According to new reports coming out of the New York Times and the Washington Post, Hong Kong’s current status as an autonomous and open region is coming under an increasing amount of pressure.
Independent observers have raised objections on Beijing’s interference in the internal affairs of the region as well.
Freedom House, an advocacy body, recently downgrade the internet freedom status of Hong Kong to partly free.
Our readers would already know that the one and only solution to such problems is a VPN service.
Click here if you want to know which VPN services are the best in the world right now.
In this guide though, we will talk about which VPN services you should stay away from if you want to use a VPN service in Hong Kong.
It doesn’t really matter if you want to make use of a VPN service in order to protect your privacy or stream content from a site like US Netflix.
Just make sure you stay away from these VPN services.
Stay away from these VPN services in Hong Kong
- Hola VPN
- Hotspot Shield VPN
Now, that isn’t to say that these VPN services are absolutely worthless.
But you have to understand the situation first in order to know why we want you to stay away from these VPN services if you plan to use them in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong residents, until very recently, had a fairly free internet.
It certainly did not have the same level of walled-off internet access that people living in mainland China had.
Now though, people are slowly finding out that doesn’t mean anything.
Because apparently, the Communist Party in China is watching people in Hong Kong as well.
Or at least, it is watching the way people use the internet.
Last year, a good number of people had to go to jail for doing nothing but holding views which advocated genuine independence from the Communist Party in China.
Some of them had to allow the police to arrest them for the simple reason that they criticized the Chinese leadership.
These are just some of the reasons why you need to be extra careful while using the internet in Hong Kong.
We recommend that everybody accessing the internet in Hong Kong should make use of a VPN service.
The term VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it protects the user while he/she is browsing the web in restrictive places such as Hong Kong.
A VPN service goes about its business by encrypting all of the user’s online traffic which flows from and to the user’s device.
More specifically, a VPN routes the user’s traffic via a company-owned VPN server.
This helps the user to maintain his/her anonymity and privacy while surfing the world of the internet.
Apart from that, it makes it very hard for government agencies and hackers to actually spy on the user’s online activities.
Some of the VPN services that are pretty good for use in Hong Kong include,
But we are not going to talk about them here.
If you want to know more about the best VPN service providers not just for Hong Kong but also for every other country then click here to read our guide on that.
On the topic of VPN use in Hong Kong, you should also keep in mind that it is not only the local people who have a need for VPN in Hong Kong now.
Even expatriates who are living in Hong Kong should now use a VPN service if they want to stay safe or want to successfully stream content from different streaming sites such as,
- BeIN Sports
- BBC iPlayer
Why you should stay away from some VPN services?
As mentioned before, when it comes to Hong Kong and VPN usage, you do not want any monkey business.
In simpler terms, if you want to use a VPN in Hong Kong you better make sure that it works flawlessly all the time and not just some of the time.
We say that because if the Communist Party in China catch you doing something that you should not be doing, you are not going to like the consequences.
So you can’t just go to Google, type best VPN and sign up for what comes up at the top.
For China, you need to get serious.
You need to do a lot of research and you need to make sure beforehand that the VPN you have subscribed to, actually works in China.
Apart from that, here are the things you need to keep in mind while signing up for a VPN service for Hong Kong.
- Your VPN should provide dedicated apps for platforms such as iOS and Android along with macOS and Windows.
- It should offer a high number of simultaneous connections per account
- It should serve local residents as well as people who are traveling to Hong Kong
- It should unlock geo-restricted websites, services, and content without fail
- A good VPN for Hong Kong must offer a large number of VPN servers placed in strategic locations around the globe
- Zero-usage logs
- Should make use of strong encryption because you don’t really want Chinese authorities knowing what you are doing on the internet.
- The service should be reliable and speedy.
The qualities that we have listed above just about cover everything that you should have in a VPN service.
If you come across a VPN service that has a cool looking website but doesn’t have many of the features that we have mentioned above, then you should think twice about signing up with that VPN service.
Why do I need a VPN now in Hong Kong and never before?
Well, we have already mentioned that for the major portion of the past many years, Hong Kong has had the blessing of having an open and free internet.
People living in Hong Kong, in the past, could access the internet relatively restriction free.
But the situation today if very different.
In simpler terms, the government in China has had a complete about-face with regards to the censorship measures it has taken in Hong Kong.
You have to keep in mind that even though the media refers to China and Hong Kong separately, Hong Kong is a part of China.
But since it had remained under British rule for a long period of time, people living in this megacity have a different temperament to those who live in mainland China.
With that said, we should mention that the Chinese government still has not censored any major website or streaming service.
What Chinese authorities have done is that they have started to monitor the web activity of residents who have taken part in democratic activists’ activities.
Some Hong Kong residents have attested that authorities in China have also started to record Hong Kong residents’
- Online communications via apps and other services
Of course, if someone makes use of a VPN service then no Chinese authority would have a chance of recording anything on any given user.
We have already mentioned that a VPN service is able to provide protection to users with the help of encryption technologies.
Because of that, anyone wanting to snoop on a given user’s connection would not be able to decrypt the contents of the user’s encrypted data.
As a result of that, the user’s online history remains safe.
Furthermore, you might need a VPN service in Hong Kong if you want to reliably watch content from a variety of different streaming sites which only work abroad.
Remember that sites like,
- Amazon Prime
- Various Netflix content libraries
- BBC iPlayer
do not work in China and/or Hong Kong.
To use them, you will have to sign up for a VPN service and then connect to a server that is located in the US.
Finally, a good VPN product provides the user a shield against other online threats such as,
- DDoS or Denial of Service attacks
- MiTM or man-in-the-middle cyber attacks
VPN services are also very important for people who plan to travel to Hong Kong either for vacation or business.
If you are in Hong Kong and plan to make use of an unsecured WiFi public network such as those found in cafes, airports, restaurants, and hotels, then you definitely need a VPN service.
Back in 2018, authorities in Hong Kong published reports detailing a number of different data breaches which took place within their jurisdiction.
As it turns out, data breaches crossed the previous all-time high mark.
That essentially highlighted the urgent need to make online security a priority.
Why shouldn’t I use a VPN for free?
Free VPNs are bad news.
Allow us to tell you why we think that is the case.
We are aware of the fact that some online consumers who are strapped for cash do tend to sign up for VPN services that are free.
However, we are of the opinion that you should be aware of the whole situation before you dive in and sign up for a free VPN which makes you regret your decision later on.
The thing about free VPN services is that they do not really have a spotless reputation.
Many independent researchers have caught free VPN services mining user data and then selling that data to the highest bidder.
We’re not saying that if you sign up for a free VPN service you will get your data stolen and sold for sure.
But what we are saying is that you CAN have that happen to you.
When it comes to online security and privacy it is always better to be safe than sorry.
That is what we have learned after about 13 years in the industry.
The other thing that readers should know is that free VPN services come with a lot of restrictions.
Sometimes free VPN service providers put caps on the number of things that you can download.
Other times they throttle your bandwidth.
At other times, they give you such a terrible selection of VPN server that you are left wondering why did you sign up for a free VPN service in the first place.
In short, free VPN services do not have the infrastructure in place to guard the user’s privacy or to provide the user with anonymity.
Hence, when you sign up for a free VPN service, do not expect to get world-class VPN experience.
The other thing you should think about when signing up for free VPN services is, how do they make money?
Certainly, any VPN service has to make money.
So how does a VPN service that is free make money?
That is a question that should have a simple answer.
The way free VPN services support themselves is by bombarding the user with a ton of invasive advertisements.
Sometimes they will also use the technique of popup windows which, on its own, is a migraine-inducing tool.
Therefore, our strong recommendation is that you should err on the side of caution when you are on the internet.
Find the strength to cough up close to 10 dollars per month.
For the amount of risk you have to take in order to use a free VPN service, they just are not worth the trouble.
VPNs you should avoid in Hong Kong (detailed answer)
One of the biggest reasons why people sign up for VPN services is because they want to have protection for their anonymity and privacy.
If a VPN service cannot do that, it is useless.
Users also have the trust VPN services to keep their word.
It is incumbent on VPN services to respect the user’s trust.
The whole conceptualization of a VPN service is that it is a way for normal folks to have military-grade protection.
That is why the VPN services that you will find in our guide by clicking here, are the ones that make it absolutely sure that you never have to see a cybercriminal get away with your data.
Our recommended VPN services have a pretty much clean record of keeping the user’s data safe.
There is no documented evidence of our elite VPN service providers selling customer data to third-party companies.
However, the market is filled with VPN services that you should never trust.
We recommend that you should avoid them.
Here are the three worst offenders of the user’s trust as far as the VPN industry is concerned.
Hola is based in Israel.
You may find it hard to believe now but there was a time when HolaVPN had more than 50 million users.
The reason for such a large user base?
Well, HolaVPN was free.
It is still free though.
And as we mentioned before, sometimes it is enough for a VPN service to be free to get the attention it needs to stay afloat.
HolaVPN also allowed users to install its service on their Chrome browsers with the help of a couple of buttons.
That also attracted many users who did not want to get their hands dirty with all the installation processes and troubleshooting guides.
Unfortunately, HolaVPN could not maintain its user base.
Well, it did what most free VPN services eventually end up doing.
It went bad.
In other words, it undid all the good security work it had done before and turned its massive user base into a full-fledged botnet.
We’re being lenient on HolaVPN by calling it a botnet.
Most sources have called this VPN service as a botnet army.
HolaVPN consumed part of the service’s user’s bandwidth to launch attacks on various other websites and services.
Not only that, HolaVPN also distributed pornography by using the bandwidth of its consumers.
These are just two of the many notorious activities that HolaVPN involved itself with.
The worst part about what Hola did was that it did not even inform the users that it was making use of their bandwidth for its own means.
Hotspot Shield is not exactly a HolaVPN but it is close.
Just like HolaVPN, Hotspot Shield managed to make a name for itself in the VPN industry by offering its services for free.
It is still a very well-known VPN name in the community.
Its premium products are very much in demand and this VPN service makes no effort to hide the fact that it probably has more experience than any other VPN service in the industry today.
Of course, more experience does not mean that more competence.
Hotspot Shield let its fame get in the way of good performance.
As a result of its carelessness, the company has found itself amidst a host of different controversies.
Back in August of last year, the company had to deal with a privacy advocacy group that had filed a complaint against it.
The group said that HotSpot Shield forcefully pushed tracking cookies directly into the web browsers of its users.
Not only that but Hotspot Shield also sold user data to different advertisers.
Apart from that, the complained also added that this VPN service had redirected various e-commerce user traffic to its own affiliate sites.
Hotspot Shield also navigated genuine HTTP requests to various other domains that had nothing to do with the requests.
Reports said that the VPN service did that so that it could earn more profits if and when the sale went through its own links.
We have not heard much about what Hotspot has done to address these issues.
What we do know is that you should not risk your privacy with this VPN service provider.
Besides, you do not really need much proof to know that Hotspot Shield must be doing something it does not want users to know.
After all, it is a free VPN service.
And as alluded to before, free VPN services always have a story behind their free VPN service.
Until and unless Hotspot Shield is able to clear its name, we suggest you stay away from it.
Recent reports published in the media just a couple of months ago claimed that PureVPN, a pretty well-known but always suspect, had collaborated with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI in order to identify a resident of Massachusetts by the name of Ryan Lin.
Security agencies had suspected that Lin was stalking a 24-year-old unnamed woman.
The same reports mentioned that Ryan, apparently, made use of PureVPN in order to hide his online virtual footprint.
All the while, he made attempts to blackmail the above-mentioned unnamed woman.
Soon enough, the FBI made its involvement crystal clear to the company and after the woman’s representatives lodged a complaint.
On the other hand, PureVPN still insists that the company did not record anything on the communications of Ryan.
The company has also said that it only tracked the online activity generated by the user back to his original address.
Of course, the only problem with all of this is that PureVPN had always boasted about having a zero-logs policy.
This episode proved that PureVPN’s claims were at least misleading if not false to being with.
We are sure of the fact that PureVPN could have done more to be more transparent in the way it collected user data.
As advocates of privacy ourselves, we recommend that users should stay away from VPN services like PureVPN.
Of course, we do not condone users making use of VPN services to openly flout civic laws and otherwise to eventually commit acts which are illegal.
However, VPN services need to make sure that they are comprehensively clear on the things that they store on their users.
Since PureVPN has violated its own logging policies, there is no way for you to know for sure if PureVPN collects data or not.
Just make sure you sign up for a VPN service that has a good reputation.
Don’t just read material on a given VPN service from its official website.
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