ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN
Logo of ExpressVPN
DeveloperKape Technologies
TypeVirtual private network service
Launch date2009; 13 years ago (2009)
Platform(s)
Operating system(s)
StatusActive
Websitewww.expressvpn.com

ExpressVPN is a VPN service offered by the British Virgin Islands-registered company Express Technologies Ltd.[1] The software is marketed as a privacy and security tool that encrypts users' web traffic and masks their IP addresses.[2]

As of September 2021, ExpressVPN is owned by Kape Technologies[3][4] and reportedly has 3 million users.[5]

History[edit]

ExpressVPN's parent company, Express VPN International Ltd, was founded in 2009 by Peter Burchhardt and Dan Pomerantz, two serial entrepreneurs who were also Wharton School alumni.[6] The parent company does business as ExpressVPN.

On January 25, 2016, ExpressVPN announced that it would soon roll out an upgraded CA certificate.[7] Also in December, ExpressVPN released open source leak testing tools on GitHub.[8]

In July 2017, ExpressVPN announced in an open letter that Apple had removed all VPN apps from its App Store in China, a revelation that was later picked up by The New York Times and other outlets.[9][10][11] In response to questions from U.S. Senators, Apple stated it had removed 674 VPN apps from the App Store in China in 2017 at the request of the Chinese government.[12] In December, ExpressVPN came into the spotlight in relation to the investigation of the assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. Turkish investigators seized an ExpressVPN server which they say was used to delete relevant information from the assassin's Gmail and Facebook accounts.[13][14] Turkish authorities were unable to find any logs to aid their investigation, which the company said verified its claim that it did not store user activity or connection logs, adding; "while it's unfortunate that security tools like VPNs can be abused for illicit purposes, they are critical for our safety and the preservation of our right to privacy online. ExpressVPN is fundamentally opposed to any efforts to install 'backdoors' or attempts by governments to otherwise undermine such technologies."[15]

In December 2019, ExpressVPN became a founding member of the VPN Trust Initiative, an advocacy group for online safety of consumers.[16]

In May 2020, the company released a new protocol it developed for ExpressVPN called Lightway, designed to improve connectivity speeds and reduce power consumption.[17] In October, Yale Privacy Lab founder Sean O'Brien joined the ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab to conduct original research in the areas of privacy and cybersecurity.[18]

On September 13, 2021, it was reported that ExpressVPN had been acquired by Kape Technologies, an LSE-listed digital privacy and security company.[19][20] At the time of the acquisition, ExpressVPN reportedly had over 3 million users.[5] ExpressVPN announced in September 2021 that they would remain a separate service from existing Kape brands.[21] In September, CIO Daniel Gericke paid a $335,00 fine for previously carrying out computer network exploitation on behalf of the U.A.E government without having a valid export license from the US government.[22][23]

On April 28, 2022, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued a new directive that asked the VPN providers to collect and store user data for up to five years.[24][25] In response to the new VPN rules that require private network providers to store user information, ExpressVPN announced it will move its India-based servers to Singapore and the UK.[26] On June 2, 2022, ExpressVPN officially announced that it "refuses to participate in the Indian government's attempts to limit internet freedom."[27]

Features[edit]

ExpressVPN has released apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers.[28] The apps use a 4096-bit CA, AES-256-CBC encryption, and TLSv1.2 to secure user traffic.[29] Available VPN protocols include Lightway, OpenVPN (with TCP/UDP), SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP.[30]

The software also features a Smart DNS feature called MediaStreamer, to add VPN capabilities to devices that do not support them, and a router app, allowing the VPN to be set up on a router, bypassing unsupported devices such as gaming consoles.[31]

ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly country that has no data retention laws, and is a separate legal jurisdiction to the United Kingdom.[32]

ExpressVPN's parent company also develops leak testing tools, which enable users to determine if their VPN provider is leaking network traffic, DNS, or true IP addresses while connected to the VPN, such as when switching from a wireless to a wired internet connection.[33]

In December 2021, ExpressVPN modified its product to protect against Log4Shell, updating its VPN to automatically block all outgoing traffic on ports used by LDAP.[34]

In January 2022, ExpressVPN launched Parallel Connections, a backend feature which simultaneously runs multiple methods of connecting a user to a given server, automatically picking the one that connects a user first.[35]

TrustedServer[edit]

In April 2019, ExpressVPN announced that all their VPN servers ran solely on random-access memory (RAM), without the need of hard disk drives. In theory, as soon as a computer is shut down, all information on the server vanishes and cannot be recovered; the next time the server reboots, a fresh version of the VPN infrastructure is spawned. This was the first example in the VPN industry for such a server security setup, and was referred to as TrustedServer.[36]

In February 2022, ExpressVPN announced a $100,000 bug bounty for anyone who was able to hack its in-house technology, TrustedServer.[37]

As of August 2022, ExpressVPN's server network covered 94 countries.[38]

Lightway protocol[edit]

Lightway is ExpressVPN's open source VPN protocol. Launched in 2020, it is similar to the WireGuard protocol, but uses wolfSSL encryption to improve speed on embedded devices such as routers and smartphones. It does not run in the operating system's kernel, but is lightweight to support auditing. It is reportedly 2.5x as fast as OpenVPN and other older protocols, improves reliability by 40%, and supports TCP and UDP.[39][40]

In August 2021, ExpressVPN announced the full public release of Lightway as well as full open-sourcing of Lightway’s code.[40]

Research[edit]

In 2020, ExpressVPN announced its new digital security research initiative Digital Security Lab, which investigates digital rights and security issues while educating consumers.[41]

In 2021, Digital Security Lab released a new report that examined data collection practices in apps for opioid addiction and recovery. Research found that the large majority of all these apps provided third parties, including Facebook, Stripe, Inc., and Google, access to user data.[42][43] In a similar 2021 study, Digital Security Lab analyzed 450 apps and found that all studied apps contained questionable location trackers.[44] Digital Security Lab also conducted a study on Generation Z’s mental health, finding that 86% of Gen Z participants perceived that social media had a direct impact on their happiness.[45]

A 2022 survey on remote workers found that 78% of employers digitally monitor their employees without staff knowledge.[46]

Reception[edit]

TorrentFreak has included ExpressVPN in their annual comparison of Best VPN providers since 2015.[47][48][49]

In a review done by PCMag editor Max Eddy in May 2017, the service scored 4 out of 5 with the bottom-line being that although the service was not the fastest, it "certainly protects your data from thieves and spies."[50]

PC World rated the service 3½ out of 5 in their September 2017 review, commending it for its easy-to-use software while criticizing "the secrecy behind who runs the company."[51]

In October 2017, TechRadar gave the service 4½ out of 5 stars, calling it "a premium service with well-crafted clients, an ample choice of locations and reliable performance."[52]

In 2018, cybersecurity website Comparitech tested ExpressVPNs leak testing tools with 11 popular VPN services and found leaks across every VPN provider, with the exception of ExpressVPN. However, they clarified, "To be fair, ExpressVPN built the test tools and applied them to its own VPN app prior to publication of this article, so it has already patched leaks that it initially detected."[53]

The service received 4.5 out of 5 stars from VPNSelector in their July 2019 review, putting it in first place among VPN providers.[54]

In 2020, TechRadar and CNET named the service their Editors' Choice.[55][56] That same year, Tech Advisor included ExpressVPN as one of its recommended VPN service providers.[57]

In 2021, TechRadar named ExpressVPN its Editor's Choice once again.[58]

In 2022, CNET recognized ExpressVPN as Editors’ Choice for Best Overall VPN.[59]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ExpressVPN Terms of Service". 2018. Archived from the original on January 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "How to Hide My IP Address | ExpressVPN". www.expressvpn.com. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  3. ^ "Privacy is Our Priority". kape.com. Archived from the original on January 3, 2022. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  4. ^ "Kape Technologies buys ExpressVPN for $936 million". reuters.com. Archived from the original on September 13, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Kape Technologies buys ExpressVPN for $936 million". the Economic Times. Archived from the original on September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  6. ^ "VPN's coming-of-age: A discussion with the ExpressVPN co-founders". TechRadar. October 23, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  7. ^ "ExpressVPN's response to the 1024-bit CA key blog post". ExpressVPN. January 25, 2016. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018.
  8. ^ "ExpressVPN Privacy Research Lab". www.expressvpn.com. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  9. ^ "Apple removes VPN Apps from China App Store". ExpressVPN. July 29, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  10. ^ Lee, Dave (August 2, 2017). "Apple defends complying with China". BBC News. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  11. ^ Mozur, Paul (July 29, 2017). "Apple Removes Apps From China Store That Help Internet Users Evade Censorship". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Hogan, Cynthia C. (November 21, 2017). "Letter from Cynthia C. Hogan, Vice President at Apple, to Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy" (PDF). U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  13. ^ "Social media posts, e-mails of Turkish policeman who killed Russian ambassador deleted via virtual computer". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "New evidence links exiled Turkish cleric to Russian envoy's assassin". Arab News. 2017-12-19. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  15. ^ "ExpressVPN statement on Andrey Karlov investigation". ExpressVPN.com/blog. December 19, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "Industry-Leading i2Coalition Launches 'VPN Trust Initiative' for Promoting Internet Safety". Technadu. December 9, 2019. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  17. ^ "ExpressVPN Lightway wants to make internet connectivity faster". All Things Secured. May 6, 2020. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  18. ^ "ExpressVPN teams up with Yale researcher to kickstart new digital security initiative". TechRadar. October 29, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  19. ^ "Kape Technologies Agrees to Buy ExpressVPN for $936 Million". Bloomberg News. September 13, 2021. Retrieved December 2, 2021. Archived.
  20. ^ "Kape Technologies buys ExpressVPN for $936 mln". Reuters. September 13, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  21. ^ "ExpressVPN to join Kape to strengthen push for privacy". ExpressVPN. September 16, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  22. ^ "Three Former U.S. Intelligence Community and Military Personnel Agree to Pay More Than $1.68 Million to Resolve Criminal Charges Arising from Their Provision of Hacking-Related Services to a Foreign Government". Department of Justine. September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  23. ^ "Ex-U.S. intel operatives admit hacking American networks for UAE". Reuters. September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  24. ^ "Directions under sub-section (6) of section 70B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 relating to information security practices, procedure, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents for Safe & Trusted Internet" (PDF). Indian Computer Emergency Response Team. April 28, 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 29, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  25. ^ "CERT-In issues directions relating to information security practices, procedure, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents for Safe & Trusted Internet". Press Information Bureau. Archived from the original on April 28, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  26. ^ Ahmed, Nabeel. "ExpressVPN moves India servers out of the country to ensure privacy, service continuity". The Hindu. Archived from the original on June 2, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  27. ^ "Rejecting data demands, ExpressVPN removes VPN servers in India". ExpressVPN. June 2, 2022. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  28. ^ "ExpressVPN Review - Impressive Speeds, But One Small Drawback". RestorePrivacy.com. March 8, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  29. ^ "Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2018? - TorrentFreak". TorrentFreak.com. March 4, 2018. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  30. ^ "Which VPN protocol is best?". ExpressVPN.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  31. ^ "ExpressVPN review". cybernews.com. June 14, 2021. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  32. ^ "ExpressVPN review: This speedy VPN is worth the price". CNET.com. November 19, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  33. ^ "New Open Source Tools Test for VPN Leaks | LinuxInsider". linuxinsider.com. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  34. ^ Corin Faife (December 16, 2021). "Log4j is patched, but the exploits are just getting started". Verge. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  35. ^ Novak Bozovic (January 29, 2022). "ExpressVPN Introduces New Functionality on iOS Called 'Parallel Connections'". TechNadu. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  36. ^ "ExpressVPN inches closer to a 100% secure server with TrustedServer initiative". TechRadar.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  37. ^ Bill Toulas (February 8, 2022). "ExpressVPN offering $100,000 to first person who hacks its servers". Bleeping Computer. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  38. ^ "How does ExpressVPN work? Plus how to set it up and use it". ZDNet.com. August 17, 2021. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  39. ^ "ExpressVPN's Lightway protocol out of beta and available to all". Tech Advisor. August 10, 2021. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  40. ^ a b Mike Williams (August 10, 2021). "ExpressVPN open-sources Lightway protocol and unveils security audit results". TechRadar. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  41. ^ Anthony Spadafora (October 29, 2020). "ExpressVPN teams up with Yale researcher to kickstart new digital security initiative". Tech Radar. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  42. ^ Sara Morrison (July 12, 2021). "The struggle to make health apps truly private". Vox. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  43. ^ Carly Page (July 7, 2021). "Opioid addiction treatment apps found sharing sensitive data with third parties". Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  44. ^ Eileen Brown (February 12, 2021). "These dating apps are tracking your location". ZDNET. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  45. ^ Eileen Brown (December 15, 2021). "Most Americans feel lonelier than ever despite social networking platforms". ZDNET. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  46. ^ Mark Perna (March 15, 2022). "Why 78% Of Employers Are Sacrificing Employee Trust By Spying On Them". Forbes. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  47. ^ Ernesto (February 28, 2015). "Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously? 2015 Edition". TorrentFreak.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  48. ^ Ernesto (February 20, 2016). "Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously?". TorrentFreak.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  49. ^ Ernesto (March 4, 2017). "Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2017?". TorrentFreak.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2017.
  50. ^ Eddy, Max (May 12, 2017). "ExpressVPN". PCMag.com. Archived from the original on May 14, 2017.
  51. ^ Paul, Ian (September 20, 2017). "ExpressVPN review: A good service with no public leadership". PC World. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018.
  52. ^ Williams, Mike (October 23, 2017). "ExpressVPN review". TechRadar.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018.
  53. ^ "Most VPNs can leak personal data despite claims to the contrary". comparitech.com. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  54. ^ "ExpressVPN Review". VPNselector.com. July 4, 2019.
  55. ^ "The best VPN service of 2020". CNET.com. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  56. ^ "The best VPN service 2020". TechRadar.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  57. ^ Jim Martin (September 29, 2020). "VPN Trust Initiative announces 5 best-practice principles". Tech Advisor. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
  58. ^ "The best VPN service 2021". TechRadar.com. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  59. ^ Rae Hodge; Russell Holly; David Gewirtz; Attila Tomaschek (August 4, 2022). "Best VPN Service of 2022". CNET. Retrieved August 5, 2022.

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]