VPNBook Review 2019 – Not a Secure VPN Service!
Headquartered in Switzerland, VPNBook is a free VPN service, I would definitely not recommend to privacy-conscious users. The service does not offer native apps for platforms/devices, relying on the old-school OpenVPN client GUI. It lacks a large number of server locations and even keeps connection logs.
To learn more about the service, read this in-depth VPNBook Review for 2019!
Many user reviews about VPNBook claim that the service offers good protection. While that may be true, since I detected no leaks, the VPN still does keep connection logs.
Any provider that indulges in logging is definitely not safe, particularly those that claim they are “Free”. Bear in mind that managing a VPN service has costs for servers, update and maintenance, and support.
As such, they use an ad-based revenue model for bearing the expenses. Therefore, you can forget about being truly anonymous with the VPN.
In addition, what is to say the provider does not sell your logging information to third-party services for money?
VPN Book Jurisdiction Information
VPNBook claims to have its headquarters in Switzerland. Even if I do believe this (explained further), the location USED to be an “Internet Friendly” jurisdiction.
In 2010, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland even recognized IP addresses as personal information, which cannot be tracked, without informing the individual involved.
However, after the passing of a new law in September 2017, Switzerland can now be considered to be a “cooperative” jurisdiction, which may pressure VPN services upon revealing info.
This law, according to Swissinfo.ch, allows the FIS to indulge in targeted surveillance, bugging of private properties, phone lines, and wiretapping computers, which were previously disallowed.
Details about VPNBook being a Scam!
The ambiguity surrounding the provider and the many allegations of it being a honeypot forced my hand into digging a little deeper into VPNBook.
By inspecting their page source code, I got ahold of their Google Ads ID, which is ca-pub-3860002410887566. This allowed me to trace their history.
Based in Canada, Vannet Technology is a supposed “Web Design” website, which has other services operated by the same people/company with a similar design to the gotfreefax website: http://www.gotresumebuilder.com/ and http://www.gotsitemonitor.com.
These findings indicate that VPNBook may not be based in Switzerland, as it claims to be and since our findings just reveal a PO box from Canada, there is not much I can validate about their true location.
What I do know is that being a free service, it is expected for VPNBook to adopt shady practices like these, creating a phony service only to steal user information.
Many believe the provider is set up by US authorities to trap transgressors. There are have plenty of cases were logs of VPNBook turned up in trials.
VPNBook’s Shady Logging Policies
Just like all other providers, VPNBook states that it does not store logs. However, this is farther from the truth, as they do store IP addresses and timestamps.
That is all the information needed by government agencies and copyright trolls to trace your identity and dive into your online browsing activities.
Upon digging further, I discovered that they keep these connection logs for a week. Them being based in Switzerland or in any other location makes no difference at all.
If VPNBook receives a subpoena with a gag order, they will have to hand over the logging information, as their name keeps popping up in trials apparently.
VPNBook Protocols & Encryption Review
As mentioned earlier, VPNBook only supports PPTP and OpenVPN protocols. If you use the PPTP, VPNBook integrates the outdated AES-128-bit encryption.
However, users opting for OpenVPN, have the opportunity of configuring the encryption available from AES-128 and AES-256.
Their OpenVPN implementation also lacks the use of RSA encryption for safe distribution of the AES symmetrical key system.
Most providers in the marketplace use a 2048-bit key for their RSA, and top names like NordVPN and ExpressVPN have begun using a 4096-bit key.
VPNBook IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS Leak Test
To get a better idea about the anonymity you receive with VPNBook, I decided to conduct a test on IPLeak.net. The site typically assesses your connection to reveal any IPv6, WebRTC, or DNS leaks.
I had a representative from Canada connect to a US server and the results were quite successful. There is no sign of any Canadian IP address or DNS.
However, I did come across a review where a user was a victim of the IP/DNS/WebRTC leaking, which resulted in the user being blocked from Facebook.
As such, I still cannot safe that VPNBook is safe for usage, especially if you want to keep your identity hidden online and remain anonymous at all times.
Most VPN providers do not reveal basic information about their service, lacking the transparency necessary for users to trust their product.
They avoid informing users about their headquarters, owners, investors, the board of directors, warrant canaries/transparency reports, and auditing processes (if any).
So, I instead decided to ask providers INVASIVE questions on email (listed below), which you can see in this transparency blog. I am still awaiting a response from VPNBook.
- Where is your company headquarters? Could we get an address?
- Do you publish Transparency Reports/Warrant Canaries?
- If yes, how often? A link to a URL or PDF file would be helpful!
- Have your claims been audited by an independent third-party security firm?
- Why have you not been audited yet? Any reasons?
- Could we get some info on the owners behind the company?
- Do you guys have any investors and is the information available publically for users?
- Who are the Board of Directors of your company?
VPNBook Pricing Review
VPNBook is a completely free service. As such, you have no plans/subscriptions available. Users do not even have to sign up to use the VPN.
If you click on the “Free VPN” tab, you will be redirected to the below page. Here you have the ability of selecting the VPN protocol for connection.
You typically have two options: Free PPTP VPN and Free OpenVPN. Below each protocol, you have a list of servers available with info specifying, if you can indulge in P2P or not.
You have to load these servers in the OpenVPN GUI client. The username is vpnbook and password is nv2bk56, which changes after every few weeks.
VPNBook Dedicated IP Pricing
While VPNBook does not impose any pricing for its PPTP and OpenVPN protocols, you do have to pay for their dedicated IPs. Not that the service has a huge listing of static IPs available.
However, the standard pricing is $7.95 per month for each static IP. Locations users have access to include: Canada, US East/West, and the Netherlands for now!
VPNBook Payment Methods
Using VPNBook is as simple as loading a particular server in the OpenVPN GUI client. However, if you opt for their dedicated servers, you will have to make a payment. The options available from VPNBook include Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Discover, and American Express!
VPNBook Money Back Guarantee
I do appreciate VPNBook offering dedicated IPs, as not many in the marketplace do. Another plus point about their static IPs is that you can avail a refund if the service is not up to the mark. Typically, you have 30-days until you can request for a money back, which is quite reasonable!
VPNBook Servers Review
Since VPNBook is a free provider, its server listing is obviously not that impressive. For its PPTP and OpenVPN Protocols, you only have selected servers available in the US, Canada, Germany, and France. However, VPNBook does integrate Smart CDN fallback to improve network speeds.
Virtual Server Testing
I conducted server tests on numerous locations to identify bare-metal servers from virtual (fake) ones. The process took me about an hour, where I tested all 8 locations offered by VPNBook.
I was quite surprised to learn that despite being a free service, all the servers available from the provider were located at the exact destination advertised.
Below you can see results from CA Technologies’ App Synthetic Monitor. I pinged the US2 server to over 90 monitoring stations worldwide from ASM.CA.
The Round-Trip-Time (RTT) in all locations was extremely high, except for those in US. The lowest rtt (1.792 ms) I saw was from United States – Ashburn, indicating the server is present there.
The tracert tool from CA Technologies’ App Synthetic Monitor, further verify these findings, displaying a rtt of 1.790 ms. This means, the server is indeed located in US Ashburn.
Evaluating VPNBook’s performance required conducting a speed test. I performed them using the OpenVPN implementation with the TCP over port 443 profile and UDP over port 53.
The Canadian: CA222 and CA198 were much faster, touching close to 25 Mbps in download and 20 Mbps in upload speeds, but they also suffered from frequent disconnections.
Other servers like the DE4 and FR1 delivered poor results, and their FR8 server was down at the time I was conducting my analysis, so I do not have an accurate portrayal of it.
VPNBook for Netflix US
I connected to the US2 server from VPNBook on the UDP protocol over port 25000 to check and see whether I could access the complete database of US Netflix.
To my surprise, the VPN successfully managed to unblock the VoD, which is quite remarkable for a free service. Even so, though, I would not trust the provider with my information!
VPNBook Free Web Proxy Review
VPNBook also offers users a free web proxy. You can access it from the website directly or click on this link here. This is a good addition from the service, particularly if you want to bypass geo-restrictions.
It uses 256-bit SSL-encryption and delivered good performance in the sense of successfully unblocking websites using proxies located in US, UK, France, and Canada.
Another reason why I would not recommend netizens particularly novice VPN users to invest in VPNBook is that it does not have any apps available for varied platforms/devices.
In order to use their VPN servers, you will have to setup the connection manually. The process for PPTPs and OpenVPN vary greatly, so this may get confusing for amateur users.
For the former, you have server address, username, and password information available for setting up a connection directly from your Windows or Mac PC.
However, if you want to establish an OpenVPN connection, you will have to get the OpenVPN Gui app for Windows or Tunnelblick app for Mac OS.
Once done, you will then have to download the .ovpn configuration files from the website directly and load them with configurations you deem appropriate.
VPN Book Support Review
While the company itself has its headquarters in Switzerland, their support department is located in Zurich. There are no blogs available to guide you on issues with the VPN. You only have how-to guides for setting up PPTP and OpenVPN, along with a contact us page.
If you ask me, I would not recommend this service to any individual. They might be free and that might be appealing to many.
However, it is not worth putting your privacy at risk, particularly if you need a VPN to keep your identity hidden in this invasive world.
I always advise users to go for premium VPN services, as they offer better security/encryption, remarkable server availability, and amazing features!