Most secure VPNs

With so many competing VPN brands on the market, it can be hard to pick between them. Many VPNs use aggressive marketing, which means you can’t always believe the claims. To help you out, our experts have tested the market to find the 7 most secure VPNs.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an online privacy tool designed to prevent online tracking. It works by encrypting your internet connection and tunneling your data to a remote server controlled by the VPN. It also handles your DNS requests on private servers. This prevents local networks, Internet Service Providers, and government agencies from being able to monitor your online habits. It also keeps your connection secure against hackers when you connect on public wifi.

Not all VPNs have robust enough encryption to keep your data safe. Others have apps that have flaws or badly implemented features that make the VPN unsuitable for gaining online privacy and security. This means you must choose your VPN provider carefully.

In this guide, we have pinpointed secure VPNs that provide many advanced privacy features, including a no-logs policy and military-grade AES encryption. You can use our summaries to pick the perfect secure VPN for your needs.

Below, you can take a quick look at the most secure VPNs. Scroll down for information about how we test and pick secure VPNs, and for summaries that will help you pick between our recommendations.

  1. NordVPN: Out top recommended secure VPN. Watertight no logs policy. Killswitch, AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and obfuscated servers. Apps for all devices. Malware filtering. Fast for streaming and torrenting. Bypasses censorship and regional blocks. 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark: Best budget secure VPN. No-logs policy, secure AES encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation. Allows unlimited connections. Secure apps for all platforms. Fast WireGuard protocol is great for torrenting and streaming.
  3. ExpressVPN: A reliable and secure VPN that is highly trusted. Solid no logs policy. Apps for all platforms with a kill switch, DNS leak protection, AES encryption, and obfuscation. Fast speeds, live chat support, and a money-back guarantee.
  4. CyberGhost: A superb secure VPN beginners.  No logs policy, DNS leak protection, solid AES-256 encryption, and a kill switch. Apps are easy to use. Fast WireGuard protocol for streaming in HD. 45-day money-back guarantee.
  5. IPVanish: Strong on security. Apps for all platforms. Kill switch, AES encryption, and XOR obfuscation. Allows torrenting throughout. Proprietary network of Tier-1 servers. Fully audited by a third-party company.
  6. PrivateVPN: A reliable service with strong security and privacy features. Apps for all devices. Kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation. Easy to use. Allows torrenting.
  7. Private Internet Access: A fast and secure US-based provider. Customizable encryption options. Superb apps for all platforms. No logs policy has been proven in court. Kill switch and DNS leak protection. Shadowsocks for obfuscation.

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How to use a secure VPN to gain online privacy

You can use the guide below to set up your VPN and begin getting optimal privacy and online security.

Here’s how to setup a secure VPN: 

  1. Pick a recommended secure VPN. We suggest NordVPN because it is incredibly secure on all devices and operating systems.
  2. Download the VPN app onto your device. Our recommendations have apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
  3. Turn on any advanced security and privacy settings you desire. Our recommendations have a kill-switch, obfuscation, and other advanced security features
  4. Choose a server in your desired location and click connect to change your IP address. For example, connecting to a US server will grant you an American IP address.
  5. As soon as the VPN connects, your internet traffic is encrypted and concealed from local networks and your ISP. Remember to connect your VPN every time you use the internet to prevent anybody from intercepting your data.

The Best Secure VPNs

Below, you can see some of the most important criteria we looked for when picking the top VPNs for security:

  • A no logs policy.
  • Killswitch, AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation features.
  • Apps for all platforms.
  • Fast servers suitable for torrenting privately and bypassing censorship or geo-restrictions
  • A global server network that provides superb accessibility and reliability.
  • 24/7 live chat to get help at any time of day.

Later in this guide, we will explain more about the process we used to test and recommend secure VPNs.

Here’s a list of the best secure VPNs:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Aug 2022

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is a provider based in Panama that was first launched in 2021. Since then, it has become one of the most respected and versatile online privacy services available on the market. It is highly secure thanks to its implementation of AES-256 encryption (OpenVPN protocol) with perfect forward secrecy. It also has a watertight no-logs policy, which means that it never retains any record of what its users do while connected to its servers.

Apps are available for all popular platforms, and they come with a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, obfuscation, malware protection, and double VPN for added security. It also has a Tor over VPN feature. A single subscription lets you connect with up to 6 devices simultaneously.

NordVPN has a proprietary protocol called NordLynx (which is a WireGuard fork). This allows it to provide exceptional speeds, making it a superb option for torrenting securely. You also get a SOCKS5 proxy and a Smart DNS service at no additional cost. And this VPN works to access regional services such as Netflix US, Hulu, iPlayer, and Prime Video to name a few.

NordVPN has excellent setup guides and live chat support that is available 24/7. You can also email if you prefer to receive support in your inbox. Finally, you can test this VPN completely risk-free thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 5000+ super-fast servers in 59 countries
  • Military grade encryption and a no-logs policy
  • Kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscated servers
  • NordLynx protocol is perfect for gaming, streaming, and video calls

Cons:

  • Some servers take a while to connect compared to others

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST SECURE VPN:Our top pick to use the internet securely. Super-fast NordLynx protocol is ideal for streaming, using VoIP apps, and torrenting. Has many advanced privacy and security features, including a kill-switch and obfuscation. Robust AES-256 encryption. Works with Netflix. Zero logs policy. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is a VPN provider that was only launched in 2018. However, in our opinion, it is the best secure VPN for those looking for something on a budget. Despite being very cheap when purchased on the lengthier subscription plans, it provides a wealth of incredible features. This includes a no-logging policy, AES-256 encryption, a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation.

In addition to being completely secure, this VPN is ideal for families. It allows users to simultaneously connect an unlimited number of devices. As a result, you can easily gain privacy and security online whether at home or on mobile devices. You can even share your account with friends and family if you want.

Servers are available in 65+ countries around the world, and the VPN is fast thanks to its WireGuard implementation. This makes it ideal for torrenting, making video calls, gaming, and streaming in HD. Plus, this VPN works to access 20+ Netflix regions, Hulu, HBO Max, and most other international streaming platforms.

To give you even better security online, the VPN provides malware filtering and ad blocking natively. It also throws in a free Smart DNS service to make it even better for streaming, and split tunneling, which is useful for torrenting. You can test it risk free using its 30-day money back guarantee

Pros:

  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Super-fast WireGuard protocol
  • Servers in 65+ countries
  • Robust no logs policy, kill-switch, leak protection, and obfuscation

Cons:

  • Some servers are slower than others
  • Customer support could be better

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BUDGET SECURE VPN:Outstanding value for money. Often recommended on Trustpilot and Reddit. Superfast WireGuard protocol. Kill switch, obfuscation, DNS leak protection, and malware protections. AES encryption. Works with popular streaming services, including Netflix. Allows unlimited connections.

Read our full Surfshark review.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is a true veteran in the industry that has been around since 2009. It is a highly versatile VPN with a solid no logs policy, and all the features you require to gain complete privacy and online security. This includes private servers to handle your DNS requests securely.

Apps are available for all devices and they come with a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, AES-256 encryption, and obfuscation. Plus, this VPN provides anti-tracking and malicious website blocking to keep you even safer as you surf the web.

You can connect to over 3000 servers in 94 countries around the world, and those servers work to bypass government censorship, use restricted VoIP apps, access foreign game servers, download torrents privately, or watch over 20 different Netflix regions securely from abroad.

The ExpressVPN apps are available for all platforms, and they are easy to use despite being feature-rich and filled with advanced settings. You can get help using the VPN at any time of day, thanks to its 24/7 live chat support. This VPN also has excellent setup guides for all platforms and even has its own software for VPN-compatible routers.

Finally, this VPN is exceptionally fast thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol. This further increases its popularity of data-heavy tasks like torrenting. You can test it risk free with its money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Over 3000 servers in 94 countries
  • Strong privacy features, including a kill switch and AES encryption
  • Advanced apps for all platforms with obfuscation and DNS leak protection
  • Lightway protocol is perfect for making video calls and streaming

Cons:

  • Quite expensive compared to our other recommendations
  • Streaming servers aren’t labeled

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

HIGHLY RELIABLE:Apps for Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS. No logs policy. Offers high levels of online privacy and security. 3000+ servers in 94 countries. Superfast Lightway protocol. Secure apps for all platforms. Works with over 20 Netflix regions. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN here.

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4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is a secure VPN that we often recommend to VPN beginners who do not need as many bells and whistles. It is a relatively simple VPN that nonetheless has all the features you need to stay completely secure online. This includes apps for all platforms that provide solid AES-256 encryption, the popular OpenVPN protocol, DNS leak protection, and a kill-switch.

The only slight drawback is that it has no advanced features for torrenting such as port forwarding or split tunneling. However, these are not essential to being able to unblock torrent sites and download securely via P2P – so this VPN is still an excellent option for most people who want to torrent.

The VPN is lightning fast thanks to its WireGuard implementation, and it has over 7000 servers in 89+ countries. This allows it to avoid congestion and makes it highly reliable for streaming in HD, gaming, and other data-intensive tasks that require fast connections. You can install the VPN on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Firestick devices and it lets you connect with 7 devices from a single account.

Finally, this VPN works with most intentional streaming services, and is ideal for getting around region locks and overreaching internet restrictions imposed overreaching governments. You can test it yourself to compare it to any of our other recommendations by using its super-generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Over 7000 servers in 89+ countries
  • Apps for all platforms
  • Kill-switch, AES encryption, and obfuscation
  • Works with Netflix and other platforms

Cons:

  • Fewer advanced features than the VPNs above it
  • Does not work in China

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GREAT FOR BEGINNERS:Easy to use on any device. Provides military grade encryption. Apps have DNS leak protection, a kill-switch, and malware protection. Works to unblock many streaming services. Fast WireGuard protocol. Generous 45-day money back guarantee. 24/7 live chat support.

Read our full review of CyberGhost here.

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5. IPVanish

IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish is a US-based provider that has proven itself to be a highly secure and versatile service when it comes to gaming online privacy and freedom of access. Admittedly, the VPN is based in the US, which may put extremely ardent privacy-advocates off the service due to the presence of the NSA and gag-orders.

That said, this VPN has a solid no logs policy, which means that even if it is served a warrant, it will have nothing of use to hand over to the authorities. This makes it perfectly adequate for most people’s privacy needs, and it has everything you need to prevent online tracking to gain security whether at home or on public wifi.

What’s more, it has apps for all platforms that come with strong AES encryption, XOR obfuscation, DNS leak protection, and a kill-switch to prevent any data ever leaking outside of the tunnel. It also owns the vast majority of its server network, which helps to increase the security of the platform. Plus, it allows torrenting throughout, which makes it great for those looking for P2P security and privacy.

This VPN works to access some popular streaming platforms like Netflix US and Hulu. However, it is not the best secure VPN for streaming on the list. So, if accessing many international streaming services (or a specific service that you subscribe to) from abroad is important, you may want to test this service yourself using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • 3000+ servers in over 50 countries
  • No logs policy
  • Reliable apps for all platforms with a kill-switch, AES encryption and XOR obfuscation
  • Allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices

Cons:

  • Works with fewer streaming services than competitors
  • Lacks obfuscation

Our score:

4 out of 5

STRONG PRIVACY FEATURES:IPVanish provides fast speeds and robust security to access web services privately. Lets you connect an unlimited number of devices. Highly secure apps for all devices. WireGuard for faster connections. 30-day money-back guarantee. Works with Netflix US.

Read our full IPVanish review.

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6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is a service that was launched with the backing of activists who support consumer rights to privacy and to torrent. The VPN is true to its name thanks to a solid no-log policy. It is also based in Sweden; a location that is ideal in terms of privacy thanks to its lack of mandatory data retention directives. It also controls the entirety of its bare-metal server network, which is ideal in terms of security.

Apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Those apps come with a kill-switch, DNS and IP leak protection, AES-256 encryption (OpenVPN protocol), and obfuscation. It is also one of the few secure VPNs that permits port forwarding, which makes it ideal for torrenting and for other secure web hosting purposes.

The slight caveat with this VPN is that the service only has around 250 servers in total. This is fewer than our other recommendations. That said, they are placed in 63 countries in the world, which gives you great coverage. What’s more, this VPN was surprisingly fast in our tests and it is able to access around 20 Netflix regions, iPlayer, HBO Max, and many other international platforms.

Live chat support is available on its website, but only for around 18 to 20 hours per day. This is still pretty impressive, and you can always contact them by email instead. Well worth trialing using its 30-day money back guarantee. Apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Fire TV.

Pros:

  • Fast speeds to torrent and stream in HD
  • Risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 63 countries
  • Has obfuscation, a kill-switch, port forwarding, and split tunneling

Cons:

  • Fewer servers in each country than our other recommendations
  • Live chat isn’t 24/7
  • Kill switch only works on Windows

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

STRONG ON PRIVACY:PrivateVPN has a strict no-logs policy. Servers in 63+ countries. Permits torrenting. Has a Kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation. Perfect for streaming Netflix or accessing censored content privately. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

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7. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a provider from the USA that is often praised by VPN-advocates on Reddit. It is also extremely well-reviewed on Trustpilot, making this one of the most popular VPNs with consumers. So, why all the fuss? The VPN is particularly well-liked by those who want plenty of customizability. Users can opt to strengthen or weaken the encryption inside of the app, which lets you get better security or better speeds depending on your needs at the time.

The VPN has over 10,000 servers in 80+ countries, which is truly staggering. This allows it to avoid server congestion throughout its global network. In our tests, the VPN was found to be right among the ten fastest VPNs in the world. This is in part due to its implementation of the WireGuard protocol. As a result, this VPN is ideal for streaming in HD, torrenting, gaming, and other data-intensive tasks. Plus, it works to access around 6 different Netflix catalogs, iPlayer, and Hulu.

PIA has apps for all popular platforms, and you can use the VPN on up to 10 devices at once which is more than enough for most power users. Live chat is available 24/7 on its website, and it has plenty of setup guides, FAQs and other useful resources on its website. Plus, this VPN has a kill-switch, Shadowsocks obfuscation (Windows, Mac, and Android), DNS leak protection, port forwarding, ad blocking, and robust AES encryption.

Pros:

  • Super secure apps for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac
  • Risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 10,000+ servers in 80+ countries
  • Works with around 6 Netflix regions

Cons:

  • Fewer servers in each country than our other recommendations
  • Live chat isn’t 24/7
  • Doesn’t work in China

Our score:

4 out of 5

HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE:PIA provides customizable security settings. No-logs policy has been proven in court. Lots of excellent privacy and security features. Servers in 80+ countries. Allows 10 simultaneous connections. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

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Secure VPN testing methodology

At Comparitech, we understand the needs of consumers and have devised a reliable, scientific VPN testing methodology. We use this precise approach to test market-leading VPN services. This gives us the vital benchmarks we use to compare services and make recommendations.

Below, we have included some of the important features we looked for when looking for 7 most secure VPNs on the market.

  1. No logs policy – Ensures that the VPN never tracks what you do online, never sells or shares your data, and never retains any records of what its users do while connected.
  2. Apps for all platforms – We look for VPNs that allow you to connect on any of the devices you happen to own.
  3. Advanced security – We have only recommended VPNs that have military grade encryption, a kill-switch, obfuscation, DNS leak protection, and a choice of other useful advanced privacy and security features such as double VPN, split tunneling, port forwarding, and malware filtering.
  4. Fast global server network – Our recommendations have fast servers worldwide that work to access Netflix, iPlayer, internet banking, censored news and content, and anything else that interests you.
  5. Excellent support – We look for VPNs that are not only secure but also provide outstanding customer care. Our recommendations have live chat support to let you ask questions at any time of day
  6. Value for money – There are more than 100 VPNs on the market and some of those charge the earth for an inferior service. Our recommended secure VPNs have the features you need, and extras like Smart DNS – all at a fair price!

Secure VPN FAQs

Are there any secure free VPNs?

Although there are many free VPNs circulating online, we do not consider these secure. Free VPNs have been known to have invasive privacy policies designed to let them profit from user data. This allows free VPNs to track what their users do while connected in order to create profiles of their habits. This data is then sold to marketing companies, data brokers, and other third parties to create a revenue stream. 

Studies have also revealed that free VPNs suffer from app and server vulnerabilities, severe DNS and IP leaks, and even to have apps that contain tracking libraries and spyware. This makes free VPNs a huge risk to the health of your data and makes them completely unsuitable for gaining privacy online. Ultimately, using a free VPN could cause your data to be disseminated further, which is the exact opposite of what a secure VPN does. 

The important thing to remember is that running a truly secure VPN with reliable apps and servers is costly. So anytime that you are using a VPN for free, alarm bells should ring because it almost certainly means that the VPN is profiting you in other more nefarious ways.

Can I get a secure VPN for a mobile device?

Yes. All the secure VPNs we have recommended in this guide have mobile apps for Android and iOS. Those mobile apps provide secure encryption levels and the same underlying privacy features as their desktop counterparts. This includes DNS leak protection and a kill switch. 

Occasionally, mobile apps may have fewer advanced features than their desktop counterparts. However, none of the primary features needed to get a secure VPN connection will be unavailable.

It is also worth noting that iOS mobile VPN apps sometimes provide different encryption options to Android and desktop VPN clients (specifically they may provide IKEv2 rather than OpenVPN). That said, all of the VPNs recommended in this guide have been selected because they provide strong AES encryption within all the different VPN apps. 

If you want to know more about VPNs with mobile apps, you can consider cross-referencing our favorite secure VPNs against the best VPN for iOS and the best VPNs for Android. Those guides will provide additional information about installing and using a VPN on a mobile device.

What is a no-logs policy and should a secure VPN have one?

A VPN privacy policy, also known as its logging policy, is a legal document that specifies what data the service provider will collect from its users and how it will use that data. The very best VPNs only collect the bare essentials. They do this to process payments and provide the subscriber with access to their account (usually by connecting secure login credentials to a valid email address). 

Some secure VPNs also collect non-identifiable information such as the amount of bandwidth used and the duration of a VPN session. They take this non-invasive information to monitor server use and keep the VPN running at full capacity. Bear in mind, that for these connection logs to be secure, they must never be stored alongside anything that could personally identify the account holder, such as their IP address. 

Unfortunately, some insecure VPNs do store connection logs next to an IP address, which creates the potential for a time correlation attack. This means that the VPN provider is harvesting potentially harmful logs that make it unsuitable for gaining online privacy. These insecure VPNs should be avoided.

Besides the non-invasive data mentioned above, a secure VPN will never collect any identifiable personal information from its subscribers. This type of policy is widely referred to as a no-logs or zero-logs policy. 

A no-logs policy means that you never have to worry about the VPN monitoring what you do while connected to its servers. As a result, the VPN will never have any records that could be used to ascertain what you did while connected to the VPN (if it is served a warrant by government snoops, for instance).

All the secure VPNs recommended in this guide have a watertight no-logs policy, and never retain anything that could be used to personally identify your VPN use.

What is IP and DNS leak protection – and do I need it?

In order for a VPN to provide you with online privacy it does two things. It encrypts your data and tunnels it to a remote server to prevent local networks or Internet Service Providers from being able to analyze your data as it passes over their network. This also conceals your IP address from the websites and online services you visit.

A VPN also proxies your DNS requests to a secure server under its control. This prevents your ISP from being able to track those DNS requests; which means it can no longer see which websites and services you are requesting to access. As a result of this privacy, your ISP cannot keep tabs on your browsing history to comply with mandatory data retention directives

To ensure that they never accidentally let you down, secure VPNs provide IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. Leak protection is an important security feature that prevents your requests from ever slipping outside of the securely encrypted VPN tunnel. As a result of this feature, you never have to worry that your ISP may catch a glimpse of what you are doing online.

What is a VPN kill-switch?

All of the secure VPNs we have recommended in this guide provide a kill-switch. This is a vital security feature that prevents you from accidentally leaking data outside of the VPN tunnel. We recommend that you use a kill-switch anytime that you connect to your VPN. It works by completely cutting off your internet should the VPN connection fail. 

A kill-switch is an important security feature that works at the system level. It works behind the scenes at all times; ready to instantly cut off your internet if the VPN app fails – or the encrypted connection to the VPN server is severed for some reason. 

Some VPNs even provide an automatic reconnect feature that re-establishes the VPN tunnel and disengages the VPN seamlessly without the user having to do anything. 

In fact, some secure VPNs also provide an auto-connect at startup feature that establishes the VPN connection every time you launch your computer. This is perfect for forgetful internet users, who may start browsing without remembering to turn on their VPN. 

Is a secure VPN fast?

All of the VPN services recommended in this guide were chosen because they are secure and fast. To ensure you can get a fast connection that is also secure, we generally recommend that you opt for either OpenVPN UDP or Wireguard. These protocols are ideal for data-intensive tasks such as streaming in HD, torrenting, and gaming.

That said, it is worth noting that some of our recommendations also have secure proprietary VPN protocols specifically designed to provide you with faster speeds. Thus, you can opt for this protocol to get even faster speeds if you want to. 

What are the most secure VPN protocols?

VPN providers offer a range of different tunneling protocols to their subscribers. Some of these protocols are not considered secure, others may or may not be secure depending on how they are implemented. 

Below, we have included a list of VPN protocols. This list provides a clear picture of which protocols you should be using to establish a secure VPN connection that is safe against hackers.

PPTP

This is a widely supported tunneling protocol that is not considered secure against eavesdroppers, hackers, and government snoops. 

The protocol was first found to have vulnerabilities way back in 1998. However, by 2012 several critical vulnerabilities had been discovered that easily allowed the encryption to be broken. 

As a result, it is impossible to recommend this protocol for establishing a secure VPN connection. The only advantage of PPTP is that it is fast, and can be used for location spoofing when data privacy is not a concern to the user. 

L2TP/IPSec

This is a widely used VPN protocol that is generally considered safe for everyday use. However, it is worth noting that secure L2TP actually necessitates the use of two protocols working together.

The L2TP VPN protocol does not have any encryption by default. This is why it is usually paired with IPSec to make it secure against eavesdroppers. The main drawback with L2TP is that it only runs over one port, which makes it easier to block using a firewall.

There have also been suggestions that L2TP/IPSec has previously been broken by the NSA. If these rumors are true the protocol may not be suitable for users who have an elevated threat model. That said, L2TP/IPsec is probably secure enough for most users. 

On the other hand, most secure VPNs provide access to much better VPN protocols – so there is little reason to use the L2TP protocol anymore.

IKEv2

This is a secure VPN protocol that is most often found in VPN apps for mobile devices (Android and iOS). That said, it is sometimes also available in desktop clients. IKEv2 stands for Internet Key Exchange Version 2. It is often referred to as IKEv2/IPSec because it uses the IPSec protocol to implement its encryption. 

The most secure VPNs implement IKEv2 with an AES-256 cipher, which is highly secure. However, it is worth noting that IPSec can be implemented with weaker AES-128, DES, 3DES, and Blowfish, which are not all considered completely secure. 

Thus, it is important to consider how a VPN provider is implementing IKEv2 to be completely sure about its efficacy for data security purposes. Our recommendations all implement the IKEv2 protocol using a secure cipher, meaning that it is a completely safe VPN protocol to use as long as you stick to our recommended providers.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is widely considered the most secure VPN protocol. Like IKEv2, VPN providers can choose to implement the protocol in various ways. This means that a VPN is not necessarily secure just because it provides OpenVPN. 

As long as a VPN implements its OpenVPN using standards that exceed the minimum standards for security suggested by the OpenVPN Community (AES-128 or 256 cipher with RSA-2048 handshake key and HMAC SHA1 hash auth); the protocol is s completely secure against intrusion. 

The good news is that all our VPN recommendations provide OpenVPN using standards that exceed these minimum security requirements. This includes an AES-256 cipher that is often referred to as ‘military-grade’. 

In addition, all our recommendations implement OpenVPN using Perfect Forward Secrecy. This is essential for guaranteeing the integrity of the protocol against hackers by ensuring that a new temporary Private Key is used each time a connection is established. This means that even if a hacker compromises a key, no previous or future sessions will be vulnerable.

WireGuard

WireGuard is the most modern VPN protocol currently provided by consumer-facing VPNs. It is revered due to its lightweight code-base, and its small attack surface. This allows the protocol to be audited quickly. WireGuard also implements a suite of highly secure cryptographic primitives that are interchangeable. This makes the protocol easy to update should a vulnerability be exposed in any of the cryptographic elements it leverages. 

The best thing about WireGuard is that in addition to being highly secure and providing rudimentary obfuscation, it is also extremely fast. This makes it a superb option for VPN users looking for a secure VPN protocol that allows them to engage in data-intensive activities like HD streaming and torrenting. 

Can I test my VPN for IP leaks?

Yes! At Comparitech, we have created a nifty IP and DNS leak test tool that you can use anytime you want. Just follow the instructions on the screen and you will be able to check that your VPN is properly tunneling your data to your selected location. This ensures that you can always check the VPN connection yourself to be sure that it is giving you an IP address in the location you desire. 

Can my ISP detect that I am using a VPN?

This is possible, yes. When you use a secure VPN, it is impossible for your ISP to know what you are doing online. However, it is still possible for your ISP to detect that a VPN is being used to gain privacy.

Thankfully, most of our recommended secure VPNs provide a way around this with a feature called VPN obfuscation. Obfuscation conceals your encrypted VPN traffic as regular HTTPS, which makes it seem like regular internet traffic bound for a web service. 

Various types of obfuscation are available, including Stunnel, XOR, obfsproxy, and Shadowsocks. VPNs can opt to provide these differing forms of obfuscation to allow their users to conceal VPN use and to bypass firewalls set up to block VPN traffic.