Ivacy VPN review: How much do you value transparency? – Good Gear Guide

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At a Glance

Expert’s
Rating

Pros

  • Great price
  • Very nicely designed Windows apps

Cons

  • Lack of transparency about senior leadership
  • Netflix streaming was unreliable in our tests

Our Verdict

Ivacy VPN has a nice Windows app and it offers a
good, low price. The service’s country offerings aren’t as big as
others we’ve seen, but it has most of the key countries you’re
looking for. Ivacy’s privacy policy has all the right promises too,
but it’s based in Singapore and it’s not clear who’s behind the
company.

Price When
Reviewed

$42 a year

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Ivacy in brief:

  • P2P allowed: Yes
  • Business location: Singapore
  • Number of servers: 459+*
  • Number of country locations: 64
  • Cost: $40 (billed annually)
  • VPN protocol: OpenVPN-UDP
  • Data encryption: AES-256-GCM
  • Data authentication: MS-Chap v2 and TLS
  • Handshake Encryption: SHA-II

* Includes virtual server locations

Editors Note: This review was updated on
November 30, 2021 to reflect changes to the Ivacy app.

When you look at VPN services for regular users, you don’t often
see purpose-based server recommendations, such as use this server
for streaming and this one for downloading. Ivacy VPN, founded in
2007, stands out by doing just that. (It’s not the only
service to ever take this tack—CyberGhost
has a similar purpose-based approach—but it’s still rare.)

Note: This review
is part of our
best VPNs
roundup. Go there for details about
competing products and how we tested them.

Ivacy’s interface, as
seen from the program’s main page.

IDG

When I first opened Ivacy’s Windows app I was struck by its
cleanly designed interface, which is somewhat reminiscent of HotSpot Shield. Both apps feature an interface
with a simplified left rail, as well as clean icons and text.

The Ivacy app’s left rail has nine options for navigation. The
primary VPN options are Smart Connect, Secure
Download, Streaming, Unblocking, and
Dedicated IP. There are also options to access your
account, the program’s settings, a help and support section, and a
link to the company’s referral program.

Smart Connect is your basic VPN connection. You can
choose your locations by country or drill down to specific cities
within each country. There are 11 U.S. city locations to choose
from, with one to three options for most other countries.

Ivacy’s secure
downloading option with integrated security scanning at the server
level.

IDG

Secure Download is for peer-to-peer downloads as well
as general file and program downloading. This section has a
security option that applies malware scanning at the server level
to help avoid any problematic downloads.

Streaming lets you choose your connection by country or
by activity—dubbed channels. The latter lists all manner of
overseas sites and TV channels to choose from including HBO Max,
Netflix, and Hulu, as well as the major networks and tons of
overseas content from CTV Network in Canada to Hotstar in India.
Oddly, this section doesn’t list Disney Plus as an option, but most
U.S. connections should allow you to stream the service just
fine.

IDG

In my tests the feature didn’t work particularly well for U.S.
Netflix. It appeared to work with the major networks including ABC,
CBS, and NBC. YouTube Red also worked just fine, but Netflix
results were mixed. It didn’t work on the servers specifically
dedicated to Netflix, but it did on some of the other U.S. servers
I tried.

Finally, we have Unblocking, which is a service
designed to get around corporate and national firewalls that might
be preventing you from viewing certain content.

One thing to note is that Ivacy uses virtual server locations.
This is a not-uncommon practice where a server claims to be in one
physical location but is actually somewhere else. You can see which
countries are being spoofed when selecting countries. Each virtual
location has a (V) next to it. These countries and territories
include Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Oman, Panama, and Puerto
Rico.

Features and services

Ivacy for Windows doesn’t have very many options to tweak. You
can decide to launch Ivacy when Windows starts, and you can also
auto connect to the VPN when Ivacy opens. It also supports IP and
DNS leak protection, and an internet kill switch that disables all
internet traffic from your PC when the VPN connection drops. For
protocols, you can choose between OpenVPN or IKEv2, as well as
L2TP. Ivacy helpfully explains the advantages and disadvantages of
each protocol.

IDG

Ivacy offers apps for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. There
are also instructions to run Ivacy on Linux, a router, Kodi home
theater software, and to connect consoles like the Xbox to the VPN
via another device.

Ivacy also has a split tunneling option that allows you to run
some applications through the VPN and others through your regular
IP address.

Ivacy is priced at $42 per year and supports up to 10
simultaneous device connections. There are also options for a
five-year plan for $60, or the month-to-month option at $9.95.

Performance

As far as performance goes, Ivacy scored good, but not great,
speeds overall. Ivacy retained about 30.63 percent of the base
speed on average across five different country connections. The
U.S., UK, and German connections were particularly good, and
Australia was faster than expected.

Privacy, anonymity, and
trust

The business address for Ivacy’s parent company is PMG Pte. Ltd.
in Singapore. Once again we’ve got a VPN with an exotic address.
There aren’t many Ivacy employees on LinkedIn but those that are
appear to work for the company around the world, including in
Pakistan, the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, as well as a few
people in Singapore.

IDG

It’s not uncommon for VPN services, even small ones, to employ
people in various countries around the world. But Ivacy is yet
another service that prefers to remain secretive about who’s
running the company, and has a business address halfway around the
world, ostensibly in the name of user protection and privacy.
Ivacy’s website doesn’t list anyone from its management, but at one
time it did list its CEO as Mr. Saad.

I asked Ivacy if anyone from the company’s senior management was
public about their identity, and the response was a resounding no.
Here’s what the company said: Dealing with law enforcement,
hackers, abusers, and harassers is a professional hazard that comes
with working in the cyber security industry…The security and
privacy of all our global employees is paramount for us to keep
expanding and working as a global cyber security industry.

The statement also argues that you can still trust a company
that remains anonymous, Believe the industry expert reviews,
believe the independent audits, the company said in a statement.
Ivacy’s zero-data, zero-log policy only solidifies just how much we
care about privacy and anonymity…We believe in security, privacy,
and anonymity. You wouldn’t want anyone to know who’s behind your
IP, just like that we don’t want anyone to know who’s behind
Ivacy.

While the company makes an interesting case, it’s one I outright
reject as a reviewer. From my point of view in these reviews, there
is an absolute double standard when it comes to privacy and VPNs.
Customers do want to remain private and they need to, but running a
company is an act that happens in public, and therefore leadership
shouldn’t expect the same considerations as a private citizen.
Since I started these reviews numerous services have gone public
with their leadership, every antivirus company is public about its
leadership, and numerous security researchers are public about
their identities and their discoveries. Ivacy’s reasoning just
doesn’t hold water in 2021. If there’s no responsible person at the
helm that you can point to, someone who is accountable for the
company’s actions past or present, customers are missing important
information for building trust.

As for its privacy policy and terms, Ivacy says all the right
things including a strict no-logging policy for traffic or session
data. Ivacy says it’s not logging your web browsing or other online
activity. Ivacy does collect data about the country you connect
from, crash reports, performance data, aggregate bandwidth usage,
and failed login attempts.

The only identifying information Ivacy wants from you is your
email address, and the email addresses are dumped after 12 months
of inactivity.

Ivacy allows payments via a wide variety of methods including
the standard credit card and PayPal options. It also accepts
Bitcoin payments via BitPay, as well as a variety of other
cryptocurrencies via Coingate.

Conclusion

Overall, Ivacy is a competent service, though it hasn’t changed
much since last we reviewed it.

Pricing for Ivacy is good, speeds were fine but not outstanding,
the addition of security scanning of downloads is nice, and split
tunneling is a handy feature if you want to, say, watch Netflix on
Firefox but tunnel the rest of your internet traffic through the
VPN.

But as already noted, I’m not a fan of company leadership that
prefers to remain in the shadows. That might be necessary in some
cases, such as running a VPN out of China and Russia while actually
living in those high-risk countries. That may in fact be the case
here, but even if it is, that’s something a VPN subscriber would
want to know.

So many VPN services are up front about who they are, and in my
opinion this is always preferable since it builds trust, which is
important when you are looking to safeguard your privacy
online.

You’ll just have to decide whether Ivacy’s strengths outweigh
its mysteriousness.

Editor’s note: Because online services are
often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements
over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately
reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or
our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this
article.

Source: https://www.goodgearguide.com.au/article/693947/ivacy-vpn-review-how-much-do-value-transparency/

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