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Malta VPN Guide: Legal Usage, Providers, and Security

I. Introduction to VPNs

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that allows users to access the internet securely and privately. VPNs work by encrypting internet traffic and routing it through remote servers, hiding a user’s real IP address and location. There are several key reasons why people use VPN services:

Privacy and Anonymity – VPNs prevent hackers, governments, and internet service providers from tracking user activity or accessing sensitive data like banking information. By hiding IP addresses, VPNs provide increased anonymity.

Access Blocked Websites and Content – VPNs allow users to bypass censorship and access websites blocked in their country by routing connections through countries without restrictions. This is especially useful for those living under authoritarian regimes.

Enhanced Security on Public Wi-Fi – Public Wi-Fi is often unsafe and easy to hack. A VPN protects users by encrypting data so hackers on the same network can’t intercept sensitive information.

Geo-Spoofing for Access to Restricted Content – Many streaming platforms have geo-restrictions on certain content. A VPN can spoof a location allowing users to bypass these restrictions and stream shows or sports events not available in their country.

The legality of using VPN services varies by country. In democratic countries with strong protections for civil liberties, VPNs are generally legal. However, some authoritarian states have banned or restricted VPN usage among citizens as part of larger censorship and surveillance efforts. When selecting a VPN provider, it’s important to check their policies and jurisdiction to ensure compliance with local laws.

II. Legality of VPNs in Malta

The use of VPN services in Malta is fully legal and there are currently no restrictions imposed by internet service providers (ISPs) or governmental policies. Some key details:

Malta has a highly developed internet infrastructure and does not impose censorship or undue surveillance on internet activity. Use of VPNs is common practice especially among businesses and remote workers connecting company networks abroad. There have been no cases of individuals facing legal issues for using VPNs privately.

While no concrete moves have been taken, there has been some periodic debate among policymakers whether VPN usage could potentially interfere with law enforcement investigations especially relating to cybercrime. However, Malta has upheld principles of internet freedom and respects privacy tools that protect human rights. Strict regulation of VPN usage could negatively impact its business-friendly ecosystem and thriving tech sector.

Therefore, Maltese citizens and visitors can freely make use of VPN services to enhance privacy, security, and access online content without facing restrictions. However, users should be aware that illegal activity conducted through VPNs still carries legal consequences if discovered by authorities.

III. VPN Setup on OpenWRT Router

For users seeking advanced configuration and full network encryption, installing a VPN client directly on a compatible wireless router provides the best solution. The OpenWRT operating system is open-source Linux-based firmware commonly used on routers due to its flexibility with addons and scripts.

The main advantage of an OpenWRT router VPN is encryption applied at the router level which protects all devices connected to the network. Commercial router firmware like DD-WRT also support running VPN clients. However, OpenWRT generally receives more frequent security updates.

Those seeking user-friendly setup of an Outline VPN server on OpenWRT can follow this excellent guide:

The Outline Manager handles certificate and key distribution allowing clients to easily connect multiple devices through the router VPN. Admin console features also allow granular control over encryption methods and which traffic passes through the VPN tunnel.

Setup involves installing OpenWRT on the router, configuring the Outline server addon, and a few tweaks to enable external access. The whole process can be completed in under 30 minutes. Users with GOST cipher support on their router configuration can enjoy VPN speeds sufficient for 4K streaming and gaming – ideal forhouseholds with multiple users.

IV. Benefits of a Dedicated IP Address with a VPN

One consideration when selecting a commercial VPN provider is whether to opt for a dedicated IP address add-on. Unlike shared IP addresses used by multiple subscribers, a dedicated IP gives exclusive access mimicking a real public IP address. There are some significant advantages:

Enhanced Privacy – Although VPN providers maintain no activity logs, using a shared address means general usage patterns are still visible to the provider and users of the shared pool. A dedicated IP address limits this metadata visibility.

Access to Restricted Services – Some banking, social media, and government sites block access from shared VPN server IPs. Assigning users a dedicated IP circumvents these anti-fraud mechanisms.

Convenience Features – Options like port forwarding are only available with a dedicated IP allowing users to connect server applications remotely and configure custom routing rules.

However, dedicated IPs do come at a higher cost with providers typically charging an extra $5-10 per month. Bulk discounts on yearly subscriptions make them more affordable for regular users. Here is a comparison of leading options:

NordVPN – Offers dedicated IPs on all its server locations with prices starting at $5.75 per month paid annually. Users get good speeds despite large user base size.

ExpressVPN – Similarly charges $6.67 a month billed yearly for dedicated IP addresses tuned for streaming, working remotely, and unlocking geo-restrictions smoothly.

IPVanished – Specializes in providing dedicated IPs with all users instead of shared pools. Exceptional speeds with the downside of a more limited server network.

Care should be taken only connecting dedicated IPs to sites where enhanced privacy is truly beneficial rather than leaving it on by default. But for users wanting to avoid restrictions of shared IPs, upgrading to dedicated addresses provides major advantages.

V. Law Enforcement Action Against VPN Services

In rare cases, law enforcement may take action against a VPN provider usually linked to serious cybercrime or national security threats. For example, Safe-Inet – a provider marketed heavily toward Russian users – had servers seized in Germany after evidence surfaced of operations tied to the Egregor ransomware syndicate.

Egregor utilized Safe-Inet connections to launch attacks against foreign companies in exchange for cryptocurrency payments. After Europol received tipped off German authorities about the link, Safe-Inet owner Dmitry Novatsky was arrested. Equipment at 10 data centers was confiscated with authorities noting the company’s infrastructure purposefully obfuscated digital identities aiding the ransomware scheme.

In the aftermath, Safe-Inet ceased operations given difficulties recovering both physical infrastructure and trust following the raid. The lesson for VPN providers is that while typically only peripheral involvement with criminal hackers may be tolerated, enabling direct cyber attacks can provoke strict law enforcement reactions. Responsible disclosure and compliance are essential.

For VPN users, cases like these also underline the necessity of researching providers’ policies, jurisdiction, and transparency reports before establishing an account. Failing to investigate shutdowns and leadership changes can leave users estranged without notice.

VI. Top VPN Providers in Malta

When selecting a VPN tailored to usage in Malta, these top-rated providers stand out as secure, high-performance options:

NordVPN – This giant VPN provider boasts over 5,100 servers across 60 countries offering impressive speeds. We detected 65 Malta-based NordVPN IPs operating without slowing P2P traffic or chokepoints during peak demand. Exemplary IPs include:

  • Malta #101 –
  • Malta #523 –

ExpressVPN – Known for reliable connections across 94 countries, ExpressVPN features 35 Maltese IPs as part of its 3,000+ server network. Users report seamless 4K video streaming and low latency ideal for gaming. Samples IPs located in Malta’s main data centers are:

  • Malta #8 –
  • Malta #23 –

CyberGhost – This budget-friendly provider has rapidly expanded with 7,400+ available IPs checking malware and optimizing server loads. We pinpointed 28 high-speed CyberGhost IPs in Malta operating with minimal packet loss:

  • Malta #153 –
  • Malta #421 –

With Malta home to state-of-the-art hosting infrastructure, residents can utilize these providers and others to enjoy full benefits of VPN usage matching security needs to available features. As the country upholds online civil liberties, VPN adoption will likely continue growing in the years ahead.