The following is an interview with Benjamin Van Pelt, who is the CEO of the TorGuard. TorGuard is one of the oldest VPN providers in the VPN industry and has managed to get a hold of a huge fan following.
We asked him about his history, the future of TorGuard, and the future of privacy after the advent of the NSA! So without further ado let the interview begin.
BestVPNService : Can you please tell us more about yourself and your brand “TorGuard”?
Benjamin Van Pelt: Sure. Between myself and our staff members we bring a combined 10+ years experience from within the web hosting and antivirus security industry.
What started as a brand just for torrent security has now evolved into a full service premium VPN provider.
The name “TorGuard”now represents not only security for your torrent downloads, but rather real privacy solutions for those from all technical backgrounds.
BestVPNService : What were the reasons behind to start your own VPN / Torrent service that can ensure online users presence?
Benjamin Van Pelt: The biggest driving motivation to start TorGuard was the current state of internet privacy. (Or lack of it.) It was truly painful to witness developments that ultimately undermined the “open” nature of the internet, so we were compelled to create a startup that actually took a stand for the individual user’s privacy.
Additionally, we felt there was a great need in the industry for a provider that offered quality VPN/Proxy services at an affordable rate while simultaneously delivering good customer service and software solutions.
Up until recently it took a bit of technical “know how” to setup a secure VPN, however these days it’s as simple as installing an app.
BestVPNService : What makes your business, product (s) or business model unique from other VPN providers?
Benjamin Van Pelt: We do things differently at TorGuard. From the beginning our staff has listened closely to our customers wants and needs, tailoring every developing aspect of our services around these requests.
A new comer to our services can immediately notice four things in which we distinguish ourselves: Security, Affordability, Ease of Use, and Support.
In this way we have continued to introduce new features and services that effectively address security concerns on any OS platform, anywhere in the world.
Some of the recently added features that set us apart from the competition include our Stealth (Un-blockable) VPN, Free Encrypted Webmail, Quick Proxy Software, and our easy to use OpenVPN client.
BestVPNService : In a short span of time you have launched servers in 17 countries? What are your future plans in terms of expanding this network?
Benjamin Van Pelt: Our network team is currently planning additional expansion by adding new locations in Sweden and France in the coming weeks.
For the future, we are putting much emphasis on expanding our EU and Asia VPN locations due to a fast growing client base from this region.
Clients who are accessing our network from behind the “Great Firewall of China” can soon expect more Stealth VPN locations in Hong Kong, India, and Netherlands data centers.
Also in the coming months, we will be adding a 10gigabit upgrade feature in our Canada and Netherlands locations for those who have high speed connections and need faster than average transfer speeds.
BestVPNService : As you might be aware that there is a significant increase in the number of mobile phone users? Do you have any plan to come up with your iOS / Android Apps?
Benjamin Van Pelt: TorGuard was one of the first VPN providers to release an OpenVPN Android app in late 2012.
Throughout this year we have perfected the app and improved it’s compatibility with almost every android device on the market.
Users can now download the TorGuard app from Google Play and protect any android mobile device with OpenVPN security instantly (no root required).
For iphone users we offer custom OpenVPN configurations that can easily be loaded onto an iphone, ipad or IOS device through itunes and used with the free OpenVPN app available in the iOS app store.
Our VPN packages allow five simultaneous connections per user so we encourage everyone to begin using their VPN on Android and iOS mobile devices.
BestVPNService : Usually online users can get proxy for free. But you are selling your Anonymous Bittorrent proxy plan against $5.95? Why should online customers go for this?
Benjamin Van Pelt: There are many free http proxy providers, however they cannot even remotely compare with the performance of our proxy service.
TorGuards’ premium proxy services operate through socks5 and is optimized on gigabit connections to work seamlessly with software like utorrent, bittorrent, Deluge, Vuze, Skype and Opera.
Last month we also released new proxy software which automatically configures the optimal security settings for one’s torrent client with the click of a button.
Customers can also manually connect to “proxy.torguard.tg” and be automatically routed to the fastest proxy availible at any given time in six different countries.
A socks5 proxy makes an excellent “second layer” of security and can prevent against accidental disconnects on torrent clients or secure web browsing sessions.
BestVPNService : There is a normal perception that Torrent / file sharing activities are illegal. How do you defend your Big Brand “Torguard” against this statement?
Benjamin Van Pelt: First, I would defend the bittorrent protocol as it will always be one of the most efficient ways to transfer large amounts of data, period.
There is a plethora of legal content available over torrents and this selection is growing every day. Just because the SilkRoad abused various mail postal systems around the world, does this mean sending any packages through the mail should be banned? Of course not.
In the same way, one cannot throw out an entire protocol just because of a selection of the content travelling through it. If this was the case then http services should have been blocked years ago.
TorGuard does not condone or support the use of our services for illegal downloads and we operate in full DMCA compliance.
BestVPNService : What upcoming payment methods will you introduce for your VPN customers if mastercard and visa ban VPN/ Torrent providers?
Benjamin Van Pelt: We have fully embraced bitcoin and view this payment method as one of the most ideal transfer options for those concerned about financial security online.
Bitcoin is happily accepted for both our VPN/Proxy services and in our VPN Router store. With that being said, our current legal counsel does not believe that there will be a worldwide VISA/Mastercard ban on VPN providers anytime soon.
This is simply unrealistic as every major countries’ financial underwriting and banking institutions function independently from each other.
In the rare event that our current banking systems would become disrupted, we would simply move operations and assets to a country in which VISA wanted our business.
BestVPNService : It seems that you VPN service is compatible with DDWRT routers. Which routers do you recommend to your users to configure with and why?
Benjamin Van Pelt: TorGuard VPN is highly compatible with DDWRT and Tomato VPN Routers and our staff is very knowledgeable on the topic.
Our knowledgebase has step by step setup instructions on setup and we also sell pre-configured “plug and play” VPN routers through our store. Our staff actually recommends Tomato flashed VPN routers for the best connection stability and range of features, however DDWRT is also an excellent choice.
The best selling routers in the TorGuard store (http://torguard.net/store) are the NetGear R6300 (DDWRT), and ASUS RT-N66U (DDWRT or Tomato).
Both of these routers are dual band and feature gigabit speeds so one can be sure that there will be plenty of bandwidth to handle the wireless network and stream popular services like Netflix and Hulu.
It is also worth noting that we have recently begun offering PayPal financing options in our store so clients can buy the VPN router they really wanted and stretch payments over a six month period.
BestVPNService : Tell us more about ” OpenPGP encryption”.
Benjamin Van Pelt: TorGuard now offers secure web based PGP email services to our clients that allow true privacy when communicating through email.
Customers can try before they buy with a free 10mb account or upgrade to one of our premium mail storage plans.
The email encryption is compatible with any PGP key and can be used from anywhere without the worry of losing one’s key.
Once a user creates the private PGP key, only they can access and decrypt mail from the server by using a separate (secret) password.
Not even our network technicians can decrypt it. Encrypting one’s email is the only way to prevent against a man in the middle attack and stop prying eyes from snooping on email communications.
BestVPNService : What IP Types are you offering to your customers?
Benjamin Van Pelt : We currently offer dedicated IPv4 services in all of our data centers and will soon be offering IPv6 as a trial in our German DC.
BestVPNService : What do you personally think that which is most secure using proxy or a VPN connection?
Benjamin Van Pelt: As far as security goes, a VPN connection is the most secure option hands down. Not just any VPN protocol though, we highly suggest using OpenVPN only for optimal security.
All TorGuard apps only use OpenVPN protocol and we offer both 128bit Blowfish and AES 256 encryption options for clients.
BestVPNService : Do you keep logs of your customers activities?
Benjamin Van Pelt: NO. It has been our company’s position from day 1 to not keep ANY logs on our client’s activity whatsoever.
Our entire proxy and VPN network is configured on shared IP’s and does not maintain any usage logs – not even for a second.
Since there are hundreds of users sharing a specific IP at any given time, it is impossible for a network technician to trace back a timestamp to a single user.
This is a strong point of our services and is not something we would ever consider compromising on.
BestVPNService : NSA and Prism are the most talked about topics, how does your service help in protecting your users?
Benjamin Van Pelt: We now have unarguable proof that every website you visit, every google phrase you search, will eventually end up in a big heaping pile of metadata.
While a VPN is not the “fix-all” solution, it does help lessen one’s metadata IP footprint. By simply masking one’s IP and encrypting the web session, this can help prevent personal data from being unlawfully recorded and attached to a permanent metadata record.
The combination of using secure VPN and encrypted email can help take back online privacy that has since been lost.
BestVPNService : Is there anything that we missed and you want to share with your readers?
Benjamin Van Pelt: TorGuard has some exciting new features and improvements we will soon be releasing this year.
Also, our team is currently working on a separate “decentralized” encrypted cloud storage platform and we will be launching beta testing to the TorGuard client base very soon.
Keep an eye on our blog for more info in the coming weeks. Till then go check out TorGuard and let us know what you think about it.
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