CyberGhost is one of the most popular VPN services in the world today. With CyberGhost, you gain access to over 1700 servers in 60 different countries around the world. Of all the VPNs we’ve reviewed, they might do the best job of marrying ease of use, security, and customizability.
CyberGhost is a subscription VPN with some of the industry’s most robust security features. Paradoxically, they help keep your information protected while remaining completely transparent themselves. Their clients are user-friendly but still full featured. While there may be a few “better” services today, CyberGhost seems to have ambitions on becoming the VPN industry’s undisputed leader.
Security – Highly Anonymous / Popular encryption methods (OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec) / 256-bit AES Encryption / Strict no logging policy / Anonymous purchasing through cryptocurrency and PayNearMe
Connectivity – Comprehensive and Reliable / Most major operating systems (Android, Windows, MacOS, and iOS) / Compatible with most streaming and gaming devices / Router support / 1,800+ servers in 59 countries / Seven simultaneous connections
Usability – Simple and Straightforward / Intuitive client design with great server selection options / Unique profile system with versatile options / Different app designs between different devices
Service & Support – Knowledgebase and video tutorials/e-mail and chat
Pricing – Subscription / Expensive (monthly) Inexpensive (one-year and two-year plans) / one-month $11.99, one-year $59.88 ($4.99/mo), two-year $90.96 ($3.79/mo), three-year $99.00 ($2.75/month)
- Competitive Encryption, Privacy, & Anonymity
- Proxy Support, Wifi Protection, & Other Enhanced Security
- Well-Developed Windows App w/ Extensive Options
- App Support for the Most Popular Devices
- Unlimited Bandwidth & Server Switching
- P2P Optimized Servers for Torrenting
- Custom Connection Support
- Detailed Knowledgebase & Great Support
- Seven Simultaneous Connections Allowed
- Built-In Ad, Malware, and Tracker Protection
- Avoid Geoblocks & Censorship While Streaming
- Excellent Pricing on Long-Term Plan Options
- Overcomplicated Setup Process
- Inconsistent Clients Across Different Devices
- No Built-In Ad Block or Malware Protection
- Lack of Linux and Router Clients
- No Option for Dedicated Servers
When it comes to encryption, CyberGhost ranks among the industry leaders.
As you might expect, CyberGhost provides AES-256 bit encryption via the OpenVPN protocol. This should make you happy if you need a VPN to avoid government surveillance or censorship. This is considered “military grade” encryption. Authentication takes place through the SHA256 hashing algorithm with 4096-bit keys available. They also achieve perfect forward secrecy via an ECDH-4096 key exchange.
So, will CyberGhost VPN keep my web activity safe and anonymous?
Yes, granted you use their client and stick with OpenVPN and the Browse Anonymously settings (more on these later).
CyberGhost also offers other encryption protocols, as any decent VPN provider should. Besides OpenVPN, you can use L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec, or PPTP.
They support OpenVPN on Android, macOS, Windows, and Linux. They support L2TP on Windows and Linux. And IKEv2 is supported on iOS, Linux, and Windows. They only support OpenVPN through the app. So be aware that the other protocols require manual configurations. The same goes for Linux because there is no client. Luckily, CyberGhost provides excellent guides to help you get started with native protocols.
To whom it may concern: CyberGhost does NOT use pre-shared keys for L2TP connections, like most of their competitors. Instead, all keys are generated on the user side of the connection. This means that CyberGhost L2TP connections may be more secure than connections through their competitors.
CyberGhost’s main selling point is anonymous surfing. They don’t disappoint.
Just like you want to see, CyberGhost enforces a strict “no logs” policy.
“Through our strict no-logs-policy, we ensure that we do NOT track user traffic performed inside the CyberGhost VPN tunnel such as browsing history, traffic destination, search preferences, data content, IP addresses or DNS queries. Therefore:
We do NOT know at any time which user ever accessed a particular website or service
We do NOT know which user was connected to our CyberGhost VPN service at any given time or which CyberGhost VPN server IP they used
We do NOT know the set of original IP addresses of a user’s computer
CyberGhost is 100% committed to the no-logs-policy, and we do not store them. Logs can easily link actions back to you, and thus at no time can CyberGhost release such logs, as we don’t collect any logs.”
They do keep some anonymized usage statistics. But this is standard practice in the industry. It’s probably essential to running a good VPN business. They go in depth on their logs policy in this support post.
No logging ensures that CyberGhost keeps no records that could compromise your identity. That’s crucial. But one of the primary purposes of a VPN is to protect your identity against other parties looking for your data.
VPNs protect your anonymity by pooling your surfing activity with other users on their service. The more users on a server, the more anonymous your activity. CyberGhost lets you sort servers by most crowded. They also provide an anonymity score for each of their servers. This is unique and helpful. But there is more to remaining anonymous online than sharing your IP with other web surfers.
IP and DNS leak protection are crucial aspects of any security-focused VPN.
Starting June 6th, 2017, CyberGhost updated their servers to offer IPv6 support. They were one of the first VPN services to do so. There are other workarounds, but all VPN services will need to do this eventually. To make sure this feature is selected, go to Settings >> Connection >> Disable IPv6. To prevent DNS leaks, merely make sure to select “Force using CyberGhost DNS-Servers” under the same tab.
Please note, however, that DNS and IP leaks aren’t solely the responsibility of your VPN company. Certain types of browsing behavior can expose this information. That means some of the blame rests with you. CyberGhost provides a tutorial for securing your identity with their service.
It’s possible to use TOR with CyberGhost, though they do not have a .onion version of their website (like ExpressVPN, for example). They also accept payments in cryptocurrency through BitPay or cash through PayNearMe. Use one of these options if you want to anonymize your payment.
If you’re new to VPNs, you might not realize how important this is.
Luckily, CyberGhost does. Like we said before, you pay a VPN company to protect your data from third parties. That means you need to trust them, as a third party. After all, you’re giving them access to all of your online behavior. If they are hacked or raided by government agencies, that data could be exposed.
Indeed, a no logs policy helps. But Internet censorship is a political game.
Jurisdiction of the company running your VPNs is crucial.
CyberGhost gets another win here. They are registered in Romania, which struck down the EU’s Data Retention Directive 5 years before the rest of Europe. That’s strong. CyberGhost itself was acquired by Kape Technologies (formerly Crossrider) in early 2017. While Kape has connections with both Israel and the U.K., CyberGhost will remain under Romanian law. This should not be a problem but is worth noting.
But that’s not all that is noteworthy about the company’s culture.
CyberGhost bucks a significant industry trend:
Many of the top VPN companies keep owner and executive identities a secret. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, we like CyberGhost’s approach more. They go with total transparency.
Their team page is better than most blockchain companies’, with bios and social links. Their co-founder and chairman, Robert Knapp, does interviews. They address VPN security news on their blog. And Robert gives keynote speeches. This gives CyberGhost a unique ability to brand themselves as industry influencers moving forward.
Why is this important for security?
First, the executive team is easier to find and hold accountable for any neglect or wrongdoing. That’s an assurance you don’t get with NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Second, this would indicate that they are indeed based out of Romania. For contrast, hidden leadership might indicate a company’s owners live within a different jurisdiction than the business is registered. This may put such companies under pressure from agencies in their home country.
CyberGhost users don’t have to worry about this.
What’s more, CyberGhost is the only VPN company we know of that has been verified by QSCert for their information management practices (though it may have expired). They also have a transparency report you can download.
Other Security Features
CyberGhost uses strong encryption, protects anonymity, and has perhaps the strongest values of any VPN company.
But if you’re a savvy VPN shopper, this section is essential. Some of the features below are standard, some have a unique twist, and others are proprietary to CyberGhost. But overall, CyberGhost has a long list.
Here are our thoughts:
Killswitch – The CyberGhost killswitch is automatic and cannot be turned off. That’s great for novices. If the connection to the VPN server is lost, it kills your Internet connection altogether. While you can’t disable it, you can create an exception list.
Run on Startup – This setting protects your connection to the Internet as soon as your operating system starts. Not only is this more convenient, but it also eliminates the possibility that you may forget to enable it. Find it under Settings >> General.
App Protection – App protection sets “run on startup” at the program and application level. CyberGhost will automatically connect anytime you open a program under Settings >> App Protection. Use with Exceptions for split tunneling.
Wifi Protection – Under Settings >> Wi-fi, you’ll find a unique—and useful—feature. This allows you to auto-connect to CyberGhost whenever you connect to Wifi. You can set default actions for known and unknown networks.
Router Support – Connecting CyberGhost to your router can help secure your home or business. Any devices connected to that network will automatically be protected (so you don’t need to use Wifi Protection on the same network). Manual setup only.
Virtual Servers – Virtual servers may not be as secure as physical servers. Some of CyberGhost’s servers are virtualized. But all locations match for their virtual and physical servers. Resources are also segregated between them, which seems like a safe approach.
Connect Through Proxies – Under Settings >> Proxy, you can add SOCKS 5 and HTTP proxies. Integrating proxies (especially SOCKS 5) secures your connection even further. However, some competitors include the SOCKS 5 proxies with membership.
Profiles – This is a great feature for both novices and power users. Each profile provides a different set of settings combinations. They are optimized for anonymous surfing, streaming, or other use cases. These provide a baseline you can customize.
***Please note: not all features are available for all devices.
Though not best-in-class, CyberGhost does offer proper device support.
It appears that they have sacrificed quantity for quality—at least in the short term. Again, CyberGhost offers a healthy blend of usability and customization. This is especially true of the app for Windows.
For some reason, they offer very different experiences on Windows and Mac OS. The Mac client shows a map and power button, which many VPN users are used to. On the other hand, the Windows client uses “tile” elements similar to Windows 10. It also offers a more robust settings menu and the usage profiles mentioned earlier.
If we had to guess, they will “perfect” the Windows version first. Then, they will make things more consistent. They may even be on the second step already. Whatever their plans, we trust CyberGhost to improve their offerings continually.
For now, CyberGhost VPN supports the most popular devices:
You can also set up custom connections with Linux, your router, or other devices. Those devices will need to be compatible with the configuration file. This process may be beyond the abilities of many average users. That may be a big problem if you’re looking for a VPN to secure your Chromebook or PS4.
If you’re up to it, we highly recommend protecting your router through your VPN. This allows you to protect all devices in your home. And all devices connected to that router share a connection. This will enable you to exceed CyberGhost’s seven device connection limit.
CyberGhost also provides proxy browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. They allow you to connect to HTTPS proxies in Romania, the U.S., Netherlands, and Germany.
While proxy servers do not offer the encryption benefits of a VPN, they can help to shield your identity. They can also be used in conjunction with the proxy feature in the CyberGhost client. These extensions are free and available to anyone.
CyberGhost VPN has vastly improved their server selection since the Crossrider acquisition.
While they are still not quite to the top, they are certainly competitive. Their servers page gives a clear breakdown of servers online, users online, and countries available. Even without an account, it shows you how many users are currently online on each server. Again, impressive transparency. Currently, they have about 90 server locations, across 60 countries.
For many, this is a crucial factor. Many streaming services implement geoblocking. This practice restricts content based on location. It’s extremely common with live sports, due to the nature of TV programming deals. But it is also used by Netflix and other popular services.
CyberGhost has a profile specifically called Unblock Streaming. Select it and you are greeted with a tiled list of popular streaming services. Choose the service you want, and CyberGhost matches you with one known to unlock it. Quite impressive.
VPNs can also help you beat government censorship. China’s “Great Firewall” is one example. Policies like this drive VPN demand, despite “VPN bans.” There is something of a technological arms race in this industry. There is a constant battle being waged by both public and private organizations against VPNs as a whole.
Aside from the preconfigured profiles, you can always select the Choose My Server option. From there, you gain even more real-time stats that are available on the public servers page. Organize servers by most empty, most crowded, fastest, and a few other use cases. Save favorites. The client remembers your recent servers. And of course, server switches and bandwidth are unlimited.
Moving forward, we expect CyberGhost to continue to improve their server selection. We’d expect more servers and more countries as they continue to develop. Their network is weak in Asia and Central America. And they only have servers in two African nations (though that’s not actually below average). They do, however, boast an exceptional network of servers in Europe and the United States.
CyberGhost has apparently made great strides in this area since 2017.
We don’t put all that much stock in speed tests. There are WAY too many factors to trust their validity. Server crowding, security settings, and location of the test are just a few examples.
Instead, we prefer to take a look at technical specs, community feedback, and built-in features. And in these areas, CyberGhost does well.
Of course, no VPN company is going to give you all the details of the hardware and software they use. But CyberGhost invests in their tech. The high number of servers increases your chances of a fast connection, as does the newly expanded location list. They also include a “data compression” feature, which reduces load times for media files. This is especially useful on mobile. CyberGhost is the only VPN we’ve found with this feature.
If you look back to early 2017 and beyond, you’ll find a lot of complaints online about CyberGhost. And a substantial percentage of them had to do with slow loading speeds. But since Crossrider has come into the picture, these are much less common.
We should also note that CyberGhost formerly provided a free VPN service that allowed open access to anyone. At the time, they claimed that the premium connection was five times faster. So this may have contributed to some of the original complaints anyway. Whatever the case, community feedback for CyberGhost is much stronger now. Especially for United States and European servers, it receives above average feedback for speed.
Finally, CyberGhost offers a variety of ways to help you find the fastest server available. For starters, their built-in profiles can make connecting to great streaming or BitTorrent servers easily. We can’t confirm the details, but it seems that these servers also have different technical specs that make them better for specific use cases.
You can sort servers by fastest to conduct a quick speed test. You can also sort them by fastest and most-empty. They provide user load and ping (latency) scores for each server. Like most VPNs, server analytics don’t always pan out like their tests imply they should. But these sorting features do provide an excellent starting point.
As mentioned, CyberGhost has a profile called Torrent Anonymously that caters specifically to peer to peer file sharing (aka. BitTorrent).
In addition to a few fixed settings, it also filters out their non-torrenting servers. You have only two adjustable options under this profile, “block malicious websites” and “block tracking.” Settings not related to torrenting are removed.
Unlimited bandwidth and split tunneling are two features torrentors always look for. Unlimited bandwidth is a default on all CyberGhost accounts. And you can use the “app protection” and “exceptions” features to segregate your web activity. This should provide adequate split tunneling for all users.
Finally, CyberGhost has one major drawback for this use case. They do not have any torrenting servers in the U.S., Russia, Singapore, Australia, or China. This is a significant drawback for torrentors in those countries. P2P file sharing generally requires massive data transfer. Server proximity is critical.
Ease of Use
CyberGhost cares about user-friendliness. And they do a good job providing it—for the most part.
Their apps are all pretty easy to use. But the lack of consistency is a definite drawback. First, it increases the learning curve for multi-device households. Second, you can’t help but feel that all but the Windows client are underdeveloped. Their Windows offering is much more full-featured, especially compared to the Mac client.
That said, some may prefer the Mac version. It looks more like a typical VPN app. Map and power button, like everyone likes.
However, CyberGhost offers much more customization through Windows. It’s not just about the different browsing profiles. (But those are nice.) On Windows, you get a much more robust backend. With that comes several additional security features. Depending on why you need a VPN, that could be a big deal.
You also feel that CyberGhost are behind when it comes to Linux, routers, and other devices. As long as you are using a client though, CyberGhost is pretty straightforward.
They offer six different profiles, a unique feature with multiple applications. For now, they have Surf Anonymously, Unblock Streaming, Protect Network, Torrent Anonymously, Unblock Basic Websites, and Choose My Server. The names explain the use cases. Each is preformatted with options that match that goal.
In addition to being profiles, each of these serves as a different path to connection. They have unique settings, some adjustable and others hidden. But once you’ve been using CyberGhost for a while, “favorites” and “recently used” under Choose My Server are the most useful. You can also use this option through the system tray if you don’t have the app open.
Overall, CyberGhost offers a lot of options. Several of them you can’t find anywhere else. And almost every time, all you have to do is switch the feature “On.” Most things are straightforward to find.
We only have a few real complaints about the Windows app.
The biggest issue is that it is not is not very family-friendly. We would have liked to see a “quick connect” feature. Ideally, it would connect you to a fast, local server instantly. They could add it as a seventh tile, one that’s bigger than all the rest.
CyberGhost also struggles to play nice with other VPN software. It may stop working without warning if you have another VPN client installed. If you’re tech-savvy, you may be able to find a workaround. But it could leave others unprotected or simply frustrated.
Under the Hood
As we’ve shown, CyberGhost offers a ton of options built into their clients.
But more experienced users may be surprised to find a few things missing. Naturally, you can create a custom connection if you want total control.
The most important thing that the CyberGhost clients miss is the ability to change encryption protocols. It does let you switch between TCP and UDP OpenVPN connections. But if you want to use IPSec or PPTP, you’ll have to set it up manually. For advanced users, that may not be a problem. But it seems like a waste because those same users are the most likely to use the client’s advanced options.
There are a few other changes that can be made. But only experts should even attempt to mess with them. The knowledgebase mentions that support staff may guide you through adjusting some of these settings if you encounter certain problems. If you know what you’re doing, you might want to seek them out yourself.
If you want to stick with OpenVPN (recommended for most users), you probably don’t ever need to look under the hood with CyberGhost. Using the Windows app, they give out split tunneling, server diagnostics, proxy integration, and a lot more right at your fingertips.
CyberGhost doesn’t have the most seamless setup processes in the industry. Still, setup is respectably simple.
After you pay, you’ll receive an e-mail. Save it. It contains your password and a recovery token. You may need this token to recover your account in the future. Do not misplace it. From there, you can move onto the installation.
This process is a bit more involved than other industry leaders.
Service & Support
CyberGhost’s support is perhaps slightly above average for a VPN company.
Still, they have a ways to go before they are among the industry’s best.
Their knowledge base is pretty decent, especially their walkthroughs. They provide copious screenshots. You get the feeling that some of the other articles may need to be updated. But there are a lot of them, and they also address some questions on the blog.
They offer e-mail and chat support. Neither of which is very impressive. Chat is outsourced to Zendesk. Therefore, e-mail may be as well. This may concern anonymity-centric users. It is somewhat impressive that they offer chat support though. The support options built into their apps are buggy, and you should expect to go to the site if you have issues.
If you look online, you’ll find many customer service complaints. This is pretty common in the VPN industry. And considering CyberGhost offered a free VPN service for years, it’s even less surprising. You should know about a certain type of complaint that they get. But we’ll leave that for the next section. We expect CyberGhost to become more competitive with their live support moving forward.
CyberGhost VPN offers one of the cheapest long-term plans on the market.
As of June 2018, the lowest plan breaks down to $2.75 per month.
Subscriptions come in monthly, yearly, bi-yearly, and tri-yearly periods. All offer the same benefits. But the more extended the period, the steeper the discount. They used to have plan types with different features, but that is no longer the case.
CyberGhost offers the industry-standard 30-day money back guarantee.
***Please note: CyberGhost gets a disproportionate number of complaints about trouble with refunds. Do not try to use this policy as a “free trial” or you may regret it. Instead, be on the lookout for free trial offers. They used to offer a 7-day free trial, and it may come back. If it does, we will let you know.
You can pay with PayPal, credit card, Bitcoin, and even cash (through PayNearMe).
Monthly – $11.99/month
Yealy – $59.88 ($4.99/month)
Bi-Yearly – $90.96 ($3.79/month)
Tri-Yearly – $99.00 ($2.75/month)
CyberGhost is one of the better VPN providers on the market, and getting better every day.
Unlike most VPN companies outside 14 Eyes jurisdiction, they pass the “legitimate business test.” Leadership is public (and passionate about privacy). This and the acquisition by Kape/Crossrider puts them in a unique position. Running a VPN company is expensive. CyberGhost is apparently willing to make the investment their business requires. The rapidly expanding servers, well-developed apps, and rock-solid encryption prove that.
However, they need to continue improving their apps and make them more consistent. They also need to continue to grow their servers and locations to keep up with the leaders. And like most VPNs, their customer support experience could use some work.
Halting their free VPN offering seems to have freed CyberGhost up to consolidate plans and slash prices. At the same time, they are investing in infrastructure to compete with the best in the industry. This may put them on a path to the top (which means their prices may follow). If that’s the case, locking in a three-year plan today would be an excellent investment.