Private Internet Access shuts down Russian servers

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 12, 2016

Private Internet Access announced today to all its customers via email that it made the decision to shut down all of the company's Russian servers.

The VPN provider, who operates servers in dozens of countries, cites a new Russian law that makes it mandatory for providers to log all Internet traffic for up to a year as the prime reason.

Additionally, Private Internet Access mentions that some of the company's servers were seized by Russian authorities recently without "notice or any type of due process".

Since logs are not kept by the company on the server it operates, no user information or data has been compromised.

Private Internet Access shuts down Russian servers

private internet access

The company made the decision to pull out of Russia completely and cease operations in the country.

Upon learning of the above, we immediately discontinued our Russian gateways and will no longer be doing business in the region.

Private Internet Access released an update for all desktop clients and mobile applications that rotates all company certificates. All client applications ship with additional security measures on top of that.

The company notes that the measures are purely preventative.

Private Internet Access customers on the desktop can download the latest client version from the official website. The mobile clients link to the respective application stores operated by Google and Apple respectively.

Customers who use manual configurations to connect to Private Internet Access servers -- as opposed to using the software or apps -- may set up AES-256, SHA-256 and RSA-4096 algorithms

To make it clear, the privacy and security of our users is our number one priority. For preventative reasons, we are rotating all of our certificates. Furthermore, we’re updating our client applications with improved security measures to mitigate circumstances like this in the future, on top of what is already in place. In addition, our manual configurations now support the strongest new encryption algorithms including AES-256, SHA-256, and RSA-4096.

The new desktop client version of Private Internet Access ships with a new feature that the company calls MACE. It is listed as an advanced option in Settings and will block advertisement, trackers and malware automatically when the device is connected to the VPN.

Additional information about the new feature is not available at this point in time. It is unclear which list or lists PIA MACE uses to block sites. The feature is disabled by default and needs to be enabled in the settings though.

Closing Words

The option to connect to a Russian VPN server is gone after the update and it seems unlikely that it is going to return any time soon.

Private Internet Access announced that it will evaluate servers in other countries as well.

Private Internet Access shuts down Russian servers
Article Name
Private Internet Access shuts down Russian servers
Private Internet Access announced today to all its customers via email that it made the decision to shut down all of the company's Russian servers.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Gary D said on July 14, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Nazi level comments here :(

    Your rusophobia is disgusting.

    1. Alex said on July 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Totally agree with you. Not only disgusting, but very troubling – seems like these people are either trolls who’s on a payroll to propel hate or unbelievably unintelligent people who simply cannot comprehend the realities of this world, the unbelievable propaganda that is happening everywhere, which leads to said politicians to push their own agenda. Very sad in any case.

  2. Pants said on July 14, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Err, not intentional. That’s me Pants. Been playing with cookies a lot in the last 2 days. I have a ghacks one so it remembers my name. Didn’t mean to post as Anonymous.

  3. Owl said on July 13, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Martin, are obscene comments the go here now? This site has a huge reader base, Freedom of speech is one thing, obscenity is another. Sorry ‘Pants’ but your post is just plain sad,

    1. Anonymous said on July 14, 2016 at 1:48 am

      You’re right. My last sentence was uncalled for and *slightly* over the top. I’m just passionate about the topic, and said sentence perfectly conveys that in a concise manner. Apologies. That said, who TF are you to call my comment obscene. Grow up :)

  4. xxx said on July 12, 2016 at 7:07 pm


    What about another paid VPN? Are they removing their Russian servers too?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 12, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      I don’t know. I suppose those that support no-logging will have to.

  5. David said on July 12, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    PIA’s is founded on a strong privacy ethic. Many if not a majority of their customers choose them for just that reason.
    They dropped the Russian servers (as they should have) because of a threat to users privacy. It’s as simple as that. No compromise, no special “unsecured idiot” options for people who don’t understand the broader ramifications or even care about their personal privacy. PIA is a VPN for by and for privacy-concious users, and while they may have some users who “don’t really care about the logged data”, I can assure you PIA is run for those who Do.

    1. Luther said on July 18, 2016 at 10:11 am

      I completely agree with you and with PIA for doing what they did.

    2. Alex said on July 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Interesting you say all this. Have you personally inspected all claims the company puts forth? Do we have a report from a completely independent and trustworthy source on the matter?

      This is the biggest problem with all VPNs – they claim rainbows and unicorns, but in reality – who can prove their claims?

      As a side note – any company that operates out of a western country and has servers in US, GB, AU, etc. has way less trust as CIA/MI6/ANB/etc would simply not allow this scale of operation without having something in return.

      1. Pants said on July 13, 2016 at 3:27 am

        @David “My goal is to make it as difficult as I can” .. back in the day there was a thing called “spook food”, the idea being that you would make everything a “red flag”, so much so that the agencies were swamped (needle in the haystack). Imagine if everyone signed their emails with random words such as bomb, cocaine, comrade etc. Of course nowadays, they vacuum it all up anyway and can’t see the wood for the trees. Fuck them, in the ass, with a kitchen blender. :)

      2. David said on July 13, 2016 at 2:34 am

        Alex, I have not. And I haven’t seen any such report.
        Your point is entirely valid. Lest any newbies think a VPN is golden armor, it boils down to a matter of trust.
        In the U.S, there is no data retention policy, as in many other countries. That is the only reason they are a US company. I trust them. And I am a Pirate-Party fan.
        The situation in GB is horrible. A vpn only gets you there, after that your security depends on you. Surfing in Great Britain without TLS? Then you’re screwed. You are probably screwed anyway. Don’t surf there.

        I know that PIA uses the highest encryption currently available:
        Tue Jul 12 16:50:44 2016 Data Channel Decrypt: Cipher ‘AES-256-CBC’ initialized with 256 bit key
        Tue Jul 12 16:50:44 2016 Data Channel Decrypt: Using 256 bit message hash ‘SHA256’ for HMAC authentication
        Tue Jul 12 16:50:44 2016 Control Channel: TLSv1.2, cipher TLSv1/SSLv3 DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384, 4096 bit RSA
        You can verify this by running ovpn yourself as I do.

        They know the NSA is attempting to break and own the encryption keys to Every VPN. How far this has progressed is a matter of speculation. But at least they should be on the tail-end of that process.
        If you are life-and-death level of security against a hostile State-level adversary, then a vpn is only a piece of your overall OpSec. I trust PIA, but not with my life.

        Personally, I don’t want my ISP tracking everywhere I go, nor logging all my dns. I block trackers and all that other stuff that gets me a ‘tin-foil hat’ moniker. I just want to be difficult. My goal is to make it as difficult as I can for someone to peruse my history and build profiles and pry into my life, including full-disk encryption. But I know that if the NSA wants in to your computer, they are in. So…yeah. Cheers!

  6. T J said on July 12, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    It is possible that, because some of the Russian servers were confiscated, PIA has isolated the remaining Russian servers in order to prevent any compromises of the rest of their global server network.
    Russia is a hot bed for hacking. Put the FSB ( new KGB) into the mix and who knows what shenanigans could go on with the confiscated servers.
    Because of this risk, with the release of new client software, PIA seems to have decided to close any possible global server infection/hacking.

    I know what will be said. I am:
    – Paranoid
    – A tin foil hat wearer.
    – Putin phobic

    It IS, however, better to be safe than sorry :-)

    1. MdN said on July 12, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Tin foil hats are for people who talk about illuminati and flat earth. ;-)
      This is about something called “yarovaya law” which was approved this month, basically because everyone was too afraid to vote against it. Do a search for it and you will find that, apart from the insane IT stuff, it threatens with up to a year in jail for anyone who doesn’t report anyone who might be planning some terrorism (whatever that means to them).

      1. Alex said on July 18, 2016 at 11:55 pm

        @MdN I cannot stop laughing when reading about “evil Russia”. It’s amazing how ignorant people are in this day and age. I wouldn’t call you naive, but I clearly see that you’ve got a misconception that you believe in dearly.

        To your point – who cares who’s keeping your data – a provider or state? Btw, state would be using the taxpayers money, so there you go – forcing providers to pony up some cash is better for a taxpayer.

        On the other note, you seriously should think hard to realize that most of what you’ve been fed all your life and what you believe in as truth is, in fact, lies. Anything that has to do with global politics, macroeconomics, history should be re-examined. Thankfully there are a lot of resources available out there now, which, when used critically, can actually open up your mind. But seems like you are not all that interested in that anyway.

        PS: I have read the law. I do know what it’s about. I lived in few countries which allowed me to examine the reality from different angles, and I’ve been re-examining everything I’ve known for past many years to just laugh at statements you make.

      2. Jason said on July 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm

        @MdN: You are being really naive. Do you have any idea how much data are stored by the USA and UK? We’re talking “YOTABYTES” of data. It’s way beyond anything happening in Russia. Are you aware of the National Security Letters in the USA, which operate through secret courts and which cannot be publicly disclosed without risk of imprisonment? (And @wybo: How ridiculous is it for you to complain about Russian state hackers when so many Western governments do exactly the same thing? LOL. Or did we forget the revelations about USA, UK, and Germany in recent years?)

        This insane Russophobia that has emerged in the last 2-3 years is really driving me crazy. It’s beyond reprehensible. You guys are spoiling for another European war.

      3. MdN said on July 12, 2016 at 10:58 pm

        Just to add (if my other comment doesn’t get approved, it’s still obvious that you haven’t googled yarovaya law, don’t know what it is, haven’t heard of Edward Snowden who twits about this, or you’re a Putin puppet) “the others do it too” is not an argument, especially if you’re doing worse. Compared to what I hear from my Russian friends, European media (not American, I don’t have time for that) is actually too mild to Russia.

      4. MdN said on July 12, 2016 at 9:55 pm

        @Alex – I guess Googling is a luxury too. Maybe try to follow Snowden on Twitter, huh? “Store 6 months of content” is not just dangerous, it’s impractical. What is that, ~100PB of storage for even a tiny 50Gbps ISP?

        Why would anyone visit Fox, CNN or, for that matter, RT?

        If you don’t notice a difference here… One example: Some are monitoring you. Some demand that your own provider stores the data themselves.

      5. Alex said on July 12, 2016 at 8:28 pm

        Right. So all the laws that have been put in place for data monitoring in UK, US, elsewhere are that much different. I guess thinking these days is a luxury. Say hi to Fox, CNN and other “trustworthy” sources, haha!

        Just a couple of sources for people like you:

    2. wybo said on July 12, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      I agree. Czar Putin and is old employer FSB are dangerous. This so called democracy is co opting hackers in their nefarious attacks on all Western (EU,US, Canada etc) countries.

      Have you noticed how ransomware does not exist in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

  7. Hello from Russia said on July 12, 2016 at 11:22 am

    That’s why Russia is a shithole.

    1. Jason said on July 13, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you for demonstrating how effectively the mass media propaganda works on you.

    2. MdN said on July 12, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      Short but efficient. I have a VK account, for listening to music mostly, and if I check Russian peoples’ profiles I don’t see signs of free speech or humor. Everyone looks the same and thinks the same. Even worse if I visit RT or SOTT, they’re as awful as American propaganda if not worse. It’s like everyone is allowed to criticize their own country or make fun of it except Russians. I’m in southern Europe and even if it’s a bit of a s***hole too, at least people are allowed to complain or have a laugh. Ignore the troll. Maybe he’s paid by Kremlin. ;-)
      Cheers and good luck!

    3. Alex said on July 12, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Hahaha. Great, well educated observation right here! You must have a BcS or PhD of some sorts, I’m sure!

      1. Hello from Russia said on July 12, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        You don’t need BcS or PhD, you just need to live in Russia.

  8. Alex K. said on July 12, 2016 at 8:01 am

    That is a lazy and lame decision.
    Why didn’t they just make a special “unsecure” option to access resources in countries with stupid laws?
    I’m pretty sure a lot of people use VPN’s just for a faster browsing/downloads and/or better ping times and don’t really care about the logged data on a certain types of resources (educational, gaming, etc.).

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.