The best VPNs for Indonesia to protect your privacy and avoid censorship

Published by on August 23, 2017 in VPN & Privacy


Over forty percent of Indonesian netizens choose to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the web in their country. That’s a staggeringly high number and makes the world’s second-largest Muslim country a fervent adopter of the privacy software.

If you don’t want to read the rest of this article, here’s our list of the best VPNs for Indonesia:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. IPVanish
  4. Cyberghost
  5. VyprVPN

One of the reasons for a large number of VPN users could be Indonesia’s frequent blockage of popular sites like Reddit, Vimeo, Netflix, and Imgur for promoting content deemed vulgar and obscene. The Indonesian government takes a hard line towards pornography and pro-LGBT material. In one instance it even forced social media app LINE to remove certain stickers from its store.

Internet advocacy body Freedom House says Indonesia’s internet is only “partly free” with regular interruptions to content and arrest of bloggers cited as concerns.

That’s why we recommend using a VPN to browse the web in Indonesia. It’s an excellent piece of software that masks your true location by routing internet traffic via an intermediary server. A VPN encrypts said traffic flowing to and from your device so that nosy surveillance agencies like the NSA and budding hackers are kept at bay.

A VPN is also a handy option for expatriates living in Indonesia looking to unlock local media content from back home such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, or BeIN Sports.

Our ranking of the best VPNs for Indonesia is based on the following factors:

  • Speed and reliability of service
  • Strong encryption parameters
  • No usage logs
  • Unblocks geo-restricted content with ease
  • Servers in Indonesia
  • Apps for Android and iOS

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN 3 months free

ExpressVPN is a simple, easy-to-use VPN but don’t let its minimalist design fool you. The service offers blazing fast speeds coupled with sturdy encryption, making it one of the best VPNs in the market today. It’s a bit pricier than the rest but you get what you pay for in terms of customer service and quality of the product.

The company operates over 1,500 servers spread across 94 countries including a few in Indonesia, although it doesn’t specify exactly how many. This means local residents can access content like MyRepublic when traveling abroad. All you have to do is log in to the service, select a server in Indonesia, and then access local entertainment like you normally would.

If you’re feeling skittish about factors like anonymity while browsing the web, then ExpressVPN’s policy of not storing any traffic logs should ease your concerns. The only information it does store is some minimal metadata pertaining to the “date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used”. This is stored for troubleshooting, claims the company. Your individual IP address will never be logged.

Encryption standards are similarly strong. ExpressVPN deploys 256-bit AES-CBC protocols as well as HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. There’s an internet kill switch included, which the company refers to as a ‘network lock’, meaning all web traffic will be temporarily halted if the connection drops unexpectedly – keeping it secure.

The service works with Netflix without any problems. It’s similarly compatible with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer and supports torrenting.

There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop clients for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

TRY IT RISK-FREE: Get 3 months free here with ExpressVPN’s annual plan. The deal includes a 30-day no-quibbles money-back guarantee so you’ll receive a full refund if unsatisfied.

Here’s our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the older VPN providers because it’s been in the industry for over a decade. This experience has helped it garner a big pool of users and continually fine tune the product.

The company also declines to retain any information about users – which means there’s no data about browsing habits, choice of servers, or time of connection. In a couple of instances, it has received official requests to hand over customer data but this policy meant that it simply wasn’t able to. Privacy advocates will be pleased.

NordVPN operates 976 servers in 56 countries – with options to connect to specific requirements such as anti-DDoS, video streaming, double VPN, and Tor over VPN.

There are two servers based in Indonesia so local residents might find that to be a handy option for unlocking content while traveling abroad.

It’s able to overcome the Netflix VPN ban and works with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

Nord’s encryption standards are among the best in the business – it uses the 256-bit AES protocol encryption standard by default coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled.

There’s support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

DISCOUNTED DEAL: Save 66% when you sign up for NordVPN’s two year subscription.

Here’s our full review of NordVPN.

3. IPVanish

IPVanish discounted plans

IPVanish is another speedy VPN service that won’t compromise on encryption parameters or privacy. It’s completely logless – meaning there’s no retention of user data of any nature. The only time it records some information is when an account is registered for the first time – absolutely nothing after that.

Encryption protocols are strong too. IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. The last feature means that even if a malicious entity forces its way into your account, it’ll still not be able to figure out the details of your past web sessions. Your data will remain encrypted and secure.

Included within the service is an internet kill switch which adds an additional layer of security. This means web traffic is temporarily halted if the connection drops so there’s no open window for prying eyes to snoop in.

Servers are stable and secure with speed a paramount focus. There are over 850 of them spread across 60 countries. At the moment there isn’t an option to connect to an Indonesian server but there are 85 present in the Asian continent so IPVanish should still deliver on your requirements.

Users find it to be an excellent choice for BBC iPlayer.

There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

IPVanish is similarly popular with Kodi users because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Save up to 60% on IPVanish plans here.

Read our full review of IPVanish.

4. Cyberghost

cyberghost homepage

Cyberghost Pro is an ideal VPN for beginner users as it’s easy to set up and doesn’t come with a ton of embedded security options. Prices are within mid-range so it won’t burn a hole in your wallet, either.

The company is headquartered in Romania and has a policy of not logging any user behavior. Romanian law doesn’t force VPN companies to store data, either. However, Cyberghost Pro was recently acquired by an Israeli firm based in the UK so this might affect the terms of use. We’ll keep you updated if we hear more.

There’s a decent selection of servers with over 850 of them in 27 countries. The company’s website says new locations are being added constantly. At the moment there isn’t an option to connect to Indonesia, but nearby locations such as Singapore and Japan should be adequate.

Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

The service isn’t able to unblock content on US Netflix but does work on BBC iPlayer.

When it comes to security and encryption protocols, Cyberghost Pro ranks within the top-tier. It uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication.

There’s an internet kill switch included, which means web traffic will be halted if the connection drops unexpectedly.

READER DEAL: Save over 70% on Cyberghost’s 2-year plan here.

Read our full review of Cyberghost Pro.

5. VyprVPN

Vyprvpn

VyprVPN puts a great deal of emphasis on its proprietary technology with its flagship Chameleon ™ feature making it one of the few services able to circumvent China’s Great Firewall. The feature scrambles OpenVPN metadata so deep packet inspection cannot recognize it.

VyprVPN owns and manages entire data centers to help it secure all traffic flowing through its servers. This decision stands in contrast to other VPN companies that utilize a combination of renting and outsourcing server space to 3rd party companies.

All traffic is encrypted via the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication.

VyprVPN includes an internet kill switch by default which means internet traffic will be halted temporarily if the connection drops.

However, some users might not like VyprVPN’s policy to store data, specifically “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.”

But the company explains that all such information is only stored for 30 days and is used to improve the overall service. Under no circumstances will it store the content of the traffic. Its robust tech also means hackers will find it difficult to break through – so your data should be safe and secure in most circumstances.

There are over 700 servers, including some in Indonesia. Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

VyprVPN can unlock content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

TRY IT: You can try VyprVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee here.

Read our full review of VyprVPN.

Should I use a free VPN?

Some users might be tempted to opt for a free VPN because, well, it seems like there’s no cash transaction involved. Our advice is to remain wary and tread with severe caution.

Free VPN services are in the business of making money. They spend hard cash for marketing, servers, staff salaries, office space and other overheads. In this case, the most likely route for monetization is via unsuspecting users.

A lot of seemingly free VPNs have been caught inserting tracking cookies, mining that data, and selling it to third-party advertisers. You’ll be bombarded with a ton of invasive advertisements that are likely to cause a migraine. And you run the real risk of contracting a malware infection. At the same time, a free VPN won’t safeguard your privacy and anonymity the way a paid one will. So it’s possible your personal browsing habits will be exposed.

The VPNs mentioned in this article have impressive encryption standards with a wide array of servers. Free ones offer a tiny fraction of the same perks. We recommend you avoid these services and cough up a few dollars for a premium experience. If you’re still unsure, check out our best VPNs with a free trial.

Some VPNs to avoid in Indonesia

Indonesia has definitely curtailed internet freedoms which is why most people opting to use a VPN there will put great emphasis on their privacy and anonymity online. Unfortunately, there are a few VPNs out there that have willingly forked over user data at the request of authorities and generally done very little to maintain a professional approach. We think it’s best if you avoid them. Here are three such examples:

1. PureVPN

Recent media reports state that VPN provider PureVPN collaborated with law enforcement agencies to help identify one of its users. It dug into detailed session logs for this.

PureVPN and the FBI joined forces after an unnamed 24-year-old woman filed a complaint about falling prey to an online blackmailing plot. She suspected her roommate, Ryan Lin, to be behind the plot.

The FBI traced the activity back to PureVPN, who then used its logs to identify the culprit. Ryan was arrested. At the time, however, PureVPN had a ‘no-logs’ policy which puts a real question mark on its ethics. 

2. HolaVPN

Another VPN service with poor customer standards is Israel-based Hola. The company, which operated a popular VPN extension for Chrome, once had a userbase of almost 50 million. Shockingly, it turned this into its advantage by leveraging it into a huge botnet.

What this meant was that Hola users had some of their bandwidth devoted to things like DDoS attacks and distribution of pirated content without their knowledge.

3. Hotspot Shield

Last month, a privacy advocacy group filed a complaint against Hotspot Shield, a notable free VPN provider. The complaint maintains that the company inserts tracking cookies in user data and sells it for advertising purposes. It also adds that the provider “redirects ecommerce traffic to partnering domains”, meaning it’ll hijack HTTP requests and navigate people to affiliate sites.

The privacy advocacy group exhorts that these are “unfair and deceptive trade practices”, precisely because Hotspot Shield claims it protects user privacy and anonymity at all costs.

While it is too early to judge whether the allegations are true or not, it’s certain that these revelations follow a certain trend. Our recommendation is to avoid Hotspot Shield for now and until they are able to prove that they didn’t violate any ethics.

We don’t condone the use of VPNs to commit illegal acts – but we do maintain that a VPN company needs to prioritize ethics and user privacy. So when it violates that principle, there should be no second chances.

How do I access porn in Indonesia?

Accessing pornographic content online in Indonesia is forbidden under local laws. The enactment of the bill has attracted a fair bit of blowback and controversy but it was upheld by Indonesia’s Constitutional Court in 2010 and stands as is.

As far as we know there haven’t been any arrests for people viewing porn in the largest country in Southeast Asia, but it’s better to tread carefully. Four women were picked up from a nightclub under these laws – accused of dressing indecently. Such incidents are few and far between but we recommend you keep your guard up.

Using a paid VPN – any of the ones in our top-five picks – should do the job. Just connect to a server in Europe or North America – these regions are generally the most liberal when it comes to porn – and the rest should be sorted.

Are internet freedoms in Indonesia under threat?

Indonesia has over 100 million internet users and it’s on course to become the world’s fourth-largest online market by 2020, according to a study by Google. The 2014 presidential elections were widely considered to be dominated by social media with people using apps for live election updates. Unfortunately, despite a budding and vibrant online space, the Indonesian government seems hell-bent on regulating chatter and content.

In 2014, the Ministry of Communication and Information allowed internet service providers to block “negative” content at their own discretion without any specific approvals from the government. These opaque guidelines resulted in nationwide blackouts of sites like Imgur, Reddit, and Vimeo.

Earlier this year, the government arbitrarily blocked 800,000 websites citing pornography and gambling as major concerns.

Another aspect of curbing internet freedoms is the Act on Electronic Information and Transaction 2008, which we earlier said had attracted controversy but was subsequently upheld by the country’s highest court. Article 27 of this Act criminalizes ‘anyone distribution and/or transmitting and/or creating access to defamatory electronic documents and/or information with or without any intention’. The legislation – poorly worded and opaque – has been derided by human rights activists, privacy advocates, journalists, and others in civil society.

Our research suggests there have only been one or two arrests for online commentary in Indonesia, but these laws are draconian. Stay safe by using a VPN.

Embassy of Indonesia Flag” by Mr.TinDC licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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