I. Introduction to VPNs
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, has become an essential tool for internet users around the world who are concerned about their privacy and security online. As the internet permeates more aspects of daily life, especially with more services being connected to the internet-of-things, having a way to securely access the internet has become very important. This is especially true in Malaysia, where recent cybersecurity and personal data protection laws have made privacy and security top priorities.
A. Definition of VPN
A virtual private network, commonly abbreviated as VPN, is a service that encrypts internet traffic and obscures a user’s identity and location. VPN services establish secure, encrypted connections between devices and the wider internet. This protects a local network from being publicly accessed and blocks the user’s internet service provider (ISP) from tracking browsing activity. Some key aspects of how VPNs work:
- Encrypt traffic – VPN services use encryption protocols to scramble data into cyphertext as it travels between a user’s device and a VPN server. This helps prevent cybercriminals from intercepting and stealing data.
- Obscure identity – By routing internet traffic through an intermediary server, a user’s IP address and location can be hidden. This provides anonymity when accessing the internet.
- Access restricted content – VPN services allow users to bypass censorship and access content blocked in certain countries by making it seem like the user is accessing the internet from a different location.
B. Purpose of Using a VPN in Malaysia
There are several important reasons for Malaysian residents and visitors to use a VPN while in the country:
- Circumvent government censorship – Certain websites and services are blocked by the Malaysian government under the Evidence Act 1950. A VPN allows citizens and visitors alike to bypass this censorship.
- Enhanced privacy & anonymity – VPN services hide a user’s browsing activities, location, and IP address from ISPs, advertisers, and websites to provide better privacy while online. Given the cybersecurity focus in Malaysia, this is very relevant.
- Secure public WiFi access – Connecting to public hotspots can often be risky due to lack of encryption and spoofing by hackers. A VPN service secures public WiFi connections.
- Access geo-restricted content – Many streaming websites limit content based on geographical IP locations. A VPN provides access to geo-restricted content by providing IP addresses from other countries and regions.
- Evade price discrimination – Websites frequently adjust pricing based on visitors’ geographical locations and shopping habits. VPNs allow users to evade these practices and access region-specific pricing.
C. Legal Aspects of Using a VPN in Malaysia
While Malaysian authorities have historically taken an unfavorable view towards VPN usage, there are currently no specific laws completely prohibiting or banning VPNs in Malaysia. Based on the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 regulated by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), VPN usage does fall under restrictions on content considered “offensive or indecent”. Any content accessed via VPN which falls under this criteria could potentially subject users to fines or legal penalties. However, using VPN services just for enhanced privacy or to access blocked content is generally permissible. Certain VPN protocols may be blocked, but VPN usage itself remains legal if users adhere to Malaysia’s broader regulations regarding prohibited online content and activities.
II. Best VPNs for Malaysia
When selecting a VPN service to use in Malaysia, it’s important to consider your priorities and requirements. Key factors to consider are server locations in Malaysia and surrounding regions, reliable customer support, and value for money. Here are some of the best VPN options available for Malaysian users:
One of the most well-established and reliable VPN providers, NordVPN has servers located across Malaysia and Southeast Asia along with a host of key features to entice users.
NordVPN provides a robust feature set, including:
- Over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, including 4 servers located in Malaysia and 33 in Singapore which offer nearby connection points.
- Fast connection speeds enabled by NordLynx technology.
- Strong encryption via protocols like OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2 to keep traffic secured.
- DNS/IPv6 leak protection, kill switch, and Onion over VPN for enhanced privacy.
- Strict zero logging policy to prevent tracking.
- Allows P2P/torrenting activity.
- Compatible with major platforms like Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- Connect up to 6 devices simultaneously on one plan.
2. Benefits for Users in Malaysia
The functionality that NordVPN offers aligns well with the goals of Malaysian VPN users:
- Frequently rated as one of the fastest VPN providers globally, delivering strong speeds even from distant locations. This ensures smooth accessing of geo-blocked content from streaming sites or other restricted sites.
- The zero-logging policy and offshore base in Panama puts NordVPN outside the jurisdiction of Malaysian authorities, providing peace of mind against potential legal concerns.
- By accepting payment through anonymous cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, NordVPN allows added privacy.
- Excellent connectivity and stability provided by the large Malaysian and regional server network.
B. Other Top VPN Providers for Malaysia
Beyond NordVPN, there are numerous alternative VPN options which can meet the requirements of Malaysian users. Some other leading choices include:
1. Comparison of Features
|Number of Servers
From this comparison, we can see the top factors differentiating the major VPNs:
- Server network – More local servers in Malaysia and nearby locations offer better connectivity.
- Connection speeds – Crucial for streaming media and accessing restricted content without buffering issues.
- Allowance of P2P activity – Important for users who engage in torrenting.
- Pricing – While most fall within the same range, small differences may matter based on usage requirements.
2. Considerations When Choosing a VPN for Malaysia
With many quality VPN options to pick from, Malaysian users should weigh the following criteria when deciding on a provider:
- Number of local servers – More servers in Malaysia reduce latency.
- Connection reliability and speed – Vital for smooth access from Malaysia when bypassing blocks.
- Extra features like malware blocking, ad blocking, or port forwarding for additional security and convenience.
- Ease of setup and use on major platforms.
- Aftersales customer support.
- Value for money compared to features offered.
By evaluating VPN providers based on these key considerations in light of their own individual usage needs, Malaysian users can identify the ideal VPN service for their purposes.
III. Running Your Own VPN Server with Outline
Rather than relying on commercial VPN providers, some advanced users may want to consider running their own private VPN server using software solutions tailor-made for this purpose. Outline is one well-regarded platform which makes it easy for even non-technical users to host and manage a personal VPN server.
A. What is Outline?
Outline is an open-source software tool from Jigsaw Operations LLC (part of Google parent company Alphabet Inc.) used for building and deploying VPN servers on cloud infrastructure or local hardware. Some key details:
1. Explanation of Outline as a VPN Software
- Developed by Jigsaw for creating simple, fast personal VPN services.
- Available as packaged software which configures the VPN automatically based on some user inputs.
- Outline Manager handles infrastructure and deployment so no technical expertise is required.
- Designed to provide access to the open internet by safely circumventing filters and blocks.
- Servers can be hosted on cloud platforms like DigitalOcean or on a local device.
- Encrypts user traffic and masks IP addresses by funneling through the Outline server gateway.
By handling the complex configurations behind-the-scenes after some initial setup steps, Outline makes it easy for regular users to run a personal VPN server.
B. Requirements for Setting Up an Outline VPN Server
Hosting an Outline VPN provider requires the following:
1. VPS Specifications
Since we will host the VPN server on a cloud Virtual Private Server (VPS), the VPS will need:
- At least 1GB of RAM memory.
- Minimum 2 logical cores from the CPU.
- Ability to support Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04 as operating systems.
- Public IPv4 address
- Root user access
Many popular VPS providers like Linode, Vultr, or AWS Lightsail offer plans meeting these specs.
2. Installation of Outline Manager
On the client side, you will need:
- Windows 10/11, MacOS, or Linux
- Outline Manager to handle setup and configuration
- Stable internet connectivity
With the Outline Manager installed on desktop on the admin side along with a suitable VPS, you are ready to proceed.
C. Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up an Outline VPN Server
By following the steps below, you can get your own private Outline VPN up and running:
1. Installation of the Outline Server script
First, connect to your VPS server over SSH with root user access and execute this script:
bash -c "$(wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Jigsaw-Code/outline-server/master/src/server_manager/install_scripts/install_server.sh)"
This will automatically install the Outline server software with all dependencies. Follow the prompts to configure passwords and other parameters.
2. Importing API key
Next, sign into Outline Manager on the admin computer. Go to Settings > Advanced > API Keys. Click + to generate a new key. Copy this key.
Go back to the SSH session on your VPS. Enter
outline-manager-api-key to import the API key into the server, then paste the key when prompted.
3. Creating a key for the client
On the VPS, type
Set an access key password. This will generate connection key for the Outline client. Copy this key to import later into the manager.
4. Installing the client and connecting
Download Outline Client from the official site onto the device you want to connect from.
Import the connection key into the Outline client from Step 3. Connect to your personal VPN through Outline Client using this key! Traffic will now be routed through the VPS.
By following this guide, you can deploy your own private, encrypted Outline VPN gateway hosted on a VPS server to protect your internet access.
IV. Malaysia Cybersecurity Laws and VPNs
While VPNs are not illegal in Malaysia, aspects of their usage come under national cybersecurity laws with which users should familiarize themselves.
A. Overview of Cybersecurity Laws in Malaysia
The principal regulations governing Malaysia’s internet landscape with relevance for VPN usage are:
- Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 – defines prohibited content and grants authorities blocking and censorship powers. VPN usage mainly concerns what content is accessed through it by users.
- Personal Data Protection Act 2010 – governs collection, storage, processing and sharing of personal data of Malaysian citizens and legal residents in the country. VPNs relate as they can obscure user digital footprints from websites harvesting data.
- Mandatory Standard on Access, FIS and Netfiltlation for the Provision of Applications Services 2022 – requires internet facilities providers to comply with government filters and block lists. Attempting to circumvent blocked content could draw scrutiny.
These regulations inform how VPN services might be viewed and acted against by regulators.
B. Relevance of VPNs to Cybersecurity in Malaysia
VPNs directly pertain to several facets around cybersecurity and official approaches to digital enforcement in Malaysia:
- Maintaining online privacy – VPN usage prevents browsing histories from being tracked by ISPs or flowing through filters, supporting personal privacy and anonymity.
- Circumventing censorship – VPNs allow accessing government-restricted content, bypassing blocks enacted in the name of public morality or order at odds with personal liberties.
- Encryption and security compliance – Mandatory data encryption imposes overheads on providers and frustrates external surveillance efforts, in line with tighter cybersecurity requirements.
So VPNs intersect with cybersecurity considerations in enabling access to information, safeguarding user identities, and enforcing encryption standards.
C. Implications for Using VPNs in Context of Malaysian Cybersecurity Laws
Based on the heightened national focus on cybersecurity governance, those opting to utilize VPN services in Malaysia should consider:
- VPNs are not outright illegal but authorities can target prohibited activities conducted through VPN channels, so caution is necessary. For general access, VPNs remain permissible.
- Stick to reputable paid VPN providers not headquartered within Malaysian jurisdiction. They offer reliably secure connections while limiting legal exposure.
- Ensure VPN protocols employ strong encryption standards for anonymous browsing and banking transactions to avoid external monitoring.
- Be aware that investigation and penalties are possible if detected accessing sites categorically banned under Malaysian law via VPNs. Such categories include gambling, pornography, certain political content and those advocating harm.
So while VPNs offer key benefits around privacy and access, users should account for the legal landscape when considering their internet activities conducted via VPN transmission in Malaysia.