Overview of VPN-providers
VPN — is not only a way to contact the corporate network or the connection to the workplace from home … What offer VPN-providers, and what you can expect from Internet access via the Internet?
The technology of building virtual private networks (VPN — Virtual Private Network) is widely used for more than ten years for the creation of secure communication channels between subnets in the corporate sector, as well as «providers of last mile» to provide Internet access to their customers. In addition, there are other areas of application VPN, one of which is considered in this article. This is the VPN-providers that provide customers with access to the Internet via the Internet ….
It looks like this: the user already having access to the network, organizes VPN-tunnel, and through the use of resources network. This allows to obtain:
gt; work safety in public areas;
gt; neutralization blocking sites on a geographic basis.
Let’s look at these features in more detail.
Until recently, the topic of censoring cyberspace was not particularly relevant in Russia, but in view of the latest developments in the legislation, it becomes very important. It is not just a «black list of Internet sites» and «anti-piracy law,» which everyone’s lips, and the tendency as a whole. Already established and somehow exploit the notorious «black list» and then set out to fill up additional categories to block [1, 2], and I think it somehow will be done. As has been said many times by representatives of the Internet community, these measures are fraught with the fact that the sites will leave the Internet space of Russia, and to access locked resources will have to find alternative methods. On the Internet, now you can easily find a number of ways to circumvent censorship, but almost all of them, or potentially unsafe, or are only suitable for use on individual computers.
The following topical issue — it’s anonymity and access by unauthorized persons (and the state in particular) to the personal data of users. With regular use of the Internet there is no absolute anonymity — we can talk only about who is seeing your data and with whom he is willing to share them. Yes, in the construction of VPN-tunnel link between your computer and the server is encrypted VPN-provider. Yes, neither your ISP, nor anyone else (along the route of the tunnel) can not easily discover what you’re doing on the Internet — it is visible only to the fact of an encrypted tunnel. But somewhere there is still a point of exit, and it does not coincide with the target resource to which you are applying. So we must understand that «anonymity» which proclaim VPN-services — it’s just the transfer of your data from the sphere of observation of one subject in the field of observation of another. However, it may also be important.
When working in the open WiFi-networks, and just in places of collective use of the network (eg in hotels) the risks to be within reach of intruders greatly increased. Wrap all traffic, VPN-tunnels, hiding it from the «neighbors» of the network, in this case, a very good idea.
In addition, some sites are trying to restrict their users a certain regional identity. This is done, or to reduce the likelihood of network attacks (such as, for example, an online store Zappos, which, after such an attack no longer accept connections from Russia) or as restrictions related to the terms of the distribution of content (for example — the service «Yandeks.Muzyka» that is, on the contrary, is available only from Russia). In the case of using the VPN-service, you can select the country where are forwarding tunnel, and will be presented IP-address of this country, thus effectively bypassing regional restrictions.
To pay or not to pay?
On the Internet you can easily find a lot of suggestions from the VPN-providers, and service may be available as a paid or free. Of course, if there is something you can get for «so», that is a great temptation to take advantage of it. You’ve got to remember that free services may exist a number of limitations: gt; often to establish the tunnel using the PPTP protocol (though there are exceptions), which is sometimes blocked by local Internet providers;
gt; restrictions on the protocols. HTTP and HTTPS passed all providers, but other protocols may be blocked;
gt; a small number of servers to connect;
gt; Limited territorial distribution. The most popular regions — UK, USA, Canada;
gt; periodic change of passwords from the service. This is particularly inconvenient for those who use the VPN-connection to routers and other network devices;
gt; may be limited by the speed of work;
gt; It may be limited to the amount of traffic;
gt; in a web page can be embedded advertising.
In addition, sites that filter connections to itself on IP-addresses can also filter and addresses VPN- providers — for example, the same can not be opened through Zappos some free VPN-services.
If you do decide to make a choice in favor of free- VPN, it makes sense to conduct a further study to get a little more understanding of the provider. If you do not get any information, you can contact the service «WHOIS» and look for someone to register a domain name, and then through special services  to look, at what other domain names appear to indicate contact — can sometimes fall very unexpected coincidence. Particular attention should be paid to services that do not need to register for using the VPN-connection.
The cost of VPN-service ranges from 6 to 15 dollars a month, depending on the VPN-provider and on how long you are buying the service. Almost all offers are deprived described in the previous section, the disadvantages, so choose the appropriate service can be difficult. In addition, some providers can provide you with both dynamic and static IP-addresses. The latter is not common, but can be useful if you need to provide access to the Internet some services on your network.
Service with the eloquent title Hide My Ass  has been running for eight years, is located in the UK. The minimum price of the service — 6.55 dollars a month (at the order of a year), and the minimum payment period — 1 month (the cost in this case will be about 11.5 US dollars). At the time of writing for VPN-connections offered 443 Server 110 locations in 61 countries with a total number of IP-addresses more than 53 OOO. The site is declared the use of protocols, OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP. Connect recommended by specialized software NMA! Pro VPN (free of charge), but you can also use built-in tools, and operating systems. It provides only dynamic IP-address, without traffic restrictions. With one account is allowed two concurrent connections. Free trial period there, but the money can be returned within 30 days after the start of using the service (provided that the total traffic does not exceed 10 GB, and the number of sessions to connect no more than a hundred).
Feel the benefits of paid service can only be offered by using providers. Currently available version for Windows XP / Vista / 7/8 (announced support for Windows 8 are not on all pages) and Mac (Tiger / Leopard / Snow Leopard / Lion). For Linux it is offered is only the console version (GUI development). For mobile devices (and routers) may nominally supported connection methods.
Before you install the software to work with VPN, have to go through a short registration process online and pay tariff plan. Then it becomes available personal account, from which you can download the most recent version. Install it should be with elevated privileges.
After the first start you need to specify your username and password for the VPN-connection. The credentials are the same here as it is for private office site, but the connection protocol PPTP standard means using a different password, which can be found in your account under «PPTP servers». After entering credentials only have to select the protocol (PPTP or OpenVPN), a server to connect from the drop-down list and click «Connect to VPN» (see. Fig. 1). The list of servers with the choice of impressive length. In addition, the available items to automatically select a random server in the region or even create a list of servers to connect manually. And can select a server from the menu Country Selection — in text form or in form of a map (Map tab Overview, see. Fig. 2).
From useful features include:
gt; Autoplay connection and after the start of the operating system and reconnect in case the connection is broken;
gt; automatic change of IP-addresses at a predetermined interval of time;
gt; «Load Balancing» (which in fact is that if a selected region of more than one server, it is proposed to use the least loaded. See Fig. 3);
gt; definition geographically closest servers;
gt; definition of the fastest servers (to assess the use Ping (ping test), ping + speed upload / download 100 KB of data (express test) or Ping + Speed loading / unloading a piece of data, the size of which depends on the speed of your Internet connection (full test);
gt; Detailed logging;
gt; blocking function of the application on the network, if the VPN-connection is not established (Secure IP Bind).
Of the minuses:
gt; Secure IP Bind function does not work with all applications;
gt; when connecting to servers in «exotic» countries (such as Morocco) speed is very low;
gt; SMTP-port 25 is enabled only for the known SMTP-server (or unlocked upon written request), making it impossible to work your mail server through a VPN;
gt; OpenVPN and L2TP over UDP is not supported in the software HMA Pro VPN. In this case you need to use the OpenVPN client-side, and for L2TP — download a separate program — «dialer» or connect manually
gt; to find the key to l_2TR connection or link to NMA L2TP Dialer, have a little dig in the documentation on the website or write to technical support.
In general, work with the provider leaves a pleasant impression is largely due to the presence of the above-mentioned «small fishechek» in the NMA! Pro VPN. When connected to a geographically remote servers there is some slowdown download sites with lots of content, however, lacks the speed to view online even HD-video.
American provider  provides a VPN-connection to more than one hundred servers in 44 countries with the number of available IP-addresses of over 7,000 provided to connect with a dynamic «gray» IP-address without traffic limitations. Supported protocols OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP. Tariff plans include the cost for a month (10 dollars), three months ($ 9 per month) and one year (6.5 dollars a month). Provided unconditional refund within the first week of using the service. Using one account, you can simultaneously connect to two different devices, but only when using different protocols. Own software, expanding opportunities to work with VPN, available for platforms Win, Mac, and Android. In other operating systems and devices will have to use the standard methods of connecting.
The personal account is available on the website is very stingy panel service — but there is a very useful feature: the section «Servers List» You can not just look at the list of servers to connect, but also to see how busy a particular server. Unfortunately, the proposed software download server is not visible, accessible only to their list, select the protocol and scant settings (see. Fig. 4).
Somehow, OpenVPN support for Windows 8 should be specifically included in the settings (the menu Preferences).
One of the advantages of this provider can be noted:
gt; reasonable cost;
gt; the ability to choose the least loaded server;
gt; a large number of servers to connect;
gt; OpenVPN support through UDP;
gt; refund within the first week.
Of course, there are also disadvantages:
gt; after payment of the subscription renewal option is activated. At the end of the paid term funds on your card will be charged again automatically. Perhaps it is not entirely negative, but it should be remembered. Unsubscribe available in the section «Billing» from the control panel on the site;
gt; IPVanish VPN software when connecting modifies the DNS settings on the active network adapter. After setting off from the service switch is set to «automatically obtain addresses of DNS», which is not very convenient if you have been prescribed own DNS settings manually.
It should also be borne in mind that, as a major VPN provider in the US, IPVanish responds promptly to complaints about the misuse of the service.
However, the overall impression was positive from the provider. Speed to view HD-video is not enough on all servers, but you can choose the right. Refunds carried out on the third day after the request (of course, pre wondered why). However, reports of disloyalty to the P2P service is somewhat alarming.
Prior to that, the article describes a relatively inexpensive market participants now look to offer VPN-provider with a less competitive prices — BeeVPN . Despite the resemblance brand names, the Danish provider has no relation to the Russian cellular operators. Depending on the length of subscription (one month, three months or a year), the cost could reach 6.59, 8, or 12 euros per month, which translates into US currency will be from 8.75 to 16 dollars a month. For the need to work with mobile devices will have a month to pay another a little more than the euro. Declared the possibility of a refund within the first 14 days, but only if you can not establish an active connection. Once this happened, the right to a refund is lost, even if you are not satisfied with the speed of work. Restrictions on traffic or on the ports do not have, connections can be established to the servers in the UK, France, Denmark and Sweden. The company declares itself as the fastest VPN-provider on the grounds that use Cisco equipment protocols CiscoDTLS / IPSec and its own network.
The site in the section «Guides» depicts the process of setting up the service for different types of platforms and devices (for some reason forgot about Android). As a client for Windows MAC Linux are invited to download and use the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client. The program has almost no options, only the information tabs, so will have to manage connection settings through the site. By entering the site login and password specified during the registration, falls into the «command center» (BeeVPN Command Center, see. Fig. 5). Here, right on the diagram, you can control the settings of the connection and change the password and renew your subscription to the service. To take effect, it needs to make reconnection. Please note that the entry point signon1. beevpn.com only one for all geographic locations. Figure out what’s what, quite simply, if you look at the aforementioned section Guides.
The advantages of the provider include:
gt; work through the most modern protocol Cisco DTLS;
gt; the absence of NAT — connection after you issued a «white» IP-address;
gt; support for dual-stack — you get as IPv4, and IPv6- address;
gt; personal firewall;
gt; excellent documentation online.
As minuses, I note:
gt; higher than that of other providers, value;
gt; Online stated encryption AES 256-bit, but according to information from the Cisco Any Connect, after connecting it follows that uses AES 128-bit;
gt; extra for the ability to connect to mobile devices;
gt; inability to return the money after the beginning of work with the service;
gt; configuration parameters only through the website provider;
gt; only four geographic traffic exit point.
The speed of the service was the highest of all the above article, and while HD-video online fast shipping through any of the four geographical locations, RDP-connect to servers to Moscow to work noticeably slower. Lauded online 24/7/365 technical support on the question of the number of concurrent connections on a weekday was responsible for more than 12 hours.
The results of the above three VPN-providers are listed in Table 1.
When using VPN-services obvious negative consequence is a reduction in the rate of the channel. It is influenced by many factors, among which:
gt; the geographic location of your device, VPN-server and the content source; gt; the number of other customers using the VPN- server;
gt; «Overhead» on tunneling (depending on the protocol).
The main recommendation in this case — as far as possible try to use the one closest to your server.
If your network consists of several segments, it must be borne in mind that the VPN-connected, you can lose access to them, and this problem should be solved by making changes to the routing table.
Almost all the VPN-providers state that they do not retain any information about the user, besides registering the establishment and termination connection to the service. However, this assertion must be approached with a healthy skepticism for at least two reasons.
Firstly, in some countries there are laws that require service providers to store data about the users in the network. These countries include, for example, the European Union, but the US and Canada — no. However, in the USA the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act — Law on copyright in the digital age) , which allows rights holders to demand from providers promptly block content that violates copyrights.
Second, the rules of almost any VPN- provider described the reasons for blocking an account. This usually includes the spread of viruses and spam, hacker activities and — attention! — Distribution of content that violates copyrights. There is quite a logical question: «If the provider does not follow the actions of subscribers, he learns of wrongdoing?»
To answer this question, you can refer to the Community Support VPN-providers. Such questions were asked there, and the answers were as follows: «We do not follow the user, but if the real-time receive a complaint that we have is through the distribution of unlicensed content, or other illegal activities, we will stop them.» Thus, the emphasis is on what action
Table 1. Summary characteristics of VPN-providers
The state identity provider
Hide My Ass — UK
The number of servers to connect
Hide My Ass -61
Hide My Ass Yes
BeeVPN No, "white" IP
Hide My Ass -from 6.55 to $ 11.
IPVanishVPN -from 6.5 to $ 10.
BeeVPN -from 8.75 to $ 16.
Hide My Ass Yes, own
IPVanishVPN Yes, own
BeeVPN Yes, Cisco Any Connect
Support Software Operating Systems
Hide My Ass -Windows, Mac, Linux (no GUI)
IPVanishVPN -Windows, Mac, Android
BeeVPN -Windows, Mac. Linux
Hide My Ass Yeah, 30 days (ext. Conditions)
IPVanishVPN Yes, 7 days
BeeVPN Yes, 14 days if there was not a successful connection
The number of simultaneous connections
Hide My Ass -Two
-Two IPVanishVPN, but for different protocols
BeeVPN -1 occurs in real time, which means there is no need for logging. However, through a single external IP-address can run multiple subscribers, and if this IP is hanging more than one user, define «criminal» is possible only by using the monitoring and analysis of traffic. By the way, BeeVPN agreement on the use of the service and said, «We do not store your traffic, and only the monitor it to optimize our work.» Therefore, to clarify all the features of the selected VPN-provider makes sense to use short-term tariff plans in order to avoid the loss of funds in case of blocking the account.
Unless VPN, that? Depending on what purpose are, possible to use other means to achieve them. For example, if you just need to get to a blocked site, you can use a web anonymizer (free- rgohu). In this case, you go to the anonymizer page, and from there access a target resource. If you have the main thing — anonymous, you can use the anonymous network Tor or 12P. On the first can be found in one of the last rooms «System Administrator» . Thus it is not surprising that our lawmakers are considering an option to block them. 
If you do not trust «strangers» VPN-services, you can create your own by renting resources in the cloud, or using the offer VPS (Virtual Private Server) by any hosting provider. The price of this solution is not much higher or comparable to the cost of VPN, but you get a virtual server on which you can customize anything you want.
All alternatives in some benefit, but something inferior VPN-services. Recently, for example, allow a tunnel to forward all traffic on all protocols not only HTTP / HTTPS, as is the case with the proxy servers. With proper choice of VPN server-speed Internet will change much less than in the anonymous networks. In addition, VPN can be configured at the device level, providing network access to the Internet, making this solution acceptable not only for use on a home computer, but for small networks Class SOHO. And if the setting of the virtual server on the VPS-hosting may be too time-consuming process, the installation VAN-connection much easier.
1. «Black list of sites will enhance departmental orders» http://uinc.ru/news/sn20184.html
2. «pirate sites can get into the register of banned sites» — http://uinc.ru/news/sn19786.html.
3. Whois Lookup. Search for all domains by owner — http://www.webboar.com/tools/whois-lookup/.
7. A system-anonymizer TOR. Quick Start. // «System administrator», №11, 2012 g.-S. 56-57.
8. «The deputies to ban anonymity on the Internet» — http://izvestia.ru/news/535724.