With all the news of governments getting around tough encryption, and the (justified) ever increasing paranoia that pervades on the internet, it’s understandable that many people want high-grade encryption as part of their VPN package. As a result, it is becoming more and more common for providers to offer higher and higher levels of security, and with it, higher numbers in their encryption stats. Whether higher numbers actually make much difference is a matter of some discussion – if 128-bit AES is unbreakable, and should remain so for the rest of our lifetimes, then why go for 256-bit and incur a loss of speed? Regardless, if high-end encryption is what you want, there are companies that will provide it for you.
The Best VPNs for Strong Encryption
That being said, there are some important things to take into consideration regarding encryption, such as key lengths, known weaknesses in protocols etc. Which we will look at later in the article.
The upside is that a lot of the VPN companies that employ the highest standard of encryption also offer other privacy protection such as zero logs, shared IPs, Bitcoin payment etc. So let’s take a look at which VPNs offer the best encryption.
Best VPNs for Strong Encryption Summary
|1||AirVPN review||$4.82 / month||Visit Site|
|2||iVPN review||$8.33 / month||Visit Site|
|3||NordVPN review||$3.29 / month||Visit Site|
|4||BolehVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
|5||PrivateInternetAccess review||$3.33 / month||Visit Site|
- No logs
- Open source client
- VPN over TOR
- Accepts Bitcoins
- No logs
- Fewer server locations than other providers
AirVPN is an Italian based service that provides encryption and privacy to its customers that are unrivalled in the VPN industry. The open source client only supports OpenVPN protocol as the company believes other protocols (L2TP/IPsec, PPTP etc) are insecure. Our AirVPN review found that it uses very strong encryption and has a number of advanced security features such as DNS leak protection and a killswitch.
AirVPN allow three simultaneous connections and are happy for users to share files via P2P. They accept Bitcoin payment as well as other cryptocurrency, and even have a VPN over Tor option for those who want near anonymity.
The biggest flaw in the service is the extremely high level of prior knowledge required to understand the service. There are helpful guides and an active forum, but they really are jargon-filled and don’t provide much for the casual VPN user.
- Great Client
- Detailed setup and usage guides
- Transparent TOS
- EFF member
- No logs
- More expensive than others on the list
- Sparse server coverage
iVPN is a privacy focused VPN that offers shared IPs and is happy to allow P2P downloading on non-US servers – their shared IP policy makes DMCA notices not worth the digital ink they’re printed on.
AES 256-bit keys with HMAC authentication should be strong enough to stop all but the absolute highest technologically armed secret organisations from snooping (and even they probably couldn’t).
Bear in mind that no VPN service is perfectly anonymous, and even with uncrackable encryption, there are other ways to hijack internet usage. That being said, iVPN offer a solid VPN service that will delight both paranoid laymen and seasoned security experts alike.
- 30-day refund policy
- Free “Emergency VPN”
- Great live support
- No logs
- Not the fastest
NordVPN has a reputation for providing tough encryption and their credentials won’t disappoint. Encryption is handled with AES 256-bit for data, RSA 2048 handshakes, and SHA-2 authentication. Their servers are also protected by firewalls and SSH connections are used.
Should you run into any issues, Nord’s FAQ section is extensive and clear, and any details you can’t find there will be quickly provided by the staff on their 24/7 live chat system – When Dimitri reviewed the service he waited no longer than a few minutes for his query to be resolved.
NordVPN also offers a free “Emergency VPN” service for those living under authoritarian rule to protect themselves from religious/ thought/ press police.
- Excellent client
- Good performance
- No logs
- Limited customer support
- No mobile clients
BolehVPN is a Malaysia-based provider that’s been around for almost the past decade. Being a relatively small enterprise, there are a few things lacking such as the levels of customer support seen elsewhere but, as far as encryption goes, BolehVPN stands up with best of them, with 256-bit AES as standard, with RSA-2048 handshake and SHA-512 HMAC authentication.
Their software client is very versatile and offers plenty of configuration options. It is, however, only available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, leaving those who want a VPN on their mobile to configure it themselves through OpenVPN Client. They do have setup guides for iOS, and Android, as well as several routers.
- High speeds
- Plenty of configuration options
- Client for many devices
- Below average price
- No logs
- Not the fastest customer support
- Occasional performance fluctuations
PrivateInternetAccess offers a wide variety of security options, supporting PPTP, L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN – though we only recommend using the latter – with up to AES-256 encryption, SHA256 authentication, and RSA4096 handshake. Whilst having many options could be confusing to a beginner, PIA have done a great job at providing setup guides and explanations of encryption standards.
The VPN client is available for Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, and Linux, and works the same across all versions.
Being based in the USA could be concerning for some, although their zero logs policy should be reassurance enough for all but the most paranoid.
Considerations for VPN encryption
All the above providers offer AES-256 bit encryption, which is unbreakable by brute force attacks using today’s technology (as is 128), and is likely to remain so for a very long time.
In other words, levels of encryption higher than 128-bit are unnecessary, and can, in theory, slow down a VPN’s service as its servers have to dedicate more processing power to performing the extra (2128 times the length) math necessary to encrypt and decrypt the keys to 256-bit. However, as real-world tests such as this one demonstrate, the impact can be pretty minimal, and it is unfair to criticise VPNs for trying to match the demands of their customers.
It is important to remember that, because of the inordinate amount of time required to brute force AES-256, it’s very unlikely anyone would even try. Organisations seeking encrypted information are far more likely to be looking for weaknesses in the algorithm itself by subpoenaing companies to decrypt what they want, keylogging, threatening individuals, the list goes on.
Users should be aware that something as avoidable as a DNS leak will remove the P from VPN.
Check our guide for a more detailed look at encryption .
Whilst all of the VPNs listed above use very secure encryption, there are protocols used by some providers that are simply insecure. PPTP, for example, has definitely been broken. We only recommend using OpenVPN with AES encryption (Blowfish is known to have weaknesses).
All of the options in this list are solid VPNs that offer extremely strong encryption and plenty of other privacy features. If you have any comments or questions, be sure to leave a comment.