Privacy matters. Especially in crypto. The general level of transmission security on the internet has undoubtedly increased in recent years through the broad usage of https connections. Nevertheless privacy is worse than ever. Big companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are collecting massive amounts of behavioral data from their users. In some cases earning a lot of money through cross-referencing and selling such data. And it all starts with your internet service provider (ISP). They know basically everything about what you are doing online. And more importantly, they know who you are and where you live.
Privacy does not only matter for drug lords and other criminals. Especially when you‘re in crypto you should be very sensitive to that topic. For some – not only government officials – the fact alone that you‘re dealing with crypto or maybe are running a privacy coin full node (e.g. Monero) is reason enough for you to seem suspicious. Using a virtual private network (VPN) provider is the first step to mask your location and encrypt the traffic going through your ISP. Let‘s check out the best service offerings for your requirements…
Where it all begins
Of course you could remain almost completely anonymous by using the Tor Browser. It effectively removes all traces about who you are and where you’re located. But let’s face it, Tor is slow and cumbersome for surfing around the net. And have you ever tried running Netflix through it? Also let’s not forget that for being truly anonymous, using Tor alone might not be enough. Especially if you don’t want your ISP to record in their log files that you’re one of those “awfully suspicious looking” Tor users…
So if you’re not hiding from an opressive government, planning on becoming a high-profile whistleblower anytime soon or are tempted by the depths of the Dark Web, as average Privacy Joe you can take less drastic measures than installing Tor to improve protection of your personal data.
Encrypting the internet traffic which your ISP handles for you is a very good starting point. In addition this allows you to mask your location, in case you’ll want to access content which is blocked in your location through geo filtering.
How does it work?
By using a VPN provider the traffic between your router and the VPN endpoint is encrypted. So no one in between, e.g. your ISP, can read or collect the data that you’re transferring.
These VPN endpoints are distributed globally. VPN providers usually allow you to freely select the desired endpoint. This way “the others on the internet” won’t know where your true location is.
“But doesn’t the VPN provider know what I’m doing online?”
That is an excellent question. Of course they might. But they promise not to tell. At least that’s what the established players in the industry claim for themselves. And for the majority of solid service providers, this very likely holds true. Because privacy and data protection is the very core of their business model. Failure to comply might quickly put them out of business. Furthermore, if you’ll use one of their products, they’ll be contractually obliged to keep that “promise”. Although suing some of them might prove difficult for individuals due to exotic places of jurisdiction…
There is a huge number of VPN providers available on the global market. In order to aid you in the selection, we’ve researched and tested many service offerings worldwide and compiled a list with our Global Top 5recommendations.
Obviously there are 5 major aspects when selecting a VPN provider:
Handling of log files, encryption, methods of payment (e.g. crypto)
Impact to your internect connection, available protocols
- Number of Servers and Locations
Freedom of Choice, global presence
- Head office location
Applicable data privacy laws and regulations
e.g. Number of devices
Based on these criteria all offerings have been thoroughly evaluated and tested. The Global Top 5 of our ranking are listed below:
The Best Choice for Anonymity and Crypto Aficionados.
Number of servers: 2029 | Server locations: 61 |
Max. devices supported: 6| Company headquarters: Panama |
Their head office location in Panama allows NordVPN to maintain a “no logs policy”. Only technical data which is required for providing the service is being temporarily recorded. No logging, of IP adresses, time stamps or loclization data. For signing-up you’ll need to provide a valid email address only. The possibility to pay in Monero further ensures anonymity.
NordVPN offers a large pool of servers (2,000), and more than 60 locations around the globe. It supports up to six devices at the same time, and the data receives a 2048-bit encryption. Also worth mentioning are features like DNS leak protection, killswitch and dedicated IP address.
In the most important category — performance — NordVPN does well. During our tests speeds for short connections were commendable, long-term ones — excellent.
Huge server pool and high number of supported devices.
Number of servers: 3000+| Server locations: 60+ |
Max. devices supported: 7| Company headquarters: Romania |
In our testing, CyberGhost proved to be reliable and fast on the performance front with some impressively above average speeds, although longer distance connections dropped off slightly, as is often the case.
This provider uses common 256-bit encryption with standard protocols (including OpenVPN). The clients are brimming with additional features that block ads and malicious content, plus they block online tracking.
However, there are minor issues with the user interface that spoil the user experience to a certain degree. It is explicitly stated that CyberGhost doesn’t log anything that could compromise your privacy.
There’s no free trial anymore but a 30-days money back guarantee. The pricing of the 2-years and 3-years plans is extremely competitive. Payment with Bitcoin is available through BitPay.
Privacy and unblocking are the key selling points of this offshore VPN
Number of servers: 1850+ | Server locations: 145+ |
Max. devices supported: 3 | Company headquarters: Brit. Virgin Islands |
ExpressVPN has long been recognised as one of the world’s top VPN providers, with fast speeds and excellent customer support.
Having 145 locations in 90+ countries, it’s one of the best globally distributed services out there. Regardless of your platform, you will find an available client: Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry
A wide selection of simple and useful web-based tutorials will make sure you’re up and running in no time.
Unfortunately only three connections can be supported at the same time. Which is a little bit disappointing given that it is one of the more expensive services out there. There’s no free trial, but a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If P2P and torrenting is was you’re looking for, look no further.
Number of servers: 960+ | Server locations: 60+ |
Max. devices supported: 5| Company headquarters: United States |
Since many years IPVanish delivers a reliable quality of service.
The company itself claims to be “the world’s fastest VPN”. It offers 40,000+ shared IPs, almost 1000 VPN servers which are spread across more than 60 countries. P2P traffic is unlimited, five simultaneous connections are allowed and there is no logging.
IPVanish for sure earned a spot in our Top 5: Fast speeds, plenty locations to choose from and a well-built software.
It’s definitely not the cheapest service out there, but with IPVanish you get what you pay for. There’s no free trial, but within a 7-day period you’ll get your money back.
Security is a key competence of this provider.
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 73 |
Max. devices supported: 3–5| Company headquarters: Switzerland |
The service is based in Switzerland, meaning it can benefit from the country’s advanced privacy laws and crypto friendly environment – well protected from EU or US regulation. VyprVPN offers more than 70 server locations around the globe, and comes with cool features like auto-connect or a killswitch.
Clients are very intuitive, especially the Windows version, and the service includes VyprDNS and the Chameleon protocol for extra security.
Monthly plans are expensive, but the 1-year subscription models are quite competitive: You may choose between 2 different plans:
Basic (3 devices) or Premium (5 devices).
There are no refunds, but a 3-day trial.
All 5 contestants to the throne are solid and reliable VPN providers with a global footprint and could be recommended without question. It depends on your personal requirements which one fits best for you.
My personal pick: NordVPN
Besides speed, enhanced privacy features are what I’m looking when selecting a VPN provider. Performance wise all 5 VPN providers yield good to excellent results. Using NordVPN however, you’ll only need an email address for registration and several cryptocurrencies are being accepted as payment option. Not only does this increase privacy, it also supports mainstream adoption of crypto coins, which warms my crypto heart.