Best VPNs for Improving Your Security
According to Pew Research Center, 70% of American Internet users are not sure what a VPN does or why it’s important. But with a new cyberattack taking place somewhere on the web every 39 seconds, it’s time for web-surfers to get more VPN savvy.
What is a VPN? What do they do? And what are your best options for improving your security? Let’s take a look.
What Is a VPN?
VPN stands for virtual private network. With a VPN, you can establish a protected network connection—even when you’re using public networks.
People use VPNs in order to gain more online privacy and anonymity.
What Does a VPN Do?
A VPN creates a private network from a public Internet connection. It then hides your Internet protocol (IP) address by letting the network redirect it through a remote server that’s run by the VPN host. This way, when you browse the Internet with a VPN, the remote VPN server becomes the source of your data.
The result? Your online actions are effectively untraceable, so neither your Internet service provider (ISP) nor third parties can see which websites you visit or what data you send and receive online.
Overall, there are four things VPNs do to help Internet users: encrypt; disguise; secure; cloak.
VPNs encrypt your Internet traffic in real time. This makes it more difficult for third parties to track your online activity or steal your data.
VPNs disguise your online identity. By encrypting your data, VPNs effectively protect it from being accessed by external parties. If left unencrypted, your data is available for viewing by anyone who gains network access.
VPNs secure data transfers. This is especially important in the age of working remotely. For example, if you work at home and need to access sensitive files from your company’s network, it’s best to use a VPN to do so. A VPN will allow you to connect to your company’s private server using strong encryption methods so you can securely and confidently transfer the data you need.
VPNs cloak your geographic location. Not all online content is accessible everywhere in the world. With a standard network connection, you rely on local servers, which determine your geographic location. This means you can’t access certain content from your home country while you’re traveling and you can’t access foreign online content while you’re in your home country.
A VPN allows you to circumvent this issue. Because you can switch to a server in another country, you can clock your real geographic location.
Best VPNs for Privacy
With the ability to encrypt your data, disguise your identity, secure your data transfers, and cloak your geographic location, VPNs can do a lot to improve your security online.
If you’re seeking more security online, these are your best VPNs for privacy:
NordVPN is a great VPN for those seeking top-tier privacy at a low cost. A truly global VPN server network, NordVPN allows you to choose among more than 5,400 ultra-fast VPN servers in 59 different countries so you can take advantage of a stable connection, pretty much wherever you are. With connection speeds of 6730+ Mbps, NordVPN is one of the fastest and most secure VPN options available.
Besides speed and availability, NordVPN also offers a host of security features, such as a dark web monitoring tool and DNS leak protection.
You can sign up for NordVPN via a two-year plan, a one-year plan, or even a monthly plan.
For more VPN alternatives, some users turn to Surfshark. More affordable than NordVPN, Surfshark still offers robust security measures for those seeking greater privacy on the web, e.g., DNS leak protection and encryption.
Surfshark also offers a unique CleanWeb feature that blocks malicious ads and malicious websites. With CleanWeb, you’ll see fewer ads in your browser and fewer trackers will be able to keep tabs on you.
Like NordVPN, SurfShark offers plans for two years, one year, or on a month-to-month basis.
While a bit pricier than other VPN options, ExpressVPN is often considered the best VPN for privacy.
What makes ExpressVPN stand out as a secure VPN? ExpressVPN guarantees a no-logs policy, which means that they won’t collect, store, or share your activity logs. Some users also like the fact that ExpressVPN’s headquarters are in the British Virgin Islands, where there are no data retention laws.
ExpressVPN also stands out from other options because it uses RAM-only servers. With these servers, all of your browsing data and configuration files are completely wiped every time you reboot.
ExpressVPN offers plans for one month, six months, or 12 months—each backed with a 100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days of service.
Aptly named, StrongVPN calls itself “the strongest VPN in the industry.” Like other VPNs on the market, it promises to protect your devices and private data with end-to-end encryption, masking your location so you can safely browse when you connect to one of their 950+ servers across 30+ countries.
Included with StrongVPN is WireGuard, a state-of-the-art VPN protocol that delivers top speeds, robust security, and reliable performance. You can access StrongVPN across all of your devices, with user-friendly apps for iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Amazon Fire TV, and more.
It’s worth noting, however, that StrongVPN has the fewest subscription options, only offering a monthly plan and a one-year plan.
Finally, CyberGhost is one of the more user-friendly options when it comes to secure VPNs. It only takes one click to connect to any of CyberGhost’s 8,993+ VPN servers—either by choosing your own server or using their Best Server Location feature. 24/7 customer support is another perk that makes this VPN a good option for newbies who may have extra questions.
CyberGhost also prides itself on being headquartered in Bucharest, Romania, where privacy-friendly laws prevent intrusion from government authorities or unauthorized individuals.
CyberGhost’s monthly plan is a bit more expensive than the other options. But it’s also available via one-year, two-year, and three-year plans—all of which include 45-day money-back guarantees.
Because we use it so frequently, it’s easy to forget about all the security dangers lurking on the World Wide Web. But you can start protecting yourself and your data today with a VPN.
About Dan VanPatten: Dan is a full-time technology writer with interests in gaming, gadgetry, and all things PC tech related. He writes about a variety of topics including technology news, product reviews, and software. His experience stems from years of experience writing & producing content for technology newsletters & publications.