10 Best Security and Privacy Focused VPNs in 2024

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Patrick_Yu
edited May 12 in PC Tech

In today's digital age, prioritizing security and privacy while browsing online has never been more critical. With cyber threats and surveillance on the rise, employing a robust virtual private network (VPN) can safeguard your data from prying eyes. As 2024 unfolds, a plethora of VPN options are available, each promising top-notch security and user anonymity. However, selecting a VPN that truly prioritizes these elements can be daunting. In this article, we explore the 10 best security and privacy-focused VPNs of 2024, providing a detailed overview of their standout features, from strong encryption protocols and no-logs policies to innovative features like kill switches and secure core servers. Whether you're a privacy advocate, a frequent traveler, or someone who enjoys streaming content securely, these VPNs offer the tools needed to maintain your digital privacy effectively.

1. Proton VPN

Proton VPN is highly regarded for its strong focus on security and privacy, making it a deserving candidate for inclusion in any list of the best security and privacy-focused VPNs of 2024. It boasts 256-bit AES encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and features such as a kill switch, perfect forward secrecy, and full-disk encryption. These measures ensure that user data remains protected even in the event of a server compromise. Additionally, Proton VPN's apps are open-source and have been independently audited, offering transparency and trust in their security practices. The VPN service supports up to 10 simultaneous connections and offers specialized servers for torrenting, streaming, and secure browsing with Tor over VPN. 

Proton VPN’s performance is enhanced by its VPN Accelerator technology, which significantly boosts speeds, particularly when connected to distant servers. This feature, along with a robust server architecture that includes Secure Core servers for additional privacy and double VPN routing, underscores its commitment to security and user anonymity. Proton VPN is headquartered in Switzerland, a country known for its stringent data privacy laws, which further complements its privacy credentials. Despite limitations in highly restrictive countries and slower response times in customer service, Proton VPN’s comprehensive security features, effective ad and tracker blocking capabilities, and a transparent privacy policy justify its position among the top VPNs focused on security and privacy in 2024.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is recognized for its comprehensive security features, making it a strong contender for inclusion in any list of top VPNs. It offers 256-bit AES encryption, a strict no-logs policy, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy, ensuring that each VPN session's keys are unique and secure. Additionally, NordVPN includes a suite of advanced features like Threat Protection which blocks ads, trackers, and malicious sites, and Meshnet, which allows for creating a private network of up to 60 devices globally. These features are critical for anyone seeking robust security and online privacy. 

Moreover, NordVPN maintains high performance across its extensive network of over 6,266 servers in 59 countries, facilitating fast connections suitable for streaming, torrenting, and gaming. It supports multiple platforms with user-friendly applications and provides additional safety features like Dark Web Monitoring and Onion Over VPN. These functionalities enhance user security by scanning the dark web for leaked credentials and allowing secure and anonymous browsing. Despite some limitations in very restrictive countries and a lack of P2P support on all servers, NordVPN’s strong security measures, significant server diversity, and competitive pricing structure solidify its standing as a top VPN choice in 2024.

3. MullVad VPN

Mullvad VPN is well-regarded for its robust security measures and commitment to privacy. It utilizes 256-bit AES encryption, offers a kill switch, supports secure protocols, and maintains a strict no-logs policy. Notably, all of its applications are open-source, enhancing transparency and trust. Mullvad's approach to privacy is further exemplified by its unique account system that requires minimal personal information and offers the option for users to pay anonymously with cash. 

Mullvad also stands out with features like perfect forward secrecy, which changes the encryption key for each session, split-tunneling, ad blocking, and multihop connections that add an extra layer of encryption. These features underscore its emphasis on security and user privacy. Mullvad excels in settings where VPN usage is restricted, as it effectively operates in countries like China and Iran. However, it is not as well-suited for users primarily interested in streaming, as it struggles with platforms like Amazon Prime and other popular services. Additionally, the lack of WebRTC leak protection and live chat support could detract from the user experience for some. Despite these minor drawbacks, Mullvad VPN's commitment to privacy and security, along with its straightforward pricing model, make it a commendable choice for security-conscious users. 

4. IPVanish

 

IPVanish offers robust security features and flexibility, making it a strong contender in the VPN market, especially for users interested in torrenting and those with many devices. It allows unlimited simultaneous connections and supports P2P traffic across all its 2,200+ servers. IPVanish is noted for its generally fast connection speeds, which decrease by about 33% on average, making it quite efficient compared to many other VPNs. 

This service includes perfect forward secrecy, split-tunneling, Tor support, and antivirus protection on its yearly plans. However, it has some limitations, such as the lack of DNS leak protection across all platforms (available only on Windows), no WebRTC protection, and the inability to operate in highly restrictive countries like China. Also, the absence of confirmation about the use of RAM-only servers, which ensures no information is stored long-term, might be concerning for privacy-focused users. 

IPVanish offers competitive pricing with its subscription plans and includes a 7-day free trial for mobile apps on yearly subscriptions. Its service is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, making it a risk-free investment for new users. Overall, while IPVanish boasts numerous features and supports a wide array of devices, its limitations in leak protection and operation in restrictive regions could be a drawback for some users.

5. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN stands out for its intuitive interface, extensive server network with 11,528 servers in 100 countries, and robust security features. It’s particularly noted for its performance in streaming, offering dedicated servers optimized for over 50 streaming apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. This makes it a top choice for users looking to access a broad range of content across different platforms. 

On the security front, CyberGhost employs 256-bit AES encryption, offers RAM-only servers which enhance data privacy by wiping all data upon reboot, and features a strict no-logs policy that has been independently audited. Additional features like Perfect Forward Secrecy, NoSpy servers, and dedicated IP options further enhance user privacy and security. 

However, CyberGhost is not without its limitations. It struggles in restrictive countries and its ad blocker does not block all ads. Also, the lack of WebRTC protection and split-tunneling support for Mac could deter some users. 

Despite these drawbacks, CyberGhost remains competitive with its pricing, particularly for long-term plans which include generous money-back guarantees. Its easy-to-use interface across various devices makes it accessible for both beginners and advanced users, making it a solid choice for a wide range of VPN needs in 2024.

6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is recognized for its speed, user-friendliness, and robust security features. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections and fully open-source apps, enhancing transparency and trustworthiness. PIA's no-logs policy has been both independently audited and validated in court, reinforcing its commitment to user privacy. 

Key features include split-tunneling, allowing users to select which apps bypass the VPN; a powerful ad blocker called PIA MACE; and obfuscation to mask VPN traffic as regular traffic. Security is further bolstered by RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy. Additionally, PIA supports full leak protection and offers dedicated IP addresses. 

PIA excels in streaming and gaming, compatible with over 30 streaming platforms including multiple Netflix libraries. Its global server spread and stable connections also make it optimal for gaming, providing protection against DDoS attacks. 

For torrenting, PIA allows P2P traffic across all servers and supports port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxy, enhancing download speeds. 

Despite its numerous advantages, PIA's customer support, particularly via live chat, has room for improvement in terms of agent knowledge and responsiveness. 

Overall, PIA's comprehensive features, coupled with competitive pricing and a 30-day money-back guarantee, make it an attractive VPN choice, especially for users who value privacy, streaming flexibility, and extensive device support.

7. IVPN

IVPN is known for its strong privacy and security features, providing fast speeds and ease of use. It offers essential VPN security tools such as a kill switch, 256-bit AES encryption, and a no-logs policy that has been independently audited. 

Key features of IVPN include split-tunneling, an ad blocker, multi-hop connections, and perfect forward secrecy. Despite these strong points, IVPN falls short in areas such as streaming compatibility with popular services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime, and its effectiveness in restrictive countries. 

IVPN allows up to 7 simultaneous connections and offers a two-tier subscription model with weekly, monthly, and yearly plans, backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, it's considered pricey compared to competitors. 

Overall, while IVPN excels in security and privacy, its inability to consistently work with major streaming sites and in restrictive environments, coupled with its high cost, limits its appeal compared to other VPNs. 

8. Surfshark

Surfshark offers good security, fast speeds, and allows unlimited connections, making it suitable for large families. The VPN service has user-friendly apps for all major platforms, which is beneficial for those new to VPNs. 

Surfshark works with popular streaming sites such as Netflix and Max and supports torrenting on all its servers. Additionally, it boasts a network of over 3,200 servers across 100 countries, allowing users to connect to nearby servers for optimal speed. 

Beyond standard security features, Surfshark includes several unique tools: Bypasser, which allows specific sites and apps to bypass the VPN; CleanWeb, which blocks ads and malicious sites; Dynamic MultiHop, which routes data through two VPN servers for enhanced security; IP Rotator, which regularly changes the VPN IP address without disconnecting; Smart DNS for streaming on devices that do not support VPNs natively; and a built-in speed test to evaluate server speeds. 

Despite its strengths, Surfshark has some drawbacks, including slow speeds on distant servers and an inaccurate built-in speed test. It also lacks WebRTC and IPv6 leak protection and may not consistently work in restrictive countries like China. 

Surfshark offers competitively priced plans starting at $1.99 per month (on the 24 month plan), often with additional free months. Plans are available for 12 and 24 months, each backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. This makes Surfshark a strong contender in the VPN market, especially in 2024.

9. Windscribe

Windscribe VPN is notable for its solid security features, straightforward interface, and flexibility, making it a valid option for top security and privacy-focused VPN lists in 2024. It ensures robust data protection with 256-bit AES encryption, full leak protection, and a firewall that functions as a kill switch. These security measures are effectively implemented across various platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. Windscribe also allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, which is particularly valuable for users with multiple devices. 

Moreover, Windscribe enhances its service with features like ad blocking, malware protection, split-tunneling, port forwarding, and a double hop option, which improve both security and usability. With servers in 62 countries, it offers good coverage and speed for most users. However, it does face some limitations, such as the absence of an independent audit for its no-logs policy, the limitation of the firewall feature to desktop platforms, and a brief 3-day money-back guarantee, which places it behind leading competitors like ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access. Despite these issues, Windscribe’s inclusive free plan and the flexibility offered by its customizable payment options, including a unique build-your-own plan, render it an attractive choice for users seeking a versatile and secure VPN solution.

10. TunnelBear

TunnelBear VPN is known for its strong security features, user-friendly apps decorated with playful bear animations, and impressive speeds that ensure smooth browsing, streaming, and gaming experiences. It supports unlimited device connections and works effectively with major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu, and operates reliably even in internet-restricted countries like China and Iran. 

TunnelBear includes essential VPN security features such as 256-bit AES encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and a kill switch. Additional features include split-tunneling, full leak protection, and obfuscation, enhancing user privacy and security while online. 

Despite its strengths, TunnelBear has some limitations. It does not support streaming on Disney+, lacks 24/7 live chat support, and does not offer a money-back guarantee. TunnelBear provides a variety of payment plans that are affordable, including a free plan for basic testing, and a comprehensive plan for businesses. 

Overall, TunnelBear ranks highly among VPN services, offering a blend of security, ease of use, and speed. It maintains transparency with annual independent security audits and provides detailed, easy-to-understand privacy policies, making it a reliable choice for users from beginners to tech-savvy individuals looking for a straightforward VPN solution.

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Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.

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