CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN was founded in 2011 in Bucharest, Romania, and initially began as a free VPN service. By the following year, it had gathered around 1.7 million users​. In 2017, a notable change occurred when Kape Technologies (then known as Crossrider) acquired CyberGhost VPN. This acquisition brought about concerns among observers due to Crossrider’s background as an ad-tech firm known for concealing spyware within its apps, which seemed to present a conflict of interest given CyberGhost’s focus on privacy. However, these concerns were largely allayed as Crossrider rebranded to Kape Technologies and positioned itself as a “privacy-first digital security software provider.” Following this, Kape Technologies went on to acquire other well-known VPN brands such as ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, though these continue to operate independently. As of 2023, CyberGhost VPN has grown significantly with around 38 million users, making it one of the more popular VPNs available​.

The company faced a minor hiccup in 2020 when a breach involving Typeform affected around 120 of its users. However, no evidence has emerged to suggest improper use of subscriber data by Kape, its subsidiaries, or any third parties. Despite past skepticism due to its history, CyberGhost VPN has maintained a strong reputation for privacy, continuing to provide valued services to its global user base​.

Can I torrent with CyberGhost?

One of the most popular reasons why people use VPNs is to encrypt their traffic and mask their IP while using P2P or BitTorrent services. CyberGhost even offers P2P servers to enhance your experience. However, right in section 8 of their Terms of Service is this alarming statement:

We reserve the right to take appropriate measures when CyberGhost Products are being used contrary to these Terms and applicable laws, including cooperating with public or private authorities as provided by law.

The “terms and applicable laws” are so broad that it essentially means anything illegal based on your local laws, wherever you may be. For DMCA violations generally they will just terminate your account and offer no refund. That being said, intellectual property companies rarely bother to file DMCA complaints for IPs associated with VPNs, especially when that company is registered outside of the United States.

What services are accessible when connected to CyberGhost?

ServiceBlocked / Restricted
Amazon PrimeAccessible for browsing; streaming blocked
NetflixAccessible for browsing; streaming blocked
SpotifyAccessible; CAPTCHA during registration
PandoraAccessible
YouTube MusicAccessible
HuluAccessible
Disney+Accessible; no restrictions
Google SearchCaptcha
ChatGPTSome IPs blocked
YouTubeAccessible

Data collection

Like almost every VPN, CyberGhost does collect some maintenance-related data, but it claims to not log your server location choices, your total amount of data transferred nor your connection timestamps. As with any VPN, it’s nearly impossible to independently verify the company’s no-logs claim. Even so, CyberGhost does log certain user hardware data in what is likely a bid to enforce the company’s limit of seven simultaneous connections per account. 

According to the spokesperson CNET spoke to in August of 2019, CyberGhost does have the ability to help law enforcement by activating a limited user-tracking feature.  

“The only way to do it is if that user is still in the system and if the law enforcement knows the IP and could provide also a warrant to track that IP,” the spokesperson said. “We can activate a special feature like a logging feature for that IP, but we have that ability to prevent malicious actions when using our service. But only if that user is still active and we have proof of what exactly is wrong, what IP he is using, and so on. So we’ve got to bring that in order to activate that, to be sure we don’t activate it on a regular user. Otherwise, we can not help any law enforcement company.” 

In 2016, however, CyberGhost was called to the carpet by ProPrivacy when the company was discovered to be quietly requesting potentially dangerous, root-level access to customers’ computers — a function the software hasn’t included for about three years now. The service was also caught logging the unique identifiers of each of its user’s computers. Similarly, other reviewers have also expressed wariness after CyberGhost appeared to remove some threads from its forum which may have detailed a critical 2016 malfunction and potentially revealed log-keeping practices within its free proxy service.

Speaking of revelations, in March 2019, CyberGhost took a small hit when the customer-survey company it contracted, Typeform, was breached. The company said 120 email addresses and 14 CyberGhost usernames — but no passwords — were included in the two forms involved in the compromised data. 

The bigger concern for me is that CyberGhost still uses a method of ad-blocking that’s considered at best ineffective and at worst insecure. Most VPNs block ads by filtering out requests from websites identified as suspicious. Not CyberGhost. The company instead uses a method which inspects and modifies — rather than filters out — those requests. The method is twice as risky and only half effective since it only works on sites with an HTTP URL and not those with HTTPS. 

CNET asked Beyel in June this year about this method of ad-blocking and the criticism it’s received. 

“We know this is not very effective. That’s why we’re already working on a better solution which is working on the process,” he said. “We need to completely move this kind of technology on the client side because in the browser you can, of course, do that.” 

In its suite of features, however, CyberGhost does offer an option (enabled by default in its MacOS client) which forces your browser to redirect away from sites not secured by HTTPS. 

Beyel also said that CyberGhost will be releasing a new suite of privacy modules in the coming weeks which go beyond its VPN to include tools for optimizing your computer and preventing vulnerable apps from affecting your privacy.[2]

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