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Is a VPN safe To Use in 2021?

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

June 16, 2021

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Is a VPN safe to use? Surfing online can be very risky today. Unfortunately, there are hackers all around the world who are looking to steal your personal information. If you are using a public Wi-Fi connection, in particular, anyone with a little bit of tech know-how and the password could snoop on your online activity. This is where VPNs, like NordVPN, are worth their weight in gold. 

However, you may be wondering just how secure VPNs are and whether there are any gaps that you need to worry about. That is why I decided to put this post together; to answer just how safe is a VPN? I’ll look at the overall security of VPN products, as well as delving into the important features to look out for and some of the things you need to be mindful about. So, with that in mind, let’s dig a little bit deeper. 

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How safe is a VPN?

Is a VPN safe? Let’s start by dissecting how secure VPNs are. A VPN will safeguard your public Internet connection by shielding your online activity and encrypting your information. This means that even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not going to be able to see what you are doing online. 

In terms of your privacy while online, the most secure VPNs on the market will be transparent regarding whether or not they keep logs of your browsing history, as well as being honest about their privacy policies and the steps they take to fix leaks. This is why it is imperative that you choose a safe and secure VPN with care, which is something we will talk more about. 

How does your Internet connection work when you’re not using a VPN?

In order to understand what benefits a VPN can bring you in terms of security, it is vital to explain how your Internet connection works when you are not using a VPN. When you type in a URL in your web browser, your ISP will tap into the router. The router is the device that you have in your home (you know, with the long WiFi password on the back that you need to read out whenever anyone comes to visit!). When your ISP taps into the router, it is going to forward all of your web traffic to the address in question.

In addition to this, you will be assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address by your ISP, which is a unique router. This IP address is assigned to the router, as well as every device that is connected to it. Some platforms, advertising networks, and websites will utilise your IP address so that your information can be tracked for marketing reasons.

What happens to your Internet when you use a VPN?

When you utilise VPN software, your device is going to connect to one of the servers offered by your VPN provider. This means that your online traffic is going to pass through the Internet connection of your VPN, meaning your private data is cloaked from your ISP and websites, so they are unable to log your browsing activity online. 

As the VPN server will mix your website traffic with others on the server, your IP address will appear to match the one that is linked to the VPN. These steps make it much more challenging for other people to monitor your online activity and gather data about what you do online. This means that VPNs are the ultimate answer when it comes to protecting your privacy online because they can stop ISPs from tracking your activity while also providing you with anonymity. 

What features do the most secure VPNs have?

One thing that you need to recognise is that not all VPNs are created the same. This is why I have spent an extensive amount of time reviewing and comparing the different VPNs on the market so that you can get the best understanding of what’s available and which VPN is going to be right for you.

One mistake a lot of people fall into the trap of doing is going down the free route. This is something that I never recommend when selecting a VPN. When something is free, it is free for a reason. One of the main reasons why VPNs provide a free service is because they have not put the high-level security measures in place that you really need. Paid services will deliver a much more extensive selection of security features so that you can have complete peace of mind while you’re online.

With that being said, I am going to take you through some of my favourite security features that I always look for when choosing a VPN:

No logs

There is only one place to begin, and this is by selecting a VPN provider who does not collect any logs. What this basically means is that the VPN company will not collect any information about you that has been transmitted via the network. They won’t store your search history, what you download, where you go, or your personal details. This makes certain that your anonymity and online privacy are protected from everyone, including your VPN provider. Therefore, should a hacker manage to get into the VPN network, there won’t be anything for them to find! Because of this, it is always advisable that you spend some time finding out more about the VPN provider in terms of the logs they keep. This should be explained in full in the privacy policy. In all of my VPN reviews, I will state whether or not the VPN collects logs.

No IP address leaks

VPNs are supposed to disguise or hide your IP address, as well as blocking other people from tracking your activities online. Sadly, even with a VPN in use, there can be security flaws that can show others your IP location. Because of this, it is important to be proactive and look for a VPN provider that makes a dedicated effort to stop leaks from happening. You can do a little bit of searching online to find out whether or not there has been any history of leaks. Read reviews that have been left by current and past customers to get a good understanding. 

Multifactor authentication

This is an important security feature with any type of network or software. With this feature, you will be asked to prove your identity in more than one way. The first method is the standard password procedure, but then you will need to go through one extra ID check, which could be a code sent to your mobile, for example, or answering a security question. It simply puts that extra layer of security in place so that your account is more difficult to breach.

Kill switch

If you have read a lot of the content on VPN Geeks, you will see that I am a big fan of the kill switch! For those who are unaware, a kill switch is a feature that makes sure you are protected even if your Internet connection drops out. And, let’s be honest; most of us experience connection issues from time to time. Without a kill switch, your original IP address will be exposed without this feature, which is why it is incredibly important. 

Encryption 

A high level of encryption is another must when choosing a VPN. Encryption will basically turn all of your data and information into unreadable code. This means that even if the network is breached in some way, the hacker will not be able to read the data that they access. There are different types of encryption, yet you will find that all of the best services use AES-256 encryption at a minimum. 

Which VPNs are the most secure?

Now that you have a good understanding of some of the main security features you should be looking out for when choosing a VPN, let’s take a look at some of the most secure VPNs on the market today:

NordVPN Security features:

#1 | NordVPN

There is only one place to begin when it comes to secure VPNs, and this is with NordVPN. NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market today, and it really is not difficult to see why. You can expect a whole host of innovative and effective security features, giving you great peace of mind.

NordVPN

I am not one to gloss over past discretions, and we do need to talk about the server hack that impacted NordVPN back in 2018. A hack of any nature is never good news for a VPN provider. When a company in the security industry is hacked itself, people become cautious, and rightly so. However, NordVPN has taken proactive steps to prove that it is a secure VPN today. In fact, the company has undergone two independent audits within two years, which have shown that privacy is robust and the company’s claims about not logging information are true. While NordVPN cannot change the past, I am satisfied that they have taken huge strides forward and the independent audits are reassuring, to say the least. 

With regards to specifications, excellent encryption and a reliable kill switch are two of many security features you should expect. There are also a lot of other extras, such as Onion over VPN, which utilises the Tor Onion network, and Double VPN, which enables you to connect to a partnership of two VPN servers at the same time for double the protection. You can read my NordVPN review in full for more information about all of the exciting features that are available.

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express VPN

ExpressVPN Security Features:

#2 | ExpressVPN

Another VPN that I rate very highly when it comes to security is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN has an excellent track record when it comes to security. An independent security audit was carried out, which has shown that the VPN provider’s no logging claims are accurate. There has also been an incident that has proven this to be the case. The authorities seized a Turkish ExpressVPN server back in 2017, yet there was no data handed over by ExpressVPN and no data was stored on the server. Therefore, ExpressVPN clearly lives up to its promises on the security front, which is a true delight to see.

ExpressVPN

Another great addition to the arsenal of security features that ExpressVPN has is TrustedServer. What this means is that all of the servers at ExpressVPN run on RAM, as opposed to the conventional hard drives. With every reboot, the data is wiped, and the information cannot be stored by design. Servers that run on hard drives can pose a security threat, as it can be challenging to erase them fully. 

You also get all of the standard security features that you would expect from one of the best VPNs on the market today. You can read my ExpressVPN review in full for more information. 

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ProtonVPN Security Features:

#3 | ProtonVPN

If you do not like the sound of the two VPNs I have recommended so far, why not consider ProtonVPN? This Swiss VPN provider is known as being very secure, which may not come as much of a surprise if you are familiar with ProtonMail, a highly respected and regarded anonymous email service from the same company.

For the best level of security, you will need to choose a Plus Plan. This will enable you to access the Secure Core System that ProtonVPN provides. Plus, the company has banks of underground and ultra-secure servers in countries known for having excellent data privacy laws, such as Iceland, Switzerland, and Sweden.

If you are going to be connecting to a location that is not as secure and the provider cannot be 100 per cent certain of a server’s safety, you can opt to head to the server via Secure Core first, which makes certain your activity cannot be tracked back to you should a data breach happen. This is very much like Double Hop, and it is a big draw for anyone who is security conscious.  You can read my ProtonVPN review in full for more information.

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Surfshark Security Features:

#4 | Surfshark

Surfshark has made a lot of noise in the industry since it was recently established, as it offers a huge assortment of tools and it is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market today. 

There are a few features you will get with Surfshark that you do not often see at a lot of other VPNs. This includes ad blocking, split tunnelling, full 24/7 support, and Double Hop. If you have never heard of Double Hop before, this is simply like a Double VPN, enabling you to use two separate servers so you can obfuscate your traffic further. 

I would like to see Surfshark get an independent audit carried out soon. The company has taken out some audits in recent times, but they have not been comprehensive. For example, a few years ago, they had an audit carried out but it only assessed the Surfshark browser extensions. You can read my Surfshark review in full for more information. 

 

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VyprVPN Security Features:

#5 | VyprVPN

Last but not least, another VPN I rate highly is VyprVPN. It may be one of the smaller VPN businesses, but it certainly packs a powerful punch. While VyprVPN may have a smaller network than the VPN heavyweights like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, it comes with some great features. The Chameleon protocol is a real stand out, proving to be effective in evading China’s VPN blocks, meaning streaming services like Netflix can be accessed with ease.

VyprVPN

Another great option about using VyprVPN is that you can set up a router VPN. This is the perfect scenario for optimal security, yet not all VPN providers offer this option. Furthermore, VyprVPN has been audited independently, which verifies their no logging claims. I would like to see them carry out another independent audit in the near future, though, as it has been a little bit of a while since the last one. You can read my VyprVPN review in full for more information.

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Final words: Is A VPN safe to use in 2021?

So there you have it: an insight into just how secure and safe VPNs are in 2021. We hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding of just how safe you are going to be while browsing online and using a VPN. VPNs do provide you with a great level of security, but this is only going to be the case if you choose a VPN with care. Opting for one of the VPNs mentioned above, like NordVPN, can provide you with the optimal level of security that you are looking for online. 

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