Perfect Privacy is a VPN provider based in both Switzerland and Panama. The company is aptly named because this service offers a myriad of privacy and security options. If you don’t have technical skills, don’t worry: this app is easy-to-use and can keep your real location well hidden with its default settings. With unlimited simultaneous connections, this VPN is good, if not a bit costly.
Seven-day money-back guarantee
No limit on simultaneous connections
OpenVPN, IPSec, PPTP, and SSH tunnel
Gradable kill switch
Extensive range of security measures
Custom apps not implemented for all operating systems
Perfect Privacy is quite expensive. The company explains its pricing policy with the statement that quality doesn’t come cheap. However, its prices put it in the top charging bracket of the industry. As such, you should make sure that you really need the extensive security measures of Perfect Privacy before you sign up.
There are a couple of ways that can make the cost of a subscription more affordable. For example, you get a cheaper monthly rate if you sign up for a longer subscription period.
Another benefit to keep in mind when comparing this service to other VPNs is that this company doesn’t place a limit on the number of connections you can make to the service simultaneously. This is a great benefit when judged alongside some services that only allow you one connection at a time, and that expect you to buy more subscriptions to get more connections.
You aren’t allowed to share an account, which is a shame, because that would enable you to bring down the cost of a subscription even further. However, given the unlimited connection allowance, it is easy to see why the company has to limit the usage of each account. The service is priced in euros.
The company allows you to pay for the service with Bitcoin. This is a great choice if you want to keep your account more anonymous. Payment processors don’t pass account details on to Perfect Privacy, so the only data the company holds on you is your VPN account number and its expiry date. You will see from the above illustration that you can also pay with cash. There are actually a lot more options for a payment type because Perfect Privacy also uses Payment Wall. This payment processor allows you to choose from a longer list of payment methods, including Mint, which is a pre-paid card.
Perfect Privacy Features
The features of the VPN are:
Seven-day money-back guarantee
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Shared IP addresses
Kill switch in a firewall
Choice of OpenVPN or IPSec
Choice of encryption methods including AES and Camellia
Availability of PPTP for manual set-up
Option to apply SSH tunnel
Squid and SOCKS5 web proxy
Port forwarding option
Browser anonymity option
Live server speed tests
Accepts PayPal and Bitcoin as well as credit cards
Easy-to-use app for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux
P2P allowed on most servers
It would be nice to see more server location in the Perfect Privacy network. For example, there are no servers in South America, so if you wanted to access Spanish or Portuguese-language entertainment, you would struggle.
The flag of China is on the server country list above. However, those servers are actually located in Hong Kong. This location would be a good option for customers in South China. Users in North-east China would be better off accessing servers in Japan to get around Chinese government internet restrictions.
P2P downloading is allowed on all servers, except for those in the United States and France.
Security is Perfect Privacy’s strong point. A VPN is a form of proxy with extra encryption added. Perfect Privacy has made a wide range of security methods available to its customers.
If your circumstances don’t require heavy privacy protection, you could just use the company’s proxy servers. Perfect Privacy operates Squid and SOCKS5 proxies. However, the proxy connection can be manipulated to add security by connecting to other privacy systems through it.
The Perfect Privacy proxies can be used to connect to the Tor network, which is a free, volunteer privacy network that routes your connections through computers in random locations around the world. You can also connect to the VPN through a proxy server, or apply an SSH tunnel to your proxy connection.
The SSH tunnel allows you to channel some of your internet traffic over a secure connection, while leaving less risky transactions to travel without encryption. This is a method known as “split tunneling.” This is quite a complicated concept and gets even more complicated for users of operating systems other than Windows, because you need to install a stand-alone app in order to implement it. The Perfect Privacy VPN Manager for Windows has an SSH tunnel facility built-into it, which includes four security methodology options. The app enables you to combine the SSH tunnel protection with proxy servers, or even a VPN.
Getting to grips with all of the possibilities of using an SSH tunnel can be time-consuming. However, it is a useful tool to have, especially for users in China, where the government has invested a lot of money into detecting VPN activity in internet traffic. The Perfect Privacy SSH tunnel uses AES encryption with a 256-bit key, which provides very strong security for your tunneled traffic.
There are a lot of extra security features available in the app. One of these is a kill switch. This is an important utility because it will prevent other apps on your computer from sending out messages over the internet using your real IP address when the VPN is not active.
Perfect Privacy takes its kill switch implementation a little further than most VPN companies. You can choose to have the kill switch turned off, or you can opt to have it operating when the Perfect Privacy VPN Manager is open. You can also decide to have the kill switch operating on your computer at all times, even when the app is shut down.
You can apply extra detection-dodging methods, which are particularly important for internet users in China, Iran, and Pakistan, where governments invest heavily in blocking and tracing the internet activities of their citizens. The app has a method, which the company calls “cascading.” This is the ability to chain VPNs together to create a multi-hop secure connection. Rather than running through one VPN server, this feature will route your traffic through a series of them, adding extra encryption that originates at your computer each time and makes your traffic almost impossible to trace.
Be selective about using this feature, however, because each hop will increase encryption processing times and will end up routing all of your connections through longer, less efficient journeys. You can create connections with up to four hops.
Perfect Privacy offers the PPTP protocol for manual installation. This system is not considered secure, but it is easy to install on routers, games consoles, and set-top boxes, so this could be a good option for you where strong privacy is not a high priority.
The VPN app gives you the option of choosing either OpenVPN or IPSec VPN systems. IPSec is a respectable privacy system and includes strong encryption. However, its session establishment procedures are not so secure. In potentially threatening situations, such as connecting to banned websites in China, you would be better off using OpenVPN. You can set up an IPSec VPN manually on your device or install a managing app, such as Cisco AnyConnect. The Perfect Privacy VPN Manager app includes an IPSec implementation.
BestVPN.com recommends OpenVPN. The strongest security offered by Perfect Privacy’s OpenVPN implementation is detailed in the box below.
Logs & Legal
OpenVPN is really a library of programs that are slotted into a VPN app to create security. There isn’t a single encryption method dictated by the methodology. Rather, the library of procedures includes options to implement different ciphers.
Perfect Privacy chose to give its customers a choice between AES encryption and Camellia. AES is the preferred encryption cipher for VPNs. It is very secure and was commissioned by the US government for its own use. Some privacy experts worry that the US security agencies got a backdoor written into AES to enable them to read all encrypted messages without even knowing the key. Those people prefer to avoid AES, and that is probably why Perfect Privacy chose to make Camellia available in its OpenVPN app.
Camellia is very rarely used. This is not because it is not secure. Rather, it is extremely difficult to implement. In fact, Perfect Privacy seems to be just about the only VPN company that has managed to work out how to get it running. The obscurity of Camellia makes it a good choice for customers in China. The Chinese authorities have invested a lot in VPN detection systems and even the best VPN services in the world sometimes get spotted and blocked in China. The prevalence of AES encryption in OpenVPN implementations made that system worth the investment in study. So, Chinese internet controls focus on looking for patterns in AES encryption and Camellia has been completely overlooked there.
The strength of an encryption cipher is increased by the length of its key. Longer keys are harder to guess just by operating a program to cycle through every possible key character combination. The top key length used in the VPN industry is 256 bits. The Perfect Privacy VPN Manager app gives you the option to use either AES or Camellia with a 256-bit key.
The downside of long encryption keys is that they take a lot longer to process. The encryption procedure will slow down the speed of your connections. For this reason, some prefer to step down a little from the top encryption standard available and use a 128-bit key instead. It is impossible to crack AES with a 128-bit key interactively. Another security feature of OpenVPN is that it changes the encryption key regularly. So, anyone trying to crack the key would have to start processing key cracking software all over again. So, Perfect Privacy is comfortable offering 128-bit encryption for AES and Camellia as well.
The process of creating and maintaining a secure link for a VPN is a called “tunneling.” The data passes through an established tunnel, protected by AES or Camellia encryption. However, those two ciphers require both ends in a connection to hold the same key. The distribution of that key is a potential security threat and so OpenVPN uses another set of procedures to secure the establishment of the tunnel. These admin procedures are transported over a “control channel.”
The control channel uses a system called Transport Layer Security. This methodology employs a “public key” cipher that uses a different key to encrypt and decrypt data. The server keeps its decryption key, which is private. If anyone intercepts the encryption key, all they would be able to do is encrypt a message that only the holder of the corresponding private key could decrypt. So, the encryption key can be made public and it is stored on a third-party database as part of a security certificate.
OpenVPN uses the RSA cipher for the control channel. This system requires much longer keys than symmetrical systems, such as AES and Camillia.
Typically, OpenVPN implementations use a 1024-bit key, a 2048-bit key, or a 4096-bit key. RSA with a 1024-bit key is no longer considered secure, so you should avoid VPNs that use that short key — it is believed that the Chinese authorities can crack it. Most VPNs use a 2048-bit key for their RSA encryption. The best VPNs that want to make sure they keep ahead of the Chinese authorities use a 4096-bit key. Perfect Privacy is in this division.
To conclude, the OpenVPN implementation of Perfect Privacy offers its users the best possible encryption security.
When you connect to a VPN server, you are actually joining the Perfect Privacy network in that location. Your onward communication with the outside world has to travel out through the network gateway. Perfect Privacy uses a system of shared IP addresses. That means that all of the communication over the internet from the gateway goes out with the gateway’s IP address on it. So, all of the customers connected to the network are identified by one address.
Perfect Privacy has a small number of addresses for each server location, so you will be assigned to a group that shares an IP address. That allocation is not fixed, so if you log out and log back in again, you will most likely be allocated a different IP address. This system adds another layer of security, because it is impossible for outsiders to work out which IP address you have been allocated to and which traffic using that address is generated by your computer.
There has to be a way for the network gateway to know which response to a request should be forwarded to which computer on the virtual network. So, it tags on an extra identifier to outgoing messages. This is called a port number. When a reply to a request comes back, the gateway reads the port number, checks which customer that was assigned to and forwards the message on.
This system is called “network address translation.” You may read that some VPNs operate a “NAT firewall.” All that means is that they operate network address translation. NAT acts as a firewall because it is impossible for hackers to spot the real addresses of computers on the network behind the gateway, so speculative inbound connection requests are impossible.
The Perfect Privacy VPN Manager app includes a feature that enables you to nominate which port number represents you. However, this is a complicated concept and you should steer clear of this setting unless you really know what you are doing.
Network address translation requires a lookup table that contains a mapping between the real addresses of customers and the port number assigned to each. This lookup table creates a privacy risk. If the mappings are held on file for a period after the connection is broken, they are available to be seized by the authorities.
Those records are known as “connection logs.” It is important to find a VPN company that does not keep connection logs. Some VPN’s also track the number of connections that each customer made through their servers, how much data was transferred during the connection, what protocol was used, which sites were reached, and what time and day all of this occurred. These are called “activity logs,” and you don’t want to sign up for a VPN that keeps them.
Perfect Privacy does not keep any activity logs or connection logs. All they have on file is the username and password of each customer and the expiry date of each account. Those network address translation entries get wiped off the system when each customer logs out. So, there is no data on file about your activities if the police break into the Perfect Privacy offices and seized all of their computers.
You may wonder, then, how Perfect Privacy and its server operators know whether you are downloading with P2P networks if they don’t monitor activities or connections. The answer to that is the network gateways in those countries where P2P activity is banned simply don’t pass on requests to torrent index sites or tracker databases, and they don’t record the occurrences of dropped P2P messages.
The location of a VPN company’s headquarters is an important factor when selecting a privacy service. Perfect Privacy is based in Panama and Switzerland.
Panama actually has some very draconian copyright laws. However, it seems that Perfect Privacy only uses the country as a tax loophole. Their real base of operations is in Switzerland, which is a very good place for a VPN to be, particularly for those VPNs that want to allow P2P downloading. In Switzerland, downloading copyrighted material without paying for it is legal, as long as it is for personal use.
The Perfect Privacy Website
Perfect Privacy has a very attractive website, which is available in both English and German.
The top line of the screen shows your current location and IP address and enables you to change the site language or log in to see your account details. The header section of the site includes the main menu. This section stays fixed in the window, so it is always visible as you scroll down the page.
At the bottom of each page you will find more links to useful utilities on the website.
The company runs a blog, which you can access through the News field in the top menu.
Perfect Privacy Support
The support system of the Perfect Privacy includes four channels. The first of these is an FAQ page.
The FAQ page gives detailed answers to common question. There is even more information on supplementary pages in the help system, such as the page that explains the different VPN technologies used by the service.
If you can’t find answers to your questions in the information pages, you can contact the support team through a form that can be reached through a link in the footer of the site.
Another channel of communication is via email. The answers to the questions posed in an email or in the contact form will arrive by email.
The fourth help channel is via the site’s help forum. There are two sections to this forum: English and German.
Signing Up to Perfect Privacy
Click on the big “Sign Up Now” button in the pricing section of the Home page to get a subscription.
This takes you through to the Pricing page, where you need to click on a subscription period.
Confirm your subscription period and press Continue.
You will be scrolled down to the account creation section of the page and then to the payment method selection page. Click on your payment type and then press the “Buy Now” button to complete the purchase.
The next screen involves collecting your payment and varies depending on the payment type you specified.
You will receive your login credentials via email. The username and password are the same both for the Members area on the website and for the VPN app.
You need to go to the Members page in order to get access to the app’s download page.
The Perfect Privacy Windows VPN client
The Windows app for Perfect Privacy is called the VPN Manager. This is actually based on the OpenVPN GUI interface, which is produced by the organization that manages the OpenVPN standard. The downloaded wizard will install both of these programs on your computer. You can just choose to use the OpenVPN GUI program if you want, but then you would miss out on all of the extra security features of the VPN Manager. You will see shortcuts for both of these programs on your Desktop.
The first time you open the app you need to enter your username and password. The login screen remembers these details, so you won’t have to type them in on subsequent visits.
The Sign In screen is actually part of the Settings system of the app. You will also be able to specify whether you want to use IPSec or OpenVPN. All of the security features outlined in the Security section of this review can be accessed from the other tabs in the Settings system. After signing in, close down the page and focus on the main screen of the app.
If you are happy to stay with the default security of the app, all you need to do is select a location in order to get connected. Click on the plug symbol net to your chosen location to turn the VPN on. The Ping column in the server list will be populated with the live speeds from your location to that server if you click on the “Ping Servers” button at the bottom of the page.
The app can be operated in Minimized mode from the system tray. You get to this state by clicking on the Minimize button. The app will disappear. Look to your system tray at the bottom right of your Desktop for a globe icon. If you don’t see it, click on the up arrow to reveal hidden icons.
The icon is red if VPN is not connected and green when it is. Double click on the icon to reopen the app, or right-click on it to get the minimized menu to open.
You actually get three menus. The first, small menu shows if you are connected because it displays a disconnect option. This menu gives access to the Settings system and also to a list of all available servers. When you hover over a server location, you will see a small menu of controls appear. The current active server has a tick symbol next to it.
Perfect Privacy Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
I connected to Perfect Privacy’s London server from the Dominican Republic and checked on the server’s real location by accessing IPLocation.net. This website references five different IP address location databases. Of these five, three reported that I was in London, one reported an unspecified location in Switzerland, and the other said that I was in Germany, but couldn’t work out in which city.
This situation is a little worrying. Depending on which of these databases sites with location-based access restrictions reference, I could be locked out of UK websites.
For speed tests, I used the site testmy.net from the Dominican Republic with an unprotected connection running to each test server used for a baseline comparison. Those test servers were in Miami in the United States and London in the UK. I compared the performance of the Perfect Privacy Miami and Montreal servers against the speeds of the unprotected connection to Miami and the speed of a connection protected by the Perfect Privacy London server against the speeds of the unprotected connection to the test system in London.
In each case, five test runs were performed to find the highest, lowest, and average connection speeds.
The Perfect Privacy VPN servers did slow down speeds on the connection. In some circumstances, for example, a connection to Miami through Montreal, this behavior is to be expected. However, in the case of the tests to London, the VPN had the great advantage of being in the same location as the target test server.
The speeds achieved in these tests are probably significantly slower than those you will experience if you live in a developed country. However, if you live in a developing country, or travel to one on vacation, these are the internet conditions that you are going to experience.
I checked for IP leaks and DNS leaks, while connected to the Perfect Privacy server in London. The test site ipleak.net reported my location as in Germany, accessing DNS servers in Germany and the Netherlands (which is because it was proxying through Google DNS). Although this shows that Perfect Privacy had successfully masked my real location in the Dominican Republic, it hadn’t placed me emphatically in the UK, which is where I wanted to appear to be. DNS servers in Northern Europe are not a concern, however, the IP address in Germany is. Of course, it is possible it was simple mis-registered.
Another test site, doileak.com also placed me in Germany and saw that my computer accessed a DNS server that was also in Germany. These results would make it very difficult for me to get into British video streaming sites.
My internet service provider does not use IPv6 addresses and so I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks.
The BBC and Netflix saw that I was not in the UK and blocked me from watching videos. This was probably the consequences of those location reports that placed me in Germany. ITV and Channel 4 must use different location databases because both of those sites let me watch videos.
I connected to the Miami server of Perfect Privacy to test the VPN’s performance with American video streaming services. IPLocation.net’s five reference databases all reported my location as Miami.
Netflix USA spotted the VPN and wouldn’t let me watch videos. The ABC website also blocked me from watching videos because it could see that I was using a VPN. However, NBC and CBS let me watch videos.
Perfect Privacy can be installed on a number of different operating systems, but its custom app is only available for Windows. On Android and iOS devices, you need to install the OpenVPN Connect interface. This is owned by the organization that manages the OpenVPN system, so it isn’t a bad app. However, you won’t get any of the added extra security features that Perfect Privacy puts into its own Windows app. The same is true for owners of Mac OSX and macOS computers. You can use Tunnelblick for your OpenVPN connections. This is another third-party app.
You can get OpenVPN for Linux and some routers can also have OpenVPN installed on them. All of the above operating systems except for macOS and iOS version 10 and above allow you to set up a PPTP VPN manually.
The Security section explains the many different protocols that you can use with Perfect Privacy and the extra security measures that are built into the app. However, the secure services of Perfect Privacy don’t end there.
In the Client Area of the Perfect Privacy website, you get access to two more security options. These are NeuroRouting and the TrackStop filter.
Perfect Privacy can calculate the best route to keep your connections entirely protected by tunneling for as much of its length as possible.
You would normally select a VPN server for your connections before you turn the VPN on. However, with NeuroRouting, the client software decides which end server is closest to each website that you visit and routes each web request differently over its network.
As Perfect Privacy doesn’t have servers in every country in the world, the NeuroRouting might not always be your best option. This strategy is optimized for security and not for speed, so you may find that having NeuroRouting turned on slows your connections down too much.
The TrackStop Filter is a very useful anonymity service for the Web. It is basically an ad blocker, but it also prevents tracker codes from being downloaded onto your computer. It also performs extra scans for injected code and ransomware dangers in each web page before it loads it into your browser.
This is excellent malware protection for your computer and it is included free with a VPN subscription. Other functions of TrackStop prevent your browser from leaking information. Some internet companies can identify you even if you use a masking IP address. This is because web hosts can query your browser for version numbers, keyboard type, operating system versions and so on. These pieces of information are called “user agents” and they can be used in combination to build up a fingerprint that uniquely identifies you.
TrackStop blocks some user agent information from being passed on and sends out randomly generated responses for others. That prevents your activities from being tracked by browser fingerprinting. The TrackStop filter will also prevent those social media “Like” buttons in web pages from reporting back to headquarters every time you access a page that they are on.
Perfect Privacy Review: Conclusion
Seven-day money-back guarantee
Servers in 24 countries
Unlimited simultaneous connections
P2P allowed on most servers
Comprehensive security options
Browser anonymity software
Easy-to-use app for Windows
I wasn’t so sure about
No custom app for Mac, iOS, or Android
Can’t get into BBC iPlayer or Netflix
Perfect Privacy offers excellent security and privacy features. I would certainly recommend this VPN to anyone who needs reliable, solid online identity protection in places such as China and Iran. Although the service is a little pricey, protection from detection and possible arrest is worth every penny. A little bit of unreliability was experienced during location checks with the London server being detected in Germany: this is a little concerning. However, it does explain why I wasn’t able to unblock iPlayer.
I didn’t play around with all of the security options of Perfect Privacy, and maybe one of the many features could have gotten me in to watch videos at ABC, the BBC iPlayer, and Netflix. Let’s hope that Perfect Privacy keeps adding on more servers in more countries and tweaks its detection evasion systems so that more internet surfers can enjoy its services.