The Year in Review: How 2020 Unfolded Here at CyberGhost

2020 has been nothing short of a wild ride for many of us.

On its final day, we’re eager to take stock of all the projects we shipped this year. They’re a testament to our drive to protect people’s digital lives and our undying passion for privacy and security.

Here’s a timeline of all things CyberGhost from these crazy, crazy 12 months.

Buckle up for a long read because we haven’t slowed down at all in a year where humanity came to a standstill.

January

Whoa, remember January? That feels like that was a lifetime ago now.

The first month of 2020 was when our updated VPN app for Linux went live, sporting the new WireGuard® protocol and five additional distros and distro versions:

      • Fedora 31
      • Mint 19
      • CentOS 7
      • Kali
      • Pop!_OS

Sprinkled in between were updates of our Android and iOS apps, but that’s something you can always expect of us.

And because privacy is always on our minds, we counted all the legal requests we received and launched our last Transparency Report for 2019, detailing the figures for October, November, and December.

Spoiler alert: thanks to our strict no-logs policy, we had no data for the authorities.

January was also when we updated our Transparency Report’s dedicated section on our website. Make sure to check it out for the yearly graphs on legal requests, but also to get all the juicy details on our infrastructure and team. 🙂

On our YouTube Channel, we told you all about why you should hide your IP address and how to do it:

As the month unfolded on the Privacy Hub, we kept a close eye on the Hong Kong protests and the story of the extradition bill.

February

In February, we did a lot of work behind the scenes, but our YouTube channel was on fire:

March

Ugh, March. For anyone not aware of the timeline: that’s when the coronavirus took over the world, brought everything to a standstill, and forced us indoors.

Because we couldn’t just stand around, CyberGhost joined the global fight against coronavirus. We partnered with GlobalGiving, a nonprofit organization, and contributed to the Coronavirus Relief Fund. 10% of each of purchase made on our website went to support those most affected by the pandemic.

On March 12, on the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, we invited you to stand up for digital rights and take action to protect them.

As more and more people started working from home, we warned you about fake news and phishing scams, urging you to have a WFH digital security checklist.

Our video tutorials also reflected our newly shared reality of being home a lot more:

April

In April, our VPN app entered the Huawei AppGallery, to make sure Ghosties can stay safe and protect their digital life, no matter the device they use.

We also hit publish on our Transparency Report for January, February, and March 2020, and dug deep into the matter of surveillance, COVID-19, and authoritarianism.

May

The month of May found us making a donation to WireGuard, because we strongly believe in supporting the technology we use and building a safer future.

Here’s what Timo Beyel, CyberGhost’s Chief Technology Officer, had to say at the time about the best alternative to OpenVPN:

We have high hopes for WireGuard®, as our top priority right now is integrating the protocol into all CyberGhost VPN apps. Our tests are already confirming the excellent performance capabilities of WireGuard®, and we can’t wait to get your feedback.

Fast forward, and the state-of-the-art protocol is in all our apps.

In May, we also celebrated the launch of a brand-new app for iOS users: CyberGhost Secret Photo Vault! As the name suggests, this lets you keep all your photos and videos away from prying eyes. Your secret vault locks with a PIN and requires biometric login, making sure that nothing private ever turns public.

We started reporting on the USA’s Freedom Act reauthorization, but then rejoiced when the bill was scraped on June 2. Agencies like the FBI and CIA didn’t receive the clearing to search through browser history without a warrant.

June

June marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship for us, as we teamed with PassCamp to offer you even more privacy and security!

PassCamp is a cloud-based password manager. It lets you create strong, unique passwords and stores them for you in a protected, encrypted, and hacker-proof environment.

On Privacy Hub, we reported how IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft stepped back from facial recognition, highlighted the 9 signs that you have spyware on your phone, and put together a guide for you on how to delete your Instagram account.

July

After months of protests and police brutality, the situation in Hong Kong got even direr as the Chinese government passed a controversial law on the special administrative region, threatening freedom of expression.

For the first time, mainland Chinese officials had the right to operate in Hong Kong, with Beijing able to override local laws. Privacy activists feared this would open the door for the Chinese government to force Internet Service Providers in Hong Kong to hand over user data and limit free speech.

As other VPN providers backed out of the region, we decided to stand our ground in Hong Kong. Thanks to our policies, our VPN servers are as safe there as anywhere else in the world.

Our servers run on RAM-only; they are fully encrypted and have no ties with our databases or management infrastructure. Every reboot wipes them down, and even if they’re removed from the rack, they’re completely useless and can’t be accessed.
Tudor Fulga, Head of Infrastructure, CyberGhost VPN:

July also saw the release of our first Transparency Report covering pandemic times: April, May, and June 2020. We were baffled by the 400% increase in Police Requests, but we dealt with them just like we always do, by now having any data on our Ghosties.

July was also when we were able to share with our fantastic community where all their donations went and how they helped support the battle against the coronavirus.

While EARN IT and LAED threatened to kill free speech and encryption in the States, and Google banned ads for surveillance software, we offered you plenty of educational resources on Privacy Hub:

August

On August 9, 2020, the people of Belarus went to the polls to vote for their president.

After Alexander Lukashenko, who’s been president for the past 26 years, presumably won a new term with 80 percent of the votes in his favor, widespread protests erupted.

But as local journalists and internet freedom organizations reported internet shutdowns in Belarus, we couldn’t leave the country stranded.

So, we set up a unique program and gave free CyberGhost VPN keys to the affected citizens.

We also celebrated yet another launch: our very own Private Browser!

CyberGhost Private Browser is here to give you the true anonymous browsing experience, ready to:

      • Hide your browsing activity
      • Delete all your browsing data in just one click
      • Stay anonymous as no information is stored or shared
      • Surf the web ad & tracker-free
      • Improve your page-loading speeds

Available for Windows, macOS, and iOS, it’s right what you needed to take the plunge and ditch your other data-grabbing and privacy-invasive browsers!

August left you with details on our Privacy Hub about how censorship is eating the internet, how websites get blocked, and why you need to hide your IP address right now, plus 4 things a VPN can do for you and your smart TV.

September

September was a big month for us, as we finally got to reveal one of our most significant projects of the year: our revolutionary Dedicated IP system!

Usually, when you get a Dedicated IP, your VPN provider knows what static IP address they assign you. But complete privacy and security can’t be achieved as long as this happens.

It was time to retire the old practice, so we set new standards for Dedicated IPs.

To remove any ties between your CyberGhost VPN account and your Dedicated IP, we use an innovative token system. This way, we have no records of what’s your Dedicated IP address! Your static IP can’t lead back to you, your email, or your CyberGhost VPN account.

It turns out we were also very productive during September with our Privacy Hub articles. That’s when we shared the news that the NSA program exposed by Edward Snowden was ruled illegal, debated the TikTok ban, debunked the myths of incognito mode, and gave you classics like:

October

In October, we were delighted to let you know that our brand-new CyberGhost 8 went live! A lot of time, expertise, and love went into it, so we were eager for you to discover the latest CyberGhost experience.

Download the CyberGhost 8 app and:

✔️ Feast your eyes on the sleek, updated design.

✔️ Take the blazing-fast WireGuard® protocol for a spin.

✔️ Get more performance and oomph than ever before.

✔️ Enjoy complete digital privacy on all your devices.

As the world started feeling the effects of more online surveillance, election manipulations, privacy-invasive contact tracing apps, and increased cybercriminal activity, we published our Transparency Report for July, August, and September 2020.

Online conversations were dominated by the stuff you needed to know for voting remotely in the 2020 US presidential election, and the bill preventing internet shutdowns, coupled with the Google antitrust suit and the malicious adblockers they removed.

Offline, all eyes were on the Social Dilemma documentary.

As the month went by, we typed typed typed plenty of educational articles for Privacy Hub.

And, of course, no month of October would be complete without our over-the-top Halloween celebrations. After all, it is our favorite holiday.

November

November found us hunched over our keyboards, putting together the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for you.

We probably set a new personal best with all the great articles we’ve published over at Privacy Hub. On the news side of things, we kept you up to date with stuff like:

In line with our ethos, we’ve also put together a lot of educational articles for you:

December

We had to end the year with a bang, so in December, we released the CyberGhost Security Suite for Windows, your all-in-one privacy and security solution!

You can now complement your CyberGhost VPN with our latest arrivals: our Antivirus, Privacy Guard, and Security Updater to protect your digital life!

Enjoy the ultimate in privacy and security, all in one dashboard, and:

      • Go for complete malware protection on top of your VPN
      • Protect your device from vulnerable apps
      • Keep away from Microsoft’s prying eyes

To keep in line with the holiday spirit, we told you why VPNs are the perfect stocking filler, and we had a hot take on Santa and his privacy-invasive habits. We also got in touch with 10 German journalists to gather the best privacy tips and tricks for you.

By looking at our busy Privacy Hub editorial calendar, you wouldn’t guess December is the time when people slow down a bit because we definitely haven’t:

Here’s to an even better 2021

2020 hasn’t been without its challenges for us, but we’re incredibly proud of everything we have achieved and all the passion we’ve poured into our projects.

We have ambitious plans for 2021 and all the drive we need to turn them into reality, so make sure to continue keeping an eye on us.

Thank you to each and every Ghostie for joining us on this wild ride as we make the internet a safer place!

 

Until next year,

Stay safe and secure!

“WireGuard” is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.

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