The most secure VPN services in 2024


Casual browsing, online shopping, bypassing geo-restricted content, or torrenting – each online action is clearly visible to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or bad actors if you’re not connected to a secure VPN.

But the VPN market is vast, and picking a reliable VPN service might be challenging. After all, some may collect your online activity logs and share that information with your ISP or the government. Meanwhile, others might be ineffective at dealing with malware and other cyber threats.

As such, we tested 42 VPN providers to find the most secure ones in 2024. We’ll tell you about their protection features, effectiveness, usability, price, and more.

6 most secure VPNs in 2024

What to look for in a secure VPN

You can recognize the best VPNs for security primarily by their protection and privacy features. Here’s an introduction to the essential perks to pay attention to when choosing a safe VPN:

  1. No-logs policy. In the VPN industry, the word “logs” refers to records of customer online activities while connected to a VPN server. Unsurprisingly, you need a VPN provider that doesn’t store any logs so that it wouldn’t have anything to share with various third parties (authorities, advertisers, etc.).
  2. Strong encryption. Encryption is the process that makes your online activities unreadable to outsiders. Regarding VPN services, AES-256 is considered the most optimal standard, providing an excellent balance between security, privacy, and performance. This standard is also common in other industries (finance, health care, military) where confidentiality is vital. Meanwhile, ChaCha20 is a less common modern alternative that’s just as reliable and provides better speeds.
  3. Kill switch. A kill switch cuts off your device’s access to the internet in case a secure VPN connection is lost. This feature ensures your IP address and other information don’t get exposed whenever the VPN connection drops prematurely.
  4. RAM servers. Although not strictly necessary for security, RAM servers significantly improve a provider’s trustworthiness. This means that information isn’t stored long-term on hard drives and instead gets deleted whenever a server is unplugged or restarted.
  5. Jurisdiction. A VPN’s country of residence greatly influences its overall reliability because it dictates what data retention laws it must follow. For example, VPNs within the 14-Eyes alliance could be engaged in excessive customer data sharing. Meanwhile, services in privacy-respecting countries like Panama and Switzerland aren’t obligated to store or share user information.
Most secure VPN in 2024 – NordVPN

NordVPN is the safest VPN today. It utilizes ultra-strong AES-256 encryption, enhanced using ChaCha20 ciphers for improved performance. Additionally, the service is based in Panama and follows a no-logs policy that was audited numerous times by reliable third parties. Plus, it includes two kill switches for superior security.

Get NordVPN, now at 69% OFF!

The safest VPNs in 2024 – detailed list

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

1. NordVPN – the safest VPN in 2024 overall

NordVPN banner
Jurisdiction:Panama
Logging:No-logs policy (independently audited 4 times by PwC and Deloitte)
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:Get NordVPN, now up to 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!

NordVPN is the most secure VPN on the market because of the most robust encryption technology, high-level security measures, and privacy-friendly jurisdiction in Panama. Additionally, it provides an excellent service for safe browsing, streaming, entertainment, and more.

NordVPN security. We nominate NordVPN as the most secure VPN in 2024 due to its extraordinary test results and unique feature abundance. Here’s a brief rundown of its most notable security benefits:

  • AES-256 encryption. NordVPN employs AES-256 encryption by default to keep customer activities unreadable to outsiders.
  • Two kill switches. Unlike most providers, NordVPN offers two kill switches for added security. There’s the typical internet kill switch, which disables internet access whenever the VPN is disabled. Additionally, you gain the app kill switch to quit selected apps when not connected to a VPN server.
  • Modern tunneling protocols. NordVPN offers three reliable tunneling protocols (NordLynx, OpenVPN, and IKEv2), meaning you cannot enable obsolete protocols for whatever reason. The most obvious choice is NordLynx, an improved version of the open-source WireGuard.
  • Threat Protection. This one-of-a-kind tool provides ad blocking, tracker blocking, vulnerability detection, and malware scanning in downloaded files.
  • Meshnet. NordVPN Meshnet allows various devices to be connected to a single network for file-sharing purposes. You can use another device as a VPN server and gain its IP address anywhere.
  • Dark Web Monitor. As the name implies, this tool scours the dark web for leaked databases with your credentials and immediately notifies you if any of your accounts are breached.
  • Specialty servers. NordVPN includes a wide range of specialized servers to improve your results in particular situations. Available categories include double VPN, Onion over VPN, obfuscated, P2P, and dedicated IP.

NordVPN privacy. Confidentiality is another crucial factor when considering the safety of a VPN service. Here’s how NordVPN keeps customers anonymous in any situation:

  • RAM-only servers. NordVPN, like Surfshark and ExpressVPN, employs RAM servers, which means any information on NordVPN’s server hardware is immediately deleted whenever the servers are restarted or unplugged.
  • 4 independent audits. As of March 2024, NordVPN underwent 4 independent no-logs policy audits by various auditing firms. The latest one was conducted in late 2023 by Deloitte. This is impressive since most providers haven’t performed so many audits on their logging policies.
  • Anonymous payment support. You can purchase NordVPN anonymously using cryptocurrencies or cash at supported retail stores like Walmart or BestBuy.
  • Panama jurisdiction. NordVPN is based in Panama, a country known for protecting online privacy because it doesn't require companies to record what their customers do online. Moreover, the country usually doesn’t comply with unwarranted data requests from foreign governments.

All the features mentioned above are included in the Standard subscription plan. If you need more, NordVPN offers additional features with its pricier tiers, all described in our NordVPN review.

Pricing. Although pricier than CyberGhost or Surfshark, NordVPN delivers an all-in-one security solution that is reliable and performs well. Costing from $3.09/month, the provider maintains gapless online protection. Most importantly, you can take it for a spin risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Surfshark – affordable and extremely secure VPN

Surfshark banner
Jurisdiction:
The Netherlands
Logging:Audited no-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:Get 85% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE

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

Surfshark security. Surfshark is very similar to NordVPN regarding security, although it lacks some unique features that would make it more appealing. On the other hand, it’s cheaper and includes these essentials:

  • AES-256 encryption. Like NordVPN, Surfshark VPN employs AES-256 to provide swift and secure connections.
  • Kill switch. Surfshark includes the essential tool for keeping your IP address hidden under all circumstances.
  • Tunneling protocols. Surfshark primarily relies on WireGuard to provide swift and secure connections on most devices. Alternatively, you can enable OpenVPN. The provider also supports L2TP on some devices, although this protocol is not recommended.
  • CleanWeb. This is Surfshark’s tool for blocking ads, trackers, and malware. However, we must note that its browser extension variant is more powerful.
  • MultiHop. These servers allow you to route your connection through multiple VPN servers in different countries. It differs from NordVPN’s Double VPN by enabling you to create custom entry and exit locations.
  • NoBorders. Enabling this mode allows for bypassing various online censorship methods.
  • Rotating IP. As the name suggests, this tool periodically changes your IP address without interrupting the VPN connection.

Surfshark privacy. Surfshark is strong in the privacy department but once again lags behind NordVPN.

  • RAM-only servers. Like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, Surfshark stores information on volatile RAM servers, which means it can’t stay there for extended periods.
  • Anonymous payment. Customers can buy Surfshark anonymously using various cryptocurrencies through the CoinGate intermediary.
  • Netherlands jurisdiction. Surfshark VPN is based in the Netherlands, which, unfortunately, is part of the 9-Eyes alliance. Thankfully, there’s nothing to worry about because the service has an audited no-logs policy, confirming the service doesn’t collect data.
  • Audited no-logs policy. Surfshark passed one independent no-logs policy audit by Deloitte in 2023. Besides that, the service also had its browser extension and server infrastructure audited by third parties.

Like NordVPN, Surfshark offers extra cybersecurity features if you subscribe to a pricier plan. For example, you can gain antivirus perks with the One plan, something that even NordVPN doesn’t provide. You can learn more about these perks by reading our Surfshark VPN review.

Pricing. Surfshark costs only $2.29/month, proving that the VPN outrivals competitors regarding price-to-quality value. You can try it for 30 days because of its month-long money-back guarantee.

3. IPVanish – technically secure VPN for unlimited devices

IPVanish banner
Jurisdiction:
United States
Logging:Audited no-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:Get 78% OFF IPVanish!

IPVanish is one of the top VPNs for security, with all the technical aspects sorted out. It includes top-tier encryption and sophisticated security features, making it one of the most advanced VPNs for security.

IPVanish security. IPVanish is a top-tier VPN regarding online security essentials, but we found it lacking extra features. Here’s what you will receive with your subscription:

  • AES-256 encryption. As expected, IPVanish uses ultra-strong encryption to ensure customer safety.
  • Kill switch. Our tests showed that IPVanish’s kill switch is pretty reliable.
  • Tunneling protocols. Customers will have plenty of options regarding tunneling protocols. The primary choices are WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. However, older options like L2TP and SSTP are also available, although we don’t recommend them.
  • Threat Protection. IPVanish has a feature with the same name as NordVPN. Moreover, the tool has the same purpose: to block ads, trackers, and malicious websites.
  • Scramble OpenVPN traffic. This feature further enhances the privacy of your VPN connections by making it appear as regular HTTPS traffic.

IPVanish privacy. This provider has some notable flaws in the privacy department, but nothing that would make it untrustworthy.

  • Audited no-logs policy. IPVanish’s no-logs claims were confirmed in 2022 by the independent Leviathan auditing firm
  • US jurisdiction. IPVanish runs its service from the United States, a founding member of the 5-Eyes alliance. This would be considered a red flag if not for the independent audit.

While IPVanish appears lacking the security feature department, it provides a few coveted extras regarding streaming. You can learn what those are in our extensive IPVanish review.

Pricing. Overall, IPVanish is one of the safest VPNs, and the price starts at $2.75/month. Try it out with a 30-day money-back guarantee, no strings attached.

4. ExpressVPN – very secure VPN with intuitive apps

ExpressVPN banner
Jurisdiction:
British Virgin Islands
Logging:
Audited no-logs policy
Kill switch:
Yes
Coupons:
Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!

ExpressVPN is one of the safest VPN providers because of its highest-standard encryption, malware protection, and robust tunneling protocols, so you’ll be 100% protected by opting for a subscription.

ExpressVPN security. This VPN has a solid foundation regarding digital security. Customers gain the essentials, and a few extras most VPNs don’t include.

  • AES-256 encryption. No need to worry about surveillance and other threats while the VPN is enabled because ExpressVPN uses cutting-edge encryption to protect customer connections.
  • Kill switch. Named Network Lock, ExpressVPN’s kill switch constantly keeps your IP address and location masked.
  • Tunneling protocols. ExpressVPN sets itself apart from other safe VPNs by employing the Lightway protocol – an in-house variant built from scratch. Our tests showed that it’s pretty fast, while auditors ensured it’s secure. Alternative protocols include OpenVPN and IKEv2.
  • Threat manager. This unique feature focuses on removing various app and website trackers.
  • Password manager. Unlike most VPN services, ExpressVPN includes a password manager (ExpressVPN keys) at no extra cost.
  • Ad blocker. You can enable ad blocking simply by ticking a box in the Advanced Protection settings menu.

ExpressVPN privacy. ExpressVPN is arguably one of the best VPNs for privacy due to these factors:

  • RAM-only servers. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN services that employ 100% RAM servers for absolute user privacy. This feature was even tested when authorities seized some servers and found no relevant user information.
  • Audited no-logs policy. This VPN is famous for its numerous independent audits. The latest ExpressVPN no-logs policy audit was conducted in 2022 by KPMG.
  • Anonymous payment. You can purchase ExpressVPN anonymously using Bitcoin. The transaction is conducted with BitPay, which supports the 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • BVI jurisdiction. ExpressVPN hails from the British Virgin Islands, a country outside 14-Eyes jurisdiction. Additionally, the country has no mandatory data retention laws that would force the VPN to keep logs.

Alongside excellent security, ExpressVPN provides solid streaming results with features like MediaStreamer. You can learn more about the service in our ExpressVPN review.

Pricing. Unlike NordVPN or Surfshark, ExpressVPN is a pricier provider, starting at $6.67/month. However, you can test whether it’s a secure VPN pick for you with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. CyberGhost – a secure solution that doesn't log your private data

CyberGhost VPN banner
Jurisdiction:
Romania
Logging:
Audited no-logs policy
Kill switch:
Yes
Coupons:
Get CyberGhost VPN, now 84% + 4 months FREE!

CyberGhost VPN is one of the best private VPNs on the market. It’s a sweet pick for security seekers as it includes strong encryption and strict policies against security exploitation.

CyberGhost security. This VPN provides surprisingly good protection results, considering its affordable price. Here’s what you gain with the starting subscription:

  • AES-256 encryption. Customer connections are well-protected with top-of-the-line encryption by default.
  • Kill switch. Although CyberGhost includes a kill switch, the feature yielded poor results in our testing. Naturally, your results may vary.
  • Tunneling protocols. The default option is WireGuard for swift and secure connections. Alternatively, you can enable OpenVPN or IKEv2.
  • Specialty servers. CyberGhost has a massive server fleet, which includes specialized options like P2P and NoSpy for improved security and privacy.
  • Content blocker. As the name suggests, this tool blocks malicious content like ads, trackers, and malware.

CyberGhost privacy. CyberGhost is a solid choice as a budget-friendly VPN for confidentiality. Here’s why:

  • RAM servers. Like other security-focused VPNs, CyberGhost utilizes RAM-only servers to guarantee customer privacy.
  • Audited no-logs policy. CyberGhost is another VPN that employed Deloitte to audit its no-logs policy in 2022.
  • Romanian jurisdiction. This service is located in privacy-friendly Romania to ensure customer confidentiality. The country isn’t beholden to the 5-Eyes surveillance alliance and has no mandatory data retention laws.
  • Anonymous payment. Just like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost supports anonymous Bitcoin payments via BitPay.

An optional perk offered by CyberGhost VPN is the Security Suite for Windows, which unlocks an antivirus and a security updater for a small fee. Check our CyberGhost VPN review to learn more.

Pricing. Are you interested in high-level security and low prices? Then CyberGhost is your best VPN pick for security, starting at $2.03/month. You can try it with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

6. Norton Secure VPN – affordable and reliable VPN for online protection

norton vpn banner
Jurisdiction:
United States
Logging:No-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:Get up to 58% OFF Norton VPN!

Norton is a well-known and reliable cybersecurity company famous for its antivirus software. However, the Norton Secure VPN service is just as trustworthy and essential for well-rounded online protection.

Norton Secure VPN security. This VPN doesn’t include much regarding security features, only the essentials, such as:

  • AES-256 encryption. As expected, Norton VPN includes strong encryption to provide secure connections to its VPN servers.
  • Kill switch. A kill switch is also available and has been proven reliable in our tests.
  • Tunneling protocols. Norton VPN lacks WireGuard and instead relies on OpenVPN as the default option. You can also enable L2TP/IPSec if you’d prefer.
  • Ad tracker blocking. This feature will block ads and trackers to ensure your browsing experience is free from unwanted nuisances.
  • P2P servers. You can enjoy secure peer-to-peer connections using the specialty servers.

Norton Secure VPN privacy. Unfortunately, this VPN is relatively lackluster in the privacy department. While there are no severe red flags, some aspects may cause doubt to die-hard privacy enthusiasts.

  • US jurisdiction. Like IPVanish, Norton VPN is based in the United States, a founding member of the 5-Eyes alliance. Even worse, the service lacks independent audits confirming its supposed no-logs claims. At the same time, there’s no need to assume the worst because the provider has a clean record so far.
  • Payment. It’s vital to note that Norton VPN doesn’t support anonymous payment methods. Supported options are credit cards, PayPal, and Google Pay.

Like NordVPN and Surfshark, Norton Secure VPN can be purchased as a bundle with some of the company’s other cybersecurity tools. We cover available subscription options in greater detail in our Norton Secure VPN review.

Pricing. Norton VPN is one of the most budget-friendly secure VPNs with its $2.49/month starting price. It includes a 30-day money-back guarantee and 7-day free trial if you’d like to take it for a spin first.

7. PureVPN – always-on audit VPN

purevpn banner
Jurisdiction:
British Virgin Islands
Logging:Audited always-on no-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:Get PureVPN, now 69% OFF!

PureVPN is among the top VPNs for security due to its always-on audit policy, privacy-friendly jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands, and functional security features.

PureVPN security. PureVPN’s default security arsenal is solid, but its many bonus features will cost extra. Here’s what’s included in the standard package:

  • AES-256 encryption. Besides regular AES-256 encryption, PureVPN offers quantum-resistant encryption if you need it. It’s available with the OpenVPN protocol on select servers.
  • Kill switch. As is tradition, this secure VPN provides a kill switch to keep your IP address always masked.
  • Tunneling protocols. The default PureVPN option is WireGuard for speedy and secure connections. However, you can also enable alternative options like OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2.
  • Specialty servers. PureVPN apps include specialized server categories, such as P2P and streaming, for achieving specific goals more quickly.

PureVPN privacy. This VPN is pretty robust in the privacy department. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Audited no-logs policy. PureVPN’s no-logging claims were audited twice by KPMG and Altius IT. Crucially, this VPN has a unique always-on audit, which means the auditor can check on PureVPN without prior notice.
  • BVI jurisdiction. PureVPN was based in Hong Kong before switching jurisdiction to the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands. Now, the service is just as reliable as ExpressVPN regarding overall privacy.

PureVPN stands out from the rest with its immense variety of bonus security that you can add to your cart. However, this can be considered a downside since it leads to a feature-sparse standard package. You can delve deeper into these options in our PureVPN review.

Pricing. While it’s a more modest solution than other top 3 VPNs, it offers an excellent price of $6.24/month for those looking for a secure but cheap VPN. Additionally, you can try it with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

8. Proton VPN – secure beginner-friendly VPN

ProtonVPN banner
Jurisdiction:
Switzerland
Logging:
Audited no-logs policy
Kill switch:
Yes
Current deal:Get up to 50% OFF Proton VPN!

Proton VPN focuses on reliability and ensuring top-notch protection. Next to its versatile feature suite, you can even take its well-equipped free version for a spin.

Proton VPN security. You’ll have no shortage of options with this VPN regarding security features. It has an excellent foundation and a handful of notable extras:

  • AES-256 encryption. Once again, this VPN relies on AES-256 encryption to keep user activities invisible to outsiders.
  • Kill switch. Proton VPN’s kill switch is supplemented with an always-on feature to immediately re-establish the VPN connection whenever it drops.
  • Tunneling protocols. The robust WireGuard protocol is the default option on Proton VPN apps. The service also includes the proprietary Stealth option to avoid VPN traffic detection. In other cases, you can enable OpenVPN or IKEv2.
  • NetShield. This is Proton VPN’s ad blocker that also blocks online trackers and malware.
  • Secure Core. This perk is similar to NordVPN’s Double VPN and Surfshark’s MultiHop servers. It routes your connection through multiple servers for added privacy and protection.
  • Specialty servers. Proton VPN makes specific tasks more convenient by including specialty servers. Regarding security, we must emphasize the presence of Tor over VPN servers.

Proton VPN privacy. There’s no doubt that Proton VPN is a top choice for anonymity enthusiasts. Here’s why:

  • Swiss jurisdiction. The service is located in Switzerland, one of the best countries for confidentiality. It doesn’t belong to the 14-Eyes surveillance alliance, and the country's overall neutrality means it won’t cave to outside government pressure.
  • Open-source. This is one of those ultra-rare VPNs that have open-sourced its apps for added reliability. It allows tech-savvy users to verify the provider’s technical implementation.
  • Audited no-logs policy. Proton VPN’s no-logging claims were confirmed in an external audit by Securitum.

Proton VPN’s extensive feature set can be further expanded upon by choosing one of the pricier tiers with other Proton products. They are briefly discussed in our Proton VPN review.

Pricing. Proton VPN is a trustworthy VPN with a list of advanced security features. However, it still has performance gaps to fill in, so costing $4.99/month may need your consideration first. But you can use the free version or a month-long money-back guarantee to try the service first.

9. VyprVPN – secure user-friendly VPN

VyprVPN
Jurisdiction:
Switzerland
Logging:Audited no-logs policy
Kill switch:Yes
Current deal:Get VyprVPN, now 50% OFF the 1-year plan!

VyprVPN is a secure VPN that is also user-friendly. It includes all the necessary security features, an easy-to-easy interface, and strict privacy measures.

VyprVPN security. VyprVPN’s security toolset is pretty solid yet mostly unremarkable. Here’s what you get:

  • AES-256 encryption. Your VPN connection will remain indecipherable to unwelcome onlookers.
  • Kill switch. The included kill switch can be configured to remain active even if you turn off the VyprVPN app if you need unwavering protection.
  • Tunneling protocols. The default protocol for most scenarios is WireGuard, which is excellent. Moreover, VyprVPN offers the unique Chameleon protocol specifically for bypassing online censorship and restrictions.
  • Public Wi-Fi protection. VyprVPN automatically enables a VPN connection whenever you connect to an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network.
  • Malicious Site Block. As the name suggests, this feature blocks all domains on the malware blocklist.

VyprVPN privacy. This VPN is very similar to Proton VPN in terms of privacy, which is a great plus.

  • Swiss jurisdiction. VyprVPN runs its service from Switzerland, a country outside 5-Eyes jurisdiction and without any data-retention laws.
  • Audited no-logs policy. VyprVPN claims to be the world’s first publicly-audited no-logs VPN. Leviathan conducted the independent audit.

VyprVPN is good in other areas, such as streaming and torrenting. You can learn more about our findings in our detailed VyprVPN review.

Pricing. This excellent security and privacy-oriented VPN is great for beginning VPN users. It includes nearly everything you need from a VPN. The pricing starts from $5.00/month. If you want to ensure it’s the right fit, you can test it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Compare most secure VPN services

BrandNordVPNSurfsharkIPVanishExpressVPNCyberGhostNorton VPNPureVPNProton VPNVyprVPN logo
Ranking
4.9
4.7
4.5
4.3
4.2
4.2
4.2
4.2
4.1
EncryptionAES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256
Kill switchYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
LoggingNo logs, independently audited twice by PwCNo logs, independently audited by DeloitteNo logs, independently audited by LeviathanNo logs, independently audited by Cure53No logs, independently audited by DeloitteNo logs, not auditedNo logs, always-on audit by KPMGNo logs, independently audited by SecuritumNo logs, independently audited by Leviathan Security
Simultaneous connections10UnlimitedUnlimited871010
1030
JurisdictionPanamaThe Netherlands (part of 9-Eyes)
United States (part of 5-Eyes)British Virgin IslandsRomaniaUnited StatesBritish Virgin IslandsSwitzerlandSwitzerland
Servers6300+ servers in 111 countries3200+ servers in 100 countries2200+ servers in 52 countries3000+ servers in 105 countries11500+ servers in 100 countries1000+ servers in 29 countries6500+ servers in 65 countries4400+ servers in 91 countries700+ servers, 64 countries
Starting price$3.09/month$2.29/month$2.75/month$6.67/month$2.03/month$2.49/month$6.24/month$4.99/month$5.00/month
ReviewNordVPN reviewSurfshark VPN reviewIPVanish reviewExpressVPN reviewCyberGhost reviewNorton VPN reviewPureVPN reviewProton VPN reviewVyprVPN review

How we tested these secure VPNs

Selecting the most secure VPNs involved hands-on testing to determine the most reliable providers. Here’s a brief introduction to our overall VPN testing process that helped find the safest providers out of the 42 we evaluated.

  1. Kill switch. Testing the kill switch is pretty straightforward. First, we enable the feature before connecting to a random VPN server. After that, we terminate the VPN software process and observe if the kill switch does its job (disconnect the internet while preventing IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks).
  2. Other features. This part varies because each VPN grants different extra security features. One of the most common ones is ad blocking, which we evaluate using third-party tools like Can You Block It and AdBlock Tester. These tools give measurable performance results, which support our subjective hands-on findings.
  3. Encryption. It’s vital to evaluate the encryption standards a VPN uses to ensure it keeps customer data untouchable to outsiders. AES-256 is the gold standard, yet extras like ChaCha20 ciphers are a vital improvement. Naturally, VPNs with weaker encryption aren’t considered safe.
  4. Speed. While not essential to online security, connection speed influences whether the VPN is usable on a day-to-day basis. After all, no one will bother using a secure VPN if it severely slows down your internet. Therefore, we connected to VPN servers across various countries on different continents to measure the average speed retention rates worldwide.

We used the criteria above to compile our list of the best VPNs for security. We noted which features were the most effective during our VPN testing process and used those metrics to rank the providers. All things considered, NordVPN is the most deserving of the number one spot due to its feature abundance and effectiveness.

VPNs you should avoid

Just like some VPNs deserve the security award of the year, there are also VPNs you should think twice before using to secure your online presence.

  • Hola VPN is known to use its users' PCs as exit nodes so that other users can route their traffic through those devices. It also openly logs user data such as IP addresses, names, email addresses, payment and billing information, etc.
  • HotSpot Shield shouldn’t be on your list of potential security-focused providers as it’s known for retaining user data if the law requires.
  • HideMyAss VPN should also be avoided as it has a reputation for handing over personal user information to the FBI.
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cybernews® score
4.9 /5

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 about WireGuard vs OpenVPN, but there are also other protocols to consider.

Here’s how tunneling protocols differ from 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.

Which VPN encryption is the safest

There’s no clear answer to which VPN encryption is the safest because each standard comes with its own pros and cons. Currently, an overwhelming majority of VPN services employ AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption because it’s one of the safest and quickest options available.

However, it’s also vital to note the encryption key length because that’s the metric that defines an encryption standard’s overall security. As you’ve probably noticed, all secure VPNs outlined above use 256-bit key length, which equates to 1.1 x 1077 possible key combinations. That means it’s virtually impossible to crack this encryption using brute force without elapsing millions of years.

Naturally, this might change with the advent of quantum computers, but some VPNs, such as PureVPN, already employ quantum-resistant encryption to mitigate this risk. Thus, there’s no need to worry about AES becoming obsolete soon.

Tips to secure your VPN connection

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

  1. Sign up for a VPN service anonymously. This means using confidential payment methods like cryptocurrencies and inputting account credentials without personally identifiable information.
  2. Enable the most secure VPN tunneling protocol available on the VPN app. Usually, it will be the default option, but it's worth double-checking.
  3. Use your provider’s DNS settings. Once again, these are likely the default option unless you change the settings.
  4. Enable the VPN kill switch. This crucial feature usually isn’t enabled by default to ensure your internet connection isn’t immediately disabled when you install the VPN software.
  5. Check for DNS leaks. You can do so using third-party websites like dnsleaktest.com.
  6. (Optional) Use double VPN servers. Some providers like NordVPN and Surfshark support routing your connection through multiple VPN servers for added protection. However, this isn’t strictly necessary for most users and will also result in severe speed loss.

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. Reconnect to a VPN server, then 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 leaks, and features for safe browsing.

Other requirements for a truly secure VPN are an independently audited no-logs policy and RAM-only servers to further ensure that the VPN doesn’t keep any of its users’ info.

Based on our extensive research and testing, NordVPN is a secure and safe VPN. It offers numerous features centered around utmost data security and user privacy, have affordable pricing plans, and is generally regarded as the best VPN.


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