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What is ProtonVPN?

ProtonVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) service provider operated by the Swiss company Proton Technologies AG, the company behind the Email service ProtonMail. After its founders met at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in 2014, they established ProtonVPN to "better protect the activists and journalists" worldwide.

According to its official website, ProtonVPN and ProtonMail share the same offices, management team, and technical resources. They are operated from Proton's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, under Swiss privacy laws. It doesn't have strict data retention laws that make ProtonVPN is a good choice for privacy. With apps for virtually all Smartphones and computers, ProtonVPN makes it easy for anyone.

It supports peer-to-peer networking, which means it has the technology to download (torrent) movies and games. And since it delivers high speeds, you can stream HD videos without any issues.

ProtonVPN offers several exciting features, and the best one would be its free plan. You can use their VPN for free with some limitations. The Proton VPN free plan gives you access to servers in just three countries and doesn't offer very high speeds. It will only cover your basic needs. For more expanded services, you'll need to switch to one of their paid plans.

However, PC Magazine rates ProtonVPN as the best free VPN available, based on its security focus.

ProtonVPN has several special security features, such as a kill switch and DNS leak protection. They have two payment options, such as credit cards and PayPal.

If you are privacy-conscious, you can pay through Bitcoin, but it's not a quick process. You can buy a subscription by first opening a ProtonMail account, it will take a few days, but it will work.

ProtonVPN offers high-speed connections that make gaming and streaming a breeze. While this VPN has several great features, their customer support can be disappointing because they don't have a live chat option.

Features of a ProtonVPN

Unlike other VPN services, ProtonVPN is designed with security as the main focus, which we have learned from working with journalists and activists in the field.

1. Secure Core

Regular VPN services can be compromised if their servers are under surveillance. ProtonVPN prevents this by first passing user traffic through our Secure Core network in privacy-friendly countries like Switzerland and Iceland. Thus, even a compromised VPN endpoint server will not reveal your actual IP address.

2. Perfect forward secrecy

ProtonVPN exclusively uses ciphers with Perfect Forward Secrecy, which means your encrypted traffic cannot be captured and decrypted later, even if an encryption key gets compromised in the future.

3. Swiss-based

We are headquartered in Switzerland, which has some of the world's strongest privacy laws. Switzerland is also outside of EU and US jurisdiction and is not a member of the fourteen eyes surveillance network.

4. No-logs policy

ProtonVPN is a no logs VPN service. We do not track or record your internet activity, and therefore, we cannot disclose this information to third parties.

5. Tor over VPN

ProtonVPN also integrates with the Tor anonymity network. With a single click, you can route all your traffic through the Tor network and access Onion sites.

6. Easy to use

The best security tools in the world will only protect you if used correctly and consistently. We have extensively simplified the ProtonVPN interface to make it as intuitive as possible so that you can stay protected every day, hassle-free.

7. Fast VPN speed

We deploy high-end servers with high bandwidth links to ensure fast connection speeds for our users. Connect to ProtonVPN and continue browsing the web, streaming music, and watching videos like always.

8. Multi-platform support

ProtonVPN is available on all your devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones, and even routers. A secure Internet connection that you can trust is essential to maintaining your laptop's privacy at home, your mobile device on the road, or your workstation at the office. ProtonVPN has native apps for Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows.

ProtonVPN Encryption

With all your data being transported through that shiny, new VPN tunnel, you might be wondering how secure that tunnel is. With ProtonVPN, all your network traffic is encrypted with AES-256, key exchange is done with 4096-bit RSA, and HMAC with SHA384 is used for message authentication.

What is ProtonVPN?

All of your encrypted data has perfect forward secrecy, which means even if the key is discovered, it will be only helpful for one session and not all sessions after that.

1. AES-256

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is an encryption algorithm used to encrypt data with 128-, 192-, or 256-bit key lengths. AES-256 (AES with a 256-bit key) is ubiquitous in the encryption field because it's fast, secure, and doesn't use much computing power.

The United States uses AES-256 to encrypt top-secret information, which is why sometimes you will see this advertised as "military-grade encryption".

2. 4096-bit RSA

RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) is another encryption algorithm used to transmit data securely. This algorithm is slower than AES. That's why it is commonly used to transfer keys rather than all the data.

Security professionals consider 2048-bit RSA keys secure, so ProtonVPN is going the extra mile with 4096-bit RSA.

3. HMAC with SHA384

HMAC, or Hash-based Message Authentication Code, is a way to check messages' integrity and authenticity.

What is ProtonVPN?

A shared secret key is created using a cryptographic hash function, which in ProtonVPN's case is SHA384 (384-bit Secure Hash Algorithm).

ProtonVPN Protocols

Internet protocols determine how data packets are dispatched across a network. The degree of security a VPN has depends on the protocol chosen. Some VPNs use outdated, insecure protocols for faster speeds and lower maintenance costs. This is not the case with ProtonVPN, which only uses OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols.

Both of these protocols are considered highly secure by the infosec community. On Mac and Android, ProtonVPN is built using OpenVPN. On iOS and Windows, ProtonVPN uses the IKEv2/IPSec VPN protocol. Both are considered secure, although OpenVPN is the more secure of the two.

1. OpenVPN

OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol used to make secure tunnels for your web traffic. OpenVPN is sometimes referred to as the gold standard for VPN protocols, and rightly so, it offers a good balance of speed and security.

It offers up to 256-bit encryption using the Open SSL library and many other security features that can be configured as desired with protocols such as PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2/IPSec, SSTP, and more.

2. IKEv2

Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a widely used VPN protocol that automatically re-establishes your connection with your VPN after you're disconnected from the Internet.

This comes in handy when you would like to switch between Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots, which happens all the time when you're on a mobile phone.

ProtonVPN privacy and policies

1. Jurisdiction

If you're finding a safe place to host a VPN service, ProtonVPN's home country of Switzerland is an excellent choice for three main reasons:

  • Switzerland has a robust privacy law system, so ProtonVPN isn't required to store any users' data.
  • Switzerland is outside the EU, so it isn't subject to EU data retention laws.
  • Switzerland isn't in the 14 Eyes alliance of countries that involve in mass surveillance of internet users.

You can torrent with the ProtonVPN service, comforted by the fact that Switzerland is a secure jurisdiction unlikely to force a VPN provider to record and store customer data.

2. Logging Policy

ProtonVPN maintains a sensible minimal logging policy, which doesn't save any personally identifiable data or log your online activities.

However, ProtonVPN will store some pieces of information, which are used solely to ensure your account remains secure and functions as it should. Crucially, they can't be traced back to you in any way.

  • Account creation: When you register ProtonVPN, it'll only collect your username, email, and password. You can also create by providing your existing ProtonID.
  • Payment: If you choose a credit card or PayPal payment, ProtonVPN's third-party payment processors will save your name and your credit card's last four digits. If you'd like to keep things anonymous, the company also accepts Bitcoin and cash payments.
  • Support: When you submit your support requests or bug reports, the company can store these interactions' contents, including any information you choose to share with the company.

The store data is used to communicate with you, provide appropriate services, process payments, and customer support. You can always access, rectify, as well as delete the collected information.

When it comes to non-personal information, ProtonVPN might employ a local installation of Matomo and some tools like Google Analytics. These tools are often implemented to collect non-identifying data like titles of the pages you viewed on the official website, screen resolution, referrers, outline, website, and page speed. These data types cannot be used to identify you, as ProtonVPN doesn't record your IP address.

3. Torrent Policy

ProtonVPN allows P2P sharing and torrenting on its servers, but it doesn't condone the BitTorrent use to share copyrighted material illegally. Because no logs of your Internet traffic are kept, ProtonVPN doesn't have a way of controlling your online activities and detecting P2P traffic.

So, the company implemented its not-illegal-downloads policy for legal purposes. If torrenting is your primary reason for purchasing a VPN service, then you go with ProtonVPN. Torrenting is not permitted at all on the free plan.

Pros and cons of using ProtonVPN

Below are the following pros of using ProtonVPN:

  • Easy to install
  • Easy-to-navigate website
  • Secure Core servers can provide an extra layer of encryption
  • Minimal-logs privacy policy
  • Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+
  • User-friendly apps for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Bitcoin and cash payments accepted

You faced the following cons of using ProtonVPN;

  • Limited torrenting
  • Limited customer support
  • Many pricing options might be confusing for beginners.

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