One of our favorite VPNs, CyberGhost has a strict no logging policy.
The name suggests that it could be one of the stealthiest VPNs on the worldwide web. With 5,544 servers in 112 locations across 90 countries, CyberGhost seems incredibly promising. Seeing that, it had me thinking that when I travel, there’s a good chance I could freely (and anonymously) surf the Internet without a problem.
But does the Romanian company actually live up to its cunning name?
How fast is the connection? How secure are its servers? And will I be able to continue The Office on Netflix if I picked up and moved to Japan like … tomorrow?
In this article, I’m going to ask all of these important questions and more. I’ll talk about all of CyberGhost’s features, analyze how well it works, discuss their subscription packages, and evaluate the CyberGhost VPN App.
When everything’s all said and done, you’ll get to decide whether or not CyberGhost is a good product for you.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Pros and Cons
After doing in-depth research on CyberGhost, testing it out and badgering their customer service helpline, I found out that these are the main things I like and dislike about this VPN:
- No data retention laws: CyberGhost operates outside of all surveillance agencies and government watchdogs.
- Expansive international network: They’ve got access to thousands of servers globally.
- Excellent customer service: Customers say CyberGhost reps are friendly and helpful.
- Affordable: The cheapest subscription is $2.50 a month.
- Kill switch: Even if your VPN fails, your web traffic will still be protected.
- Logging-policy: I don’t like that CyberGhost keeps your IP address, the time you used the VPN, country you used it in, and more unnecessary data.
I’ll break down what this all means and how I came to these conclusions. But first, let’s get to know the company a bit. It’s important to know the people you’re entrusting your privacy to, after all.
CyberGhost was founded by IT specialists in 2011 in Bucharest, Romania. The company currently has 65 employees split between their offices in Romania and Germany. Most of their software development efforts are centered at the German location.
Co-founder Robert Knapp, makes it clear that CyberGhost’s mission is a moral one: “Protecting the privacy and digital citizens must become an ambition as well as a responsibility,” he says on their website. To them, cyber privacy and security is a basic human right.
Perhaps his moral zeal comes from the fact that CyberGhost’s roots are in Romania. Romanian citizens are able to use the Internet freely without too much monitoring. The only sites that are restricted are ones related to gambling, pornography, and pedophilia. Those sites have been blocked or filtered by the government.
What’s more, Romania does not belong to any Five-, Nine- or 14 Eyes alliances. This means CyberGhost will not be sharing your data with various intelligence agencies from other countries.
However, that doesn’t mean that Romania won’t forcibly or surreptitiously steal information, especially from servers within its borders. While nothing is guaranteed, it’s definitely a good thing that CyberGhost is based in a non-member country.
Keeping all of these factors in mind, it seems like CyberGhost is a trustworthy company so far.
So what do you receive with a CyberGhost subscription? According to the company you’ll get:
CyberGhost also has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and other routers so it works with many different devices. And you can access the VPN through Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G, and 3G connections.
This all sounded really good to me when I first took a look at it. But it’s time we asked the essential questions to decide whether or not CyberGhost is legit.
Will CyberGhost Log My Data?
CyberGhost will keep your account information or personal data including your name, address, email, username, and payment information. They will also keep your IP address, which they claim to store in an anonymized format, your approximate location by country, as well as some anonymous information related to what browser you’re using, your devices, and when you used the VPN. Even though they claim this “non-personal data” isn’t associated with data within the encrypted tunnel, I still think it’s very unnecessary to keep. Unlike account information, which they need for your subscription, it’s not necessary to keep any information about what device you’re using or when you used the VPN, so I’m not thrilled about CyberGhost’s “no-logging” policy, although they don’t keep anything about your VPN traffic.
Does It Have a Kill Switch?
CyberGhost has implemented a kill switch so that anytime you lose connection with the VPN, your IP address will not be temporarily exposed. This feature cuts the connection to the internet and shuts down all webpages you were connected to in order to protect your identity from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and government agencies.
The only problem here is that you can’t turn the kill switch off if you wanted to. Let’s say you are torrenting or downloading a big file: The moment you lose connection to the VPN, you lose the connection to the internet and therefore interrupt your download. This could be annoying particularly if you aren’t worried about your security at the moment.
What Kind of Tunneling Does CyberGhost Offer?
If you want to access a public and a private network simultaneously, you can do that with CyberGhost. Just click on Smart Rules and then Exceptions so you can access things in and out of your encrypted tunnel, at the exact same time.
Can I Access Netflix with CyberGhost?
Yup! Feel free to watch The Office whenever you want. CyberGhost users freely click through all content from Netflix US and certain localized versions.
However, there’s one little snag. CyberGhost users who want to get access to content exclusive to Netflix UK might have to pay extra. The media streaming giant recently released new policies regarding streaming their content from different locations. According to the new policies, Netflix UK content can only be accessed through accounts that were purchased by UK IP addresses.
Other than that, streaming Netflix with CyberGhost is really easy. You’ll also have access to Hulu, YouTube Red, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Crunchyroll, and other streaming services.
You can even torrent files by clicking on the “Torrent Anonymously” button. Super simple.
When we look at a VPN’s tunneling options, we also have to check out the VPN’s next layer of security: Encryption.
Think of it this way: The encryption type can be likened to the quality of the lock you choose to put on the door of your house. The only people who should have access to the person you entrust with the keys. But if your lock is too easy to pick — or in the case of encryption — if the code is too easy to crack, you will be exposed. High-quality encryption ensures your data can only be read by your VPN client and server.
Thankfully, CyberGhost uses AES-256 which is the highest standard that is most commonly used nowadays. While using AES-256 encryption and their own domain name server (DNS), CyberGhost will connect you to the server of your choice. Although you will not be given your own, private IP address, you will be connected to an anonymous static IP address that you will share with many other CyberGhost users who chose the same server. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to pick out your identity just simply by the IP address.
Now protocols are important because they determine how your data is routed from your computer to the VPN server. There are various types of protocols that work better in certain situations. Some protocols give you faster internet speed, others provide more security.
Let’s check out CyberGhost’s options to see if they have a protocol that’s a fit for your needs:
This is one of the most secure VPN options out there. It’s open-source, which means users can analyze the source code for vulnerabilities or use it for other projects. Because OpenVPN is crowd-sourced by a community that improves the code all of the time, it’s less likely to be hijacked by surveillance agencies.
This protocol also allows users to use AES-256 encryption, to bypass firewalls. OpenVPN works with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers and even BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
Bottom line: OpenVPN is not only highly configurable, but it is also great for speed, security, and performance.
L2TP (or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) by itself doesn’t form a very secure connection. It does not provide encryption or privacy. But when L2TP is combined with IPSec you’ve got some pretty good defense on your side. L2TP creates the tunnel while IPSec handles the AES-256 encryption, channel security, and data integrity checks.
The downside to this protocol is that the speed can be slower than OpenVPN and it can be blocked by firewalls.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is the O.G. of the protocol game since it was created in 1995. But maybe it’s time we took off the “G” since PPTP is no longer the most secure option on the internet. Government agencies and hackers have cracked PPTP code ages ago and security professionals have since upgraded their software.
PPTP doesn’t use encryption. Instead, it uses various tunnels to encapsulate your data. Instead of encryption, you can add secondary protocols like GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation) or TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), but even with those additions your security still won’t be as solid as it would be with OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec.
However, some people like to use PPTP because the internet speed is incredibly fast. This is because it doesn’t have all the fancy security features to slow everything down. Some people who aren’t that concerned about their privacy might want to use these options to simply watch Netflix in another country.
Alright, now time to see how CyberGhost actually performs. I’ll be performing a speed test, a DNS leak test and a WebRTC test to assess how CyberGhost affects my Internet connection and whether or not this VPN could leak my information.
To do that, I’ve got my MacBook Air and my VivoBook (Windows) handy, and I’ll be connecting through Verizon Fios. I tell you this because everyone’s connection speeds will be different depending on what device they are using and how close they are to the server. Regardless, it’s good to know how a VPN service will perform in a general sense to figure out if it’s any good or not.
So let’s give it a go shall we?
Now all VPNs slow down your connection a bit so when I’m testing these services, I’m always looking to see how much slower it gets. I’m okay with my Internet being a tad slower if it means I’ll be protected. But if there’s a serious lag, I’m out of here.
On my MacBook Air, CyberGhost worked amazingly. There was a 14% increase in ping time. Think of the “ping” like your connection’s reaction time to every request you send to it … or like when your doctor hits your knee with that rubber hammer. If your reaction time is slow, something is wrong. Across the industry, the average increase in ping time is 32% so CyberGhost is pretty good in that regard. My download and upload times were also minimally affected by drop rates of less than 10%.
Unfortunately, CyberGhost performed much slower on my VivoBook. There was about a 78% ping time lag and the upload and download speeds weren’t promising either.
Looks like CyberGhost works best for Mac lovers.
To explore more great options, check out the best VPNs of 2020.
DNS Leak Test
We also want to test to see if there are any DNS leaks when you use CyberGhost. DNS — which stands for Domain Name Server — is the address you type in when you want to go to a website, like Facebook.com. In the VPN world, the DNS is there to protect you. Ideally, you’ll connect to a private server through which your traffic will be traveling through to get where it needs to go. I want to ensure that all of your data remains encrypted in the VPN tunnel as it traverses the web so that no one can pry into your business.
I’ve got some good news for you: CyberGhost had no leaks on either Windows or Mac.
WebRTC Leak Test
Now WebRTC is the thing that allows different browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge) to communicate directly to each other without going through an intermediary server. WebRTC allows for smoother file sharing, live streaming, and video calls. The risk here is that it requires each device to know each other’s IP addresses. So when it comes to VPNs, I want to check to see that none of my information is leaking through that transfer.
Fortunately, CyberGhost showed zero WebRTC leaks between Mac and Windows.
Out of all of the VPN subscription services I’ve checked out, CyberGhost is a very affordable option if you plan on using it for a few years.
They offer one-month, one-year, two-year, and three-year subscriptions. The latter, I think is the best deal, especially if your line of work requires you to protect your privacy online. For a three-year subscription, you only have to pay $2.50 a month. It almost seems too cheap considering VPN subscription packages can range from free to $13 a month.
But for quality encryption, the ability to connect up to seven devices, and the opportunity stream and torrent pretty much anything you want, I think CyberGhost is a great service for the amount you pay. Plus, if you hate it, there’s a 45-day guarantee, no questions asked.
Here are all of their price plans:
Which Manual Configurations does CyberGhost Support?
CyberGhost supports manual configurations for Linux, Chromebook, and these wireless routers: TomatoUSB, TomatoUSB Merlin Build, and DD-WRT. You can try other firmware, but CyberGhost can’t promise that you’ll get a connection.
Gaming consoles and media streaming devices can also connect to the VPN, but they must connect via a computer, mobile device, wireless router, or other supported devices. So feel free to go wild with your Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Wii.
What About Adding CyberGhost As A Browser Extension?
Right now, CyberGhost can only be added to Google Chrome as a browser extension. That means Chrome users get easy access to their CyberGhost VPN service.
The one thing I really liked about CyberGhost is their customer service. When it comes to VPNs I always check for great customer service because I want to know I can get any help when I run into problems.
Now I’ve submitted many questions to other VPN services. Some have been slow to email me back. Some don’t respond at all.
CyberGhost, on the other hand, has this super convenient 24/7 live chat with highly responsive customer service agents. Sure it kind of sucks that I can’t call someone if I really wanted a more personal connection, but I’m always typing away on my computer and phone anyways. A live chat is more than sufficient.
When my friend, Adele, and I used it for the first time, we got to chat with this kind guy named Nicko … I say “kind” because he was so willing to let me badger him with our curiosity. As we went back and forth, I had a sense that English might not have been Nicko’s first language. Nevertheless, he had a very clear and helpful answer for everything I threw at him.
CyberGhost also has a very thorough blog and FAQ section if I ever wanted to do extra reading to learn more. I can email them with feedback, too. With all that being said, I give CyberGhost’s customer service an A!
Customer Support Ratings
CyberGhost has an Amazon rating of 3.6 and a five-star rating from Trustpilot. The majority of the reviews mentioning customer support were positive, and I liked the CyberGhost replies to each and every customer review. Clearly, this a customer-centric company, which I appreciate.
The CyberGhost App
Let’s take a look at the CyberGhost VPN app. The app (for any VPN) is incredibly important, especially if you are using a mobile device. It’s no fun if the app is subpar and you can’t effectively use the service. That defeats the purpose, no?
When I first downloaded the app on my iPhone TKTK, the first thing I thought was that it was easy to navigate and fun to look at. Playful is the word that comes to mind … there’s something charming about that cartoon ghost.
On the Apple Store, the app got a 4.6 rating. In the Google Play Store, it received just over four out of five stars. It seems that most people are satisfied with the app, but there are some people who were upset about the new interface update. Many claim it’s not intuitive. But I didn’t have any problems clicking around and connecting to my server.
CyberGhost vs. Mullvad VPN
Alright, let’s see how CyberGhost stacks up against one of its competitors: Mullvad VPN.
When we look at the essential features the thing that stood out to me the most was the tunneling options:
Mullvad offers split tunneling so if you do choose that VPN, you could spread out your bandwidth for better user experience. While that’s cool, here’s what I really loved about Mullvad:
- You don’t need an email or password to sign up. They just generate an account number for you and that’s it. This way, your anonymity is protected even more.
- It’s fast. It’s one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tested.
- They’re using a new crypto-based protocol called “WireGuard”. This protocol improves connection speeds and is supposed to be the next big thing in VPN security.
Here’s what I disliked about Mullvad:
- It has fewer servers than CyberGhost. They only have 198 servers across 31 countries and allows 5 up to simultaneous connections.
- The customer service is lacking. Mullvad only provides email support.
- They operate under 14 Eyes jurisdiction. The company is based in Sweden, which is a part of a surveillance alliance.
- The app is difficult to navigate. I missed having that friendly ghost.
Honestly, choosing one of these services over another was tough for me. I think ultimately, I would pick Mullvad for it’s cutting edge encryption and protocol capabilities. I’m not worried so much about the 14 Eyes jurisdiction because I don’t think I would get caught for doing anything shady on the internet.
But otherwise, CyberGhost is great because it’s very user friendly, has a broad reach, and is good for those who are new to VPNs.
Recap of CyberGhost
Alright, let’s regroup.
I think CyberGhost would be a great choice for you if you’re looking for…
- High-quality encryption.
- Access to Netflix.
- An affordable service.
- Excellent customer service.
- A VPN outside of 5, 9, and 14 Eyes jurisdiction.
CyberGhost is probably not for you if you want…
- Split tunneling.
- Kill switch controls.
Overall, I think CyberGhost is a decent service, especially for those who are new to VPNs. But picking the best service is all about your needs. Does CyberGhost check your boxes?