CyberGhost is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive VPN providers in the scene, even if it’s just because of their cute cartoony mascot Ghostie. The company offers a great free VPN plan that lets you use any of the features paying customers have access to, and you get to use their free web proxy as well. Based in Romania, Europe, CyberGhost is a truly international company that helps customers from all around the globe “Reboot the Internet” as their slogan says.
Robert Knapp, the CEO of CyberGhost, was so kind to do an interview with us on his company, his views on the state of privacy today and the plans he and his team have for the future. It’s clear that this provider is determined in providing straightforward privacy protection to all internet users, both novices and hardcore cybernauts.
Why did you decide to start a VPN service?
As we started, the use of VPN technology was a privilege reserved to corporations and geeks. You had to be an expert in computer science to protect your data with a VPN encryption by yourself in insecure wireless LANs. So we invented one of the first user friendly VPNs for “mere mortals”.
What’s the advantage of being located in Romania as a VPN company?
First of all, Eastern Europe is a perfect place for a security startup. Companies like Kaspersky, BitDefender, AVG, Avast, Eset are all located there for good reasons. They have access to the highly skilled people from Eastern Tech Universities. We decided for the Romanian capitol Bucharest because it’s a vibrant city with a lot of IT and tech universtities, kind of the Silicon Valley of Europe. And the legal situation is a good one: The Romanian Constitutional Court decided 2009 very clear against data retention.
Is it right to say that your service is mainly targeted towards European users?
We are market leaders in Germany and we have a strong position in UK, France, Italy and other European countries. But our users come from more than 100 different countries and the USA is for example on top 3 of our user statistics. So, we are pretty much an international security provider.
What makes the CyberGhost Privacy Browser iPhone app a safer way to surf the web than Safari with the private surfing enabled?
You should do both. Enable private surfing and use a proxy. The browser settings make sure that no spying cookies are stored on your phone and the proxy provides you with encryption and hides your IP behind ours.
Why did you decide to offer a free web proxy?
We offer a free web proxy and a free VPN. We want that everyone can afford to use these kinds of technology and not only the pros.
CyberGhost 5.0, your latest VPN client, is coming up soon. What may we expect from this release?
CyberGhost 5 is a complete rewrite of everything we did between 2004-2013. We spent a lot of time in testing the user experience together with our users. We focused also a lot on the network itself and optimized speed, login and stability. CyberGhost 5 is therefore easy to use and very reliable. The best VPN we ever made.
What differentiates your VIP servers offered in your “Premium Plus” plan from your Free servers?
All our servers are configured the same. We decided to keep all servers always on the same high level. But the user experience is different. A Premium user never has to wait for a slot to connect to a server. We take care that there are always enough severs up and running and that they are fast, which means not too crowded. Free users have access to a limited amount of servers, no speed guarantee, a forced disconnection after a couple of hours and no guarantee for a fast login procedure.
Which other features, updates do you have in the works for next couple of months, years?
We don’t think about adding features, we think about what feature we could delete to make the product even more simple and easy to use. But what we will do is launching our own API. Based on that API, third party developers will be able to integrate our VPN server park with a few lines of code in their own applications. Our medium term plan is to develop an “Amazon AWS for VPN”. So we run the technical platform and others add the apps and the features.
What does the whole PRISM scandal teach us regarding our privacy online?
The conclusion is that there is no privacy online. It’s simple like that. If you don’t encrypt your data, you don’t have privacy online. And our politicians are either not willing or not able to help us. So we have to take action, use VPN and add encryption technologies to our online conversations.
How do you see privacy evolve over the coming months, years to come?
The PRISM scandal is just at the first glance about privacy. The subjacent question is about democracy and if we will come back to a point where governments treat the people again like citizens and not as subjects. This will be the most important process in the next years. Until it is decided, we have to defend our rights as citizens by protecting our identity and information. More and more people will do that – our user numbers grow, so I can be sure about that.
What is working at CyberGhost like?
We are a typical startup. We build a new service, knowing that none of us did that before. That means, you have a lot of freedom to do things but also a lot of responsibility. Our international team grows very fast, from 7 employees in 2011 to over 20 now. So it’s never boring to be part of the CyberGhost family.
Has “Ghostie”, your mascot, been behaving well lately?
You know, our Ghostie stands for security, privacy and freedom. Sometimes he attaches a bit too much importance to the freedom part, the cute rebel…
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
There is a good saying: “If you don’t pay for a product, you are the product.” We all should think about that in future and value our privacy. In the light of recent events like PRISM, we launched a campaign called “The worth of your privacy” where we sell a one-year CyberGhost VPN subscription for any price you’re willing to pay. Take a chance and visit WorthofYourPrivacy.com.
Thank you Robert and the rest of the CyberGhost team for working on this interview with us!
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