I’ve been using CyberGhost VPN for a few months now, and although it’s clearly a solid piece of software that offers some great features and benefits, there are a few missing features and some questions I have about their company ownership. So if you’re looking at CyberGhost as an option, you’re gonna want to understand exactly what these issues are before you sign up for a long-term subscription.

Welcome to All Things Secured, my name is Josh, and if you follow me for any length of time you should know these two things about me. First, I use VPNs on a daily basis, and I think they’re extremely useful. But second, I’m ruthlessly critical of most VPN companies because I think it’s a very shady industry. Unlike the CyberGhost homepage which claims that the VPN makes you untraceable and anonymous online and that they can somehow guarantee total data anonymity, I wanna ground you in a little bit of reality here, it takes a lot more than a simple VPN to be untraceable and anonymous online.

Privacy is a practice, not a software program. Let me say that again, privacy is a practice, it’s not a software program. Personally, throughout my testing, my preferred use of CyberGhost has been streaming content from different countries on a number of different devices. For example, they have a great smart DNS feature that allows me to set up my Apple TV, a device that doesn’t allow you to install a VPN configuration, to still be able to stream content from places like the U.S, the UK, Germany, and other countries. And generally, most popular U.S VPNs only offer US-based streaming via smart DNS. So, this is a great feature.

On the flip side though, CyberGhost is not a great option to evade censorship since they make no effort to hide the VPN traffic. This is something known as obfuscation, and it basically means that if I connect to a CyberGhost server while living in China, I’m basically wearing a big fat sign on my back that says, I’m using a VPN. Chinese authorities may not know what I’m doing online, but they’ll definitely know that I’m doing it while connected to a VPN, and that makes it easier for them to sensor even just using that VPN.

So already this claim of being untraceable is at best misleading. Now before I spend too much time on my soapbox about VPNs and their claims to privacy, you should know that pretty much every VPN in the market today does the same thing, so CyberGhost is not alone here.

And there are a lot of things I have really enjoyed about using CyberGhost. They offer payment via Bitcoin if you want to add a level of anonymity to your account. As you’re checking out you can also purchase an ad on a dedicated IP address, which is basically a way to use a VPN without constantly being bombarded by Captcha requests online. I love the fact that my VPN subscription comes with a free decryptor license, a software that allows me to encrypt the data I store in the Cloud.

I could also pay for a password manager, which is CyberGhost’s partnership with a cloud-based service called PassCamp, but I don’t know anything about that company and honestly, I just prefer to stick with my preferred password manager 1Password. If you take a quick look at the software here on my Mac, you’re gonna see that it’s pretty straightforward, nothing too fancy. I can see all the servers available to me which is an extensive list that spans the globe, and by extensive I mean more than 6,000 servers in 88 countries, that includes places like China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries were running a VPN is technically illegal, so I’m not even sure how they get away with doing that. Next to each server is a percentage that shows server load.

And generally speaking, the lower the load, the faster the server should be, but there’s also an argument to be made for choosing a server that allows you to blend in your traffic with even more internet users. They do offer a select number of peer-to-peer servers, and you can favorite any servers that you want to use again later. CyberGhost offers the WireGuard protocol, which has proven to be one of the fastest in terms of connection speeds, and they also offer a 45-day money-back guarantee which is more than the standard 30, but honestly, I’m not sure how much that really even matters.

Now there are a few minor issues I have such as the lack of features for Apple devices. For example, if you have an iPhone, an iPad, a Mac computer, you won’t have access to a VPN kill switch, split tunneling, or the open VPN protocol that is available on Android and Windows. This is pretty common since Apple’s OS makes those features kind of harder to implement, but there are plenty of other VPNs that are able to do it, so I know it is possible. Also for a company that touts so much privacy on its homepage, the lack of any kind of multi-hop or tor over VPN privacy feature is somewhat weird in my opinion.

One last thing, CyberGhost is one of only a few VPNs that I’ve come across where you have to register every device that you want to use with the service. Most VPNs have a simultaneous connection. You can download it on as many devices as you want, but you can only be online simultaneously with a certain number of them. CyberGhost gives you a total of seven devices, but if you go above that, you have to actually go into your account login and deregister one of your other devices which is annoying. But these issues pale in comparison to my biggest concern that I bring up with every VPN that I ever review, ownership.

Let me tell you the quick but dizzying story of CyberGhost’s journey to where it is now. It starts in 2011 when the company was founded in Romania by a German entrepreneur, it’s kind of funny to me in an interview in 2016 he boasted that he had turned down multiple offers to sell the company or to take on investors, and then only a few months later, he sold CyberGhost to an Israeli company known as Crossrider for 9.2 million Euro.

Can anybody say payday? Well, Crossrider unfortunately, was known for being a company that hid malware and software bundles and infected user computers with ad-ware, so in 2018, they tried to distance themselves from this anti-privacy history by rebranding and changing their name to Kape Technologies. Now they’ve not only purchased two other VPN companies, ZenMate, and Private Internet Access, the parent company Kape has tried to position itself as a, and I’m quoting here, “leading privacy-first security software provider.”

Now, am I skeptical? Heck yes, I’m skeptical. Trying to figure out who owns Kape is basically an endless exercise and peeling back shell company after shell company. But do I have any reason to believe that this is also a ruse just to steal our data from some state actor? No, not really. VPNs are such a lucrative business that it’s quite common to have a company buy up multiple services not for the data per se, but for the monthly recurring rate revenue model which is just huge.

So where does that leave me? In the tests that I performed while using CyberGhost, the software was effective in hiding my IP address, preventing any leaks, granting me access to geo-blocked services like Netflix, Disney plus, Hulu and others, and giving me generally fast speeds, at least compared to the other VPNs that I use. Now, I still prefer using Express VPN on a daily basis, but if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that also has great smart DNS options and easy-to-use apps, CyberGhost is a good option for you.