When somebody first develops an interest in privacy, the first piece of advice they usually come across is to use a virtual private network (VPN). Because their interest in privacy is newly developed, they usually have little knowledge beyond that they “need a VPN.” So they do a Google (again, their interest in privacy is new) search for VPN and find a number of review sites and providers. Being a smart consumer they read the review sites and choose a provider that consistently receives good reviews. What the poor bastard doesn’t know is that many of those review sites and providers are owned by the same company (a company, I will add, that is shady as fuck):
Kape Technologies, a former malware distributor that operates in Israel, has now acquired four different VPN services and a collection of VPN “review” websites that rank Kape’s VPN holdings at the top of their recommendations. This report examines the controversial history of Kape Technologies and its rapid expansion into the VPN industry.
If you’re not familiar with Kape Technologies, the linked report provides a good overview. If you want a TL;DR, Kape Technologies has a history of distributing malware and now owns ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and Zenmate. Because of Kape Technologies’ history, I would advise against using one of its VPN providers. It’s not impossible for a company to turn over a new leaf, but with other options available (at least until Kape buys them all), why take chances?
If you’re a person with a newfound interest in privacy and looking for recommendations, I unfortunately don’t have any good recommendations for review sites. The handful of review sites that I used to trust have either disappeared or been bought by VPN providers (which by itself doesn’t necessary make a review site untrustworthy, but I’m always wary of such conflicts of interest).
As far as VPN providers go, I use Mullvad and I like it. It supports WireGuard (my preferred VPN protocol), doesn’t ask for any personally identifiable information when signing up for an account, accepts anonymous forms of payment (including straight cash mailed in an envelope), and seems determined to remain independent (at least for now).