5 Most Secure VPNs

21 May 2015 |

A great VPN service should be very well rounded and all aspects of its service, from customer support to performance, should excel. However, when it comes down to it, their primary purpose, their ‘raison d’être’, is to allow customers to use the internet anonymously. It is for this reason that we have put together this list of most secure VPN providers.

In order for a VPN to be fully secure, it must meet a number of criteria. Not only must their logging policy be sound but they must also have adequate encryption technologies. On top of this, some companies will take extra measures to be even more secure such as warrant canary‘s, double-hop encryption and transparency reports.

The way to ensure that users remain anonymous is to have robust and well thought out security measures in place, that make any attempts to compromise this anonymity extremely difficult. A VPN provider who fails to implement such measures is, therefore, worse than useless; it is a positive liability to its customers!

We discuss the main security factors and issues that you should consider when choosing a secure VPN provider towards the end of this article.


Secure VPNs Summary

Rank Provider Starting
Price
Review Link

1

logo $7.77/mo Read Review Visit Site

2

Perfect Privacy Logo $18.32/mo Read Review Visit Site

3

Viking VPN Logo $14.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

4

Private Internet Access Logo $6.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

5

logo $9.90/mo Read Review Visit Site
Editor’s Choice

Winner – AirVPN

AirVPN Logo

Positives: no logs; 256-bit AES encryption; accepts Bitcoin; port forwarding; great overall attitude to privacy; amazing and packed client

Negatives: no live chat; not much else

AirVPN was formed in 2010 by a group of Italian hacktivists, so it comes as no surprise that it ranks so high as a secure VPN. They keep absolutely no logs, have extreme transparency about their service and have extremely good encryption standard. While the most secure 256bit AES encryption is met by a number of companies, AirVPN improves this further by having a 4096bit handshake. To top it all off, they have also created mywhisper.net and ipleak.net to create an even more secure internet and not just a secure VPN service!

On the downside, the 3-day free trial has to be requested through email and their very technical approach might put off those with very little technical experience. On the whole though, they are a brilliant VPN provider.

Try Out the Most Secure VPN Today!

Visit AirVPN »

3-day free trial

2. Perfect Privacy

Perfect Privacy Logo

Positives: heavy privacy focus; great Mac and Windows client; P2P allowed; VPN cascading tool

Negatives: prices higher than average

As the name suggests Perfect Privacy is a provider that heavily focuses on privacy and security. Luckily, they haven’t forgotten the other aspects of their service and still provide a wholesome secure VPN service. Their speeds are great, have brilliant set-up guides, allow the chain linking of multiple connections for even more privacy. To help you even further they have a very good knowledge base and even offer remote desktop support through TeamViewer.

However, creating such a secure VPN does come at a very high cost and Perfect Privacy is nearly one of the most expensive providers on the market today. Unfortunately, there is also no possibility for a free trial or money-back guarantee, nonetheless we fully recommend using this provider.

» Visit Perfect Privacy


3. VikingVPN

VikingVPN Logo

Positives: warrant canary; 14-day money-back guarantee; focus on strong & secure network rather than worldwide domination; Bitcoin accepted

Negatives: simultaneous connections settings; limited servers

Like the above providers above, VikingVPN is heavily focused on privacy and security, which again does lead to a higher price point than average. They carry out zero logging, have a good support team and have even implemented a Warrant Canary should the company ever get in trouble with the law.

Since VikingVPN is concentrating on building a solid and secure VPN company they do not have an extensive range of servers across the globe. Also, they do not provide their client but with their brilliant customer service on hand, we do not think you can go wrong with their service.

» Visit VikingVPN


4. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access Logo

Positives: no logs; very fast results; cheap; Bitcoin accepted; simple client that works well

Negatives: no free trial or money back guarantee; no information on server loads

PIA is not so strong by default, but can be made very secure (up to AES-256 OpenVPN encryption, SHA256 data authentication (Ephemeral Elliptic Curve (EEC) options also available, and up to RSA-4096 handshake encryption to make it a secure VPN. They are also extremely cheap and have a simple client that works well and contains some useful add-ons such as a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

On the downside they do not provide you with any testing options, do not display any server statistics, and the standard encryption settings aren’t very useful. On the whole – not bad at all.

» Visit PIA


5. VPN Area

VPN Area Logo

Positives: no logs; great encryption and handshake; based in Bulgaria; 5 simultaneous devices allowed

Negatives: not a whole lot

VPN Area is based in Bulgaria with their data servers in Switzerland in order to provide the highest levels of customer security and privacy. They have a superb client which allows you to do many advanced features to provide even more security, have plenty  and servers around the globe and allow a whopping 5 simultaneous connections.

On the whole there is very little to quibble about with the VPN Area service and just like the companies above, they are a worthy contender as a secure VPN.

» Visit VPNArea


Important Security Considerations when choosing a secure VPN provider

Location

One of the most shocking things to discover when researching VPNs is how many are located in countries that legally oblige them to be fundamentally insecure when it comes to customers’ data, and which makes the notion that they are providing any form of real privacy frankly laughable.

The United States, although it has no mandatory data retention laws, suffers from an incredibly belligerent and powerful anti-piracy lobby, to the extent that most US VPN providers keep usage logs, which they will quite happily turn over to copyright enforcement lawyers at the drop of a hat. On top of this, of course, there is the blanket spying undertaken by the NSA, he scope which is frankly staggering, and beggar’s disbelief. It is safe to say, we feel, that no US VPN service can be considered secure when it comes to the NSA.

While the EU used to have the Data Retention Directive, as of April 2014 it was deemed invalid by top EU courts. This has lead to some countries implementing extra ‘privacy protecting’ security measures – or, to put it bluntly, a legal way for secret services to track its residents.

Keeping logs

The most vital shield a VPN provider has for securely maintaining their customers’ privacy is a commitment to keeping no logs. As we noted above, there are only a limited number of countries where it is legally possible for a provider to do this, and many providers, even when not forced to do so by law (such as most US providers) keep logs anyway.

Despite many providers’ assurances that they will resist attempts to force them to hand logs over to the authorities if logs exist then they can be handed over. It is only by having no logs to hand over, that a VPN company can genuinely assure its customers that they never will be.

One thing to be careful of is that many VPN providers claim to keep no logs on the basis that they keep no usage logs (also known as traffic logs), and, therefore, keep no logs of what you get up to on the internet. They do however often keep records such as account details and connection logs (recording things such as the time when you connect and disconnect, IP address connected from and suchlike.). These are usually kept ‘for troubleshooting purposes’, but can still amount to quite a lot of potentially damaging metadata in the wrong hands.

Bitcoins

A very good indicator of a VPN provider’s commitment to privacy is whether they accept payment in Bitcoins. If they do, then it means that they are willing to accept anonymous payment. Although they can still trace you through your IP address, this means one less important way of identifying you. Even if you are not concerned with paying anonymously, it is a hallmark of a good VPN provider that it accepts Bitcoin payments.

Encryption

In addition to policies designed to ensure the security of customers’ privacy, at the heart of VPN lays encryption. It has only recently come to light the extent to which the NSA has worked to weaken and subvert international encryption standards, and no-one really knows what the NSA is capable of decrypting. What is known is that the NSA has made great strides in cracking commonly used VPN encryption protocols such as PPTP and L2TP.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, however, OpenVPN remains a secure protocol, although anyone serious about security will now likely want to see it beefed up to at least a 256-bit cipher. While it is possible that the NSA may be able to break even such strong encryption, to do so would almost certainly be a time consuming and arduous task for them, and therefore it is unlikely to be problem unless you are specifically targeted by the NSA (and even then it will generally be easier to co-opt your VPN company, or perform a man-in-the-middle style attack on your communications…)

Therefore, what we look for in a secure VPN is strong 256-bit OpenVPN encryption. By far the most popular cypher among security conscious VPNs (and is used by all services recommended here) is Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Generally considered highly secure, it is the cypher used by the US government for ‘sensitive’ data, and has consequently enjoyed a good reputation, although this has been somewhat tarnished of late thanks to the NSA scandal. As a result of this, there has been much talk of moving away from any cyphers associated with NIST, the US government, or the US at all, but despite a great deal of talk, we have yet to see much in the way of concrete action in this regard.

VPN client

Some VPN providers supply excellent custom VPN clients that add all sorts of funky features, such as internet kill switches, DNS leak protection, port forwarding and server load information. These features are great, and generally help to impress us with a service, but if NSA tampering worries you then you should try to stick with free open source software (FOSS) that can be independently peer-reviewed and audited for malicious code (such as the regular vanilla OpenVPN client), rather than any kind of closed proprietary software.

Shared IP addresses

Any secure VPN company worth its salt should use shared IP’s, where many customers access the internet using the same shared IP address. While not 100% foolproof, this makes identifying an individual extremely difficult. All the recommended providers above make use of shared IPs.

Secure VPN Conclusion

Given the large number of VPN providers around, it can be somewhat disconcerting to find how many do not take security seriously. All those above do, with AirVPN (closely followed by Perfect Privacy) clearly deserving top place.

And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Rank Provider Starting
Price
Review Link

1

logo $7.77/mo Read Review Visit Site

2

Perfect Privacy Logo $18.32/mo Read Review Visit Site

3

Viking VPN Logo $14.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

4

Private Internet Access Logo $6.95/mo Read Review Visit Site

5

logo $9.90/mo Read Review Visit Site

The original article was written by Douglas Crawford of BestVPN.



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Written by Peter Selmeczy
I am an engineer by trade and tech geek by night, who's passionate about sharing his knowledge with the people. Find me on Google+.

2 Responses to “5 Most Secure VPNs”

  1. john haken says:

    I have noticed that cryptostorm.is is never mentioned. It has first rate security, they accept bit-coin and several others as well, they do not limit you to either DD-WRT or windows, mac, Linux, – they will help you set up your router if it is capable of the vpn set-up. I think this vpn should be added to the top 5.

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