Private Internet Access

  • iReviews
  • May 03,2017
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In the last few years, the general population has become increasingly aware that their internet activities are being monitored by third parties. Staying anonymous and undetected on the internet is no longer something just for privacy enthusiasts. Virtual Private Networks provide a wide variety of services, appealing to most internet users in one way or another. Private Internet Access, or PIA, is an affordable and secure option for those interested in protecting themselves online.

Why Use a VPN?

There are many reasons to consider using a VPN to secure your online presence. VPNs hide your IP address and location from prying eyes such as hackers, government agencies, internet providers, and the like. Any good VPN service will also feature full data encryption, making it much more difficult for those with malicious intent to make use of your information. Online trackers, invasive websites, over-ambitious cookies, and internet service providers are all out of luck when it comes to VPNs; they cannot track your internet usage or profile you based on your online habits (which can then be sold to interested third parties). VPNs also allow users to bypass internet censorship or restrictive networks. This is a critical feature for those living in countries with oppressive regimes, allowing access to blocked websites like social media. Certain websites and streaming services block content based on your location, using a VPN service is a great solution to this. VPNs also make connecting to public or shared Wi-Fi hotspots safer, protecting your personal identifying information from hackers.

Online Security

Private Internet Access offers the full host of services expected of current VPNs in an unassuming, concise package. PIA supports Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome (extension), iOS, and Android. PIA’s security standards are on par with the competition, offering AES-256 encryption (Advanced Encryption Standard with 256-bit keys), SHA256 for authentication, and RSA-4096 for handshaking (maximum encryption settings). For a comprehensive walkthrough of their security features, check out this page on their website. AES-256 is the gold standard for data stream encryption and is used by security experts worldwide. It is even used by the United States government to contain classified information and virtually 100% resistant to brute force hacking attempts. PIA supports PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP, and IPSec protocols, which isn’t as many as some competitors but most users are going to utilize OpenVPN anyway. You can switch between their supported protocols and encryption types based on what level of security and speed you desire. PIA only supports servers in 25 countries, but makes up for that shortcoming with over 3200 individual servers.

User Privacy, Data Collection, and Policies

Like any respectable VPN, Private Internet Access does not collect or log any internet traffic of its users. They do have some policies that are questionable for users that are concerned with their identifiable information getting into the wrong hands. Even though on their website they list “US based corporation” as a positive of their service, any internet savvy individual understands that this is in fact a major downside. They are subject to United States’ Data Retention laws and will comply with all valid subpoenas. In their defense, they state on their website that they will heavily scrutinize each and every legal request and do their best to protect your information. They cannot disclose any of your browsing history or IP logs, as they do not collect that information. On the other hand, they do collect a variety of information that might discourage anonymity-concerned users from their service. For a complete list of data they collect and what they do with it, take a look at the privacy policy on their website.

Final Details

Private Internet Access also features 24/7/365 support, a wide variety of acceptable payment options (anonymous gift cards included), multiple device support, and a 7-day money-back guarantee. While PIA might not be the best choice for ultimate anonymity, the price and host of solid features make it a great VPN for casual use.

PROS
  • AES-256 encryption
  • No IP logging
  • Kill switch
  • No DNS leakage
  • Very affordable
  • No throttling or bandwidth limits
  • Anonymous payment
CONS
  • Based in the USA
  • Will comply with subpoenas
  • Stores a bit of client information