Internet use is on the rise in Kazakhstan and on the whole, internet freedoms have been gradually improving there in recent years. However, there are still concerns about the blocking and restricting of access to social media sites, particularly at times of political activism such as on the anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence.
The government regularly blocks websites which it finds objectionable, including sites which criticise current leaders. In addition, criminal charges have been brought against social media users who have posted content which is critical of the government or who have organised political activities online. Opposition activists have also been the target of cyber attacks such as malware infections which aim to disrupt target user’s files.
For these reasons, internet users in Kazakhstan still have to be careful about what they post online. If you are living in or travelling through Kazakhstan and you want to be able to use the internet safely and freely, without blocks or restrictions, then you need a VPN. In this article we’ll show how a VPN can keep you safe and improve your privacy, then we’ll share our recommendations for the best VPN for Kazakhstan.
- 1 Access Blocked Websites With A VPN
- 2 Improve Your Security With A VPN
- 3 How To Select A VPN Provider
- 4 Our Recommended VPN Providers For Kazakhstan
- 5 Conclusion
Access Blocked Websites With A VPN
The government in Kazakhstan can decide to block a particular website at any time, and when they do they send out an order to all of the ISPs (internet service providers) in the country which obliges the ISP to prevent users from accessing the site. This means that when a site like Facebook is blocked and you type in the URL www.facebook.com, this request is sent to your ISP. The ISP sees that this URL is on the blocked list, so instead of sending you back the Facebook page, you are redirected to a blank page or to a page that says the site is blocked. Even if you try to use a different internet connection, such as a friend’s internet connection, you still will not be able to access the site as it is blocked across the whole country.
But there is a way that you can access sites like Facebook even when they are blocked by the government. What you want is a VPN, which is a piece of software that you install onto your device. This software then encrypts all of the data that your device sends over the internet, and sends this encrypted data via a server located in another country. At the server, your data is decrypted and is then sent on to its original location – which would be Facebook in this case.
Because the data is encrypted when it passes through your ISP’s network, the ISP cannot see which sites you are visiting or which URLs you are entering. This means that the ISP cannot prevent you from accessing a site. When you route your traffic via another country, you can browse the internet as if you were located in that country – including accessing any sites which are blocked in Kazakhstan, but not blocked in the country you are routing your traffic through. Think of it as a digital Trojan Horse, sneaking you past censorship and into the free and open internet.
Improve Your Security With A VPN
Using a VPN not only allows you to access blocked websites, it also gives you important security advantages. If you are going to post content online which is critical of the government, then you should not only post anonymously but also take steps to hide your identity.
Normally, it is easy for the government to track users online through their IP address, which is a unique string of numbers assigned to every device on a network and which contains information about your real location. Using a VPN, you will be assigned a new IP address by the server that you connect to which will mask your real IP address. Now, even if the government tries to track you through your IP address, they can only see that your IP is attached to a VPN server. They cannot link your online activities to your real identity, which keeps you safe.
In addition to this, using a VPN protects you from various other kinds of cyber threat too. Many scams use information about your location to try and trick you into giving their information, and a VPN can protect you from tricks like phishing, vishing, and smishing by hiding your real location. There is also a risk when you join a public wifi network like the ones you find in cafes that hackers will be able to intercept your data and steal your identity, as users on the same network can have some access to each other’s data.
With a VPN, the encryption of your data prevents anyone from being able to access the data or hack your device, even when you are on the same network. These are just some of the ways that a VPN acts to keep you safe online.
How To Select A VPN Provider
From all of these advantages to using a VPN, you can see why you would want to use this service in Kazakhstan. But how do you select a provider that will meet all of your needs, especially if you haven’t used a VPN before? You might at first be tempted to use a free VPN, but we recommend against this a free VPN providers have been complicit in some shady practices including selling off user data, failing to properly encrypt data, and even making their users part of a botnet which is a major security problem.
Instead, we recommend that you choose a reputable paid VPN service that meets the following list of key criteria for a VPN for use in Kazakhstan:
- Excellent security to keep you safe, like strong 256-bit encryption to protect your data and which is practically impossible to crack, as well as a no logging policy, which means that the provider will keep no records about your internet use or other online activities.
- Fast server connections so that your VPN does not slow down your internet too much. Using a VPN will always slow down your connection to some extent, due to the extra step of encryption that the data has to go through, but a good VPN provider will offer connections that are so fast you don’t even notice that they are there.
- Many servers available in many countries, so that you have a lot of options to access blocked websites by routing through a large number of different countries. The more servers that are available, the better the chances that you find a server which is fast and reliable and which meets all of your needs.
- Software that can be installed on various operating systems, so that you can use one VPN subscription to protect all of your devices at the same time, like your phone, your tablet, and your computer.
When we looked for VPNs that met all of these criteria, we came up with the following list of best VPNs for Kazakhstan:
Our Recommended VPN Providers For Kazakhstan
1. ExpressVPN – Strong In All Areas
ExpressVPN is a favourite VPN among serious internet users thanks to its fast connections, excellent security, and easy to use software. Unbreakable 256-bit encryption stops anyone from interfering with your data, while a strict no logging policy ensures that no records will be kept of your internet use. There are also more security options available in the software, such as an optional kill switch (which will cut off your internet connection if the VPN server goes down so that you don’t accidentally send unencrypted data over the internet), or DNS leak protection (which stops anyone from tracking you through your DNS use), or an IP address checker (which lets you make sure that your real IP address is hidden before you go online).
In total there are more than 2000 servers available in 94 countries, so you have a lot of options for getting around any website blocks that you find. Each of these servers minimizes lag from the encryption process to deliver fast speeds–perfect for downloading large files, streaming high definition videos, and browsing the web with no delays. The software is available for a big range of devices, including those running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and many more.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
2. NordVPN – Specialized VPN Servers
NordVPN is the ideal VPN for users looking for a service with loads of extra features, and the ability to customise connections to meet their needs. The basic VPN is easy to use, thanks to an attractive map interface in the software which makes it easy to choose the country that you want to connect to, and it has great security features like the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy.
But if you want even more security then you are in luck: you can connect to one of the special double VPN servers in which your data is encrypted two times and two different servers for a very high level of encryption which is practically impossible to crack. Other speciality servers are available too, like P2P servers which are optimised for torrent use, obfuscated servers which you can use even on networks which have VPN blocking, or anti DDoS servers to protect you from distributed denial of service attacks.
In total there is a huge network of 4900+ servers available for you to connect to, and these servers are spread over 62 different countries so you’ll have no problems getting around website blocks. The connections offered to these servers are fast and stable, so you can continue to use the internet with no interruptions. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, or Windows Phone.
Read our full NordVPN review.
3. CyberGhost – Easy To Use Software
CyberGhost is a great VPN for users who are looking for a service that is dead-simple to use. To use CyberGhost to stay safe online, you can just open up the software and pick an icon from the selection which includes tasks like “browse anonymously”, “torrent anonymously” or “unblock streaming sites”. Once you have made your selection, the software will automatically choose an appropriate server for you, connect you, and apply all of the configuration settings for you. You don’t need to worry about anything technical; you just click and you’re ready to browse the internet safely and anonymously.
The service has good security too, with the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. If you want to choose a particular server to connect to then this is also possible, and you can select from the network of 2775 servers that are available in 60 countries, and which offer fast and reliable connections. The software is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
4. PrivateVPN – Ideal For Streamers
PrivateVPN is our recommended VPN for users who love to watch movies and TV shows online. Streaming services like Hulu and Netflix are infamous for blocking VPN connections, prompting many providers to stop advertising access to these libraries as a feature of their product.
But PrivateVPN has been confirmed to work with Netflix, thanks to its special dynamic IP servers which allow you to sneak past blacklists of shared IP addresses. The total network spans a modest 80+ servers in a respectable 56 countries. Connections are exceptionally speedy and stable throughout, making this the perfect VPN to unblock HD video streams from anywhere in the world!
Underlying this great utility is unbreakable 256-bit encryption, which can be bumped down to 128 bits when you need an extra speed boost. Whatever you choose to do with your VPN, you can count on PrivateVPN not to keep records of your activity. PrivateVPN’s lightweight and intuitive software can be installed on devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire Stick, or it can be installed as a browser extension for Chrome.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
5. PureVPN – A Whole Security Package
PureVPN is not only a VPN – it’s also a complete cybersecurity package! The basic VPN has all the essential security features, like a no traffic logging policy and the impenetrable industry security standard, 256-bit AES encryption. And there is a network of more than 750 servers you can connect to, located in whopping 140 countries for the ability to get around website blocks when and wherever you need. Plus there are more security features included in the VPN like DDoS protection, app filtering, a kill switch, a dedicated IP address, as well as a NAT firewall.
Extra security features in the PureVPN software include anti-malware protection to prevent if from being infected with viruses or other unwanted software, an ad-blocker to lessen the number of ads that you see while browsing the web, and an anti-spam filter to keep your email inbox free from stupid, pointless, and annoying messages. The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Android TV devices, plus there are browser extensions available for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Kazakhstan has seen quite a bit of improvement in overall connectivity and permissiveness in recent years, but the country still has some unsettling censorship issues to work out. If you’re living in Kazakhstan or traveling through, you’ll need a VPN to access the free and open internet.
A VPN works by encrypting your data and relaying it through a server located in another country. This prevents anyone from observing or interfering with your data, and lets you get around website blocks.
Have you experienced internet censorship firsthand? How do you think you’ll use your VPN? Share your thoughts in the comments below.