SecureVPN.to Review

Disclaimer: The below review is my opinion, which I will try to provide as many examples for and as much evidence as possible to support.  Readers can learn more about how I conduct my reviews, my methodology, etc – here.  More information on review badges here.

This review’s roll was #104 (at the time of the roll, SecureVPN.to)

 

Written Oct 1, 2016

Signing up for the service: When first visiting SecureVPN.to’s website, one may be shocked at how plain looking it is.  On the front page is a small selection of plans from which to choose and their associated price (in Euros).  Unfortunately, SecureVPN.to doesn’t accept PayPal or Credit cards, which may limit the accessibility of the service That said, for die hard privacy advocates, paying in Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency is probably not a concern – as was the case with me.  Paying with Bitcoin was easy and quick.  No personal information is required to register for the service, INCLUDING email address (which is fantastic for privacy).  They also provide one of the most clear no logging policies I’ve seen (on every aspect on the comparison chart – including connection metadata).  For these reasons, SecureVPN.to earns the very first “Privacy” badge I’ve given out in a review.

privacy

 

Configuring the service: As mentioned, the website was very simple, but rich in actual important information. The Servers list is quite useful as it showed network capacity (100Mbps vs 1Gbit) by server, as well as if they are virtual/dedicated.  A button next to each server which shows the Ports and Protocols available on it.  There are also “long term customer” servers reserved for those who subscribe to the longer (1 or 2 year) plans, which is kind of an interesting idea to reward loyal customers.

website

Config files were easily found on the website and came bundled in Desktop and Mobile packages, which was nice.  The configs were a bit complicated to set up, as certs needed to be broken out manually in order to use Network Manager on Linux (manual configuration).  That said, they utilized every security mechanism OpenVPN offers.  It’s clear that the maintainers of the service know what they’re doing and want to run a sophisticated and hardened VPN service.

 

Speed & Stability tests: VPN services that are transparent with the network capacity  information from above fare better on average in this section because I can use the supposed fastest servers for my tests – in other words, I’m not forced to randomly guess which might be best to try.

 

Speed Tests – SecureVPN.to – Desktop
    Latency Download Upload
No VPN Trial 1 8 ms 97.98 mbps 12.19 mbps
Trial 2 8 ms 98.26 mbps 11.95 mbps
Trial 3 9 ms 98.20 mbps 11.88 mbps
Average 8 ms 98.15 mbps 12.01 mbps
               
Kansas Trial 1 93 ms 50.84 mbps 9.45 mbps
Trial 2 93 ms 62.31 mbps 9.30 mbps
Trial 3 94 ms 60.44 mbps 8.94 mbps
Average 93 ms 57.86 mbps 9.23 mbps
Comp to Bench +85 ms 58.96% 76.87%
               
Switzerland Trial 1 312 ms 16.37 mbps 3.32 mbps
Trial 2 312 ms 13.27 mbps 4.26 mbps
Trial 3 312 ms 12.28 mbps 3.94 mbps
Average 312 ms 13.97 mbps 3.84 mbps
Comp to Bench +304 ms 14.24% 31.98%
               
Ukraine Trial 1 358 ms 10.42 mbps 2.76 mbps
Trial 2 362 ms 6.18 mbps 2.06 mbps
Trial 3 359 ms 7.82 mbps 1.77 mbps
Average 360 ms 8.14 mbps 2.20 mbps
Comp to Bench +351 ms 8.29% 18.30%
               
Canada Trial 1 183 ms 19.77 mbps 5.98 mbps
Trial 2 176 ms 16.25 mbps 3.68 mbps
Trial 3 177 ms 20.62 mbps 1.60 mbps
Average 179 ms 18.88 mbps 3.75 mbps
Comp to Bench +170 ms 19.24% 31.26%

 

Speed Tests – SecureVPN.to – Mobile
    Latency Download Upload
No VPN Trial 1 11 ms 74.82 mbps 14.40 mbps
Trial 2 11 ms 75.56 mbps 14.53 mbps
Trial 3 11 ms 75.15 mbps 14.53 mbps
Average 11 ms 75.18 mbps 14.49 mbps
               
Kansas Trial 1 96 ms 5.63 mbps 10.94 mbps
Trial 2 97 ms 6.76 mbps 11.22 mbps
Trial 3 97 ms 5.92 mbps 10.64 mbps
Average 97 ms 6.10 mbps 10.93 mbps
Comp to Bench +86 ms 8.12% 75.47%
               
Switzerland Trial 1 315 ms 0.72 mbps 8.73 mbps
Trial 2 315 ms 0.89 mbps 8.51 mbps
Trial 3 314 ms 0.82 mbps 9.62 mbps
Average 315 ms 0.81 mbps 8.95 mbps
Comp to Bench +304 ms 1.08% 61.80%
               
Ukraine Trial 1 369 ms 0.80 mbps 6.06 mbps
Trial 2 365 ms 0.80 mbps 6.85 mbps
Trial 3 408 ms 0.82 mbps 4.90 mbps
Average 381 ms 0.81 mbps 5.94 mbps
Comp to Bench +370 ms 1.07% 40.98%
               
Canada Trial 1 179 ms 5.24 mbps 10.89 mbps
Trial 2 185 ms 5.08 mbps 9.69 mbps
Trial 3 181 ms 4.57 mbps 11.02 mbps
Average 182 ms 4.96 mbps 10.53 mbps
Comp to Bench +171 ms 6.60% 72.71%

 

All tests were run with UDP and AES-256 (which is very strong encryption, but it also takes its toll on the device hardware to handle the on-the-fly encryption).  This can be seen especially in the mobile test where the hardware is an obvious limitation.  Regardless, these speeds ranged from fair to good (not bad but also not the best I’ve seen) on Desktop and pretty “meh” on Mobile.  Not the best I’ve seen, but also not the worst.

 

Getting support: I contacted support with some basic troubleshooting questions a user might experience and received a reply in a reasonable amount of time (by the next morning).  Support is handled strictly in the website’s user portal, and is kept very basic, but also very functional.  When you have a question, you enter it into the textbox provided – where it then shows up underneath, in a trail of support messages and responses.  When you want to see if your question has been answered, you must log into the site to follow up.  This is a little inconvenient for most users, but for those who wish to keep things private, it’s a reasonable trade-off for the peace of mind that there would in theory be fewer attack vectors to access this information.

 

Getting a refund: SecureVPN.to has no stated refund policy anywhere on their site, and given that they don’t accept PayPal or Credit Cards, I didn’t expect that I would be granted a refund when I asked.  Unfortunately, this was the care – they rigidly abide by a “no refunds” policy when requested.  Not the most consumer friendly policy.  It might not have been so bad if the service hada shorter subscription (3-7 days) or a trial period of some kind.

 

Concerns in Terms & Conditions / Privacy Policy: SecureVPN.to’s terms are covered in a few short sections on their FAQ page.  They were all very good policies including what is NOT being logged.  They tell you everything you need to know in a very simple page –  their terms are nice and elegant.

elegance

 

Final thoughts: SecureVPN.to does a lot right – but there is still some low hanging fruit on their end if they wanted to score points with me, for instance providing a PGP key (which MIGHT be excusable since they have all communication flowing through their website), but especially using 1st party DNS servers and perhaps offering a trial period or short term subscription for those interested in testing the service.  Their configs were very strong and secure, but also a little annoying to set up using manual methods (which is my personal preference) as they make you do the legwork to break out certs and keys from each server’s ovpn file.  Speeds ranged pretty drastically depending on where I was connecting, and there was only one (somewhat centrally located) US based server.

In the end, despite a strictly enforced no refund policy and payment method, it’s clear the SecureVPN.to team give a care about your privacy (which is shockingly rare in this industry).  I appreciated their simple and practical website as well.  Overall, I get the feeling that if you are concerned with privacy and want a service you can trust to maintain their servers and service, you could do a lot worse than SecureVPN.to.

 

FROM THE VPN COMPARISON CHART
CATEGORY VPN SERVICE SecureVPN.to
JURISDICTION Based In (Country)
Fourteen Eyes? Not Disclosed
Enemy of the Internet Not Disclosed
LOGGING Logs Traffic No
Logs DNS Requests No
Logs Timestamps No
Logs Bandwidth No
Logs IP Address No
ACTIVISM Anonymous Payment Method Yes
Accepts Bitcoin Yes
PGP Key Available No
Meets PrivacyTools IO Criteria Yes
LEAK PROTECTION 1st Party DNS Servers No
IPv6 Supported / Blocked Yes
  Offers OpenVPN Yes
OBFUSCATION Supports Multihop
Supports TCP Port 443
Supports Obfsproxy
Supports SOCKS Yes
Supports SSL Tunnel Yes
Supports SSH Tunnel
Other Proprietary Protocols
PORT BLOCKING Auth SMTP
P2P No
SPEEDS US Server Average % 58.96
Int’l Server Average % 13.92
SERVERS Dedicated or Virtual Mixed
SECURITY Default Data Encryption AES-256
Strongest Data Encryption AES-256
Weakest Handshake Encryption RSA-4096
Strongest Handshake Encryption RSA-4096
AVAILABILITY # of Connections 25
# of Countries 23
# of Servers 34
Linux Support (Manual) Yes
WEBSITE # of Persistent Cookies 1
# of External Trackers 0
# of Proprietary APIs 0
Server SSL Rating A+
SSL Cert issued to Self
PRICING $ / Month (Annual Pricing) 6.84
$ / Connection / Month 0.27
Free Trial No
Refund Period (Days) 0
ETHICS Contradictory Logging Policies
Falsely Claims 100% Effective
Incentivizes Social Media Spam
POLICIES Forbids Spam
Requires Ethical Copy
Requires Full Disclosure
AFFILIATES Practice Ethical Copy
Give Full Disclosure

 

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