Lantern Review

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The digital era, which is characterized by developments in speed and wide use of technology, has seen the birth of proxy services and virtual proxy networks (VPNs) to help users hide their identity and location. A VPN is simply defined as a program that creates encrypted and secure connections over insecure networks. And this is through a range of tunneling protocols and security procedures. Lantern is one example of a virtual proxy service and users download this app for free. But what’s Lantern and how safe is it? Is the VPN secure when compared to other similar services and how much does it cost to use the service?

Lantern is a peer-to-peer network that is designed to unblock censored websites and gain ease of access to users regardless of their location. The service has free and paid versions. Some users may unblock Pandora, Netflix, and other streaming media sites. But this solely depends on where the optimized server where the user earns access. Automatically assigning a server may seem random but it is highly unreliable, especially if the user wants to access it from a specific location. But still, this is a good service to millions of Internet users who endure website censorship.

Is Lantern a VPN?

The fast headline that catches the eye on the Lantern website is “Faster than a VPN.” So, does this phrase imply that is Lantern is not a VPN? It may not be a full VPN app, but it is still a free and open-source proxy service that helps bypass various blocked websites. This implies that you may access various websites, but the user’s anonymity or privacy is not guaranteed. Did you know that virtual proxy networks may hide your identity, but they have full disclosure of your information and current location?

Speed Test

One question that comes in mind when using a VPN service is its speed. And true to the conspicuous tagline on the website “Faster than a VPN,” the proxy service is ultimately faster than other similar services. Testing the speed on speedtest.com, the VPN gives results of 98Mbs and 99Mbs in upload and download speeds respectively. There is no buffering unless the speed of the Internet is extremely slow. It is uncommon for most free proxies and VPNs to reach two figures when it comes to speed.

Customer Support

Unlike other VPN providers, Lantern does not have a live chat option where users can communicate with agents at any time of the day. As such, users are required to drop the emails to support@getlantern.org or visit the Support page where they can air the comments or seek help or access the FAQ page where they can find many answers about common questions. The app allows users to ask questions, report blocked sites, and even compare the site with other similar apps. News and other information can be found through their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts.

Lantern Sign Up Process

No sign up is required on Lantern’s free version. Put simply, users are required to download the Lantern software on their desktops or mobile devices, and right away, start enjoying its benefits. But after installing the application, users would be required to register with the company if they want to upgrade to the Pro Plans. Alternatively, users who want to use the Pro version even before they try the free option would be required to provide their email address where a download link is sent to activate the premium service.

Logging Policy

Consider learning the information Lantern collects before using the app. Lantern admits that they collect certain information from the user devices. And this information includes hardware model and its operating system, preferred language on the device, mobile network information, serial number, and advertising identifiers. Other information the proxy collects include:

  • IP address
  • Device type
  • Device unique identifier
  • Pages accessed
  • Weblog data
  • Ad data
  • Referral URL
  • Traffic information
  • Geo-location statistics

In essence, Lantern collects lots of information from the user, and advisably, it is better for clients who care about their privacy to skip this proxy service.

Security and Privacy

As explained in the immediate above section, Lantern may not be the best when it comes to security and anonymity.

Leak Test

Despite the impressive high speeds, the service is vulnerable to WebRTC and DNS. This is a clear indication that users may fail to earn access to region-locked services, such as Hulu and Netflix US. The DNS leak test, however, does not disappoint on some occasions, depending on the optimized server.

But the developers of Lantern boldly admit that the app does not protect against surveillance; instead, it is only a tool that can be used for anti-censorship. Reading the terms and conditions may also be helpful when a person wants to know they can do with the programming.

Encryption

Lantern operates as a US-based non-profit under Free Software Foundation, Inc, and can legally qualify for funding from the US government. However, it has an open-source code and is bound to independent audits like other companies to ensure that everything is done per the law.

All connections to proxy websites are encrypted with HTTPS, whereas connections to non-proxy websites are unencrypted. The app uses AES-256-CBC for encryption and ECDHE RSA key handshake. Also, the site uses the SHA hash for authentication. Ultimately, Lantern incorporates the HTTP/SOCKS proxies.

Payment Methods

Like other virtual proxy networks, Lantern accepts various modes of payment, including Visa, American Express, MasterCard, JCB, and Discover. Lantern also accepts payment through Diners Club and Alipay. Users can also pay through cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin; but only if they buy the service through third parties. However, the VPN does not accept payments via PayPal and many other mobile payment platforms.

Pricing Plans

Clients can have Lantern for free if they are comfortable with a 500MB monthly quota. Users can also choose from two paid subscriptions, namely the one-year plan Lantern pro and two-year plan, which cost 32 USD and 48 USD, respectively. Surprisingly, the product has no monthly or quarterly packages. The advantage of the paid plans over the free option is that they come with unlimited bandwidth, faster speeds, and no ads. There are no refunds once the payments are processed.

Features

Which devices does Lantern support and what does it take to use the app?

Compatibility

With the word continuously going digital, developers have ensured that Lantern is compatible with a myriad of devices. Lantern supports Windows, Android, and Mac. Users of Linux can also enjoy this software on their Ubuntu-supported devices. Unfortunately, the lightweight app does not work on iOS devices. Regardless of the device, this software can be downloaded for free. And users may only be required to pay when subscribing to premium plans.

User Interface

Lantern is among the most user-friendly VPNs. The product interface is simple, functional and can easily be accessed from a task tray (three horizontal lines) where users can change the pricing plan and language, invite friends, switch to mobile version, access the software’s settings, and learn more about the product. The app menu is located on the upper right-hand side of the website. Clicking on FAQ shows some of the most asked and basic questions and answers. The general settings show key stats, such as data consumed from the day of purchase, the server connected to, the number of ads blocked, and the number of https upgraded. Lantern clients can also report an issue or seek help when they click on this icon. It is also simple for users to connect or disconnect the software. They simply click on the toggle on the lower right-hand side on the app

Pros and Cons of Lantern

As with any other VPN, Lantern has various advantages and disadvantages. However, this primarily depends on what the user wants and how they use the VPN.

Pros

These factors make Lantern stand out from other virtual proxy networks:

  • Free for users who are fine with a limited bandwidth of 500MB
  • Open-source software
  • Faster speed for paid plans
  • The software uses AES-256 to encrypt data
  • User-friendly
  • Compatible with various devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and Ubuntu
  • Can send all traffic through different proxies

 

Lantern Shortcomings

Things to consider when buying Lantern include:

  • The VPN does not allow users to choose their connection regions
  • Lantern collects lots of personal data and requires a wide range of logs
  • The speeds for the free version are relatively slow
  • Various leaks detected, including DNS and WebTRC

Final Take

The Lantern app works well when accessing censored sites. Its speed and compatibility are pretty impressive. Android and Ubuntu supported apps work the same way as the Windows app. And it is easy to install the software on most devices. Additionally, the interface is user-friendly, and users do not need technical expertise to use the service. Having a 500 MB for free with the option of upgrading to a Pro version at a relatively cheap price is also commendable. Things the app developers can work to improve include compatibility with iOS devices, given that most users want to access various censored sites from their mobile devices. It also does not make sense for a proxy service to assign users random optimized servers without their consent. Being able to choose a preferred location will make this proxy network even more reliable. Users may consider using other proxy services if they are extra keen on their security and privacy.