CyberGhost is a Romanian-based VPN provider founded in 2011. They are one of the most rapidly growing VPNs in the industry with a strong focus on server selection, value pricing, and usability.
CyberGhost offers a network of 3000+ servers across 60+ countries via a range of devices including Android, iPhone, Mac & Desktop. They allow up to 7 device connections. They have a unique approach to P2P (neither banning nor fully allowing), a good focus on usability and complementary features.
After years of foolishly running my online business via public WiFi, I decided to start using a VPN to secure my communications (and access a bit of out of market sporting events while traveling).
But I found out that – similar to web hosting – there is no such thing as a “best VPN provider”. In fact, it’s like a whole world of confusing information where even trustworthy information is near-useless since it’s so complex. This CyberGhost review is my notes from trying them out for my own purposes as a security-aware, traveling, US-based businessperson who needs good usability and good pricing. I am not a political activist or someone who regularly travels to firewalled countries.
Whether you are looking for a VPN for privacy, for website access, for avoiding geotargeting, for protecting communications or all the above, hopefully, this CyberGhost VPN review will be useful.
Here’s my CyberGhost VPN review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.
CyberGhost Pros / Advantages
CyberGhost VPN provides all the features you need and expect from a VPN service. The basic features are simple and straightforward, so those new to VPN can use them without a hassle. Advanced features are available for those with more experience around VPNs. Here are some of the advantages that I found using CyberGhost.
In some ways, VPN pricing should be simple and straightforward. You pay money for access to a network of servers who route your Internet requests to NetFlix, local newspapers, or whomever. You should be able to compare “apples to apples” – and get what you pay for. Sometimes that is true, but sometimes it’s not.
That is because not everyone uses every VPN feature (i.e., not everyone needs a network in The Gambia or access on a Roku) AND not every company runs their support or servers in quite the same way.
Among all the VPNs that I’ve tried so far, CyberGhost is one of the few that not only offers excellent pricing, but also offer excellent value for price.
In other words, they are affordable AND they give you lots of features. Additionally, you can lock in a lot of savings when you commit for a while. This is huge if you are running a business and use a VPN everyday (compared to a one-off user catching a big boxing match). Here’s their discounted rate –
CyberGhost’s plans also come with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Every plan comes with unmetered bandwidth, unmetered traffic, and usage on up to 7 devices. All plans utilize OpenVPN protocol with AES 256-BIT Encryption for the utmost in security.
CyberGhost also allows a range of payment options – including BitPay and PayPal.
Overall, CyberGhost’s pricing is by far their strongest advantage. You get a lot of features with high limits for your money. And you can lock-in rates for a longtime.
Account Set Up
“Onboarding” is the jargon for moving a new customer to an active customer. It’s the most vulnerable time for any software business. VPNs, which are by definition quite technical, all try to clear this hurdle in different ways.
CyberGhost passes their onboarding test with flying colors.
You simply purchase – and on the next screen, your download starts automatically and your account information shows up in multiple places. Once downloaded & installed, you can log in and use the service right off the bat. It’s really smart and well-done.
A username, password, and special key are created automatically when you create an account.
*Caveat – creating an account is the only confusing part of the whole process. If you let CyberGhost create an account for you and then change the username/password – then you will technically have 2 accounts. If you upgrade an account, then be sure that you are logging into the account with the upgrade. Otherwise, it will look like you don’t have a premium account.
Store the special key in a safe place as there’s no way to reset your account/password if you lose track of it.
Server Range & Locations
CyberGhost is based in Romania but has a truly global outlook on resources. Based on my Dashboard, they have very active users in both Northern Europe and North America, but have a robust network around the world.
They also have a way to select the exact server if you so want with additional information on each like whether it supports streaming or P2P.
They have been rapidly adding both servers and locations since I last tried them in April 2017.
Security and Encryption
CyberGhost features AES 256-BIT Encryption with a 2048-BIT RSA Key and MD5 for HMAC authentication.
CyberGhost utilizes perfect forward secrecy as an additional security measure. The tool randomly generates a new private key each time you log in to further protect your online history if your connection is somehow compromised.
OpenVPN is the default protocol but can be switched manually to L2TP or PPTP.
CyberGhost claims not to keep logs of user information or activity. They state clearly on their website that they don’t observe, track, or record anything.
There have been some issues with this claim in the past. A past issue regarding a root certificate installed when using certain privacy features calls the company’s claim that they don’t monitor user activity into question.
However, CyberGhost has directly addressed these issues. They fixed them in subsequent versions of their software.
CyberGhost’s transparency and willingness to engage with the public about security and privacy issues is uncommon among VPN providers (and is much appreciated by VPN users).
To me – the transparency is the most important part of security. There are real benefits to logging some to balance traffic and such – but there’s also the trust issue with logging. The main point is to be open with whatever you are doing and stick with that.
Since Romania is part of the European Union, CyberGhost as a company has plenty of strict requirements to live up to.
Caveat – Note that no VPN is 100% secure. Your traffic is still routing through a company. Any company can go out of business or go rogue. If you are trying to avoid your American ISP – then you are simply replacing distrust of Comcast/Charter with the trust of your VPN. If you are a political activist where trust is a life or death situation, you need to be using something like Tor. This highlights this section of CyberGhosts’s unique features, but the point remains using a VPN does not instantly create security/privacy. That is something you do via aligning company incentives (ie, paying for companies who maintain security) & being proactive.
User Interface & Features
In addition to account setup, CyberGhost VPN does well with intuitive user interfaces and features.
It’s beautifully laid out and easy to navigate. Everything from installing the client to connecting to an IP address is easy. CyberGhost requires you to select why you’re using the VPN after logging in. Your options include:
- Surf anonymously
- Unblock streaming websites
- Protect my Internet/Wi-Fi connection
- Torrent anonymously
- Unblock basic websites
Knowing why you’re using a VPN helps CyberGhost connect to the IP address in the region best suited for your specific needs.
It’s also possible to manually select the region and IP address you want to connect to.
Additionally, CyberGhost bundles a range of complementary privacy-related tools such as a do not track tool, ad blocker, and force HTTPS tool. All these are generally free to use via browser extension (ie, uBlock Origin)
Performance / Settings
Without fast, reliable performance, a VPN service is all but useless.
Of course, all VPNs that use OpenVPN create a slight lag in Internet speed. This is just par for the course, and not solely an issue with CyberGhost.
And it’s important to note that the speed drop can range from horrible to not noticeable.
My typical VPN testing wasn’t possible with CyberGhost due to the fact their US servers block P2P connections, which (I’m educated guessing here) look like testing tools. But I was able to use a different testing tool to judge latency and how much the extra trip takes off my bandwidth.
Here’s my baseline speeds & latency with CyberGhost OFF.
Here’s my speeds & latency with CyberGhost turned on with all server selections set to “Automatic” during business hours.
You can see that speeds were 91% of non-VPN speeds with just an extra 2ms added to the connection. That’s really good based on my experience where “really good” usually means 80% of non-VPN speeds. The 2ms in additional latency are reasonable as well. I couldn’t tell while watching videos or doing work.
My subsequent international connections were also fast and reliable enough to use streaming services such as BBC without a problem.
CyberGhost VPN comes with a built-in Internet kill switch to cut off all your online traffic in case you’re unexpectedly compromised.
CyberGhost also provides some (but not many) settings to mess around with to try to increase and/or unblock your connection.
It’s not much but more than other name-brand VPNs like Avast but also not so much as to add a whole layer of complexity.
Website / Transparency
Though it’s not a “feature” necessarily, the actual CyberGhost website is worth a mention.
Like the user interface of the service itself, CyberGhostVPN.com is well-designed and user-friendly. It’s easy to find the information you need.
The CyberGhost Server Overview gives you a real-time look at the number of servers they have online, which country each is located in, their total bandwidth, and the number of users currently online.
Potential new users can see exactly what each of the VPN service’s features do. You can also easily compare the Free, Premium, and Premium Plus versions side by side.
VPNs have a scary, daunting, technical sounding name, which can turn many people (who should be using the service) off from actually using it.
A perfect VPN that you never use is worse than a good VPN that you actually do. And on this area – CyberGhost does well.
Additionally, CyberGhost VPN that stands out to me is their transparency. It’s rare for a VPN provider to be so upfront.
The public transparency report page outlines malicious activity on CyberGhost servers. It also lists DMCA requests, law enforcement notices, and government requests.
CyberGhost Cons / Disadvantages
There is no such thing as a perfect or “best” VPN. Only the best for your need and experience. There are certainly plenty of CyberGhost complaints online – some valid, some anecdotal. That said, here are some of the big picture disadvantages that I found using CyberGhost VPN.
24/7 customer support via multiple channels is always appreciated, especially by new VPN customers.
Unfortunately, live support is only available from CyberGhost is via email ticket or Live Chat.
The support I did receive from CyberGhost VPN was good. But the fact remains that I had to create a ticket and wait. As a tech-savvy digital native with no hard deadline, that was fine. And for anyone focused on price & features, that’s fine as well.
But when my expat friends (both in their mid-50s) wanted to watch American Football in Central America, they could not have done without phone support. They use ExpressVPN for that reason.
If you are into DIY help, CyberGhost also provides an extensive “Help” section on their website. It includes a FAQ area and a help center.
Additional Encryption Features
While CyberGhost bundles several useful privacy features, they don’t have additional, bundled high-grade privacy options like direct connection via Tor (or the highest SHA-2 encryption). If security issues are a primary concern for you – I’d certainly explore other providers.
But the main issue comes from trust. Like I’ve mentioned before – using a VPN does not instantly create security & privacy. What it does do is transfer trust to a company that you are explicitly paying to keep you safe. The company you use still has to do their actual job and not breach that trust.
Given this trust, the privacy issues CyberGhost has had in the past are a reason to worry for some customers.
I’ve mentioned it numerous times already, but there was an issue with an update in the past that installed a root certificate (thereby allowing CyberGhost to monitor your activity, in theory). The fact that CyberGhost cleared these issues up, and was so transparent about them, helps ease the worry – but it’s still something to keep in mind.
Another potential negative is a dubious root certificate. Updates to the privacy features of a now-outdated version of the service involved packet inspection. CyberGhost fixed the problem in the latest versions of the service, but the lapse in judgment is still a cause for some concern.
Like I said in the pros, the company has been upfront and transparent about the issues, which counts more in my book than the actual issues. But – for many, it still counts as a big disadvantage.
CyberGhost VPN is a great option if you’re thinking about using a VPN for the first time. The company has made its way into the mainstream in recent years thanks to its excellent pricing, good onboarding, and solid selection of global servers.
If you are looking for a premium VPN provider with a higher price, but more of a focus on customer support, I’d also recommend looking at ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost is a Romanian-based provider of VPN services with more than 20 million users. Affordable pricing options, good usability, good security and excellent server selection. Limited support options.
Application Category: Virtual Private Network (VPN)