An investigation of 117 top VPN services by privacy and security research company VPNpro suggests that only 8.5% of providers offer a fully anonymous service.
The company analysed the payment methods and sign up processes involved in using VPNs and discovered 35% required an identifiable form of payment such as credit card or PayPal information. Meanwhile, 22% of VPNs had no anonymous payment method and required information such as an email address – with some preventing the use of ‘disposable’ email addresses. This information can be used to connect an individual directly with their VPN account.
Previous research by VPNpro revealed that 97 leading VPN products are owned by 23 parent companies and it points to many of these companies being based in countries with a high degree of government surveillance or lax data privacy laws.
Laura Kornelija Inamedinova, Research Analyst at VPNpro, said: “Our research has revealed some serious shortcomings in how many VPNs operate. Anonymity online is critical to many people’s lives and if there is a weak link anywhere in the chain there can be dire consequences.”
Inamedinova adds: “VPN providers are not created equal. If you are providing any form of personally identifiable information to a service your privacy could be compromised. The best defence is to carefully research each company to ascertain what information you need to provide and which country the VPN provider is from. Bear in mind, in places such as China, a tech company is required to hand over information it holds to the Government.”
The 10 VPN providers VPNpro classified as offering full purchase anonymity include: Mullvad, SecureVPN.to, AzireVPN, CryptoHippie, AnonVPN, Windscribe, VPNJack, VIP72, TgVPN and CloakVPN.