With the changes in the way we use the internet or even the laws against accessing numerous websites or apps, most internet users have now turned to using the best VPN services to get them across all these restrictions.
Before you dive straight into whether a VPN is actually secure, you need to first understand how it works, why people use one, and what features make a VPN secure. First, we’ll begin with:
What is a VPN?
A VPN or a Virtual Private Network, is a software designed to protect your device and data, give you to reach across the borders virtually, grant you the freedom and liberty to surf the internet safely, protect your online identity, and offer new IP addresses to shield your physical ones.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN as mentioned above is designed to protect your time on the internet. It revolves around virtually providing you with an entire new identity. This is mostly required if you’re living within countries that have the strictest laws.
For instance, online censorship runs extremely high in China and Russia. This is carried on to the extent that communication platforms like WhatsApp and Skype are blocked. This is mostly the case because platforms like WhatsApp and Skype offer end-to-end encryption.
Using the best VPN, you’ll be able to access most of these platforms in extremely geo-blocked areas. A VPN is designed to encrypt your connection, creating a safe passageway from your device to the internet, from anywhere in the world.
Here’s how it works: all the data you enter, is transferred to a VPN server, encrypts your data and sends it out to the internet. In laymen’s terms students gives their exams, their test scores are secured, and then transferred to bigger authorities for evaluation.
Is a VPN as secure as we think?
A VPN might have the best features and offer exceptional performance, but how well do we know it? Is it as secure as we think? Could a VPN be susceptible to cyberattacks?
Most VPN services in the market aren’t up to the mark where security protection is concerned. You might find some that claim they have the best features but are nothing in comparison. If you land up with the wrong VPN, you might be looking at a couple more issues besides what’s already in view.
For instance, VPN services with weak protocols, encryption, blacklisted or breached servers, and more are what all could cause serious online issues.
The solution is simple, make sure you only invest in the best and most affordable providers in the market. They need to come with top of the line features, have to offer a free trial for testing purposes, and produce clear results in the majority of user reviews. Choosing a secure and reliable provider isn’t an easy task. So, if you look below, you’ll be able to see how a great VPN is chosen.
How to choose the safest VPN services
There are many VPN providers in the industry and choosing one is no easy task. You’ll probably be enticed with providers that offer the flashiest features and promise this or that end results.
However, the thing is, all VPN providers follow the same tactics, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to tell them apart. So, here’s what to look for to ensure the safest VPN services:
Choosing the best VPN is far different from choosing a safe one. There are certain factors like a safe jurisdiction that you need to single out. The location or origin of the VPN can also show you how safe the provider is.
Most people use a VPN to get away from surveillance laws or prying ISP eyes. So, what happens when the VPN you choose is also logging your data and invading your online privacy just because the laws of State demand it? It goes against the VPN no-logging policy. There are certain providers you need to look into that are located within the 14-eyes regions.
On the other hand there are locations like the United States that are located within these regions but observe strict no logging policies.
The provider you choose has to have a strict no-data retention policy. However, just because a VPN advertises a bold sign that says “No-logging” doesn’t mean you need to immediately take its word for it. In most cases you’ll find providers that say they don’t store logs and at the same time do. Always make sure to run a thorough background check of the kind of information a provider logs. Yes, it’s tedious, but this for those who’ prime focus is complete online privacy.
Encryption protocols and other advanced features
Now, here’s one of the main aspects of a VPN that add to its complete safety and security. The features that a VPN comes with should be free from fault. It should encompass a plethora of advanced features like AES 256-bit encryption, and offer OpenVPN, IKEv2 or WireGuard protocols to choose from. Other advanced features include a Kill Switch, ad-blocker, malware protector, Split-Tunneling, obfuscated technologies and much more.
A part of the security front includes DNS and IPv6 leak protection. Either the VPN app needs to come with in-built leak protection, or produce clear results when tested. To make sure your data, location and physical identity isn’t exposed, the VPN need to produce leak free results when tested.
VPN providers should offer multi-factor authentication means. This is in case an unknown visitor tries to hack and use your VPN account, under your name.
What other features to look for
Apart from the security aspect, there are other VPN features that help build a versatile app. Here’s what else to look for:
- Ability to unblock numerous websites and apps from anywhere in the world.
- Produce great speeds.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Wide server coverage
- Compatibility with multiple devices
- User-friendly apps.
- Free trials and refund policies
- P2P support
- 24/7 help chat
Why do people use VPN services?
The fact that people look for safe and secure VPN’s says a lot about what they require them for. There are many reasons as to why most internet users may need one, so take a look below at the most common ones:
- To dodge internet surveillance bodies like the government or your ISP.
- Gain access to the US Netflix library from anywhere in the world. It’s also to access local content while travelling abroad.
- To make speeds consistent, and stabilize bandwidth, which is mostly toggled with by your ISP.
- To secure multiple devices and data at once, especially where business is concerned.
- It secures shady or unknown WiFi sources
- To shield your actual location providing you with a new IP address.
Are VPN services legal?
A part of whether using a VPN is safe or secure is also knowing whether they’re legal. So yes, a VPN is legal but not everywhere. There are certain regions where online surveillance may prevail, but using a VPN to get past these issues is legal.
Whereas, there are countries where there is online freedom, but using a VPN to access certain services are prohibited.
On the other hand, there are countries where VPN services are completely against the law, regions within China, Russia, UAE, Iraq, North Korea etc.
Additionally, there are websites or services like Netflix, where its content is only aired within the USA and its territories. Using a VPN to access it is a breach to the terms. Most torrenting platforms are built from copyrighted material, and using a VPN to access it is considered illegal.
This is why choosing the safest VPN should be your number one priority, instead of depending on cheaper or free alternatives.
Speaking of free alternatives…
Are free VPN services secure compared to premium providers?
Yes, and no.
Using a free VPN service isn’t completely recommended. Most free services usually store data, steal or sell them to third parties for a quick buck. Also, the security infrastructure is weak, encryption is bare-minimum, speeds are slow, bandwidth limited, servers restricted, and the list goes on.
However, you can’t really tell if free VPN services trump premium providers in terms of how secure they are. There are many premium providers, and as mentioned above offer nothing compared to what they sell. So if you have to weigh the security of a premium vs. free VPN, the answer is still uncertain.
This is because there are certain free VPNs that offer better services than most premium providers. So to tell them apart, you need to dig deep within their policies and where they stand on the security front.
Coming towards the end, it is a little clearer as to why people need VPN services and how choosing one that delivers the best in overall performance also largely depends on the security and safety it can provide. However, even though a VPN software is designed to jet you across certain barriers, doesn’t mean that they’re completely safe. Never depend entirely on a VPN, there’s only so much it can do. With that being said, always use a VPN wisely.
Jade Nazareth is a writer at topvpnservice. She takes a keen interest in writing how-to guides and awareness blogs related to cybersecurity measures and software. To instill a little cyber-knowledge in her readers using layman’s terms is what she aims to do.