VPNhub is a new VPN provider launched

VPNhub is a new VPN provider launched by top adult video site, Pornhub.

The company says this is all about the anonymity of its users, stating that ‘with 90 million visitors a day, the vast majority of whom are using devices on the go, it’s especially important that we continue to ensure the privacy of our users and maintain their confidentiality.’

You don’t have to watch Pornhub – or even porn – to use the service, though, and the VPNhub website is as family-friendly as any VPN provider.

VPNhub’s free plan sounds like it should appeal to just about anyone, with the website claiming it offers ‘unlimited bandwidth on your device of choice.’ What it doesn’t highlight is that this gets you access to a single US server only, and the free plan is only available on iOS and Android. Still, a free VPN with unlimited bandwidth is always going to be useful.

Signing up for the Premium plan gives you access to 13 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), as well as faster speeds, and allows you to use the service on Windows and Mac.

We’re normally cautious of new VPNs offering lots of locations, as it’s not always clear who is behind their network. VPNhub uses servers owned by StackPath, though, the cloud giant behind IPVanish, which gives some reassurance about likely service reliability.

Pricing looks high, at £10.49 ($14.69) for a one-off month dropping to £5.33 ($7.46) if you pay for a year upfront. If you like the IPVanish network, you could sign up with them directly for a little less, at $6.49 (£4.90) per month on the annual plan.

Still, if you’d like to try the service, sign up at your app store of choice and you’ll get a week of testing time before you’re charged.

 

Privacy

Understanding who owns a VPN and where they’re based can be important, especially when you’re trying to judge transparency and any implications for your privacy. Unfortunately, VPNhub makes this more difficult than most.

Checking Google Play shows the company with a Cyprus address, for instance. The VPNhub website FAQ says it’s a US company. The website privacy policy and terms of service are hosted by the developer Appatomic, though, and refer to being based on Californian law. The servers for the Premium plan appear to be owned by US cloud giant StackPath, but the free server seems to be run by someone else.

The privacy policy tries to be a little clearer, with a couple of logging-related statements.

‘We do not … track the browsing activities of users who are logged into our VPN service.’

‘Appatomic does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Applications or Services.’

This is a reasonable start, but it’s too vague to give us any real confidence about what the service might be doing. What does VPNhub mean by saying it won’t log the ‘use’ of its service, for instance? Presumably that means it won’t record traffic or your browsing history, but what about DNS requests? Session connect and disconnect times, incoming and outgoing IP addresses? We don’t know, and as VPNhub is using other people’s servers, it’s entirely possible that they’re not sure, either.

Looking at the permissions required by an Android app can often give us clues about its intentions, and in this case, they don’t look good.

A privacy-conscious VPN app asks only for the bare essential network-related permissions required for it to work. For example, ExpressVPN requires ‘View network connections’, ‘Full network access’, ‘Receive data from internet’ ,’Run at startup’, and so on.

VPNhub’s app has these, but also requires far more sensitive permissions, including ‘Identity’, ‘Contacts’, ‘Phone’ (device status and identity), ‘Photos/Media/Files’, ‘Storage’, ‘Device ID & call information.’

None of this proves the app is doing anything to compromise your privacy, but it certainly has the opportunity.

Combine this with the ads in the free plan, which could also give some scope for tracking what you’re doing, and VPNhub clearly has a few privacy issues. That may not matter if you just want a simple VPN to encrypt regular internet traffic on public Wi-Fi, but we would think carefully before you use the service for anything important.

 

Privacy

Understanding who owns a VPN and where they’re based can be important, especially when you’re trying to judge transparency and any implications for your privacy. Unfortunately, VPNhub makes this more difficult than most.

Checking Google Play shows the company with a Cyprus address, for instance. The VPNhub website FAQ says it’s a US company. The website privacy policy and terms of service are hosted by the developer Appatomic, though, and refer to being based on Californian law. The servers for the Premium plan appear to be owned by US cloud giant StackPath, but the free server seems to be run by someone else.

The privacy policy tries to be a little clearer, with a couple of logging-related statements.

‘We do not … track the browsing activities of users who are logged into our VPN service.’

‘Appatomic does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Applications or Services.’

This is a reasonable start, but it’s too vague to give us any real confidence about what the service might be doing. What does VPNhub mean by saying it won’t log the ‘use’ of its service, for instance? Presumably that means it won’t record traffic or your browsing history, but what about DNS requests? Session connect and disconnect times, incoming and outgoing IP addresses? We don’t know, and as VPNhub is using other people’s servers, it’s entirely possible that they’re not sure, either.

Looking at the permissions required by an Android app can often give us clues about its intentions, and in this case, they don’t look good.

A privacy-conscious VPN app asks only for the bare essential network-related permissions required for it to work. For example, ExpressVPN requires ‘View network connections’, ‘Full network access’, ‘Receive data from internet’ ,’Run at startup’, and so on.

VPNhub’s app has these, but also requires far more sensitive permissions, including ‘Identity’, ‘Contacts’, ‘Phone’ (device status and identity), ‘Photos/Media/Files’, ‘Storage’, ‘Device ID & call information.’

None of this proves the app is doing anything to compromise your privacy, but it certainly has the opportunity.

Combine this with the ads in the free plan, which could also give some scope for tracking what you’re doing, and VPNhub clearly has a few privacy issues. That may not matter if you just want a simple VPN to encrypt regular internet traffic on public Wi-Fi, but we would think carefully before you use the service for anything important.

 

We spotted one possible workaround in the Settings dialog, where there was an option to automatically connect to the fastest server when the app launched. This would speed up the connection process, right? Well, no: it simply didn’t work. Whatever automatic option we chose, the app ignored it, and continued to ask us to manually select a server.

The client had a decent selection of connection-related settings, include a choice of protocol (OpenVPN UDP or TCP), an Auto Reconnect option, a Kill Switch, and, unusually, IPv6 as well as DNS leak protection.

We tested the client by forcibly killing the OpenVPN.exe process, effectively dropping the VPN connection. Most clients reconnect after a few seconds, but VPNhub didn’t even notice there was a problem. Meanwhile our system acted as though it didn’t have an internet connection, and to get it back we had to click Disconnect, clear an error message and reconnect.

Site unblocking performance for US sites proved much the same as the free service: VPNhub got us access to YouTube, Comedy Central and the relatively easy sites, but Netflix detected we were using a VPN and refused to stream any content.

We checked the Premium UK server to see if it unblocked BBC iPlayer, but no luck. The website gave us its standard ‘not available in your location’ error message.

VPNhub did much, much better in our performance tests. Our test system managed around 75Mbps download speeds without a VPN, and this was barely changed at around 70Mbps when connecting to a UK server. Speeds dropped as we moved further away, but they were almost always very acceptable: near European connections were 50-60Mbps, UK to US connections reached 20 to 30Mbps, even Australia managed 10Mbps, good enough for HD video streaming.

There was more good news in our final privacy checks, where sites including ipleak.net and dnsleaktest.com revealed that VPNhub’s servers really were in the promised locations, and there were no DNS or WebRTC leaks to give away any details about us or our web activities.

Final verdict

VPNhub’s free unlimited bandwidth plan has some appeal for basic browsing tasks, but its privacy issues and buggy clients make it hard to recommend.

By | 2018-06-30T17:52:56+00:00 June 18th, 2018|News|