Located in Canada, DefenceVPN surfaced in late 2016. They proclaim they’re “simply the best VPN” and back this up with claims of having tons of features and ‘1-click installation’. It is a series of statements that we have heard many times before, but in this case, does the provider had the specifics to back it up?
Firstly, it is only fair to state that there have been numerous changes at DefenceVPN since our first review of their service went live. However, this has resulted in some down time, and the website has been inaccessible on several occasions. Additionally, it’s not clear, at least to me, that these changes have really had much of an impact on the service that is provided. Right away it’s clear that DefenceVPN lacks many of the other protocols that other services provide, offering only IKEv2 and OpenVPN. There is no obvious method for the user to choose the connection protocol from the app once it is installed, so there is a level of trust requested that you are connected using a suitable protocol. It’s good to know that DefenceVPN implements a high level of encryption: AES-256-CBC cipher on all servers, SHA-512 for authentication and RSA 2028 for handshake. They also operate a double encryption approach and are DNS leak free.
On top of this, DefenceVPN boasts of having “blazing fast servers” at 1GBps so if you’re simply in need of a service to unblock geo-restricted content then DefenceVPN may come to the rescue. You’ll also receive access to over 31 servers in over 25 countries. However, when using the VPN, even when connected to the services choice of ‘fastest server’ there was a noticeable slowing of my internet; the extent of this drop in speed was dependent on the time of day.
Currently, the service is available on Windows, Mac and Android directly from the website, while other platforms require the use of third-party software to connect to their servers. An app for the iPhone has been and completed and is currently being reviewed by Apple. It is also worth noting that while DefenceVPN does allow you to access geo-restricted websites, it does not currently work with Netflix. Now, it should be noted that they do not boast about unblocking Netflix anywhere on their site. But, as they do mention unblocking geo-restricted websites I thought I would give it a go. I was met big a blank screen and a warning from Netflix about trying to use a VPN or similar service on their platform. I contacted DefenceVPN support about this issue, and was not surprisingly told that they were unable to unblock Netflix at this current time, but were working on it. Unfortunately, they are one of the many VPN’s that has been affected by Netflix’s crack down on such services. However, t is possible to access a range of other similar streaming services, along with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
The app does feature an auto connect feature, as well as the option to launch on start up. Both of these are useful features, as is the kill-switch that halts all internet traffic if your VPN connection drops – preventing your ISP and other potential snoopers from hoovering up your data. I can confirm that on the one occasion that my connection dropped when testing the app on Windows the kill-switch did kick in and do exactly what it was expected to.
Quick installation guides are provided on their website for Android, iOS, Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. If things get tricky you can always open a ticket through their support system or access the live chat option.
It must be noted that they’re based in Canada – a known data retention “black spot” and therefore privacy advocates may opt for a different provider. However, DefenceVPN prefer to reassure users that their data is safe by including a warrant canary on their webpage which alerts users to whether the company has received a search warrant (you’ll have to keep an eye the page though). Also, they emphasize their partnership with foreign server providers adds some degree of protection so not all data is passing through Canada.
DefenceVPN have changed their pricing approach since the original review. Rather than having 2 pricing tiers; one with P2P allowed, and the other excluding P2P, they now offer one level of protection and usage with just the length of subscription changing. There are 3 different pricing plans (monthly, 6-monthly and annually). One of the biggest drawback, if you’re looking to maximize your anonymity, is that they only accept PayPal or credit cards.