© 2022 CyberNews - Latest tech news,
product reviews, and analyses.

If you purchase via links on our site, we may receive affiliate commissions.

The most secure VPN services in 2022


Casual browsing, online shopping, bypassing geo-restricted content, or torrenting – each online action is naked in front of your ISP or bad actors if you’re not connected to a secure VPN.

But the VPN market is wide and it might be challenging to pick one. To make sure you prevent any cyber threats like malware, DDoS attacks, and spoofing, you need to choose a secure VPN provider that ensures strong encryption, no-logs policy, a kill switch, and other superior security features.

With that in mind, we tested and selected the most secure VPN services in 2022. Among the top contenders are such names as NordVPN and other best VPNs on the market. Continue reading and choose the safest VPN provider.

Top 6 most secure VPNs:

  1. NordVPN: the most secure VPN on the market with impenetrable encryption
  2. Surfshark: top VPN with strong security features and unlimited simultaneous connections
  3. IPVanish: excellent VPN that uses advanced security technology
  4. PureVPN: good and secure VPN provider, constantly audited for security and privacy compliance
  5. Atlas VPN: safe, private, and user-friendly VPN with multiple security-ensuring tools
  6. Proton VPN: reliable VPN with a free version and open-source applications with versatile features

What features does a secure VPN have?

A safe VPN can’t prove its value without a strong suite of security features. If one of the features below is missing from the ones the provider offers, then you should look for another safe option.

  1. Strong encryption. Encryption is necessary for any VPN in order to make your data unreadable and impossible to intercept. Today, the strongest encryption ciphers are considered AES-256, ChaCha20, and quantum-resistant encryption.
  2. DNS leak protection. In case a VPN leaks your DNS, your ISP and bad actors will be able to log your activity even if you’re connected to a VPN. That’s why it’s crucial for a VPN provider to implement additional measures for DNS leak protection.
  3. Kill switch feature. A kill switch is a feature that cuts off your device’s access to the internet in case a secure VPN connection is lost. This helps ensure that your IP address and other information don’t get exposed to your ISP, malicious actors, or websites you visit.
  4. Open-source VPN protocols. These protocols, such as WireGuard and OpenVPN, are constantly being reviewed and maintained by worldwide communities, which means that any security slip-ups get quickly patched up.
  5. RAM-only servers. On such servers, data gets wiped with each server reboot, meaning that if a VPN provider were asked to present info about their users, they wouldn’t have anything to show.
  6. No-logs policy. For a VPN to keep you private online, it must not log anything that you do while connected. That way, only you will know what it is that you do online.
  7. Obfuscation. Some websites and governments apply powerful anti-VPN technologies such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Obfuscation modes and servers help VPNs bypass these blocks and hide the fact of VPN usage overall.

The most secure VPNs in 2022 - our detailed list

Here, you’ll find detailed information about what each VPN provider from our list offers in terms of security and privacy. We looked at encryption, logging policies, leak protection capabilities, and the selection of security features.

1. NordVPN – incredibly strong and secure VPN

NordVPN banner
Based in:Panama
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get NordVPN with 68% OFF + 3 months FREE🔥

NordVPN is the most secure VPN on the market. It is based in a privacy-friendly location, uses the newest encryption technology and security measures, as well as offers numerous additional features for safe browsing, entertainment, and more.

In terms of security features, here’s what you can get from NordVPN:

  • RAM-only servers.
  • OpenVPN (UDC or TCP), IKEv2/IPsec, and NordLynx protocols.These protocols are available on all platforms. The latter is an upgraded WireGuard protocol that provides you with high-caliber speed and security.
  • AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption ciphers.
  • Provider-managed DNS servers.
  • Highly functional kill switch.
  • Obfuscated servers.
  • Threat protection, which includes malware prevention and ad-blocking for mobile.
  • Tor over VPN will add a layer of security when you go surfing on the dark web.
  • Dark web monitor which warns you about any potential personal data vulnerabilities.

And when it comes to privacy, NordVPN is based in Panama, therefore it isn’t legally required to collect any data about its users. NordVPN’s privacy policy states: “Nord guarantees a strict no-logs policy for NordVPN Services, meaning that your internet activity while using NordVPN Services is not monitored, recorded, logged, stored, or passed to any third party.”

To learn more, check out our NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark – affordable and extremely secure VPN

Surfshark banner
Based in:The Netherlands
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get 82% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE 🔥

Surfshark is an incredibly secure but also affordable VPN and it is also great at ensuring your privacy. From a strict privacy policy to advanced security features, Surfshark really might have all that you need to be safe online.

Here are the security features that you can get with Surfshark:

  • AES-256 encryption cipher.
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols that available on all Surfshark apps and offer excellent speeds.
  • Kill switch.
  • DNS servers that are managed by Surfshark.
  • RAM-only servers.
  • Obfuscation mode.
  • MultiHop feature, which is essentially a double VPN feature for extra safety.
  • CleanWeb feature for safe browsing. It blocks ads, trackers on the IP address level.
  • Antivirus, which includes scan, malware prevention, real-time alerts, and data monitoring.

Surfshark is based in the Netherlands, which, despite being a member of the 14-eyes alliance, doesn’t have data-retention laws. What’s more, Surfshark’s zero-logs policy and provider's security has been independently audited. Other anonymity perks include the option to pay with cryptocurrency, and the fact that Surfshark operates on, on which no data is stored permanently.

What’s also worth mentioning – during our leak tests, it was evident that Surfshark does not leak your IP address nor DNS.

For more information, take a look at our Surfshark review.

3. IPVanish – technically secure VPN

IPVanish banner
Based in:United States
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get up to 69% OFF IPVanish + Antivirus🔥

IPVanish is a VPN that has its technical side of security all sorted out. Additional mechanisms for verification, top-tier encryption solutions, and sophisticated obfuscation ciphers make it one of the most technologically secure and advanced VPNs on the market.

Here are the features that IPVanish offers:

  • Military-grade AES-256 encryption
  • Forward secrecy, which means that some portion of IPVanish encryption system is constantly changing.
  • OnDemand feature, which is a fancy name for auto-connect.
  • Traffic obfustication. Your data gets encrypted with the XOR cipher.
  • WireGuard, OpenVPN, and other protocols which are secure and pretty fast.
  • Customizable kill switch that can also block LAN access.
  • Account authentication with SHA-512 hash

Besides the essential security features, we were pleased to find out that IPVanish doesn’t leak your IP address nor any other data, and is fairly good at bypassing VPN blocks.

One drawback of IPVanish is that it’s a US-based VPN, which is a part of the 14-eyes alliance. However, it does have a no-logs policy and collects only essentials such as your email address and payment method.

Get to know more from the IPVanish review.

4. PureVPN – always-on audit VPN

purevpn banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get PureVPN 82% OFF + 3 months FREE🔥

PureVPN does its best to be as secure and privacy-friendly as possible. It has an always-on-audit policy, is based in a privacy-friendly location, and offers the most necessary and functional security features.

Here’s what you can find on PureVPN in terms of security:

  • Industry-standard AES-256 encryption.
  • Quantum-safe encryption keys for the times when quantum computing becomes commonplace and regular encryption keys can be cracked.
  • Leak protection. During our tests, we foud out that PureVPN leak protection works as it’s supposed to.
  • Kill switch.
  • WireGuard, Open VPN and IKEv2 protocols. The speeds are decent, but WireGuard is only available on Windows and Android.

Unfortunately, PureVPN doesn’t have obfuscated servers which might affect the possibility of using this VPN in heavily-censored countries. However, you might benefit from its SSTP tunneling protocol which is usually able to bypass the Great Firewall. Just in case, take a look at our best VPNs for China.

Learn more about the features in our PureVPN review.

5. Atlas VPN – trustworthy everyday VPN

Atlas VPN banner
Based in:United States
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get Atlas VPN, now 81% OFF🔥

Atlas VPN is an all-in-one solution for those who want to have a secure, privacy-oriented, and easy-to-use VPN application. Take a look at what security features Atlas VPN offers:

  • AES-256 encryption.
  • Kill switch.
  • WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols for all Atlas VPN apps.
  • IP rotator which changes your IP address every time you open a new website.
  • SafeBrowse feature that blocks ads and malicious websites.
  • Data breach monitoring.

When we tested Atlas VPN for leaks, it didn’t disappoint – neither DNS nor IP addresses were leaked, and our data stayed completely protected at all times.

And even though this provider has chosen an awkward location to settle in – the US, its independently audited privacy policy encourages us to trust that it won’t be keeping your activity logs. Additionally, in October 2021, Atlas VPN was acquired by Nord Security (NordVPN's parent company), therefore it surely does comply with the top-tier security standards

Find out more about this provider in our Atlas VPN review.

6. Proton VPN – robust freemium VPN

ProtonVPN banner
Based in:Switzerland
Logging:
No-logs policy
Kill switch:
Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get up to 50% OFF Proton VPN! 🔥

ProtonVPN is another VPN service that concentrates on staying reliable and ensuring top-notch protection. It has a great free version where you can use unlimited protected data, a strict no-logs policy, and an overall versatile security suite.

Here, you can see the security features you get with Proton VPN:

  • AES-256-CBC encryption.
  • WireGuard that’s also available for free users, OpenVPN (TCP or UDP variant), and IKEv2/IPsec.
  • Open-source software. With it, you can be sure that the company has nothing to hide, and, this way, it also ensures better security.
  • NetShield feature for blocking blacklisted domains and malicious websites.
  • The secure core feature allows you to use 2 servers at once and makes it even harder to track you online.
  • The advanced split tunneling feature.
  • Alternate routing for bypassing internet censorship.

Proton VPN is based in a privacy-friendly country – Switzerland. Therefore, it follows a strict no-logs policy, and they promise not to collect your online traffic or throttle your connection. Moreover, the company has been audited by a security company called Securitum and the results only approved the safety of this VPN.

Get to know the service better in our Proton VPN review.

7. VyprVPN – secure user-friendly VPN

VyprVPN
Based in:Switzerland
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:🔥 Get VyprVPN, now 44% OFF the 1-year plan!🔥

VyprVPN is a secure VPN that is also user-friendly. It has a no-logs policy and all the most necessary security features, and a compelling user interface. Here’s what you can find on VyprVPN:

  • AES-256 encryption cipher.
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols.
  • Kill switch feature.
  • DNS servers owned by VyprVPN, called VyprDNS.
  • Chameleon protocol, which is essentially an obfuscation mode.
  • Malicious site block. Unfortunately, it’s only available on Mac.
  • Public Wifi protection, or an auto-connect feature for unsecure and untrusted networks.

VyprVPN is a trustworthy VPN that doesn’t leak your data. During our testing, IP addresses and DNS queries were properly encrypted and hidden.

VyprVPN is based in Switzerland, which in turn allows them to implement a strict no-logs policy, which also has been independently audited. That said, there is no option to pay for the service anonymously, and the registration process requires and email address.

Learn even more from the VyprVPN review.

Most secure VPNs compared

Even though all our tested and selected most secure VPNs provide you with the strongest security, it’s still important to take a second look at what exactly a VPN offers regarding your safety.

NordVPNSurfsharkIPVanishPureVPNAtlasVPNProton VPNVyprVPN
Brandlogologologologologologologo
LoggingNo logs, independently audited twice by PwCNo logs, independently audited by Cure 53No logs, independently audited by LeviathanNo logs, always-on audit by KPMGNo logs, independently audited by VerSprite (iOS penetration testing)No logs, independently audited by SecuritumNo logs, independently audited by Leviathan
CountryPanamaThe Netherlands (part of 9-Eyes alliance)
United States (part of 5-Eyes alliance)British Virgin IslandsUnited States (part of 5-Eyes alliance)SwitzerlandSwitzerland
Avg download speed832.93 Mbit/s749.33 Mbit/s215.51 Mbit/s196.79 Mbit/s239.6 Mbit/s595 Mbit/s73.02 Mbit/s
DNS leak protection
Kill switch feature
Extra security featuresDouble VPN, ad blocker, obfuscated serversAd blocker, obfuscated servers, double VPNPropietary servers, connection on demandIPV6 leak protection, secure Wi-Fi, WebRTC leak protectionAd blocker, data breach monitoring, IP rotatorDouble VPN, VPN accelerator, Tor over VPNPublic Wi-Fi protection, malicious site block, extra layer of security for Cloud servers
OpenVPN (UDP, TCP) protocol
WireGuard protocol
AES-256 bit encryption
ReviewNordVPN reviewSurfshark VPN reviewIPVanish reviewPureVPN reviewAtlas VPN reviewProton VPN reviewVyprVPN review

Why do I need a secure VPN?

Put your hand up if you like being geo-blocked, stalked and restricted by the government, and other third parties.No hands? That’s what we thought.

With that in mind, let’s run through the reasons why you need a secure VPN:

  • Prevent cyberattacks. Attacks such as DDoS, Man-in-the-middle, Cookie Theft, and other attacks are only possible if the hacker knows your IP address. A VPN will give you a new IP each time you connect to a server, and will effectively hide your real IP address.
  • Stay safe on public networks. Public wifi networks in airports, cafes, and other public places are rarely secured. Bad actors can easily access your traffic and steal your data – anything from email logins to banking credentials. A VPN will create an encrypted and unbreakable tunnel for your traffic to go through, making all of the hackers’ efforts futile.
  • Block ads and prevent malware. Some of the best VPNs offer an ad blocker that effectively blocks ads and malicious websites from loading. So even if you accidentally stumble upon an annoying ad or a phishing website, a VPN will be there to notify you and prevent further mishaps.
  • Protect your IoT network. Numerous smart devices that are connected to the internet, such as your fridge, TV, virtual assistants like Alexa, or even your humble Roomba, are also entry points into your home. If malicious actors know your IP address, they can use these devices to hack into your dwelling and cause further damage.
  • Bypass internet restrictions. A VPN can help you unblock websites to which access may be restricted by your government, school, workplace, or any other network. Besides, using a VPN also helps with geo-restricted streaming libraries and other entertainment platforms.

What features does a secure VPN have?

A safe VPN can’t prove its value without a strong suite of security features. If one of the features below is missing from the ones the provider offers, then you should look for another safe option.

  1. Strong encryption. Encryption is necessary for any VPN in order to make your data unreadable and impossible to intercept. Today, the strongest encryption ciphers are considered AES-256, ChaCha20, and quantum-resistant encryption.
  2. DNS leak protection. In case a VPN leaks your DNS, your ISP and bad actors will be able to log your activity even if you’re connected to a VPN. That’s why it’s crucial for a VPN provider to implement additional measures for DNS leak protection.
  3. Kill switch feature. A kill switch is a feature that cuts off your device’s access to the internet in case a secure VPN connection is lost. This helps ensure that your IP address and other information don’t get exposed to your ISP, malicious actors, or websites you visit.
  4. Open-source VPN protocols. These protocols, such as WireGuard and OpenVPN, are constantly being reviewed and maintained by worldwide communities, which means that any security slip-ups get quickly patched up.
  5. RAM-only servers. On such servers, data gets wiped with each server reboot, meaning that if a VPN provider were asked to present info about their users, they wouldn’t have anything to show.
  6. No-logs policy. For a VPN to keep you private online, it must not log anything that you do while connected. That way, only you will know what it is that you do online.
  7. Obfuscation. Some websites and governments apply powerful anti-VPN technologies such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Obfuscation modes and servers help VPNs bypass these blocks and hide the fact of VPN usage overall.

How we tested these secure VPNs

There are a couple of things that need to be taken into account when looking for the most secure VPN. Here’s what we looked at when curating our secure VPN list:

  • Do all the security features work? A secure VPN not only must have all the security features, but they also need to be functioning. For example, we don’t recommend CyberGhost, because it does not offer obfuscated servers, and its ad-blocker doesn’t really work.
  • Is the no-logs policy independently audited? It is one thing for a VPN to claim it doesn’t log user data, and another thing to have its no-log policy audited and confirmed by independent firms.
  • Does it leak? This is one of the most important aspects to take into account, because if a VPN is leaking your IP address and DNS queries, then it essentially fails at the security level. Luckily, the VPNs on our list didn’t leak anything and were completely intact.
  • Does it have RAM-only servers? RAM-only servers add to the privacy aspect of VPNs, as no data is kept on them permanently. The most secure VPNs should have at least some of their servers be RAM-only.
  • Does it bypass VPN blocks? The most secure VPNs should be capable of bypassing strict VPN blocks implemented by restrictive governments, workplaces, and websites, as well as unblock geo-restricted content. For example, one VPN that didn’t even manage to unblock some streaming services was Private Internet Access – and that’s why it’s not on our list.

Worst VPNs that you should avoid

Just like there are VPNs that deserve the security award of the year, there also are VPNs that you should think twice before using to secure your online presence. Here are some VPN providers that you should avoid at all costs if you don’t want your online security compromised:

  1. Hola VPN – it is known to have used their user’s PCs as exit nodes so that other users could route their traffic through those devices. It also openly logs user data such as IP addresses, names, email addresses, payment and billing information, etc.
  2. HotSpot Shield – they openly admit to retaining user data if required by the law.
  3. Hidemyass – in 2011, Hidemyass handed over personal user information from their servers to the FBI. In fact, they are open about logging info such as email addresses, date of the last connection, the amount of transmitted data, etc.

Are free VPNs safe to use?

No, free VPNs are usually not safe. If you are all about security and privacy, completely free VPNs are something that you should avoid at all costs. Here’s why:

  • With free VPNs, the encryption and tunneling protocols might be outdated, and the security features might not be the best, or simply non-existent.
  • These VPNs are also often owned by shady companies, which still need to pay maintenance costs and make money. Because of that, they collect and sell user data, and make revenue from excessive ads.
  • They also tend to let third parties interact with your traffic. This can lead to malware installation, unwanted ads, tracking, and even hijacked browsers.

However, if you are on a tight budget and the idea of a secure but free VPN is appealing, you can always look into some reputable freemium VPNs, such as Atlas VPN. They use the latest encryption technologies, and protocols and the free tiers include the most basic security features such as a kill switch.

And finally, some of the most secure paid VPNs also have free trials and 30-day money-back guarantees, such as NordVPN or Surfshark. You can try them out risk-free.

What is the most secure VPN protocol?

We all want our packages to be sent in the most efficient way possible. The same applies to our online requests. Thus, we must use the best VPN protocol possible. The most frequent debate is that of WireGuard vs. OpenVPN, but there are also other protocols to consider.

Here’s how different tunneling protocols compare to each other in terms of security:

VPN protocolSecurity
WireGuardVery high
OpenVPNLow to high (configurable)
IKEv2High
L2TP/IPSecMedium
SSTPMedium
PPTPVery low

WireGuard

The WireGuard protocol is currently regarded as the most secure VPN protocol. This is mostly due to it being relatively new, open-source, and with very few vulnerabilities discovered. It also has a relatively low number of lines of code, which makes the auditing process much easier and more straightforward.

Moreover, there are already arranged implementations for a ”post-quantum era,” which means that the current encryption cipher can be fairly easily changed to encryption that would hold up against quantum computers.

That being said, the security of a VPN protocol, including WireGuard, still mostly comes down to how well it’s been implemented.

OpenVPN

Despite being around for a much longer time, OpenVPN is still regarded as one of the safest VPN protocols. Truth be told, OpenVPN is often considered to be more secure than the WireGuard protocol. Because of the long time that it has been around, all its issues have already been solved and documented.

OpenVPN is also very popular, highly customizable, and has two modes that can be used in a variety of different cases – UDP and TCP.

The UDP mode makes OpenVPN fast but a little less secure because of additional data verification elimination. On the other hand, the TCP mode makes the protocol slower, but more stable and secure.

Tips to secure your VPN connection

Your online security isn’t completely dependent on your chosen VPN provider. In fact, there are quite a few ways to additionally protect your VPN connection. Here’s how:

1. Sign up for a VPN using anonymous methods

Purchase a VPN using anonymous methods – use a burner email to sign up, and pay with cryptocurrency or throwaway virtual debit cards. This will ensure that none of the user’s credentials and your traffic are traced back and tied to your person, making you completely anonymous.

Sign up for a VPN using anonymous methods

2. Enable the most secure tunneling protocol

Make sure that the VPN provider is using the most secure tunneling protocol. Most VPNs default to automatically selecting a protocol, which may not always be the most secure one. Besides, there are still providers that use outdated protocols. Be sure to double-check and manually select OpenVPN or WireGuard, as these are the most secure VPN protocols to date.

Enable the most secure tunneling protocol

3. Use your provider's DNS servers

Make sure you are always using your VPN provider’s DNS along with their servers. This will ensure that none of your online requests go through the servers of third parties that might want to track what URLs you visit.

Use your provider's DNS servers

4. Enable the kill switch

If your VPN connection gets interrupted or is simply cut off for whatever reason, a kill switch will cut off your device’s access to the internet. That way, your traffic won’t go unencrypted. In fact, it won’t go anywhere until the VPN connection is restored, and all of your data will stay secure.

Enable the kill switch

5. Enable auto-connect and auto-start features

By allowing your VPN client to launch during every device start-up and automatically connect once it detects an internet connection, you won’t have to worry about going unencrypted anymore. This will save you time and clicks, as you won’t have to make any additional steps of manually connecting to a VPN server every time.

Enable auto-connect and auto-start features

6. Use double VPN servers

Using double VPN servers ensures that even if the first VPN server somehow gets compromised, all of your traffic stays encrypted. If your VPN doesn’t have a dedicated feature, you can set up a double connection manually, but that might be a bit tricky. As two VPN apps can not function at the same time on one device, your best bet is to set up a VPN connection on your router, use a virtual machine, or use a proxy server or a VPN browser extension.

Use double VPN servers

7. Check for DNS and IPv6 leaks

Checking for leaks every time you connect to a VPN server should become a routine. You never know when your provider is undergoing maintenance, servers are experiencing downtime, or anything else is happening that could unexpectedly compromise your security.

Check for DNS and IPv6 leaks

How do I check if my VPN is leaking?

When you are connected to a VPN, all your queries go through an encrypted tunnel and get inspected on a VPN server. But sometimes, DNS leaks happen, which means that your data is no longer encrypted and any third parties can see and track your online activities.

Thus, from time to time, it is important to check if your VPN is leaking. Here’s how to do that in a few simple steps:

  1. Figure out what is your real IP address. Go to https://nordvpn.com/what-is-my-ip/, but don’t forget to disconnect from your VPN first.
  2. Check the IP address and name of your VPN server.
  3. Open your browser and head to the DNS leak test website.
  4. See if the displayed IP address and location match your real IP address and location. If that’s the case, your VPN is not working.
  5. In order to check your full DNS status, choose Extended Test.
  6. Check whether the servers displayed are that of your VPN provider or your ISP. If it’s your ISP or any other server you don’t recognize, your VPN is leaking.
  7. If your VPN is leaking, contact your provider’s support and explain the issue.

Final thoughts

To conclude, it’s evident that the most secure VPNs have numerous features dedicated to security and privacy alike. They include, first and foremost, top-tier encryption, a kill switch, preventative measures against DNS, IPv6 leaks, and features for safe browsing.

Other requirements for a truly secure VPN are an independently audited no-logs policy and anonymous payment and sign-up options. Provider-owned and/or managed DNS servers are also nice to have, and RAM-only servers further ensure that the VPN doesn’t keep any of its users’ info.

Based on our extensive research, the most secure VPN is NordVPN, followed by Surfshark. Both these VPNs have numerous features centered around utmost data security and user privacy, have affordable pricing plans, and are generally regarded as one of the best.


More VPN guides from Cybernews:


FAQ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked