CyberGhost VPN Review: An Excellent Everyday VPN

TL;DR:

CyberGhost is one of the most recognizable VPN companies, and for good reason. Over the years, it has built a name for itself as one of the safest, most reliable, and most user-friendly VPN providers. Its apps offer a decent mix between simplicity and customizability, and it has all the bells and whistles to keep you safe and anonymous as you browse.

There are few downsides that can be a deal-breaker for some users, however. For one, CyberGhost is not available in China, so those wanting to use it to overcome the Great Firewall are better off with other options. It’s also been recently acquired by Kape Technologies, a UK company that used to be called Crossrider. While Kape has made a turnaround and is now and advocate for internet privacy, its history may still be a red flag to staunch privacy enthusiasts. Still, the company has not been involved in any major privacy leak, so it has maintained its integrity and standing as a VPN company worth a good, hard look.

I. Service Levels: 9/10

In a nutshell:

  • Full-featured and Easy to Use
  • Lightweight Apps, Painless Install Process
  • Excellent Support
  • Mobile apps don't offer forced HTTPS or DNS leak protection

A. Ease of Use

CyberGhost’s apps are par for the course when it comes to ease of use. Like most VPNs, it’s basically a launch-and-toggle affair. Installation is quick and fuss-free, so you can get going right away. The CyberGhost download process is quick and painless thanks to the relatively small size of its installer package. After entering your CyberGhost login credentials, you're good to go.

Despite the ease of use, CyberGhost also offers a lot of bells and whistles for those who want more fine-grained control. There is a search bar at the top-left of the interface for easy server search. There are also quick filters so you can see which servers are optimized for P2P, streaming, gaming, and the like.

The desktop app’s Smart Rules allows you to launch the app with preset settings. You can also configure certain settings to trigger only when you are using a specific program. A simple “power” button on the right shows you whether you’re connected or not at a glance.

Smart Rules allow for incredible ease of use.

If you’re a VPN power-user, you can also access granular settings through a settings menu on the lower-left. It allows you to change the VPN protocol you are using, and to block all IPv6 connections among other things.

Desktop app settings can be accessed on the left-hand corner.

 

There’s also something to be said about the VPN’s mobile apps. Its Android app is lightweight, and works well even in old phones. Of course, that also makes CyberGhost download for mobile devices pretty fast. The Android and iOS apps also have all the important bells and whistles such as ad and tracker blocking, WiFi protection, and more. Only the Android app has the split-tunneling feature, however. To help you stay on top of your mobile data allocation, the mobile apps come with a data compression feature that lets you browse faster with less data consumption.

Additional features from CyberGhost's mobile apps.

 

Note, however, that CyberGhost’s mobile apps don’t offer forced HTTPS usage or DNS leak protection.

In case you lose access to your CyberGhost login (i.e., you can’t login through any platform), you can reset your password through a one-time key sent to the email you used to sign up. In case you lose your email, you will have an option to restore access through the Cleverbridge reference number that was sent to your email when you signed up. Cleverbridge is the payment provider used by CyberGhost. Make sure you save this code when you sign up!

B. Customer Support (Email, Chat, Phone, Help Center)

CyberGhost has an excellent 24/7 chat support, which is available in English, German, and French. Their website also offers a ticketing system, with excellent service levels — most of the time, their customer support representatives respond in 24 hours.

For those who wouldn’t want to wait to connect to a chat agent, you can also get support from their well-organized Help Center. This knowledge base contains guides for setting up CyberGhost across various platforms.

II. Security and Safety: 9/10

In a nutshell:

  • Unblocks Netflix and almost every other streaming service
  • Streaming speed barely takes a hit when accessing most geo-restricted sites
  • Supports WireGuard, among other VPN protocols
  • Also supports extra safety features
  • No known major security flaw
  • Does not work in China

A. Ability to bypass Geo-Restrictions

Netflix and other streaming sites are still actively waging war against VPNs. Thankfully, top-tier VPNs like CyberGhost are one step ahead of the game.

In our tests, we have successfully accessed our Netflix library across various geo-restricted regions thanks to CyberGhost’s servers. The streaming speed was good enough for HD without any lag.

Other streaming sites such as Prime Video are also easily unblocked, though a few services have a spotty performance. Disney+ notably buffers for a few seconds before the content is loaded, but otherwise it can stream HD videos decently.

Many other services such as Hulu, HBO Max, Fox, Crunchyroll, and ESPN+ can also be accessed without a glitch. Kodi also works, and our attempt to install CyberGhost’s Android app on an Android TV was also completed without a glitch.

While not the fastest VPN we have tested, CyberGhost does an impressive job of streaming content from across oceans without a big hit on speed. This is done through a slew of streaming-oriented servers that automatically assigns an IP address and server location depending on your intended activity. And yes, they have specialized servers optimized for most streaming services. That means it’s possible to get on a Netflix-optimized server and stream your favorite content at improved speeds.

CyberGhost also has an algorithm that automatically replaces any IP addresses that websites may have blocked, so you can enjoy consistent access while using the VPN even if streaming sites update their security measures.

There is one major drawback in using CyberGhost though — it doesn’t work in China. It’s not surprising to find a VPN that doesn’t work in one of the most VPN-hostile countries in the world, but given how entrenched CyberGhost as a VPN is, this is fairly surprising.

B. Supported encryption protocols and algorithms

CyberGhost offers the industry-leading 256-bit encryption algorithm, along with the following security protocols:

● WireGuard (Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS)
● OpenVPN TCP/UDP (Windows, Android, Linux)
● IKEv2 (Windows, MacOS, iOS)

You can learn more about these protocols in our VPN primer.

As you notice, CyberGhost is among those in the bleeding edge of VPN that have adopted WireGuard. While the protocol is not yet perfect, it has logged the best levels of performance against even the most established protocols like OpenVPN.

Here, WireGuard is activated as the default protocol.

CyberGhost has found a way around its only weakness, which is its assignment of a static IP instead of a dynamic IP. The VPN service does this by combining the protocol with a set of features that automatically assigns the dynamic IP addresses, thus taking up WireGuard’ slack. WireGuard is also notable since it can be used across all major operating systems, whether desktop or mobile.

Aside from these protocols, CyberGhost also offers a host of security and accessibility features. An automatic kill-switch can be toggled to protect you from VPN leaks in the unlikely event the app can’t connect to CyberGhost servers. Split tunneling is also an option if you want to pick and choose which apps will be covered by a VPN. In addition to tunneling, the app also has a separate “App Protection” feature that automatically launches CyberGhost when you launch a protected app. This is available on desktop, and it’s a great feature for those times when you just want to go straight to watching or torrenting without having to launch your VPN separately.

You can also set new apps to be automatically protected.

Another great feature is CyberGhost’s app detection of public WiFi hotspots. When your laptop or phone connects to any of these unsecure connections, CyberGhost automatically launches so you’re protected even if you forget. The service additionally features forced HTTPS connection for more secured browsing, and Tor compatibility for extreme anonymity.

Finally, turning on CyberGhost also gives you the ability to block out all sorts of ads while browsing — it works well enough to block even stubborn Facebook ads! While this is a good thing, CyberGhost does not give any protection against malware so you need to install your own anti-malware service.

C. Known security flaws

As of the time of this review (April 2021), CyberGhost has not had any privacy-threatening security breaches. That does not mean they have a perfect record, though. Back in 2019, a breach into the service Typeform (not related to CyberGhost) leaked the usernames of people who took surveys through the platform. CyberGhost had used the platform to create user experience surveys for its subscribers, and fourteen CyberGhost users had their names leaked. No passwords had been leaked, however, so there was no danger posed to the users. Since then, there have been no other breaches of any kind.

During our testing for VPN leaks, we found that CyberGhost offers complete leak-proof protection. Like most top-tier VPN services, CyberGhost has its own private DNS server that automatically routes your queries. These require no setup, so you’re protected as soon as you launch the service.

This is only for the desktop, though — as mentioned earlier, the mobile apps do not have DNS leak protection, so leakage is possible. If you go for CyberGhost and need to browse in complete privacy, it may be worth waiting until you’re at your desktop to do it. Your mobile data remains encrypted, however, so while your ISP may be able to see which websites you visit, they will not be able to see your activities.

III. Price: 8/10

In a nutshell:

  • Great limited time offers make up for steep regular prices
  • Excellent money-back guarantee
  • Mixed bag of add-on features
  • Limited free trial

CyberGhost’s regular prices are pretty steep, easily among the most expensive monthly plans among its competitors. However, this is mitigated by the fact that they also offer limited time discounts that take a huge percentage off their rates. This changes over time, however, though you can expect introductory rates of less than $3 a month for the first year or more. Signing up on one of these offers locks in a much lower monthly price after the introductory period, typically around $5 a month for an annual term.

There is a CyberGhost free trial period, but it is severely limited in terms of features. For starters, it only lasts for 24 hours, and it doesn't offer many of the servers the full version does.

Aside from the base plans that CyberGhost offers, it also allows you to subscribe to a host of add-ons. A free Secret Photo Vault app is available for subscribers on iOS, and it allows you to hide photos and videos behind a PIN or fingerprint lock.

There are also paid add-ons, such as one for Dedicated IP Addresses (great for circumventing blocks) and a Password Manager service. The latter one doesn’t offer much value for money, however, as there are many free password managers that offer pretty much the same sets of features. The Dedicated IP Address also has a downside — in the interests of privacy, CyberGhost does not associate your IP token with your account. This token is a string that is pasted into the app, allowing it to connect to the dedicated address. The token is given after purchasing the add-on, so it’s best to keep a backup of the token somewhere safe but easily accessible.

The service offers a host of payment providers, including the basic PayPal, credit card, and cryptocurrencies. You can also pay through third-party services such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

A. Money-back guarantee

CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. This is a really good deal since most other VPNs don’t offer a refund beyond the first month. If you’re signing up for the monthly CyberGhost subscription, however, you only have 2 weeks to file for a refund. The monthly subscription isn’t recommended, however, since it’s more expensive than longer plans.

The refund process is easy — you just have to contact CyberGhost’s chat support team, and file for the refund. Depending on the payment method, the refund could take up to 10 working days, though the funds usually come through in a few days.

IV. Server Details: 8/10

In a nutshell:

  • Wide array of servers, even in areas that are normally VPN-hostile
  • Variety of specialized servers, including extra-secure NoSpy servers
  • Can connect up to seven devices; router connections count only as one device
  • Overriding “Best Server” feature can result in huge speed drops
  • Gaming servers have high ping rates
  • Non-intuitive device connection system

A. Server Speed and Locations

CyberGhost has one of the most widespread server distributions among the top-tier VPNs, with servers in 90 countries. They have around 6,800 servers in total, allowing for a lot of options when connecting across the globe. The US has the lion’s share of servers with more than 1,000 in North America alone. There are also servers in surprising locations such as China (though you can’t use it when inside this VPN-hostile country) and Saudi Arabia.

Like most other VPNs, CyberGhost also uses virtual server locations to improve speed and reliability. Virtual servers are those that are made to look like they are in the named country, but are in fact physically located somewhere else. You can learn more about virtual servers in this post. CyberGhost is very transparent about its servers’ virtual connections, so it’s highly recommended that you check out the details before connecting. You don’t want to accidentally connect in a server physically located within the 14 Eyes!

CyberGhost server speeds aren’t the best of the bunch, but they are decent enough to give you consistent performance. The app’s “Best Server” feature is most likely going to connect you to a local server, which doesn’t impact your internet speed by much. Overriding this feature and manually connecting to other servers in your country or region can drop your download speeds by less than 30%, which on a regular connection would still be fast enough to stream Netflix in HD.

CyberGhost’s data infrastructure isn’t as robust, however, when connecting to servers from halfway around the globe. Doing so can drop your download speeds by up to more than 90%! If you’re planning to gain access to streaming libraries from a different continent, there may be better options out there.

As for gaming, CyberGhost’s servers are generally stable enough for competitive real-time play (yes, you can install this on your router for console gaming — more on this below). This is, of course, if you use the “Best Server” feature — if you’re going to connect to a distant server in order to unlock access to in-game content, expect ping rates much higher than the recommended average of 170ms. It is noted that CyberGhost also has gaming-oriented servers you can connect to, but it seems they are overloaded most of the time — during our testing, ping rates from such servers flew way above 300ms. We fared better with regular, non-gaming optimized servers.

Aside from gaming-optimized servers, CyberGhost also offers the following dedicated server types:

NoSpy Servers. These are special servers that come as a subscription upgrade. Using them offers vastly improved security, since they are based in the company’s private data center in Romania. These home-grown servers can only be physically accessed by CyberGhost NoSpy Server employees, and are not available to third-party contractors unlike most other servers. These servers are also faster, thanks to better hardware and dedicated uplinks. They are perfect for those who live through privacy and anonymity. Access to these servers are available for both desktop and mobile.

Dedicated IP servers. These are also upgrades, worth an extra $5 a month. This is the perfect workaround if you need to access IP-restricted networks, such as your company’s resources while working from home. Unlike a regular VPN connection, a specific IP address is assigned to you, so it doesn’t change every time you connect. It’s a better option than split-tunneling if you want complete protection anywhere, anytime. It is also great for bypassing the increasingly smart blocking algorithms of streaming companies like Netflix.

The usual streaming-optimized and P2P-optimized servers are also accessible through CyberGhost’s wide network.

B. Limitations (speed, bandwidth, simultaneous connections, etc.)

Like any good VPN service, CyberGhost does not throttle your VPN speeds. There is a connection limit of up to seven devices, and using up all these seven connections will hardly impact your browsing speed.

There is a hidden drawback here, though, since the connections are not “hot-swappable”. That means each connection is consumed each time you connect to CyberGhost using a device, even just once. Each of these connections can then be logged out in case you need to free up that connection for another device. This is not the most intuitive setup, but it’s a decent trade-off since seven simultaneous connections is more than many of its competitors offer.

If you need to use more than seven devices at once, we recommend installing CyberGhost’s router app instead. The router is considered as just one connection, so in theory you can connect an unlimited number of devices to the VPN!

C. P2P server availability

CyberGhost’s P2P-optimized servers operate in much the same way as their streaming-oriented ones. That is, you automatically get connected to the best server depending on your location and the content you are trying to access, and then you are assigned a clear IP address to bypass any blocks. Additionally, their P2P servers are clustered around countries that are known for being able to access P2P indexes that other states may have blocked. This ensures the widest possible access to torrent streams.

Note, however, that these servers are only available on the desktop app.

V. About the VPN: 7/10

In a nutshell:

  • Headquartered in Romania (non-14 Eyes country)
  • N0-logs policy, annual Transparency Reports
  • Acquired by Kape Technologies, which has a past related to malware and scareware
  • May share user information to parent company and sister companies (ZenMate and PIA)

A. Location (Headquarters)

CyberGhost is headquartered in Romania, distant from the prying 14 Eyes. It also operates under Romanian laws despite having offices all across Europe. Romania has decent data privacy legislation, and the company’s own no-logs policy only complements that.

Due to its parent company, however (more on this in the next section) CyberGhost disputes will be settled using UK laws. Spokespeople from the company have noted that this is a strategic decision since using Romanian laws would be more invasive in terms of settling disputes. In jurisprudence, the English common law is well-known for giving primacy to the intents of the contracting parties, meaning any legal issues between a user and Cyberghost will be settled almost entirely through whatever contract is subsisting between the VPN company and its customer.

It is also important to note that while the UK itself is in the Five Eyes, it has also enacted the GDPR which allows CyberGhost to be independent data-wise.

B. Parent company

Recently, CyberGhost has been acquired by Kape Technologies, a company that was once called Crossrider. This rings some alarm bells, since a privacy-focused product like a VPN seems like a round peg in a square hole with a company known for adware. Among Crossrider's more famous creations is a software that redirects browser traffic to advertisers while accessing and transmitting user data.

Kape Technologies is based in the UK, potentially neutralizing any advantages of CyberGhost’s Romanian citizenship. But all isn’t lost, as the 2018 name change that transformed Crossrider into Kape also saw the company’s departure from the gray area of the Internet, to move into the realm of cybersecurity.

Kape Technologies is also known as the parent company of other VPN acquisitions ZenMate and Private Internet Access.

Press interviews with CyberGhost’s top officer state that the company is still working independently, even if it’s under Kape’s umbrella. It is quick to note that it has its own set development path, and is not involved with its parent company’s inner workings. As with most press releases, though, this has to be taken with a grain of salt. Only time will tell if CyberGhost (and Kape in general) will stay on the straight and narrow path of a true privacy-oriented company.

C. Logging Policy, Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions

As is usual with VPNs that have parent companies, herein lies the rub. CyberGhost’s privacy policy states that it may disclose its users’ personal data to any member of its “group of companies” (i.e., Kape Technologies, ZenMate, and Private Internet Access among others). Statements from the company say that such disclosure will only apply when employees from the various arms of Kape work together in “cross-group projects”.

This is practically inevitable, and it is a show of good faith for CyberGhost to mention this directly. However, it still raises a few concerns since none of the other companies are as privacy-oriented as CyberGhost’s Romanian origin. CyberGhost also expressly says that the US arms of Kape do not have access to the data of its EU-based arms, thanks to GDPR and related legislation.

As an added note on privacy, CyberGhost maintains an annual Transparency Report that shows how many subpoena requests it has received, so as to let users know when law enforcement has come knocking on the VPN’s doors. Independent, third-party audits, however, are still lacking as of the time of this review.

The silver lining amidst all these is the fact that CyberGhost uses a RAM-based server that allows it to wipe all servers clean with just a simple reboot. This limits what the company can share to its other arms. Most of the data that’s permanently stored contain user sign-up data that any other VPN company stores anyway in order to identify their customers.

Perhaps the only part where CyberGhost lags behind is in its storage of hardware data, which the company uses to track how many devices you are connecting at once. Some other VPN companies have found ways around this, but these aren’t a huge risk to your privacy since the data is encrypted and anonymized anyway. The company even lets you sign up through BitCoin, adding another option for anonymity so you don’t have to use a payment option that is linked to your personal information.

Those who opt to use CyberGhost can still sleep easy, knowing that the server setup itself keeps their data as private as possible, company policies notwithstanding.

VI. Technical Details: 9/10

In a nutshell:

  • RAM storage allows for best possible performance and privacy
  • Support across all major platforms, including browsers and routers
  • No Chromebook app yet

A. Storage Type

CyberGhost uses RAM-based servers, which are more secure than regular drives. RAM servers can’t store data without power, and are completely reset when rebooted. CyberGhost also reboots their storage regularly in order to flush user data.

B. Platform/Device Support

CyberGhost VPN does not have a dedicated Chromebook app, but you can use CyberGhost’s Chrome browser extension instead. A Firefox extension is also available. Note, however, that they do not come with a few features such as the kill-switch. The browser extensions also offer only a limited list of servers.

Note that browser extensions, no matter the VPN app, only encrypt the traffic within the browser — anything you do outside it will not pass through the VPN tunnel!

Aside from supporting major platforms such as Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, CyberGhost also comes with a router-friendly app that allows you to protect any other internet-enabled device you may have, from consoles to smart devices. The router app is compatible with any router that supports OpenVPN. For more details on installation, you can follow your router model’s OpenVPN installation guide. If you want a pain-free router installation, FlashRouter offers products that already have CyberGhost VPN installed. This CyberGhost router will be ready to use, giving you instant protection at every connection.

The app also supports multiple languages and themes.

FINAL RATING: 8.3/10