Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come!

Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come! - Conservancy Blog - Software Freedom Conservancy

Those who forget history often inadvertently repeat it. Some of us recall that twenty-one years ago, the most popular code hosting site, a fully Free and Open Source (FOSS) site called SourceForge, proprietarized all their code — never to make it FOSS again. Major FOSS projects slowly left SourceForge since it was now, itself, a proprietary system, and antithetical to FOSS. FOSS communities learned that it was a mistake to allow a for-profit, proprietary software company to become the dominant FOSS collaborative development site. SourceForge slowly collapsed after the DotCom crash, and today, SourceForge still refuses to solve these problems0. We learned a valuable lesson that was a bit too easy to forget — especially when corporate involvement manipulates FOSS communities to its own ends. We now must learn the SourceForge lesson again with Microsoft's GitHub.

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We've been lied to about everything else, oil too?

It appears that, unbeknownst to Westerners, there have actually been, for quite some time now, two competing theories concerning the origins of petroleum. One theory claims that oil is an organic 'fossil fuel' deposited in finite quantities near the planet's surface. The other theory claims that oil is continuously generated by natural processes in the Earth's magma. One theory is backed by a massive body of research representing fifty years of intense scientific inquiry. The other theory is an unproven relic of the eighteenth century.

introduction

Some years ago i heard about abiotic petroleum, the theory that oil is not, as we've been led to believe, a finite "fossil fuel" formed near the earths surface as a result of biological material having been compressed for millions of years. The problem with this theory is that there exists a readily available body of evidence which authoritatively contradicts it, suggesting instead that oil is constantly being produced at a much deeper level in or near the Earths magma. In other words, oil is essentially a renewable resource and all the talk about "peak oil" and scarcity may be junk science.

abiotic oil formation and deposits

Scarcity is of course translates to increased profits and if the public at large can be convinced that a resource is finite and in short supply, then those developing it will naturally demand a higher price. This is the case with diamonds for example, the supply of which was strictly controlled almost exclusively by De Beers for several decades. Here a case shall be made, backed by science, which strongly suggests that essentially the same is true in the oil industry. It should be understood that i am absolutely not suggesting that the world should continue running on petroleum, the mining, processing and burning of which has resulted in a great deal of environmental damage. There are alternative sources of energy which are clean, infinite, cheap and far easier to utilize.

suppressed alternative energy technologies

Before we get into the question of how and where oil is formed, let's first briefly address the subject of energy from a wider perspective. We have very likely not needed to rely upon petroleum for powering machinery for the past 70 years, perhaps longer. Clean and infinite sources of energy are all around us and have been developed and suppressed countless times, but the public is told that the inventors are frauds or that the technology violates the laws of thermodynamics and is therefore an impossibility. The developers of these sustainable, alternative energies are often viciously persecuted, or have their work destroyed, or confiscated due to "national security", or are prosecuted for various alleged crimes. At the extreme they are murdered, but some simply sell out to corporations who then shelve the technology. The reader might surmise that greed is the motivation for suppressing clean, alternative energy technologies and while greed is certainly a key factor, the larger answer is much more complex. I would highly suggest viewing the How & Why Big Oil Conquered The World documentary series by James Corbett if you're interested in the bigger picture.

Imagine going to your local hardware store and buying a battery for your flashlight only to discover it has just one terminal. The energy is in the battery, but how do you extract it? This is essentially how Tom Bearden described the problem of utilizing the energy in the "empty" space all around us. The vacuum is in fact saturated with energy and mainstream science acknowledges this, but by and large they fail to understand how to utilize it. According to some knowledgeable inventors, Bearden included, electrical engineers don't even understand what electricity really is. Bearden, who was an admirer of Tesla, Ohm, Bendini and other heavy-hitters in the field of electrical energy, figured out how to tap into this inexhaustible source of radiant energy using his Motionless Electromagnetic Generator (MEG) which produced more energy then it consumed, a phenomena known as 'over-unity'. Whether the MEG violated one or more laws of thermodynamics is perhaps debatable, but in the end it couldn't be any less relevant. All that matters is whether or not the device worked. Bearden died in February of 2022.

Here i've used Thomas Bearden as an example but indeed there have been many inventors who have produced over-unity energy devices. There are also many who have developed cars which run exclusively on hydrogen extracted from water and which are in use today. There are also many variations of simple hydrogen generators available which anyone can construct from plans or purchase in kit form for use with virtually any internal combustion engine. Meanwhile, western mainstream scientists tell us that extracting hydrogen from water, which is 2 parts hydrogen, is not economically viable. This same genre of western scientists tell us that oil is a finite resource and that we have reached, or are rapidly approaching, "peak oil", meaning that oil production has, or will soon reach its maximum level of output and therefore production can only decline from this point onward while demand continues to rise (virtually everything we manufacture today depends on vast quantities of oil). The theory of peak oil, as well as the untenable nonsense that human produced Co2 is causing climate warming, are two reasons why "sustainable", "green energy" programs are pushed incessantly today despite the fact that such programs are often neither green, nor sustainable, though they are certainly lucrative. Indeed the human impact upon the Earth beginning with the industrial revolution has been devastating, but human produced pollution and Co2 levels are two entirely different subjects, though mainstream "scientists", governments, and their media puppets have convinced the gullible public that they are one and the same.

evidence supporting abiotic petroleum

It seems that the key to understanding how and where oil is formed lies largely with Russian and Ukrainian scientists who have worked the problem for decades.

The overwhelming preponderance of geological evidence compels the conclusion that crude oil and natural petroleum gas have no intrinsic connection with biological matter originating near the surface of the Earth

Throughout the history of the petroleum industry, there have been written numerous articles or reports predicting an imminent demise of that industry all predicated upon assumptions that the supply of producible crude oil in the world was (supposedly) being rapidly depleted and would soon (therefore) be exhausted.(Campbell 1991; Fuller 1993; Campbell 1994; Campbell 1995) In short, the world was (if such were believed), "running out of oil." Happily, all such predictions have, without a single exception, been proven wrong.

Contrarily, the statistics of the international petroleum industry establish that, far from diminishing, the net known recoverable reserves of petroleum have been growing steadily for the past fifty years. Those statistics show that, for every year since about 1946, the international petroleum industry has discovered at least five new tons of recoverable oil for every three which have been consumed. As Professor P. Odell has put the circumstance succinctly, instead of "running out of oil," the human race by every measure seems to be "running into oil".(Odell 1984; Odell 1991; Odell 1994)

The paper continues:

The errors concerning the abundances of petroleum on Earth all obtain from a common, but fundamental, misunderstanding about petroleum itself. All the predictions about expected shortages of petroleum hang by a single, weak thread on a remnant, eighteenth-century notion which has been thoroughly discredited in this century: the hypothesis that petroleum might somehow originate from biological detritus in sediments near the surface of the Earth. That "biological hypothesis" was first published by the famous Russian scientist Mikhailo Vasilyevich Lomonosov in the year 1757 and is quoted above. That notion of an origin of petroleum from biological material has occasioned numerous misnomers concerning petroleum as, for example, "fossil" fuel, and associated, misleading phrases like "vanishing resource." Because the volume of biological matter on Earth is itself limited, the misunderstanding that petroleum might originate from such has given rise consequentially to a notion that petroleum should be similarly limited, and somehow in connection with the quantity of biogenic material observed in sediments.

The hypothesis that petroleum might somehow originate from biological detritus in sediments near the surface of the Earth is utterly wrong. It deserves note that Lomonosov himself never meant for that hypothesis to be taken as more than a reasonable suggestion, to be tested against further observation and laboratory experiment. The "biological hypothesis" of petroleum origins has been rejected in this century by scientific petroleum geologists because it is formidably inconsistent with the existing geological records "on the ground." That hypothesis has been rejected also by physicists, chemists, and engineers because it violates fundamental physical law.

Lomonosov's eighteenth-century hypothesis of a biogenic origin of petroleum has been replaced during the past forty years by the modern theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins, an extensive and formidable body of scientific knowledge which has been developed in the former U.S.S.R., particularly in the countries Russia and Ukraine. The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of petroleum has established that petroleum is a primordial material of deep origin which has been erupted into the crust of the Earth.

With the elimination of the error that petroleum might be some manifestation of transformed, but limited, biological matter originating on the surface of the Earth, the consequential errors connected with its supposed limits both of quantity and habitat vanish. Thus the errors of all the "doomsday" predictions of petroleum shortages, which have never subsequently occurred, are explained, - or, more simply, eliminated.

Because the explanation of the errors connected with the predictions about petroleum shortages obtains simply from the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins, and because that theory is little known outside the former U.S.S.R., its subject deserves at least short mention.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is an extensive body of scientific knowledge covering the subjects of the chemical genesis of hydrocarbon molecules, the physical processes which occasion the terrestrial concentration, the dynamical processes of the movement of that material into geological reservoirs of petroleum, and the location and economic production of petroleum. As stated, the modern theory has determined that petroleum is a primordial material of deep origin which is transported at high pressure via "cold" eruptive processes into the crust of the Earth. The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory is almost unique among what too often pass[es] as "theories" in the field of geology (especially in the U.S.A.) in that it is based not only upon extensive geological observation but also upon rigorous, analytical, physical reasoning.

The paper continues:

The modern Russian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is no longer an item of academic debate among persons in university faculties in the former Soviet Union. This body of knowledge is now approximately a half century old and has moved considerably beyond the stages of academic research and scientific testing. Today the modern theory is applied as a useful tool and the guiding perspective in petroleum exploration throughout the former Soviet Union. Such was exactly one of the primary points brought out in a paper delivered at an international conference held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in May 1994, concerning the discovery of the eleven major and one giant oil and gas fields in the Dnieper-Donets Basin.(Krayushkin, Tchebanenko et al. 1994)

Because of the general lack of familiarity outside the former U.S.S.R. with the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins, several immediate facts about that body of knowledge deserve to be set forth.

  • The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is not new or recent. This theory was first enunciated by Professor Nikolai Kudryavtsev in 1951, almost a half century ago,(Kudryavtsev 1951) and has undergone extensive development, refinement, and application since its introduction. There have been more than four thousand articles published in the Soviet scientific journals, and many books, dealing with the modern theory. This writer is presently co-authoring a book upon the subject of the development and applications of the modern theory of petroleum for which the bibliography requires more than thirty pages.
  • The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is not the work of any one single man, - nor of a few men. The modern theory was developed by hundreds of scientists in the (now former ) U.S.S.R., including many of the finest geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, and thermodynamicists of that country. There have now been more than two generations of geologists, geophysicists, chemists, and other scientists in the U.S.S.R. who have worked upon and contributed to the development of the modern theory.(Kropotkin 1956; Anisimov, Vasilyev et al. 1959; Kudryavtsev 1959; Porfir'yev 1959; Kudryavtsev 1963; Raznitsyn 1963; Krayushkin 1965; Markevich 1966; Dolenko 1968; Dolenko 1971; Linetskii 1974; Letnikov, Karpov et al. 1977; Porfir'yev and Klochko 1981; Krayushkin 1984)
  • The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is not untested or speculative. On the contrary, the modern theory was severely challenged by many traditionally-minded geologists at t he time of its introduction; and during the first decade thenafter, the modern theory was thoroughly examined, extensively reviewed, powerfully debated, and rigorously tested. Every year following 1951, there were important scientific conferences organized in the U.S.S.R. to debate and evaluate the modern theory, its development, and its predictions. The All-Union conferences in petroleum and petroleum geology in the years 1952-1964/5 dealt particularly with this subject. (During the period when the modern theory was being subjected to extensive critical challenge and testing, a number of the men pointed out that there had never been any similar critical review or testing of the traditional hypothesis that petroleum might somehow have evolved spontaneously from biological detritus.)
  • The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is not a vague, qualitative hypothesis, but stands as a rigorous analytic theory within the mainstream of the modern physical sciences. In this respect, the modern theory differs fundamentally not only from the previous hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum but also from all traditional geological hypotheses. Since the nineteenth century, knowledgeable physicists, chemists, the rmodynamicists, and chemical engineers have regarded with grave reservations (if not outright disdain) the suggestion that highly reduced hydrocarbon molecules of high free enthalpy (the constituents of crude oil) might somehow evolve spontaneously from highly oxidized biogenic molecules of low free enthalpy. Beginning in 1964, Soviet scientists carried out extensive theoretical statistical thermodynamic analysis which established explicitly that the hypothesis of evolution of hydrocarbon molecules (except methane) from biogenic ones in the temperature and pressure regime of the Earth's near-surface crust was glaringly in violation of the second law of thermodynamics. They also determined that the evolution of reduced hydrocarbon molecules requires pressures of magnitudes encountered at depths equal to such of the mantle of the Earth. During the second phase of its development, the modern theory of petroleum was entirely recast from a qualitative argument based upon a synthesis of many qualitative fact s into a quantitative argument based upon the analytical arguments of quantum statistical mechanics and thermodynamic stability theory.(Chekaliuk 1967; Boiko 1968; Chekaliuk 1971; Chekaliuk and Kenney 1991; Kenney 1995) With the transformation of the modern theory from a synthetic geology theory arguing by persuasion into an analytical physical theory arguing by compulsion, petroleum geology entered the mainstream of modern science.
  • The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins is not controversial nor presently a matter of academic debate. The period of debate about this extensive body of knowledge has been over for approximately two decades(Simakov 1986). The modern theory is presently applied extensively throughout the former U.S.S.R. as the guiding perspective for petroleum exploration and development projects. There are presently more than 80 oil and gas fields in the Caspian district alone which were explored and developed by applying the perspective of the modern theory and which produce from the crystalline basement rock.(Krayushkin, Chebanenko et al. 1994) Similarly, such exploration in the western Siberia cratonic-rift sedimentary basin has developed 90 petroleum fields of which 80 produce either partly or entirely from the crystalline basement. The exploration and discoveries of the 11 major and 1 giant fields on the northern flank of the Dneiper-Donets basin have already been noted. There are presently deep drilling exploration projects under way in Azerbaijan, Tatarstan, and Asian Siberia directed to testing potential oil and gas reservoirs in the crystalline basement.

A 2013 paper, Microbial Techniques for Hydrocarbon Exploration by Mohammed Abdul Rasheed and Am Dayal, opens with the following:

The theory of the abiogenic deep origin of hydrocarbons recognizes that the petroleum is a primordial material of deep origin [Kutcherov, Krayushkin 2010]. This theory explains that hydrocarbon compounds generate in the asthenosphere of the Earth and migrate through the deep faults into the crust of the Earth. There they form oil and gas deposits in any kind of rock in any kind of the structural position (Fig. 1). Thus the accumulation of oil and gas is considered as a part of the natural process of the Earth’s outgrassing, which was in turn responsible for creation of its hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Until recently the obstacles to accept the theory of the abyssal abiogenic origin of hydrocarbons was the lack of the reliable and reproducible experimental results confirming the possibility of the synthesis of complex hydrocarbon systems under the conditions of the asthenosphere of the Earth.

The paper continues:

The conclusion from the presented data is the following.

On the depth of 100 km temperature is about 1250 K and pressure is 3 GPa. On the depth of 150 km temperature is about 1500-1700 K and pressure is 5 GPa.

Both donors of carbon (carbon itself, carbonates, CO2 ) and hydrogen (water, hydroxyl group of minerals) are present in the asphenosphere in sufficient amounts. Thermodynamically favorable reaction environment (reducing conditions) could be created by a presence of FeO. The presence of several present of FeO in basic and ultra-basic rocks of asthenosphere is documented.

Thus, abiogenic synthesis of hydrocarbons can take place in the basic and ultra-basic rocks of the asthenosphere in the presence of FeO, donors/sources of carbon and hydrogen.

The article The West Siberian Super Basin: The largest and most prolific hydrocarbon basin in the world contains interesting information about the West Siberian Super Basin. It was authored by Sergey Khafizov, Ph.D., head of the E&A Department at Gubkin University, Moscow, Pavel Syngaevsky, is a senior petrophysicist, and John C. Dolson, director of DSP Geosciences and Associates, LLC.,:

The West Siberian Basin is the largest physical hydrocarbon basin in the world and one of its most prolific. It has proven reserves of 146 billion bbl of oil and more than 1600 TCF of gas. It contains 107 giant fields, 1 mega giant, 10 super giants, and 9 new giants discovered since 2019.

The article continues:

In 2003, the US Geological Survey cited reserves of 144 billion bbl of oil and more than 1300 TCF of gas (Ulmishek, 2003). Recent updates show the current reserve estimates are very similar to Ulmishek’s, with a modest oil reserve growth of 2 billion bbl since the 2003 paper. In contrast, gas volumes have increased by 20% and now exceed 1600 TCF (Kiselev, 2020).

The most recent geological assessment in western literature gives a "yet-to-find" for this basin as 4.1 billion bbl of oil equivalent, 662 TCF, and 20.66 billion bbl of natural gas liquids (Schenk, 2018). These numbers are substantially higher than earlier assessments (Energy Information Administration, 1997) and may be revised upward again in the future

The article Origin of organic compounds in fluids from ultramafic-hosted hydrothermal vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from the Department of Geology and Geochemistry, Stockholm University, largely supports the biogenic (fossil) theory of oil formation, however some key admissions are finally made which cannot be supported by the biogenesis theory:

7.3 Oil a renewable energy?

Today, the biogenic origin of oil theory prevails and states that all petroleum found in our planet is derived from biological precursors (e.g. Forsman and Hunt, 1958; Eglington and Calvin, 1967; Albrecht and Ourisson, 1971; Moldowan and Seifert, 1979, Tissot, 1984; Summons and Janhke, 1992). The theory is well proved and supported by laboratory experiments, in which petroleum composition and distribution pattern (i.e. the relative proportions of the different hydrocarbons composing oil) are shown to reflect that of oil generated from kerogene pyrolysis (i.e. organic matter decay). Moreover, oil samples related to sedimentary rocks of a certain depositional environment and geologic age show biomarkers derived from organisms that are known to have derived from biological precursor that evolved by that time. Such proofs are considered irrefutable by the pro-biogenic origin. However, although the theory seems to be solid and well correlates field observations, it does not account for some observed natural phenomenon.

  • Oil has been discovered in the Earth's most ancient rocks, which were formed before any plants or animals existed on earth (Archeozoic rock formation) (Penner, 2006; Krayushkin, 1994).
  • Professor Thomas Gold states in his book The Deep Hot Biosphere (Gold, 1992): "We have seen oil and gas fields refilling themselves, sometimes as fast as they were being drained, and many fields have already produced several times as much as earlier estimates predicted...". The best example of this is Green Island in the Gulf of Mexico. When all the oil that could profitably be mined had been pumped out, the wells were closed. Twenty years later, those wells were found to contain more oil than before any had been removed (Penner, 2006).
  • More and more oil is discovered and the predicted peak oil at first expected in the 1990s has still not been reached (Kenney, 2006).
  • The recently discovered Tupi (The New York times, 2007) and Jupiter (BBC news, 2008) oil fields, offshore the coasts of Brazil, which comprise of unusual light oil, lay at surprisingly great depth (∼5000 m below seafloor) and under an extremely thick layer of salt (up to 2000 m). Notably, these fields are the worlds biggest oil find since 2000.
  • In terms of natural gas, thermal decomposition of organic matter does not generate products at equilibrium and thermal stress should not bring them to equilibrium over geologic time. Similarly, microbial production of methane represents a disequilibrium process. However, CH 4 , CO and CO2 have been observed in chemical and isotopic equilibrium in natural occurrences (Fiebig et al., 2007; 2009; Mango et al., 2009).

Whilst the Soviet Union faced ‘Iron Curtain’ isolation from the West during the Cold War in the 1950s, finding sufficient oil indigenously was a national security priority of the highest order for Russia that had little oil to fuel its economy. Scientists began a fundamental inquiry in the late 1940’s: where does oil come from? In 1956, Pr. Vladimir B. Porfir’yev stated that oil was abiogenic: “The overwhelming preponderance of geological evidence compels the conclusion that crude oil and natural petroleum gas have no intrinsic connection with biological matter originating near the surface of the Earth. They are primordial materials which have been erupted from great depths” (Porfir’yev, 1956). Similar conclusions were obtained later on (e.g. Chekaliuk 1971; Mogarovskiy et al., 1980; Chekaliuk and Kenney, 1991) and for half a century now scientists from the former Soviet Union have recognised that the petroleum is produced abiotically in the FSU fields (AAPG conference, 2004). That radically different Russian and Ukrainian scientific approach to the discovery of oil was used in the early 1990s, well after the dissolution of the USSR, to drill for oil and gas in a region believed for more than forty-five years to be geologically barren: the Dnieper-Donets Basin located between Russia and Ukraine (Krayushkin et al., 1994). A total of sixty one wells were drilled, of which thirty seven were commercially productive, an extremely impressive exploration success rate of almost sixty percent; and these Middle East fields could well produce oil forever (Mahfoud and Beck, 1995).

As for the association of biomarkers with oil, the presence of microbial communities in the subsurface could account for the presence of these large organic molecules (Gold, 1992; Takai, 2004). Moreover, Kenney (1995) proposed that some of these biomarkers (e.g. pristane, phytane, porphyrin) are not necessarily of biogenic origin.

Since then the theory has reached other countries and is growing importance (e.g. Szatmari, 1989; Sugisaki and Mimura, 1995; Mahfoud, 1991; AAPG conference, 2004; Glasby, 2006).

The Eugene Island Block 330 oil field off the shore of Louisiana has been the subject of controversy. The following excerpt from a 1999 article in the Wall Street Journal, Odd Reservoir Off Louisiana Prods Oil Experts to Seek a Deeper Meaning, provides some insight:

Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330's output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.

Then suddenly -- some say almost inexplicably -- Eugene Island's fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.

Fill 'er Up

All of which has led some scientists to a radical theory: Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself, perhaps from some continuous source miles below the Earth's surface. That, they say, raises the tantalizing possibility that oil may not be the limited resource it is assumed to be.

"It kind of blew me away," says Jean Whelan, a geochemist and senior researcher from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Connected to Woods Hole since 1973, Dr. Whelan says she considered herself a traditional thinker until she encountered the phenomenon in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, she says, "I believe there is a huge system of oil just migrating" deep underground.

Conventional wisdom says the world's supply of oil is finite, and that it was deposited in horizontal reservoirs near the surface in a process that took millions of years. Since the economies of entire countries ride on the fundamental notion that oil reserves are exhaustible, any contrary evidence "would change the way people see the game, turn the world view upside down," says Daniel Yergin, a petroleum futurist and industry consultant in Cambridge, Mass. "Oil and renewable resource are not words that often appear in the same sentence."

Mideast Mystery

Doomsayers to the contrary, the world contains far more recoverable oil than was believed even 20 years ago. Between 1976 and 1996, estimated global oil reserves grew 72%, to 1.04 trillion barrels. Much of that growth came in the past 10 years, with the introduction of computers to the oil patch, which made drilling for oil more predictable.

Still, most geologists are hard-pressed to explain why the world's greatest oil pool, the Middle East, has more than doubled its reserves in the past 20 years, despite half a century of intense exploitation and relatively few new discoveries. It would take a pretty big pile of dead dinosaurs and prehistoric plants to account for the estimated 660 billion barrels of oil in the region, notes Norman Hyne, a professor at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. "Off-the-wall theories often turn out to be right," he says.

Even some of the most staid U.S. oil companies find the Eugene Island discoveries intriguing. "These reservoirs are refilling with oil," acknowledges David Sibley, a Chevron Corp. geologist who has monitored the work at Eugene Island.

Following is an interesting excerpt from a 1999 Search and Discovery Article article, Eugene Island Block 330 Field--U.S.A. Offshore Louisiana by David S. Holland, John B. Leedy and David R. Lammlein:

The Eugene Island Block 330 oils show abundant evidence of long-distance vertical migration. Based on a variety of biomarker and gasoline-range maturity indicators, these oils are estimated to have been generated at depths of 4572 to 4877 m (15,000 to 16,000 ft) at vitrinite reflectance maturities of 0.08 to 1.0% and temperatures of 150 to 170°C (300 to 340°F). Their presence in shallow, thermally immature reservoirs requires significant vertical migration. This is illustrated on Figure 36, which represents a burial and maturation history for the field at the time of petroleum migration, that is, at the end of Trimosina "A" time approximately 500,000 years ago. A plot of the present measured maturity values versus depth is superimposed on the calculated maturity profile for Trimosina "A" time to illustrate the close agreement between measured and predicted maturity profiles. The clear discrepancy between reservoir maturity and oil maturity is striking and suggests that the oil migrated more than 3650 m (12,000 ft) from a deep, possibly upper Miocene, source facies. Petroleum migration along faults is indicated based on the observed temperature and hydrocarbon anomalies at the surface and the distribution of pay in the subsurface. These results are consistent with those of Young et al. (1977), who concluded that most Gulf of Mexico oils originated 2438 to 3350 m (8000 to 11,000 ft) deeper than their reservoirs, from source beds 5 to 9 million years older than the reservoirs.

Though i may add more resources for study in the future (there are plenty available), for now i'll close with a 1996 interview given by Fletcher Prouty, former Colonel in the USAF and Chief of Special Operations for the JCS under President John F. Kennedy:

The Abiotic Oil Conspiracy

sources

Navigating the VPN Hellscape

Introduction

While i find it encouraging that more people are becoming concerned with their on-line privacy, i find it equally disturbing that so many are turning to highly unethical companies which have no intention of protecting the privacy of their customers and, in fact, are purposely violating and profiting from that trust.

Given the exceedingly grim nature of this article, i should say at the outset that i am in no way suggesting that one leave their network activities solely in the hands of their Internet Service Provider (ISP), some of which are quite inquisitive. I am of the strong opinion that an ISP should act as a service provider and nothing more, however that is obviously not the case in this era of surveillance capitalism and thus a VPN can act as a tunnel through your ISP in which all data is encrypted. While a VPN can provide a degree of privacy and insulate one from some of the many threats posed by ISPs and other bad actors, utilizing such a service requires a large degree of blind trust in the company. Furthermore, a VPN is only a piece of a larger threat mitigation architecture the privacy conscious person must consider.

The vast majority of Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers are, simply put, garbage. Over 100 VPN companies are owned by approximately two dozen corporations, some headquartered in China, an authoritarian, communist country with a notoriously poor track record of spying on and manipulating its people. Some of the biggest players in the market are Kape Technologies, an Israeli owned company, Ziff Davis, Nord Security, Aura, Innovative Technologies, Actmobile Networks, Gaditek, NortonLifeLock and SuperSoftTech.

Together these corporations own some of the largest VPN service providers including ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access (PIA), ZenMate VPN, IPVanish, NordVPN, HideMyAss, Atlas VPN, Surfshark, Encrypt.me, SaferVPN, Perimeter 81, Buffered VPN, StrongVPN, Hotspot Shield VPN, TouchVPN, PureVPN, Ivacy VPN, Unblock VPN, JustVPN, Avast SecureLine VPN, Free VPN and many others.

Conveniently, some of these ethically challenged companies also own VPN "review" websites including SafetyDetectives, vpnMentor, Webselenese, VPNRanks.com, BestVPNService.com, Wizcase.com and BestVPN.co. A 2021 article, Former Malware Distributor Kape Technologies Now Owns ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, Zenmate, and a Collection of VPN "Review" Websites, on the Restore Privacy website provides some insight:

In another twist to the plot, Kape Technologies also purchased a collection of VPN review websites in 2021. Yes, you got that right. The parent company that owns these VPNs now also owns a few high-profile websites that "review" and recommend VPNs to users around the world.

This is clearly a conflict of interest, but that goes without saying.

In May 2021, news broke that Kape had purchased a company called Webselenese. Like Kape, Webselenese also operates out of Israel and runs the websites vpnMentor.com and Wizcase.com. Collectively, these two websites have monthly search traffic of around 6.1 million visitors according to Ahrefs traffic analysis tool (September 2021).

An article on the TechNadu website, Which Companies Own Today's Most Popular VPNs? – Hidden & True Owners Revealed!, further reveals the shady history of some of these VPN companies.

Naomi Brockwell provides an excellent introduction into the chicanery taking place in the massively profitable VPN market in her video, The DARK side of VPNs.

By the time you read this it is not unlikely that these corporations will have ingested more companies, or changed their name in order to escape their rotten reputations. Kape Technologies for example, is known for distributing malware and Ziff Davis, formerly J2 Global, Inc., was reported to be offering money to tech websites to secretly track users. Meanwhile, Nord Security, which has offices in Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Panama and the Netherlands, and which operates the widely advertised NordVPN, has been caught with their privacy and security pants down around their ankles multiple times.

According to Market Screener, Kape Technologies, with annual sales in excess of $600 million U.S., employs 850 people and "operates two reportable segments: Digital Security, Digital Privacy and Digital Content".

The Digital Security segment comprises of software and software as a service (SaaS) product offering security, endpoint protection and personal computer (PC) performance. Its Digital Privacy segment comprises of virtual private network (VPN) solutions and other privacy SaaS products. Its Digital Content comprised digital platforms which provide reviews and content. The Company's subsidiaries include CyberGhost SRL, Neutral Holding Inc, Intego SA, Intego Inc, ZenGuard GMBH and Reimage Limited.

Kape Technologies, formerly Crossrider, is owned by Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi. In 1996 Sagi was sentenced to 9 months in jail after being convicted of bribery and fraud. According to Wikipedia Sagi was one of 565 Israelis listed in the Pandora Papers published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. As reported by The Times of Israel, The Pandora Papers is "a trove of nearly 12 million leaked documents detailing the financial secrets of the rich and famous around the globe.".

The documents detail secretive financial transactions carried out by the wealthy individuals — many of which are legal in Israel — often aimed at hiding assets offshore or concealing their connections to businesses and other financial endeavors and holdings.

In the latest trove of documents released on Wednesday, details were revealed about transactions by the Ofer brothers, Sagi — who was allegedly the recent target of a plot to harm Israelis in Cyprus — Moshe Hogeg, an entrepreneur and the owner of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, and Eytan Stibbe, who is slated to become the second Israeli in space early next year.

In a 2014 article by Mail Online, Teddy Sagi, jailbird pornographer behind Britain's crack cocaine gambling machines, we learn more about Sagi's criminal activities.

While it is bad enough that Sagi has helped turn Britain into a nation of gamblers, even more disturbing is the fact that he learned some of the tricks of his controversial trade from the world of internet pornography.

Not only that, I have established he is a convicted criminal who comes from a family with a murderous past.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1972, Sagi became accustomed to the finer things in life. His father ran a travel agency and his parents appeared in newspaper gossip columns. But he and his family were to find far greater notoriety for their criminal activities.

In 1983, Sagi’s older stepbrother, Ronen, was convicted of the murder of an investment consultant. There was little doubt about his guilt — he stole his father’s gun, fitted a silencer and fired ten bullets at his victim after a disagreement believed to be about money.

Then in 1994, when Teddy Sagi was just 22, he was arrested along with seven other businessmen on suspicion of insider trading. They were charged with buying and then manipulating the value of stock in a widespread banking fraud.

Sagi, one of the youngest among those arrested, admitted grave deceit, bribery and insider trading. He was jailed for nine months.

When he was released, he became hellbent on making his fortune. He teamed up with his father trading on the stock market and buying and selling property. But he realised the internet was the means to make large sums, regardless of the morality of how the money is made.

Daniel Gericke, the CIO of ExpressVPN, has also run afoul of the law. The following is from a 2021 article by Restore Privacy, High-Level ExpressVPN Executive Ensnared in Criminal Surveillance Operation.

The Chief Information Officer for ExpressVPN, Daniel Gericke, has entered into a plea deal with the US government for his role in facilitating the United Arab Emirates in hacking and surveilling state dissidents. Gericke, who was formerly employed by the US military, has admitted to violating US hacking laws and facilitating the UAE in a covert cyber espionage operation called Project Raven. These activities transpired before Gericke was employed by ExpressVPN.

Based on these records, it appears that Gericke is under the thumb of the FBI “or any other U.S. government organization” that wants information from him. Given this fact, it would seem concerning to have such a person holding a high position in a VPN service that must resist government demands for user data.

Uzair Gadit, a Pakistani, is a co-founder and current CEO of PureVPN, a "no logs" VPN owned by GZ Systems Ltd.. In 2017 PureVPN turned over data to the FBI in regard to a cyber-stalking case. The article FBI uses PureVPN's 'non-existent' logs to track down internet stalker offered the following warning:

[...] a recent case shows that the FBI used the logs of PureVPN to track down a user believed to be an internet stalker. This may make PureVPN users think twice about just how anonymous they really are, particularly when the company claims: "We do NOT keep any logs that can identify or help in monitoring a user's activity."

The current Wikipedia page for PureVPN contains the following:

PureVPN stores logs containing information about what Internet service provider a customer used to access it service and which day the service was used. PureVPN does not store the exact time a customer accessed VPN. To prevent misuse and monitor quality, it records how much bandwidth customers are using. PureVPN also stores HTTP cookies for online advertising purposes as well as user account information like email address and credit card data.[4] It does not store what websites a customer is accessing.[15] Brian Nadel of Tom's Guide criticized PureVPN for requiring real names for user signups, even when users employ Bitcoin or gift cards for payment.[7] VPNs largely do not require real names.[7]

In 2017, PureVPN provided information to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that helped result in the arrest of a Massachusetts man for cyberstalking.[15] The company concluded that the man had accessed PureVPN through two IP addresses: one from home and one from work.[15] Max Eddy of PC Magazine noted that the company's privacy policy says it will cooperate with investigators who give them a proper warrant and concluded, "In the case of PureVPN, it doesn't appear that the company breached the trust of its users".[15] TechRadar's Mike Williams disagreed, writing that PureVPN "made a big deal of its 'zero log' policy" on its website but did keep logs that enabled investigators to link the man to what he did on the service.[5]

In 2013 PureVPN customer data was obtained when its website was apparently hacked.

Customers of VPN provider PureVPN recently began receiving e-mails stating that the company was shutting down due to legal issues - but PureVPN quickly announced that the e-mails were fake, and had been sent by hackers who had accessed customers' names and e-mail addresses

Hari Ravichandran, CEO of Aura, also founded Endurance International Group (EIG), a widely disliked company which bought a plethora of up and coming web hosting companies which they made more profitable by cheapening services and outsourcing support. EIG was itself absorbed by Warburg Pincus and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners for approximately $975 million and today it apparently operates under its new name, Newfold Digital.

The above is but a brief sampling of some of the shady business practices occurring within the rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar virtual private network market, a market where criminal activity and a complete lack of ethics seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

Findings from a VPN whitepaper

The VPN whitepaper, Security and Privacy of VPNs Running on Windows 10, provides us with some valuable information regarding the state of the VPN market today. Following are some of the key findings contained in the paper.

Many people turn to VPNs in large part to either avoid risks on untrusted networks or to protect themselves from advertisers and internet service providers (ISPs) that might monitor, disrupt, or even tamper with internet traffic. Unfortunately, some people might not realize that apps and websites may be identifying them even when they’re masking their IP addresses.

Many VPNs have configured their applications to use public DNS services instead of their own DNS resolvers. Astrill VPN, Speedify, Touch VPN, and Windscribe used Cloudflare, a third-party public DNS service. Encrypt.me, Kaspersky, Steganos, Trust.Zone, and Turbo VPN used Google public DNS service. Le VPN and ZoogVPN used the OpenDNS public DNS service, and Le VPN additionally used Google public DNS.

Many of the VPNs we tested had shortcomings in build quality and reliability, security oversight, security over time, and the ways VPNs engage with security researchers and respond to vulnerability reports.

We identified some specific areas that could use improvement industry-wide.

  • We looked for WireGuard support and for IPsec/OpenVPN configurations with good primitives (P-256 with AES-256 GCM), if offered. Some VPNs are still using poor IPsec or OpenVPN configurations, while another is using PPTP.
  • Only six of the 16 VPNs had open source software and reproducible builds.
  • Three VPNs left users vulnerable to brute force attacks, and three left them vulnerable to account lockouts.
  • In many VPNs’ terms of service or privacy policy, there was no evidence of robust internal procedures for audits or for preventing unauthorized access by employees. And some VPNs that had third-party security audits did not make them available to the general public or conducted them inconsistently.
  • Given that software updates often have bug fixes and that VPNs are a security product, we’d like to see signed updates that are easy to install, if not automatic. And we’d like official documentation that VPNs will be kept up to date for security issues, with a clear period of support.
  • Though the majority of VPNs had a vulnerability disclosure program for researchers to report security issues, only one (F-Secure Freedome VPN) had a time frame to review vulnerability reports, and only three stated without stipulation that they will not pursue legal action against security researchers.

In addition to our data security evaluation, we also looked at VPNs’ data privacy. Data privacy is a measure of how the VPN and its service provider collect, share, and use a consumer’s personal data, and the user’s ability to control the flow of their data. [...] We found that every company we analyzed could do better when it comes to allowing consumers to obtain all public-facing and private user information the company holds about them.

We looked at whether the companies claimed, on their own, to either delete outdated and unnecessary personal information or render it to be reasonably deidentified.

In last place were CyberGhost, F-Secure Freedome VPN, IPVanish, NordVPN, PIA, and Surfshark, all of which claimed not to delete outdated or unnecessary user information or were vague as to what they do after they no longer need to retain personal data either internally or contractually. Faring only a tiny bit better were Betternet, ExpressVPN, and Hotspot Shield, which made vague reference to not retaining outdated or unnecessary information if they are legally obligated to do so.

We looked to see whether each company clearly discloses its purpose for collecting each type of user information. NordVPN did the worst here, storing executables (presumably indefinitely) without making it reasonably apparent that the collection justifications benefit the user. Reasons for why data were collected were vague.

Recommendations for Industry Improvement in Privacy

We identified some specific areas that could use improvement industry-wide.

  • We found that every VPN company we evaluated could do better when it comes to committing to allow users to obtain the public-facing and private user information that the company holds, including users not covered under CCPA or GDPR.
  • Many of the VPNs we tested could improve by providing specific retention periods for any data they do collect.
  • VPNs would better serve their users by explaining in detail how user data is handled in case of a merger, bankruptcy, or acquisition.
  • The industry could improve by giving specific retention periods for destroying or getting rid of outdated or unnecessary personal information. Almost every VPN, including Mozilla VPN and Mullvad, failed to state in their documentation that they will delete user information immediately and permanently in a reasonable time (in this case, 30 days) if service is terminated or inoperable.
  • We’d like to see VPNs clearly outline in their documentation which information outside parties require, provide options, and host first- and third-party tools on their own servers—something only IVPN has done.

Consumers should be aware that while many VPN providers indicate that they do not keep logs, this usually cannot be verified, and in many cases logs were found on the local Windows system that included usernames, emails, IP addresses, and other potentially sensitive information.

Some VPNs left logs that might contain sensitive information on their Windows machine in a variety of places, such as C:/ProgramData and %AppData%, that can persist even after the
program is uninstalled.

For example, in IPVanish, the username and all IP logs (with time stamps) are saved locally. This shows what IP the user came from, what IP the user connected through, and when the connection happened, as well as a username.

In the past, NordVPN was called to task in a subreddit called r/assholedesign for disabling features when users turned off auto-renewal and for a “70% off” ad with fake timer that reset if users didn’t subscribe.

Though we didn’t come across either issue, we did come across other dark patterns, where four VPNs made it difficult to stop auto-renewal or cancel.

Our testing team found that ExpressVPN had an unusual user interface to cancel a subscription, requiring a consumer to click a button to turn off automatic renewal a total of three times.

NordVPN required multiple clicks to unsubscribe, followed by accessing an email confirmation (which expired in 15 minutes) to complete the cancellation process.

PureVPN had no menu method to unsubscribe and required consumers to either use the third-party payment processor or create a support ticket to do so.

Similarly, Surfshark made it hard to cancel the subscription: A tester on our team needed to send an email to do so.

ExpressVPN is owned by Kape Technologies, which was previously named Crossrider. And Crossrider was a plugin development platform that allowed users to distribute ad injection software, which some considered malware. (Kape did not respond to a request for comment.) Kape also previously operated software called Reimage, which is said to enhance computer performance but has been reported to signal false positives on its security tests in order to sell its premium service. Teddy Sagi, the owner of Kape Technologies, was listed in the Panama Papers as a sole shareholder of at least 16 offshore companies—primarily real estate—established through Mossack Fonseca, according to Haaretz. In 1996, 16 years before he acquired Kape Technologies, Sagi was sentenced to nine months in prison for bribery and fraud, according to the Financial Times.

PIA is also owned by Kape Technologies. Before its acquisition, the company hired Mark Karpeles, who was the former CEO of Mt. Gox Bitcoin platform. According to CNN Business, Karpeles was found guilty of illegally altering Mt. Gox’s electronic records to falsely inflate the company’s holdings by $33.5 million and was sentenced to 21⁄2 years in prison, with a four-year suspension, which means he won’t have to serve time unless he commits a criminal act during that time. Karpeles was acquitted “on the more serious allegations of embezzlement and aggravated breach of trust,” according to CNN. He maintained his innocence throughout the trial and hasn’t made any recent statements to the media.

PIA founder Andrew Lee owns Freenode Limited, where there were mass resignations of staffers after a dispute over changes he imposed, according to Vice and Ars Technica.

Kaspersky Lab has faced allegations of engaging with the Russian FSB, which it has denied. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security banned Kaspersky products from U.S. government departments in 2017, and its ads were subsequently banned on Twitter, according to Reuters. There have also been news reports about allegations that hackers working for the Russian government stole confidential data from an NSA contractor’s home using Kaspersky antivirus software, and the Wall Street Journal reported on allegations that the Russian government uses Kaspersky antivirus software to “secretly scan computers around the world for classified U.S. government documents and top-secret information, modifying the program to turn it into an espionage tool.” Kaspersky denies these allegations as well. (It was found in 2015 that the antivirus software was not using security best practices.) CEO Eugene Kaspersky has worked for the Russian military, which was mandatory, and was educated in a KGB-sponsored technical college, though the company denies direct ties or engagement with the Russian government. Kaspersky Lab has committed to increased accountability, migrated some of its core infrastructure from Russia to Switzerland, and has solicited independent reviews and analysis of its source code.

VPNs often promise to not keep logs, leading privacy enthusiasts and criminals alike to falsely assume that their data is private. This idea is often dispelled in court documents, like when IPVanish handed over logs that weren’t supposed to exist. This happened when IPVanish was owned by Highwinds Network Group. Its next owner, StackPath, told TorrentFreak that the VPN under its management did not keep logs. IPVanish is now owned by Ziff Davis, previously called J2 Global. According to the site ProPrivacy, the IPVanish site itself claimed not to keep logs both before and after the incident.

ExpressVPN, on the other hand, told investigators it did not have any logs or customer data on a server in Turkey, which was raided by Turkish authorities, according to Hurriyet Daily News. According to the site, authorities said the server was used to hide details regarding an assassination of a Russian ambassador. ExpressVPN released a statement about the incident.

VPNs can offer some protection on untrustworthy WiFi networks, help circumvent some censorship blocks, keep your browsing habits away from ISPs, and limit some types of tracking—such as your IP address from websites you visit and the domains you connect to from your ISP. But masking an IP address is not the same as granting anonymity.

Not only can VPN providers see your real IP address but companies can also use many other methods to track users, such as device fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting, web cookies, tracking pixels, and more. Websites often request data that can pinpoint people’s geographic location, such as WiFi networks, device location based on GPS, cell tower identification (CDMA or GSM cell IDs), and more. Various companies collect wide-ranging data, beyond IP addresses, and sell that information to data brokers. Many of the risks that consumers use VPNs to try to protect against are already largely mitigated through the use of HTTPS. And many risks, such as social engineering, are not mitigated by using a VPN.

However, a number of VPNs do not refrain from making sweeping claims, or using potentially misleading or overly broad language to describe their tool and what it can do.

It’s worth noting that many of these VPNs are owned by the same companies, as previously mentioned. Aura (or Pango, in the U.S.) owns Betternet and Hotspot Shield. Ziff Davis owns IPVanish. (This was formerly J2 Global, which acquired Ziff Davis in 2012 and changed its name to Ziff Davis in 2021.) Kape owns CyberGhost and PIA, and recently acquired ExpressVPN.

Some of these companies have questionable histories.

TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee in 2018—and McAfee has had its own share of controversies prior to the acquisition. Without admitting wrongdoing, the company paid a $50 million penalty in 2006 when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges saying the company overstated its net revenue, a type of accounting fraud that inflates revenue to investors. And in 2012, the company’s antivirus product turned off its AV protection and in some cases prevented connection to the internet—and, according to community posts, the company was slow to address the problem.

In the past, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark were not public about their ownership, though they have since released names.

In 2017, Hotspot Shield had an FTC complaint filed against it by the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). The complaint alleges undisclosed and unclear data sharing and traffic redirection. CDT claimed that Hotspot Shield intercepted and redirected web traffic to partner sites, including those belonging to ad companies, and that it monitors information about user browsing habits and transmits cell carrier data over an unencrypted connection. Hotspot Shield is owned by the same company that owns Betternet. It was formerly called AnchorFree and rebranded to Pango, and was later acquired by Aura. This complaint was filed when the VPN was owned by AnchorFree—and AnchorFree’s CEO told ZDNet that he disagreed with the complaint. We are not aware of any Federal Trade Commission investigation having been opened into this matter. The FTC declined to comment on whether it investigated.

VPN-Owned VPN Review Sites

Many publications that review VPNs use affiliate links, which doesn’t necessarily mean that these programs affect the reviews. However, there are some instances where companies that own VPNs also run the lists and do not fully disclose that they do so.

For example, Kape (which owns CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, PIA, and ZenMate) owns Webselenese, a marketing firm that runs the VPN review sites SafetyDetectives and vpnMentor.

And Ziff Davis, formerly J2 Global, which owns IPVanish, StrongVPN, and Encrypt.me (which is becoming StrongVPN, according to its landing page), also owns PCMag, IGN, Mashable, ExtremeTech, RetailMeNot, and more. However, it does not appear to be promoting its brands heavily on the sites it owns in the way that Kape does.

NordVPN received flak for failing to immediately disclose a security breach to customers and the public until after a security researcher tweeted about it, 17 months after it took place. In that breach, attackers gained access to one of its servers through a remote management system and stole encryption keys that could be used to mount decryption attacks on some users. NordVPN reportedly stated that it had planned to reveal the breach after internal audits were completed. It also terminated its rental contract with the data center involved in the incident.

As separate independent research, VPNalyzer tested a total of 80 VPN providers—that also included the 51 VPNs tested for this report—and found several previously unreported issues such as traffic leaks during tunnel failure, and in some cases DNS and other traffic leaking even with the VPN’s kill switch feature turned on. It found that a majority of VPN providers and servers do not support IPv6. VPNalyzer identifies that adoption of good security and privacy practices such as doing DNSSEC and RPKI validation, and implementing a DNS proxy, is not uniform across VPN providers. Finally, it also found that malicious and deceptive behaviors by VPN providers such as traffic interception and manipulation are not widespread but are not nonexistent. In total, the VPNalyzer team filed more than 29 responsible disclosures, 19 of which were for VPNs also studied in this report, and is awaiting responses regarding its findings.

Selecting a potentially good VPN provider

As i've stated multiple times on this website, one can never fully trust a VPN provider, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any ethical, high quality providers around. It only means that, ultimately, we don't have a comprehensive way to verify whether the claims they make are accurate. Many people will recommend using the freely available Tor network instead of a VPN, however there are valid concerns and technical limitations with Tor as well (see: Tor versus a VPN – Which is right for you?).

The previously quoted VPN White Paper provides a lot of good information for navigating the muck and mire of the VPN landscape, however i think it fails to sufficiently elaborate on the importance of physically owning and securing their hardware. An ethical VPN provider may do everything right but if they don't own and physically secure their hardware, they leave their customers open to potential threats of all sorts.

As Michael Horowitz writes in his excellent article, VPNs and Defensive Computing, "Picking a VPN provider is mind bogglingly difficult" and agree wholeheartedly. Michael provides lots of tips for weeding out the bad apples and following are some of my own for based on my research and personal experience.

  • Never, ever trust a "free" VPN provider! Some may offer a free trial period however and that's OK.
  • No proper VPN will require the installation of any software in order to use their service and those offering client applications must provide the source code.
  • Any decent VPN provider will support the newer WireGuard protocol.
  • A good VPN will provider have physical ownership of their servers and will have secured them prior to installation in the data center.
  • A good VPN will provider run the operating system in RAM only (no hard drives).
  • A good VPN will provider not require any personal information whatsoever in order to create an account.
  • A good VPN will provider accept payment anonymously using cryptocurrency or mail-in cash.
  • A good VPN will provider be transparent in their operations, including any security issues that arise.
  • Needless to say, any decent VPN provider will have a strict no-log policy and will not block any ports.

The number of VPN providers that appear to meet the above criteria is stunningly small, so small in fact that there's only 3 of which i'm currently aware, they being AzireVPN, OVPN and Mullvad, though most servers for the latter are leased (you can filter Mullvad's servers a variety of ways using their own tool). Of these i currently use AzireVPN, however i think OVPN might be a better fit for some users. I say this because some of Azire's setup guides are outdated and they don't seem to be as mature as OVPN. Having said that however, i have virtually no complaints with the Azire's service or support.

Resources used to write this article:

Recent changes to this article

  • added information about PureVPN
  • added info about Hari Ravichandran and EIG
  • corrected an error regarding Mullvad's owned vs. leased servers thanks to 'Mark'
  • added a link to Mullvad's 'Servers' page

You know the music industry is corrupt, but do you know just *how* corrupt?

The Dark Side Of The Music Industry | The Death Clause | Volume 1

The Music Industry has an infamous history as one of the shadiest. Within this new docuseries we will be take a look at it's dark side. Between the ties to organized crime to the rigging of the charts, the goal of this series is to be a walkthrough, and tour through the stories the industry would probably like to ignore.

more...