The ability of VPNs to provide users with a secure connection is fundamental, but some services do much better than others. However, as the VPN is overcrowded, it can be difficult to find a secure VPN service that provides you with all the features you need. In this guide, we list the five most secure VPN services, so you can be sure your provider takes your privacy as seriously as you do. We also give you some helpful tips for staying safe online with a VPN.
following Beijing's announcement of a new security law that will increase surveillance and introduce censorship in Honk Kong, it is essential to act quickly to get a VPN. See our specific guide to Hong Kong for more information.
The mark of a secure VPN is that it uses strong technical security to protect you on the Internet, for a VPN service to do so, we think it should have the following features:
- strong encryption
- No leaks
- Provides a kill switch
We will examine each aspect of a secure VPN service in more detail in this article, but, first of all, we examine the five most secure VPN services.
Other useful guides
If you're new to VPN services and want to learn more about how they can guarantee your privacy and online security, check out the following guides:
- VPN without log – A non-log policy is vital for your privacy, check out the five services that don't log user data why in this detailed article.
- VPN encryption – In this guide, we look at everything you need to know about VPN encryption.
- AES encryption – This is a detailed guide to AES encryption, a symmetric key encryption encryption used by many of the services listed in this article.
The most secure VPN comparison
Below we have listed the five most secure VPN services below. All of the services on this list offer excellent security features and implement encryption protocols at an extremely high level. If you would like to learn more about the services listed below, scroll down to read a summary of each provider or click on the provider's website.
– A super secure VPN service that does not compromise on speed and is recognized as the best
Private Internet Access
– VPNOnlineFree extremely well implemented and a low cost newspaper-free policy
– is an easy to use and robust service for anyone new to VPN
– Secure and respectful of privacy
– is a VPN for expert VPN users with excellent security features and implementation
Below we have summarized what makes each of the services listed below the most secure VPN services on the market. If you want to learn more about any of the services listed below, check out the provider's website or our detailed VPN reviews.
ExpressVPN's focus on providing an excellent customer-oriented experience has always impressed me. At the heart of that, 24/7 live chat support, a truly must-have 30-day money back guarantee, and easy-to-use apps for all major platforms.
ExpressVPN combines this with truly exceptional technical security, which only pips other secure VPNs in the mail. It implements AES-256 encryption for VPNOnlineFree, with an RSA-4096 handshake and a SHA-512 key hash message authentication code (HMAC). Perfect forward confidentiality is provided free of charge by the Elliptic Curve Diffie – Hellman (ECDH) key exchanges for encryption of data channels.
It's good. In addition, unlike most iOS applications, the ExpressVPN iOS application uses VPNOnlineFree. Add a full Domain Name System (DNS) leak and Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) leak protection, as well as a firewall based firewall, and it's clear that ExpressVPN offers exceptional VPN security.
Additional features: three simultaneous connections, “stealth” servers in Hong Kong, free Smart DNS, .onion web address.
The PIA is based in the United States, so it is not a provider for the more phobic of the NSA. However, he does not keep any journals, which is proof that he has proven himself in court! And although optional, its security can be top notch.
At maximum settings, VPNOnlineFree encryption uses AES-256 encryption with HMAC SHA256 for RSA 4096 authorization and negotiation for the data channel, and AES-256 encryption with HMAC SHA384 authentication for the control channel. Perfect Forward Secrecy is delivered with a Diffie Hellman (DHE) exchange for RSA handshakes (or ECDHE + ECDSA for ECC handshakes).
The PIA desktop software supports multiple security options, a VPN stop switch, DNS leak protection and port forwarding. Up to 5 simultaneous connections are allowed. Its Android client is almost as good, and PIA has excellent connection speeds.
CyberGhost software is easy to use while being very comprehensive. It uses very strong encryption and 5 simultaneous connections are generous. Being based in Romania and not keeping any significant newspapers is also a big draw.
CyberGhost's excellent logging policy, decent local (burst) speeds, and comprehensive software are a winning combination. And with a 7-day free premium trial plus a 30-day hassle-free money-back guarantee, there's no reason not to run it.
The VPNOnlineFree encryption used by CyberGhost is as strong as it is. The data channel used AES-256-CBC encryption with SHA256 hash authentication, and the control channel uses AES-256 encryption, RSA-4096 key encryption, and SHA384 hash authentication. A perfect transmission secret is provided by an exchange of keys ECDH-4096.
CyberGhost software is easy to use while being very comprehensive. It uses very strong encryption and 7 simultaneous connections are generous. Being based in Romania and not keeping any significant newspapers is also a big draw. Like ExpressVPN, some minimum statistics are kept, but without time stamps or recorded IP addresses, these pose no threat to user privacy.
CyberGhost's superb logging policy, decent local (burst) speeds, and comprehensive software are a winning combination. And with a 30-day hassle-free money back guarantee, there's no reason not to take a test.
ProtonVPN is, as its name suggests, a VPN service for people who have reinvented secure email with the now famous ProtonMail service. ProtonVPN is based in a Swiss respectful of privacy and without NSA, and all its applications are open source (with the Android application available on F-droid).
The Windows client and the Linux script use VPNOnlineFree, while the macOS, Android, and iOS VPN applications use IKEv2. The VPNOnlineFree parameters used are AES-256-CBC encryption with HMAC SHA-512 hash authentication on the data channel and AES-256 encryption with RSA-2048 handshake encryption and HMAC SHA-1 hash authentication on the control channel.
The perfect transmission secret is provided by a Diffie Hellman key exchange (unknown key length). IKEv2 uses AES-256 encryption with RSA-2048 handshake encryption.
ProtonVPN only used bare metal servers and we never detected any IP leaks of any kind during the service test.
These are Windows and macOS clients with firewalls based on a firewall, but not using operating system firewalls. ProtonVPN's SecureCore feature is a dual-hop VPN configuration designed for thwart end-to-end synchronization attacks.
AirVPN is at the top of the game when it comes to fast and secure VPN technology, but its technological concentration and rather abrupt support alienate many potential users.
VPNOnlineFree uses AES-256 with RSA-4096 handshake, HMAC SHA1 data channel authentication, HMAC SHA384 and DHE-4096 control authentication for complete confidentiality. It allows users to connect completely anonymously to its servers via the Tor network and can hide VPNOnlineFree communications in a Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) tunnel.
The open source desktop client disables IPv6 and its “network locking” function acts as a kill switch and prevents DNS leaks. WebRTC leaks are blocked both by the network lockout function and at the server level. This protects users from WebRTC leaks, even when using the generic VPNOnlineFree application. In addition, AirVPN manages its own bare metal servers.
Additional features: real-time user and server statistics, three-day free trial, three simultaneous connections.
VPN encryption and protocols
In order to connect securely, the VPN software on your device negotiates an encrypted connection with the VPN server. The mechanism used to do this is called the VPN protocol, which uses a series of authentication and encryption algorithms to guarantee the security of the connection. The only VPN protocols you are likely to encounter are:
How we assess encryption
When evaluating the encryption used by VPN providers, we focus on VPNOnlineFree encryption. This is due to the fact:
- VPNOnlineFree is the only VPN protocol that we know is completely secure. IKEv2 is also considered secure, but this is largely theoretical.
- Almost all VPN services offer VPNOnlineFree. This allows us to compare things like for VPNs.
- The care that a provider takes over the details of its VPNOnlineFree encryption is a strong indicator of the care it takes for security in general. And with VPNOnlineFree, the devil is in the details!
There are several elements that make up the VPNOnlineFree protocol. But with VPNOnlineFree, the devil is in the details. It all depends on how each aspect of VPNOnlineFree has been implemented. If VPNOnlineFree is poorly implemented, it is no better than any other protocol. Below, we list the components of the VPNOnlineFree protocol:
- AES-256-CGM encryption
- HMAC SHA-1 Hash Authentication Control
- RSA-4096 handshake
- Advanced security DHE-4096
- Connection logs
- Traffic logs
We recognize that implementing encryption protocols like VPNOnlineFree on a high stand is one of the main aspects of a secure VPN. This is one of the main aspects that we took into account when choosing our five most secure VPN services, if a VPN cannot implement encryption protocols at a high level, we do not recommend them.
The second key element to the technical security of a VPN is to have protection against IP leaks. An IP leak occurs when your VPN reveals your real IP address to a website or service that you visit. It is, of course, very dangerous if you need a VPN to keep your identity private online. When using a VPN, no website you visit should be able to see your real IP address, or the one belonging to your ISP that can be traced back to you. We have tested all of the services in the above list to make sure they are not leaking your real IP address.
How to test IP leaks yourself
When you first sign up for a VPN service, we recommend that you visit ipleak.net before and after connecting to the VPN. You should also do this from time to time when using the service.
If you see one of the same IP addresses before and after, you have an IP leak (you can ignore RFC IP addresses for private use, as they are only local IP addresses. They cannot be used to identify a person and therefore do not constitute an IP address.
The example above shows a bad case of IPv6 leaks. The IPv4 DNS result correctly shows that I am connected to a VPN server in the United States, but the website can see my real IPv6 address in the United Kingdom via a regular DNS leak and WebRTC. Fail!
For various reasons, VPN connections sometimes drop, and this can even happen to the best VPN. A secure VPN provider, however, guarantees that if and when this happens, you will not continue to connect to the Internet and expose your real IP address so that the whole world can see it.
Kill switches cut your Internet connection when your VPN is not connected to protect your privacy.
Killswitches can be reactive or based on a firewall. Reactive kill switches detect that the connection to the VPN server has dropped, then close your Internet connection to prevent leaks.
However, there is a risk that an IP leak may occur during the micro-seconds necessary to detect the loss of the VPN and to cut your Internet connection.
Firewall-based kill kills solve this problem by simply routing all Internet connections through the VPN interface. If the VPN is not working, no traffic can enter or leave your device. Firewall-based kill switches are therefore better than reactive ones, but any kill switch is better than nothing!
Now… firewall-based delete switches are of two types themselves. The first type is implemented in the client and will therefore not work if the client crashes. The second type modifies the Windows or macOS firewall rules so that even if the VPN software crashes, traffic will not be able to enter or leave your device.
The only problem with this method is that it could, at least in theory, cause conflicts if you are using a third-party firewall.
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