a higher initial price. While this has been fixed, the main issue remains. It turns out that the student price is the same one as you get by clicking the Pricing page.
The discount, the extras, and the monthly price are the same. That means any affiliate link will give you a better offer.
Latency and packet loss issues on PIA servers
Early in May, a Twitter user complained about being unable to connect to PIA’s servers. On the same day, he got an answer that the company experienced an outage.
Right after that, more complaints appeared on PIA’s subreddit. This time it was about packet loss and latency. Quite a few redditors upvoted the post and confirmed the same problem. They’ve been experiencing issues in Canada, the UK, and the US West Coast, among others.
However, there was no response from Private Internet Access on this post, even though the thread was still active the next day. This causes concern because the complaints on various issues were piling up throughout May. Some were about WireGuard not working or the apps crashing or hanging all the time.
AMA with cybersecurity expert Micah Lee
The one positive thing for PIA in May was the AMA with Micah Lee from TheIntercept. Mr. Lee served as a digital bodyguard for people working on the Snowden documents. Considering the upvotes and the number of questions, the event was a success.
The guest lambasted the use of facial recognition in policing and spoke about SMS 2FA being the worst bonus authentication option but still better than no 2FA. He also mentioned that antivirus software is a mixed bag and recommended Windows Defender. Unsurprisingly, Micah Lee doesn’t use any antivirus software on Mac and Linux.
CyberGhost’s tips on improving internet speed
It seems that all major VPNs published some researches and test results in May. CyberGhost wasn’t an exception either, posting 10 tips for increasing your connection speed.
While most experienced users are aware of things like blocking ISP throttling or rebooting your router, the article also talks about updating your router firmware or buying a wi-fi extender. If all else fails, CyberGhost recommends getting a new router. It should support 5G, multi-band, and have a quad-core CPU.
Techradar gives CyberGhost 2.5/5
Once again, we get to see that there’s no consensus amongst VPN reviewers. In our last batch of news, we mentioned that CyberGhost got 4.3/5 from Forbes, which is much better than Techradar’s 2.5/5. So what did they dislike so much?
The critique was oriented towards CyberGhost’s new Security Suite. According to Techradar, the antivirus scans are slow, and Software Update doesn’t automatically install updates. If that wasn’t enough, the Suite works on Windows only.
While these problems will probably be fixed later in 2021, launching the Security Suite now seems to have been a mistake. But if we ignore this particular feature, we’ll see that CyberGhost is still among the top VPN providers.
ExpressVPN found to have 100% accurate Apple Privacy Labels
According to a research done by Top10VPN.com, ExpressVPN is the only provider with 100% accurate Apple Privacy Labels. Back in 2020, Apple introduced mandatory privacy labels for all apps in its Store. However, the problem is that none of these labels, such as “No data collected,” are reviewed by Apple.
Therefore, the guys over at Top10VPN.com decided to check whether these self-submitted labels have any credibility. They looked at the Top 20 apps and their privacy policies while also running tests on their traffic.
Unfortunately, the results were disappointing. Only six VPNs adhered to Apple’s guidelines, and fourteen failed to mark that they collect user IPs. The second-best was X-VPN which failed only in one out of six main categories.
Techradar: ExpressVPN is still #1 in 2021
More good news came from Techradar, which tested top VPNs again and found ExpressVPN to be #1. This provider held the same position in 2020 as well. Given that Techradar is one of the most authoritative sources for cybersecurity, ExpressVPN can expect a serious sales boost.
The VPN was praised for its usability, safety, unblocking capabilities, and extremely fast speeds. However, Techradar also mentioned browser extensions that still require the app and criticized the number of simultaneous connections (5).
Finally, while ExpressVPN is pricier than the rest, it now also offers secure cloud storage as a bonus.
ExpressVPN survey on remote worker surveillance
Another daunting research came from an ExpressVPN survey. It turns out that the levels of worker surveillance are higher than expected. 78% of employers use monitoring software to check on their remote workers regularly.
What’s more, one-third of employees don’t think that their activities are being monitored at all. However, four out of ten think that monitoring may be real, resulting in stress and anxiety. In the meantime, 37% of employers admit using collected data to fire employees.
Surfshark presents worrisome data on social media censorship
Surfshark analyzed data from 185 countries about social media censorship from 2015 until now. The results are saddening, to say the least. One-third of countries have placed some sort of restrictions on social media during the time of research.
The majority of outages happened during social or political events, such as elections or protests. Most of the time, the culprits were anti-democratic countries in Africa or Asia. In the latter region, all 6 ongoing bans are yet to be lifted.
One of the recent social media bans happened in Russia in January 2021. It came in response to the anti-Kremlin protests. A few months earlier, the same thing happened in Cuba, where people stood up for artistic freedom.
Surfshark underwent a server infrastructure audit
Surfshark is now one of the few VPNs that have undergone a server infrastructure audit. Cure53, a German-based cybersecurity company, has found no serious issues, and those that were found were fixed immediately. This was the second time Surfshark has worked with Cure53. Back in 2018, the same audit company checked all browser extensions.
Surfshark becomes one of the handful of VPN suppliers to have undergone a server infrastructure audit.
Independent audit by Cure53 approved our network security, while the extensive research did not detect any serious issues.
— Surfshark (@surfshark) May 26, 2021
3 ways to install Surfshark on Linux
Installing Linux is not for the faint of heart. Installing a VPN on Linux is a person-defying experience. To make things more down-to-earth, Surfshark has prepared not one, not two, but three tutorials.
The first one is simple. It involves installing a VPN app. However, the tricky part is configuring everything via the command line because only a few providers offer a GUI.
Thinking of setting up a VPN on your Linux machine? Then you probably need some help. 🧐
There are multiple ways to do it – and if you follow our provided guides, you’ll have no issues at all! 👇🦈https://t.co/9DMg34QeJj
— Surfshark (@surfshark) May 10, 2021
The second option is manually configuring the VPN by using OpenVPN. This involves more tinkering, so we recommend checking the step-by-step tutorial.
Finally, Surfshark offers to use Ubuntu Network manager. However, as the name suggests, it’s doesn’t work on any other distribution.
NordVPN’s iOS 7.0.0 app adds key features
The iOS app has reached version 7.0.0, adding some new features. According to NordVPN’s release notes, users can now see the cities in countries with more than one server location.
Moreover, the app will show a security score depending on the features currently turned on. If it’s below 100%, you’ll get tips on how to reach the peak easily.
Last but not least, NordVPN is bidding farewell to location pins. From now on, you’ll see location bubbles instead. Well, at least they stay blue.
#NordFindings – personal devices are not so personal
Nord’s research team found out that more than 50% of people share their devices with children, parents, coworkers, and even mothers-in-law. 65% of laptops and smartphones are shared with more than one person. Therefore, we should stress the importance of exercising safety precautions to avoid losing personal information and spreading malware.
Dark Web Monitoring – now on macOS
After a long wait, macOS users now have the Dark Web Monitoring feature. The 6.4.1 app version will detect and alert if your email with associated credentials has appeared on a dark web database.
With Dark Web Monitoring, you’ll have the chance to change all passwords before the cybercriminals put their dirty hands on your accounts.
Additionally, NordVPN added an advanced kill switch for NordLynx and OpenVPN to counter specific IP leaks.
Vince Steckler, IBM, joins Nord Security board
Probably the biggest thing for NordVPN and the Nord Security group was the addition of Vince Steckler to the Board as an Independent Member. With over 40 years of experience and a decade as Avast’s CEO, Mr. Steckler is an invaluable addition to the company.
NordVPN is proud to announce the arrival of Vince Steckler as #NordSecurity’s first independent board member.
A decade as CEO of @avast_antivirus, Vince’s knowledge and experience are now a serious asset for NordVPN’s team.
— NordVPN (@NordVPN) May 19, 2021
Previously, the new Board member worked in Symantec before turning Avast from a small company to a world-leading cybersecurity brand after the biggest software IPO on the London Stock Exchange.