VPN Notes, paying for a VPN anonymously without cryptocurrency, Proton VPN

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by MisterB, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    There isn't a lot of recent information here these days compared to when I was more active on Wilders a few years ago so I'm just starting a thread on some of my recent VPN finds. I recently got a couple of VPN subscriptions and I as I was shopping and comparing, there wasn't much good information that was up to date. I found that That One Privacy Guy's website had been folded into a more commercial and questionable one and that his charts hadn't been updated since 2019, and when I checked Wilders, there wasn't much here either that was new since my last visit to the privacy section in March.

    I found, by accident, a way to pay for a VPN anonymously without using cryptocurrencies. It's through a site called Stacksocial that always has VPN offers. Most of them are for new and not well known VPNs but there is almost always an offer for Nord and PIA. I went through the list recently and found a couple that interested me with cheap lifetime subscriptions, fairly good OpenVPN implementations and both in good jurisdictions outside of 5 and 14 eyes countries. I bought a 3 year Windscribe subscription on this site a few years ago and knew they used a coupon system and payments were made to them, not the VPN providers. I regretted not buying the lifetime subscription for a few dollars more after it expired because the coupon code they gave me to pay for it never gave Windscribe anything that could be tied to my real identity. There are no more cheap lifetime subscriptions to Windscribe these days and it would have been a good investment to buy one back then when they were newer and in need of more business. So I got two this time, both newer VPNs that sell themselves more for fast servers and stream unblocking than privacy but after looking at their .ovpn files and seeing how they set things up and seeing that both had extensive Linux and router support articles, I splurged and got subscriptions to both. I was actually looking for a VPN more for streaming than privacy as the one I have now charges extra for streaming support but I couldn't fault either on privacy with the caveat that many VPNs that claim no logging lie and do keep logs and you don't really know which ones they are until something happens as was the case with HMA and PureVPN. I set up a new Proton mail account as the email for setting them up and used a bank card to pay stack social. Just like the last time, I got coupon codes and links for the VPN providers. They got my new Proton email and only Stacksocial got the payment details. That is a nice degree of seperation and it could be carried further by using a Visa gift card. Stacksocial uses Stripe as their payment processor and almost credit or debit card should work with them, including gift cards bought with cash.


    And after I paid for them, I checked out the Proton VPN that came with my Proton mail free account. In trying to sell you on the paid service they give you you a chart of server load on their servers. As could be expected, the free servers were running at close to full capacity. Not great from a bandwidth perspective but if you are looking for anonymity, that is exactly what you want, a VPN server used by hundreds, if not thousands of users. When I tested it for bandwidth, it actually did better than some of the servers on the VPNs I paid for. So I ended up with three VPNs out of the deal, two optimized for streaming and one for privacy and none with any information whatsoever on my real identity other than my IP which my ISP NATs these days to conserve IPV4 addresses so the IP I use is for my whole neighborhood. If I really wanted to be careful, I could only connect to these VPNs through another VPN.

    It is a constantly evolving scene with VPN providers and these days the big selling point is unblocking Netflix whereas a few years ago it was torrenting without revealing your real IP. Privacy is not always the strongest marketing point. Unfortunately, the information out there hasn't kept up and finding unbiased reviews is even more difficult than it was. Since That One Privacy Guy isn't updating his charts, I had to look for what he put in his charts myself as best I could and check out reviews that were from sources that I didn't fully trust and even if the reviews were honest, they were still more focused on bandwidth and defeating geoblocking than privacy. As for privacy, the best practice has always been to do multi hop connections and not rely on any one provider no matter how good they are so it's not a bad idea to pick up cheap long term subscriptions from several.
     
  2. longshots

    longshots Registered Member

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    Nice read. Thanks. I've been using Proton for the same reason.
     
  3. Minimalist

    Minimalist Registered Member

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    Did you happen to check Mullvad? You don't need any email or account.You just generate new account on their site - random number which is your identifier - and you're good to go. You can also send them cash in envelope so there is no digital trail left for your payment.
     
  4. trott3r

    trott3r Registered Member

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    I believe the osint privacy podcast recommends pia or proton
     
  5. imdb

    imdb Registered Member

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    ivpn and mullvad are good. insorg was good too but got shutdown by authorities in late december 2020. at least this goes to show that they lived up to their promise.
     
  6. longshots

    longshots Registered Member

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    Yes, and it has been my VPN of choice for many years. Proton is the new kid on the block so am giving it time to develop some street cred.
     
  7. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    I'm aware of Mullvad and IVPN and several other well regarded privacy centric vpns but my aim right now is to have multiple vpns with some more focused on privacy and some more focused on speed and streaming geoblocked sites. These days I have quite a collection of media boxes and only two of them are open source linux. A few years ago, I learned how to set up an Openvpn server on a VPS and since then, I also take a look at how the server is configured and whether they do anything interesting with their service from a technical point of view. I have a free sub from one provider that uses individualized client certificates instead of user password logon and I like that approach although either way has its advantages. The smart DNS that came with one of my new subs is another plus. Smart DNS basically proxies DNS queries and is another approach at defeating geoblocking but I found as a byproduct, it really scrambles location and using it with a VPN can result in a Schrödinger effect where you appear to be in multiple places at one.
     
  8. imdb

    imdb Registered Member

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    how about a vpn fully focused on both privacy and speed and that allows you to easily bypass geo-restrictions? sounds too good to be true? i know it does, but it is true and it's called expressvpn. ;)
     
  9. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    Southern Rocky Mountains USA
    I'm aware of Express VPN. They are heavily pushed online at the moment on all the VPN review sites. I'm not looking for one big provider, I'm experimenting and looking for less publicized VPNs that are doing something interesting and I want several of them with long term or lifetime subscriptions. The first thing I look for is Linux support with .ovpn files and I download the .ovpns and take a good look at them before I consider getting a sub. If they active support router use and have tutorials for different router firmwares, that is another plus. Most people just download the VPN's app on whatever device they use and that's what the marketing targets. I just want .ovpn files and access to their servers so I check the .ovpn files to see how they've set up their servers and some do it a lot better than others. I'm going to let go of one sub I've had for years because they haven't upgraded most of their servers to 256 bit encryption and still use BF-CBC which isn't even supported on newer versions of OpenVPN. Another one I have is constantly upgrading and changing things and has both stronger encryption and authentication these days and I just got an email from them about how a server upgrade will affect my service.
     
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