Bernard Hastings | 18 Dec 2018
If you’re subscribed to any tech-related news websites, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard that certain VPNs are nowhere near as safe, secure or anonymous as they claim to be. This is a notable concern considering that the main reason Australian VPN users rely on no log services is to keep their browsing habits and personal data safe and also to bypass Australia’s mandatory data retention laws.
If you’re unsure of your VPN’s data logging policy, you might find it jarring to learn that checking your VPN service’s website might not actually reveal the truth. A large majority of VPN providers are falsely advertising ‘No Logs’ policies to their users, when in fact, they’re recording and storing just about everything they can about their user’s online activities. The issue doesn’t end there either. On top of false claims, there isn’t actually any way to find out whether a VPN service is truly a ‘no logs service’ until a legal hearing or government agency comes into play.
Of course, waiting for a court case or an authoritative request is a particularly problematic way to learn about your VPN’s logging policy, as Australian users have discovered in the past. Both PureVPN and IPVanish have handed over user data – contained in data logs – to the authorities, deeply against the ‘no logging’ policies promoted on their websites.
However, there are still a few true no log VPNs out there. Proven by court cases and government requests, these VPNs can truly provide users with the security and anonymity they deserve. We’ll take an in-depth look over these VPNs below.
At this point in time, there are only a handful of VPN services that have proven, in a court of law, that they don’t store any kind of user data in their VPN usage logs. Three of these no log VPN services are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Vypr.
One of the most comforting aspects of learning that these VPN services are secure is that Australians can trust that they’re safe, even from the Australian Privacy Act. Due to the fact it’s illegal for corporations to lie whilst under oath means that users of these VPNs can really place their trust in these services.
Let’s take a look below at the court and audit cases that certified their no logging policies.
“NordVPN strictly keeps no logs of your activity online.”
Only recently, in November of 2018, NordVPN was independently audited by one of the four largest, leading auditing firms. Following the audit, the firm verified that NordVPN did, in fact, not keep any IP, traffic or connection logs. In addition to this, the auditors also confirmed that the NordVPN service held true to all security claims touted on their website.
As a result of the favourable outcome, NordVPN had the following comment:
“NordVPN strictly keeps no logs of your activity online. That means we do not track the time or duration of any online session, and neither do we keep logs of IP addresses or servers used, websites visited or files downloaded. In other words, none of your private and secure data is logged and gathered at any time. As a result, we are not able to provide any details about your behavior online, even if you request it yourself.”
“ExpressVPN does not and will never log traffic data, DNS queries, or anything that could be used to identify you.”
In 2017, during an art exhibition in Turkey, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated. Turkish authorities immediately requested that technology and communication companies hand over any and all data in an effort to aid their investigations.
ExpressVPN was directly requested by the Turkish Government to provide all data they recorded in the event it held vital information – ExpressVPN declined the request. In retaliation to this declination, Turkish authorities then raided ExpressVPN’s datacenter and removed the Turkish VPN server. Fortunately for ExpressVPN users, there were no data or logs of any kind stored on the servers as ExpressVPN refuses to store user logs.
A comment by ExpressVPN relating to the case stated:
“As we stated to Turkish authorities in January 2017, ExpressVPN does not and has never possessed any customer connection logs that would enable us to know which customer was using the specific IPs cited by the investigators. Furthermore, we were unable to see which customers accessed Gmail or Facebook during the time in question, as we do not keep activity logs. We believe that the investigators’ seizure and inspection of the VPN server in question confirmed these points.”
“VyprVPN is a zero log VPN Service. We do not record or retain any data when you use the VyprVPN Service.”
Initially, VyprVPN’s policy was to store identifiable user logs for various service-related reasons, though, in late 2018 the company made the switch to being a Zero Logs service. This required the VyprVPN platform to undertake a full-scale independent audit managed Leviathan Security Group. The audit ended with a fully-compliant result and also verified that VyprVPN did in fact store no logs.
The auditing company’s statement relating to VyprVPN is below:
“We examined all components of the project according to the threat assessment described below. While vigilance against logging is necessary to complete the process of implementing “No Log”, we feel that this assessment achieved its goal of uncovering weaknesses in Golden Frog’s implementation. The project revealed a limited number of issues that Golden Frog quickly fixed. As a result, it can provide VyprVPN users with the assurance that the company is not logging their VPN activity.
Golden Frog worked to remediate all no-log-related findings concurrently with the assessment. Once it had completed this, we performed a retest and verified that all of the fixes were effective.”
Although a large majority of internet users will likely gravitate toward the ‘big three’ no log VPN services, there are still a few smaller no log VPN services to choose from. In court and during authority requests, these smaller VPN services have proven they had stored no user data or any sort of traceable data logs. Which proves there still are some truthful services still out there.
This may come as a surprise to many VPN fans, though there are many affordable, smaller services with no logging policies that actually hold up. However, their VPN software isn’t are well developed and easy to use as the big three. On top of this, you might have issues with quality customer support and server counts. Though, it is good to know that these smaller companies still exist.
In light of these points, we recommend considering the NordVPN, ExpressVPN and VyprVPN networks over smaller, less developer VPN networks.
The Australian Government is acutely aware of the threats that cybercrime poses on the country and has responded by funding The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) initiative. As stated by the government, the ACSC’s primary focus is to ensure ‘that Australian networks are amongst the hardest in the world to compromise.’
Although this initiative may take a few years to fulfil and reach its full potential, there are ways everyday Australians can make it harder for cybercriminals to hit their devices. Of course, by using a VPN. Although a fairly simple answer, adding a VPN to your network is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal against cybercrime.
Below we’ve listed our top three no log VPNs for Aussies. Take a look.
Service Features of the Big Three VPNs
The largest no logs VPN services boast a myriad of unique features that diversify themselves from one another. These features are typically related to user interfaces and ease of use features, as security remains a top priority for all three. Below we’ll take a look at the major features offered by ExpressVPN, NordVPN and VyprVPN.
Located in British Virgin Islands – No Logging Requirements
On the ExpressVPN service you’ll have access to a high-speed fibre optic network, unlimited bandwidth and a deeply secured and encrypted connection to the internet. The software’s UX is intuitive and available on a myriad of devices. Choosing server locations is effortless and can be done in a single click.
Current pricing is $6.67 per month for unlimited access to over 2,000+ high-speed servers.
Located in Panama – No Logging Requirements
Users subscribed to the NordVPN network will be able to freely switch between all servers in 62 countries for as little as $2.99 a month. The service works across all major platforms and features an intuitive UX design which also means the service is simple to use and staying secure can be ensured by a single click.
Current pricing for NordVPN’s service is $2.99 per month on a 24-month plan.
Located in Switzerland – Privacy Laws Protected Under Article 13
The VyprVPN service provides users a logging-free connection to the web and access to over 70 privately-owned server locations. The VyprVPN service operates entirely without third parties and also works to intelligently prevent VPN blocking on websites – ensuring access to streaming services and more. The service works across all major OS’s as well as Android and iOS.
Current VyprVPN pricing is $6.67 per month which includes unlimited server switching and bandwidth.
Over the past few years, internet users have experienced massive breaches of trust by internet companies and cyber crime growth is through the roof. Online platforms of all kinds, social media websites and even VPN providers themselves have been claiming to provide secure services, when in fact they’ve been recording, analysing, profiting from and even leaking user data.
These neglectful and unrelenting attacks on everyday Australian’s right to privacy aren’t only limited to private companies either. The Australia Federal Police were exposed just a year ago for unlawfully accessing data without a warrant simply because the data wasn’t encrypted. This has, of course, taken a massive toll on user faith and lead to articles like this one.
There are fortunately a few VPN services out there like the ones we listed above that really do respect their customer’s privacy and work incredibly hard to keep privacy number one.
A VPN is simply a tool allowing you to encrypt your internet connection, change your location to avoid geo-blocking and to go about your daily life without the worry of being spied on or left vulnerable to cyber attacks. In Australia, you might want to use a VPN to access US Netflix or watch programs on BBC’s iPlayer website. If you’re only interested in doing this, then using a VPN without a no logs policy isn’t too big of a deal.
A few more reasons for using a VPN might include preventing your ISP from throttling (slowing down) your connection to certain websites, accessing the latest video games early or securing your connection on a public network. In Australia there is currently no Net Neutrality Act in place, which means your ISP is free to do what they please to your internet connection.
All of these uses listed above won’t typically require a no logs policy to be secure or keep you from getting into any trouble, though no logs certainly helps. Take a look below at why a zero logs policy is important.
For the average, causal VPN user, a zero logging policy actually isn’t very important. If you’re only on a VPN service to obtain access to news, social media or content that is locked in your country, then there’s a chance you really don’t need zero logging. On top of that, if you’re subscribed to a VPN to block your ISP from throttling your connection to media websites, you won’t need a zero logging policy either.
The users who really need a zero logging policy are those who want to keep their browsing activities locked down. This could be for financial reasons, data sensitivity or just about any other reason. A ‘no logs’ policy means no matter what you do online, evidence of it will never see the light of day. You’re free to go about your day without governments, advertisers and malicious users snooping on your online activity – on both public or private networks alike.
Those looking to access P2P websites, which the Australian Government has had locked, will need a VPN to access them and then a solid zero logs policy on top of that to remain anonymous.
For our readers who need a VPN service with a rock-solid, tried and proven ‘No Logs’ policy … then the only options we recommend are:
These VPN providers are affordable and have proven that they stand up for your right to privacy. Their platforms are designed to keep your online activity for your eyes only, regardless of how hard cyber criminals and Australian / International government agencies try to peek. These services are the difference between those who simply claim a ‘no logs’ service and those who actually practice deletion and non-recording of user activity.
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