Malaysia’s cyber landscape has worsened in the past couple of years with authorities clamping down on dissent by silencing the press and blocking websites that discussed corruption scandals. There have also been cases of bloggers and social media users being arrested for airing their views online.
We recommend you use a VPN to remain safe and secure on the Malaysian internet. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the traffic flowing to and from your device making it impossible for hackers or government authorities to determine your true location. Your data is tunneled via an intermediary server, keeping it safe and secure.
If you don’t want to read the rest of this article, here’s our list of the best VPNs for Malaysia:
A VPN is also an excellent choice for expatriates living in Malaysia wishing to access content like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Sky Sports, or BeIN sports. Malaysian residents traveling abroad can also use a VPN to access channels like Astro.
Our list of the best VPNs for Malaysia is based on the following factors:
- Speed and stability of service
- Large network of servers across the world for expatriates to unblock content
- Strong encryption parameters to minimize chances of data loss
- Ease of use
ExpressVPN offers a sturdy combination of military-grade encryption coupled with reliable speeds and efficient connections. The design is clean and minimalist and the service works without any fuss.
ExpressVPN offers possible connections to over 1500 servers spread across 94 countries including some in Malaysia. It’s an ideal choice for foreign expatriates living in the country as well as local residents trying to unlock local content.
The company has a stated policy of not storing any traffic logs whatsoever. However, there is some metadata retention – specifically the date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used.
It’s important to note that your individual IP address won’t be logged so there’s no way of your web activity being traced back to you. At the same time, it’s possible to sign up via a burner email account and pay with Bitcoin to maintain anonymity.
Encryption protocols are similarly robust – the service leverages 256-bit AES-CBC, utilizing both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch temporarily halts all web traffic if the connection drops unexpectedly.
ExpressVPN unlocks geo-restricted content on Netflix. It’s also compatible with Hulu and BBC iPlayer, and it supports torrents.
There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
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Read our review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN has been in the VPN business for over a decade and is a popular choice with privacy advocates thanks to consistent service.
It continues with the baton of a zero-logs policy as it holds no data about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps of any nature. This policy has thwarted attempts by government agencies to sniff out its user data. So if it’s privacy you’re looking for, NordVPN has you covered.
The company operates 976 servers in 56 countries making it a robust choice for the entire gamut of web activity. Two of these are located in Malaysia so local residents traveling abroad can use the service to watch content from back home if they’d like.
NordVPN is one of the few services that bifurcates servers according to specialty. It operates some specifically for anti-DDoS, video streaming, double VPN, Tor over VPN, and dedicated IP – this means that fast speeds and strong encryption are guaranteed.
The provider works with a whole bunch of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It supports torrenting.
NordVPN encrypts internet traffic via the 256-bit AES protocol by default and uses 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. These are some of the strongest protocols out there today so you don’t need to worry about any data leaks.
There’s support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Here’s our in-depth review of NordVPN.
Cyberghost is a recommended choice for beginners looking for a fast, reliable connection with a simple interface and varied selection of servers.
There are over 850 servers spread across 27 countries. Unfortunately, there’s no option for a Malaysian IP address, although the service does say they’re constantly adding new locations.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Cyberghost Pro uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. That means it passes the test of stringent encryption. There’s an internet kill switch included too which means web traffic will be halted if the connection drops.
Here’s our full review of Cyberghost.
IPVanish checks all the boxes when it comes to a speedy VPN that’s also mindful of maintaining user privacy and anonymity.
The only time it stores any details is when an account is registered for the first time. After that your activity will be hidden – this includes things like session history and choice of servers.
IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048 key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. What this means is that even if your account is compromised, it’s impossible for hackers to decrypt past data to glean your internet history.
There’s an internet kill switch included which means the company will temporarily block all traffic to and from your device if the connection drops. Servers are optimized for speed and stability – there’s over 850 of them spread across 60 countries, including one in Malaysia. That means a suitable connection isn’t far from reach.
IPVanish doesn’t escape the Netflix ban on VPNs and is similarly incompatible with Hulu. However, it is a worthy choice for BBC iPlayer and permits torrenting on all servers. There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Many users find the service to work fantastically well with Kodi 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.
Read our review of IPVanish.
VyprVPN is also a relative veteran in the VPN space, having been in existence for over seven years. It’s operated by Golden Frog, the same company behind Usenet, which makes it a mature option. It’s great for torrenting as it ensures fast speeds and sturdy encryption.
Some users might find its logging policy to be a little troubling. VyprVPN says it stores “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 data is retained for only 30 days and is used to improve the service. VyprVPN insists that it will not log traffic details or content of any communications.
Having said that, it’s unlikely that your private data will ever be exposed. VyprVPN is one of the toughest services out there when it comes to encryption parameters – after all, it’s able to unblock China’s Great Firewall with ease. This means that the company possesses the ability to thwart thousands of state-appointed engineers that work around the clock to restrict access to content.
Furthermore, VyprVPN owns and manages entire data centers – as opposed to other services that choose to rent or outsource to third-party operators. Stability of connection is more or less assured with minimal downtime.
Traffic is secured by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. There’s an internet kill switch included which means your connection will remain secure even if it drops unexpectedly. It’s also able to unlock content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
A premium version of the package allows access to the Chameleon™ protocol, which prevents bandwidth throttling and scrambles OpenVPN metadata so deep packet inspection cannot recognize it.
There are over 700 servers, including some in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
What about a free VPN?
There are a plethora of free VPNs on the internet but their speed and encryption standards aren’t up to scratch with paid options.
Free VPNs usually monetize by bombarding you with invasive advertisements, inserting tracking cookies and selling your data, or by unwittingly turning your computer into a massive botnet army. The threat of a malware infection is also real which can lead to widespread data loss.
Some of the VPNs listed in the article do offer a free trial which you can use in case you’re unsure about whether you need the service at all. But don’t settle for a random free one. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Some VPNs to avoid
Maintaining privacy and anonymity online rank as important factors when deciding to settle for a VPN to browse the web in Malaysia. So when some services violate that trust by selling user data and willingly cooperating with authorities, it’s best to avoid them. Your security won’t be guaranteed.
Here are two examples of VPN providers that we recommend you ignore:
Media reports a few weeks ago indicated that well-known VPN provider PureVPN collaborated with the FBI in a case of online blackmail.
The FBI and PureVPN teamed up after evidence suggested that Ryan, a user of said provider, was trying to engage in extortion and other abhorrent acts. He believed a VPN would cover his tracks and maintain anonymity.
We don’t condone Ryan’s behavior but PureVPN did have a ‘no-logs’ policy at the time. We certainly believe they could have been more transparent.
Israel-based Hola one boasted 50 million users who had downloaded its VPN extension for Chrome. But the company leveraged its massive userbase for nefarious purposes and turned them into a massive botnet.
What this meant was that a part of your internet bandwidth was put aside for crippling attacks on other sites without your knowledge. There’s a strong likelihood that it was also used for promoting copyrighted content and pornography.
We strongly urge you to avoid this sham service.
How do I access porn in Malaysia?
Internet regulators in Malaysia take a hardline stance on pornographic content with access to such material generally banned throughout the country. Some torrenting websites are also blocked, although bans are not nearly as stringent as those on adult content.
Using a VPN will hide your actual location from Malaysian ISPs. To access such content, all you have to do is register for one of the VPNs in this list, log on, select a server outside of Malaysia – preferably in the US or Europe where there are no existing restrictions in place – and browse normally.
How free is the internet in Malaysia?
There’s serious limits to content if you try to access the web from a Malaysian IP address. Several blogs, news sites, and social media accounts have been shut down after accusations of criticising the government and libelous speech.
Because of these facts, Malaysia’s internet has been ranked as “partly free” by advocacy body Freedom House in 2016. The same report adds that press freedoms are “not free”, pointing to the muzzling of bloggers and journalists for the reason behind this status.
In 2016, the Malaysian government reneged on pledges never to censor the web and proceeded to block a number of websites that had reported on Prime Minister Najib Razzak’s corruption scandals. Online news site The Malaysian Insider went out of business as a direct consequence of this decision. Access to publishing platform Medium was also restricted.
That’s despite the fact that internet users in Malaysia number a considerable 21.6 million, representing almost 70 percent of the population. The statistic puts it above other countries in the region such as Thailand and the Philippines, but a little behind Singapore.
Efforts by Malaysian authorities to expand internet access throughout the country have certainly borne fruit, with a focus on affordable smartphones in rural areas. But this has also lead to greater political awareness and criticism of public officials – developments that the Malaysian government is extremely wary of.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation says Malaysia’s internet censorship is worsening dramatically with authorities keen to stamp out any chatter of a corruption scandal that exposed those at the upper echelons of power.
At the same time, authorities are vying for even more sweeping powers of censorship. There are plans to strengthen both the Official Secret Act and the Communication & Multimedia Act to exert further control over news sites, ISPs, as well as ordinary users. It’s likely that there will be far more surveillance of the web than what is witnessed currently.