A Review of PIA VPN
For some time now, I've been using a VPN, rated very highly by Torrent
Freak, and this is what I've found.
The site is https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ and I've had need to contact technical support on more than one occasion. In every case, the response was informative and timely, solving my problem.
To the Torrent Freak question of: “Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you or a 3rd party to match an IP address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold?”, their reply of “We absolutely do not maintain any VPN logs of any kind. We utilize shared IP addresses rather than dynamic or static IPs, so it is not possible to match a user to an external IP. These are some of the many solutions we have implemented to enable the strongest levels of anonymity amongst VPN services. Further, we would like to encourage our users to use an anonymous e-mail and pay with Bitcoins to ensure even higher levels of anonymity should it be required. Our core verticals are privacy, quality of service, and prompt customer support,” is comforting to say the least.
On my machine, Windows 7, installation was flawless and initial connections very simple. I have a cable internet connection, and like all cable companies, mine utilizes traffic shaping to “facilitate” the overall flow of data. In other words, to maximize their profits. Instantly, my transfer speed increased, even when routing through a server on the opposite side of the planet. The fact that I'm in an encrypted tunnel and on a shared IP enhances my total security. Even when using a public network, I can be sure that all of my transactions are secure. That does offer tremendous peace of mind!
I did a little extra research and discovered a couple of additional security items I could implement, though realistically, they are probably not an issue in my life. Still, being tech happy, I did implement them and enjoyed the learning process, though I doubt that average user (or I) would actually have any such need.
VPN connections have the advantage of being persistent. They can last for hours or days. If left unattended, the vulnerability is that an interruption could occur, leaving data transmission in the clear. This could be from minor to serious. There is software available that will monitor the VPN connection and terminate selected programs if the VPN connection fails. This type of software is basic to simple security and is available, in a simple form, for free. See: http://vpnetmon.webs.com/
There is an additional consideration for security, even when using a VPN, and that is what is called a DNS leak. If you are deadly serious about security and anonymity, the fix is simple and reasonably painless. See: http://www.dnsleaktest.com/
Other than that, it just sits there doing it's job, being almost totally invisible. I consider it a project and software that I will continue to use.