Many Sri Lankan users find that their access to websites and online content is limited. In this article, we’ll explain how you can access the free and open Internet, and improve your overall security with a VPN. Specifically, we’ll cover the best VPN providers for Sri Lanka, the specific features you should look for in a provider, and why you might want to stay away from free VPNs. We’ll also touch on why proxies may not be a good choice for getting unrestricted access to the internet.
Why you want a VPN – and what to look for
A VPN does two key things. First, it lets you get a foreign IP so you can access internet without the restrictions Sri Lankan residents face (more on this later). Second – and this is what makes VPNs different from proxy servers – VPNs encrypt your data so nobody else can access it. In a country with a middling data privacy record like Sri Lanka, a VPN really is your best choice for overcoming local blocks, viewing content without geoblocking, etc. Having said that, not all services are created equal. To make sure you pick the best provider possible, here are the specific features you need to look out for:
- Encryption – Sri Lanka has a weak record of protecting residents’ data. Make sure you’re safe by getting a service that uses 128-bit or 256-bit encryption; both are notoriously hard to crack, even for governments and militaries.
- Server network size – a large server network has two advantages. First, it means you can get IPs from a large number of countries. Second, a large server network means your VPN has more servers – which is usually correlated to faster connection speeds, lower latencies and seamless connections.
- Device compatibility – unless you’re an IT wiz, you don’t want to go through your VPN’s installation on your own. Look for apps compatible with your devices, and remote installation options where your provider guides you through some (or all) the steps of installing your VPN and activating it.
- Logging policies – some VPN providers log what you do online. Given Sri Lanka’s political climate, you don’t want to risk the government pressuring your provider for your data – so you want a service that doesn’t log your data. Look for “no logging” and “zero-logging”, both of which mean that your information doesn’t get stored.
Top VPNs for Sri Lanka
Here is our list of the top five VPNs for use in Sri Lanka:
ExpressVPN consistently ranks as the #1 VPN for most countries – and Sri Lanka is no exception. For starters, it’s one of the fastest VPNs available, with buffer-free streaming, fast downloads, seamless browsing and low video game latencies. Despite its speed, ExpressVPN is also extremely safe to use. It comes with the most modern 256-bit AES encryption protocols available: OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, both of which blend speed and security. Other protocols include the SSTP that can overcome the toughest censorship blocks: an important benefit for Sri Lankan residents and visitors. Another security feature is ExpressVPN’s zero-logging policy, which covers traffic; DNS requests; IP addresses; browsing history. All told, ExpressVPN is one of the safest VPNs out there – especially with it being based in the British Virgin Islands, which aren’t part of the international 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance programs.
In addition to being safe and fast, ExpressVPN has a number of advantages. With over 2,000 proxy servers in 94 countries, you can get an IP from virtually anywhere. Whether you want to access foreign content libraries, digitally relocate to another country or play games and browse seamlessly, you’ll find servers that fit you. The same applies to apps that install ExpressVPN on your devices. They’re compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux; Android and iOS; digital media players like Apple TV; even most video game consoles and routers. This means that you can use the 3 simultaneous connections ExpressVPN gives you to connect a mobile device, a desktop device and an auxiliary device at the same time.
To learn more, check out our ExpressVPN review for 2018.
NordVPN is best known for its security features. These start with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, which is so tough that no entity in the world – not even governments and research labs – can crack it with any consistency. Next is a unique NordVPN feature: specialty servers. Notable ones include the Double VPN server, which routes your data through 2 locations and 2 layers of encryption – and the Obfuscated Server, which will hide the fact you’re using a VPN from the Sri Lankan government. Last but not least, NordVPN has one of the best no-logging policies in the business, with no records of traffic, IP addresses, timestamps or browsing history being kept.
In addition to being tough on security, NordVPN is powerful and easy to use. With 5,000+ proxy servers in 62 countries, they have one of the biggest networks in the business – and plenty of VPN protocols and IPs for you to choose from. The apps are lightweight, easy to use, and compatible with all common devices including routers and game consoles. Unlike most other VPN providers, NordVPN’s mobile apps have the same features as the desktop versions – which is convenient. Last but not least, the holding company is based in neutral Panama, which makes it virtually immune to takedown requests from major governments’ agencies (like the FBI). If you want to stay safe and anonymous while using a VPN and Sri Lanka, NordVPN is worth a look.
If you’d like to learn more about this VPN provider, check out our NordVPN review for 2018 here.
CyberGhost is the perfect VPN for anyone who wants ease of use. It comes with a variety of lightweight, easy-to-install apps compatible with Microsoft, Apple and Linux products and operating systems – as well as all common devices (like Smart TVs). The interface is intuitive, and getting the exact connection you need is as simple as choosing 1 of 6 configuration profiles, e.g. Surf Anonymously or Unblock Streaming. For users who want more advanced features, there are easy toggles that add malware protection, a malware block, extra speed and other extras. All these features and server options make it easy to enjoy high-quality connections while protecting your data and identity: important benefits for anyone in Sri Lanka.
In addition to being easy to use, CyberGhost is also fast and secure. The proxy server network has 2,700+ nodes in 60+ countries: one of the biggest in the business. With so many servers, the provider routinely ranks as a leader in high download speeds and low latencies. As an added benefit, so many servers mean you can pick any IP you like for your internet use. On the security front, the zero-logging policy is immaculate, to the point that not even your e-mail address is kept. Encryption is strong too, with CyberGhost using 256-bit AES codes and offering all common protocols: UDP, TCP, L2TP, IPSec and PPTP.
If you’d like to learn more about this service’s speed, security and ease of use, check out our full 2018 CyberGhost VPN review.
PrivateVPN is a top VPN notable for including all its features in each and every one of its plans. For starters, all users get up to 6 simultaneous connections. Since PrivateVPN comes with a Free Remote Setup that helps you use the service on all devices, this means you can use PrivateVPN on your smartphone, tablet, video game console, desktop computer, WiFi router and Apple TV or Firestick – all at the same time. Even better, there are no bandwidth, speed or server switch limits. This means you can keep all your devices connected as often, and for as long, as you’d like. In fact, you can keep your PrivateVPN connections on 24/7!
A common concern for Sri Lankan VPN users is data and identity privacy. PrivateVPN shines in this department, with 2048-bit AES-256 encryption that’s so tough a computer would need millions of years to crack it. Specific protocols include OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP – as well as gamer-friendly L2TP and several others. The zero-logging policy is excellent to the point that nobody can conceivably trace your computer or location going by PrivateVPN’s stored data. Last but not least, the service is P2P friendly, meaning you’ll never be penalized for using torrent services and P2P streaming apps.
You can learn more about PrivateVPN in our 2018 PrivateVPN review.
Other brands may have more servers – but with 2,000 nodes in 140+ countries, PureVPN can get you IPs virtually anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you want to access content, connect to non-Asian game servers or get better download speeds for P2P downloads. With PureVPN, you can do it all without having to leave Sri Lanka. Bandwidth and speed are both unlimited and each server has a 1 Gbit connection, which compensates for the relatively small number of nodes on the network. There are also dedicated streaming servers, so if you’re getting a VPN to view content with, PureVPN should be a top option. The same applies to P2P users: PureVPN is torrent and P2P-friendly, so if you’re tired of providers limiting your download speed and port options, this is the service for you.
As far as security goes, PureVPN has two core features. The first is government-grade 256-bit encryption, including PureVPN’s UDP and TCP protocols: the two best cryptographic technologies available commercially. The second is the proprietary Ozone add-on, which works to protect your device, data and identity at all times. There are also auxiliary features. One is a kill switch, which makes sure your data doesn’t remain unprotected if your VPN protection drops. Another is a split tunneling option, which lets you choose which data goes through your VPN – and which goes through your ISP. Last but not least, if you like to want to avoid shared IP blacklists, you’ll be glad to know that PureVPN has a Dedicated IP option.
Why get a VPN in Sri Lanka?
On paper, Sri Lanka protects citizens’ and residents’ rights to data privacy and internet freedom. Unfortunately, the government often steps in and takes actions that go against the nation’s laws. In a positive example, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission stepped in to block social networks like Facebook and Whatsapp when the country’s Muslims were getting persecuted in Q2 2018. In a less positive example, scores of news websites are blocked in the country – as are many adult and gambling services. If you want to access the free Internet and avoid censorship, as well as potential government and ISP snooping, you’ll want a VPN to get a foreign IP and protect your data.
Another reason to get a VPN in Sri Lanka is to access foreign content. Most streaming services – Netflix, Hulu, even BBC’s iPlayer – reserve their biggest content libraries for people in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. With a VPN, you can get an IP from any of these places and enjoy the films you want. Moreover, you’ll be able to stream NFL and NHL games (often for free); access music services like Spotify, which isn’t available in Sri Lanka; browse the web as if you were in another country. Getting access to all this content is the second reason to get a VPN in Sri Lanka.
The third reason to get a VPN is simply to protect yourself. According to Freedom House, Sri Lanka is only “partly free”, with a disappointing score on violating users’ rights (20/40). Although the situation has improved since 2015, individual users – especially activists, journalists and digital nomads – can never be sure that the government isn’t monitoring them. Given how dangerous it is be on the law’s bad side in Sri Lanka, it may be prudent to stay out of trouble with a quality VPN provider’s encryption and no-logging policy.
What about free VPNs?
Before we close this article, let’s talk about free VPNs. First thing’s first: many of them are very decent in terms of speed and technology. In fact, many are on par with some low-end paid services! Still, we strongly urge you to be cautious when using them, and here’s why.
Nothing in this world is free. VPNs work by using virtual servers – which cost money. Some VPNs get this money by charging you a few dollars a month. Others get money by showing you ads; harvesting your private data to sell it to corporations; even using your computer’s processor to power criminal botnet attacks. The very best case scenario is that a free VPN will only show you intrusive ads asking you to upgrade to a paid version. If you value security, privacy and peace of mind, we can’t recommend any free VPNs in good faith.
The state of Internet freedom in Sri Lanka is shaky, but luckily you can take your privacy and security into your own hands with a VPN. Using our suggestions, you should be able to effectively beat geoblocking, bypass censorship, and remain anonymous while streaming and downloading.
Are you currently in Sri Lanka? What are some of your most pressing concerns regarding internet freedom and security? How will you use your VPN to good effect? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!