Most secure VPN providers in 2022

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: June 2, 2022
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People who know about VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) use them in various scenarios. The most obvious use case is to change your virtual location and access geographically restricted content. Others need one to hide their identity and online activities from unwanted attention.

Whatever your reason is for getting a virtual private network, you’ll experience the best results by using one of the most secure VPN services. They have solid fundamentals and bonus features for keeping customers protected in the ever-changing cyber threat landscape.

Learn more about these cybersecurity essentials and pick the most secure VPN for browsing, streaming, or torrenting.

5 most secure VPNs: shortlist

  1. The most secure VPN service
    9.7
  2. Secure VPN with exceptional features
    9.3
  3. Security-focused VPN with a free plan
    9.0
  4. Secure VPN with quantum-resistant encryption
    8.8
  5. Budget-friendly secure VPN with free version
    8.6

What features are crucial for a secure VPN?

Let’s briefly cover the essential features needed in any worthwhile virtual private network. You can learn more about the fundamentals by reading our extensive guide about the basics of a VPN.

  • Unbreakable encryption. The first step a VPN takes when protecting your data is encrypting it, ideally with reliable 256-bit ciphers. That way, your online activities are unreadable to everyone, including your internet service provider and the VPN service itself.
  • Absence of DNS and IP leaks. Once you’ve changed your location with a VPN, your true whereabouts should remain unexposed. This is ensured with DNS leak protection, preventing your IP address from seeing the light of day.
  • VPN kill switch. A virtual private network app needs a kill switch for the off-chance the VPN connection drops unexpectedly. Then the internet connection will be severed, ensuring that you don’t reconnect to any service without the VPN enabled.
  • Secure tunneling protocols. Internet data travels in packets. This data can be delivered using various data transfer protocols, such as IP, HTTPS, SSL, etc. With VPNs, it’s vital to strike a balance between security and speed. Nowadays, WireGuard is the ideal VPN tunneling protocol.
  • Apps for the most widely-used devices. Practically all internet-connected devices are vulnerable to hackers. Therefore, your VPN service should have the means of securing your entire household. It can do this with easy-to-use apps or by giving the option to configure your router manually for full network protection.
  • No activity logs. A VPN has the potential to collect exorbitant amounts of data about its users. You can be certain that isn’t happening if the provider adhered to a zero-logs policy and conducted third-party audits of its infrastructure.

Why you need to use a secure VPN

You may think you don’t need a secure VPN because no one is out to get you. However, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry and secure your data ASAP. After all, buying a VPN after getting your data leaked is too little too late.

Checking for leaks when connected to NordVPN

Using the best available VPNs ensures airtight protection against an unfathomable amount of online dangers and nuisances. For example, here are some of the benefits you can reap while using a virtual private network:

Of course, not every service can do everything, though some are pretty close. That’s why we’ve selected multiple VPN options for you to consider.

Most secure VPN services: overview

  1. NordVPN – the most secure VPN service
  2. Surfshark VPN – secure VPN with exceptional features
  3. Proton VPN – Security-focused VPN with a free plan
  4. PureVPN – secure VPN with quantum-resistant encryption
  5. Atlas VPN – budget-friendly secure VPN with free version
  6. Mullvad – exceptional privacy with one-of-a-kind features
  7. IPVanish – VPN for protecting unlimited devices
  8. VyprVPN – reliable Swiss-based VPN provider
  9. PrivateVPN – low-cost and efficient VPN
  10. Hide Me VPN – well-rounded secure VPN

The most secure VPN providers include all the necessary features we’ve outlined earlier. With that covered, it’s time for you to learn more about the viable options and choose one that’s suitable for your intended use cases.

1. NordVPN – the most secure VPN service

9.7
Top VPN provider
Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
60
Number of servers
Number of servers:
5500
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, Email
  • Threat Protection for curbing viruses
  • Independently audited no-logs policy
  • Obfuscated servers against censorship
  • No router app

NordVPN is the most secure VPN currently available on the market. Its jurisdiction is in privacy-respecting Panama, it passed multiple independent audits of its no-logs policy, and it’s loaded with excellent features. Try it by claiming the 7-day NordVPN trial on the Google Play Store.

This VPN facilitates high-speed connections on its 5500+ server network across 60+ countries. Users can enable the exceptional NordLynx tunneling protocol, an improved version of the existing WireGuard formula. Meanwhile, OpenVPN and IKEv2 are available as backup alternatives.

With Threat Protection, NordVPN users can enjoy peace of mind from ads, online trackers, dangerous websites, and malicious files. Meanwhile, Dark Web Monitor ensures your data isn’t floating around on shady marketplaces in the internet’s underbelly. Plus, you can enable obfuscated servers for dealing with network restrictions, censorship, and online surveillance.

Unlock these features and much more by using a NordVPN coupon for access to $3.29/month pricing plans. Best of all, you can enjoy an anonymous transaction by paying with cryptocurrencies or using cash at a retail store. Lastly, you won’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark VPN – secure VPN with exceptional features

9.3
Top VPN provider
Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
95
Number of servers
Number of servers:
3200
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, FAQ
  • Unlimited connections
  • Uses Software Defined Networking
  • Loads of features at a low price
  • Unaudited no-logs policy

Surfshark VPN offers a mind-blowing price-to-feature ratio, unlimited device connections with one account, and excellent privacy. Give it a shot through the Surfshark free trial on either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Although based in the Netherlands, Surfshark ensures absolute confidentiality with its no-logs policy and RAM-only server technology, preventing long-term data storage on hard drives. This benefit is present in the entire 3200+ server network spread across 95+ countries. Furthermore, blazing-fast and reliable connections are conducted with the modern WireGuard protocol.

Customers can feast their eyes on the internet free from ads, trackers, and malware using the CleanWeb feature. On the other hand, NoBorders and Camouflage modes are available for lifting censorship and seeing what your oppressive government is trying to hide. If that’s not enough, you can unlock Surfshark One for protection against viruses, unbiased search results, and online identity security.

Snag a Surfshark VPN coupon and subscribe for only $2.30/month. Pay using conventional methods like credit cards and PayPal, or maximize anonymity using cryptocurrencies. And keep in mind that the 30-day money-back guarantee does not apply when using crypto.

For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.

3. Proton VPN – security-focused VPN with a free plan

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
63
Number of servers
Number of servers:
1700
Support
Support:
Email, knowledge base
  • Most secure free plan
  • Swiss-based and audited by third parties
  • Fast connectivity over long distances
  • Best plan is quite expensive

No secure VPN list is complete without Proton VPN. Hailing from Switzerland, this provider has an exceptionally reliable free plan and loads of stellar features with the premium version.

Proton VPN runs a fleet of 1700+ servers in 63+ countries worldwide. Customers can route their connection through multiple Secure Core servers, which reside in hardened data centers across Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Additionally, NetShield provides DNS filtering for defending against malware, ads, and trackers. Meanwhile, the unique VPN Accelerator feature enhances connection speeds by up to 400% by eliminating various inefficiencies.

Unlike most commercial VPNs, Proton VPN apps are open-source and completely exposed to public scrutiny. Luckily, manually sifting through the code won’t be necessary since SEC Consult independently audited the no-logs policy of this service, and the results are available to everyone.

Secure up to 10 different devices simultaneously using a premium account. You can use a Proton VPN coupon code and unlock affordable $4.99/month pricing. Alternatively, begin your quest for online protection with the free plan.

For a deeper investigation of Proton VPN, read our Proton VPN review.

4. PureVPN – secure VPN with quantum-resistant encryption

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
70
Number of servers
Number of servers:
6500
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
  • Future-proofed against quantum cyberattacks
  • Independently-audited no-logs policy
  • Extensive server network
  • Additional features are price-locked

Concerned about quantum computers making conventional encryption obsolete? Get PureVPN and enjoy future-proof security with quantum-resistant encryption keys at an affordable price.

PureVPN boasts a massive network of 6500+ servers across 70+ countries. The fleet is powered by 20 Gbps bandwidth hardware for wicked speeds. Plus, connectivity remains unwavering thanks to the presence of WireGuard.

Besides the default benefits, customers can enhance their PureVPN subscription with bonus features. For instance, you can pick an exclusive dedicated IP from 7 countries (Canada, USA, UK, Germany, Malta, Singapore, Australia). Additionally, port forwarding is available for upgrading your P2P connection performance. Meanwhile, gamers will benefit from DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) protection.

Use a PureVPN coupon code and unlock $1.99/month starting subscription plans. Or just dip your toes by sparing $0.99 for the 7-day trial version. Either way, don’t hesitate since a 31-day money-back guarantee covers you.

For a deeper investigation of PureVPN, read our PureVPN review.

5. Atlas VPN – budget-friendly secure VPN with free version

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
37
Number of servers
Number of servers:
750
Support
Support:
Email, tickets, FAQ
  • Excellent free version
  • Unlimited device connections
  • Solid features at an affordable price
  • No router configuration

Frugal security enthusiasts can get the most bang for their buck with Atlas VPN. It’s equipped with an impressive stack of unique features and is useful in various scenarios.

For starters, Atlas VPN commands 750+ servers in 37+ countries. Besides standard locations, the servers are split into Streaming and Privacy Pro categories. The former works great for unblocking geo-restricted entertainment, whereas the latter includes SafeSwap and Multihop+. The first feature alternates your IP address seamlessly, while the second connects you through multiple servers in different countries.

Although Atlas is strong enough to hold the globe, Atlas VPN is fast enough for lag-free and secure web browsing with WireGuard. Plus, you can get around potential privacy hurdles thanks to Tracker Blocker. Moreover, personal data integrity is kept in check with Data Breach Monitoring.

Get a taste of this service by trying out the free version. If you need more than that, an Atlas VPN deal grants access to $1.99/month pricing plans. Best of all, confidentiality is guaranteed when paying using cryptocurrencies. And don’t forget about the generous 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.

6. Mullvad – exceptional privacy with one-of-a-kind features

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
36
Number of servers
Number of servers:
750
Support
Support:
Email
  • Unrivaled anonymity
  • Fast and secure
  • Open source
  • No discounted subscriptions

Users seeking next-level privacy should look no further than Mullvad VPN. This provider is frequently an early adopter of modern VPN technologies that the industry embraces later. For example, Mullvad funded WireGuard in its early stages and implemented it without hesitation.

Based in Sweden, this VPN runs a transparent operation with 750+ servers across 36+ countries. Users can check the status of the network on the providers’ website and see which servers are online, rented, or owned by Mullvad. Plus, the infrastructure is frequently audited to ensure top-notch security.

Mullvad sets itself apart with its fully anonymous account registration. There’s no need to use an email address and payment methods include cash for zero opportunities to trace customers. Furthermore, bonus features include multihop servers, port forwarding, ad blocking, and split tunneling.

The provider is a black sheep in the industry with static and discount-free $5.40/month pricing. Of course, you can just sign up for one month and make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee if Mullvad isn’t the right fit for you.

For a deeper investigation of Mullvad VPN, read our Mullvad VPN review.

7. IPVanish – VPN for protecting unlimited devices

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
50
Number of servers
Number of servers:
2000
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat, email, knowledge base
  • Includes antivirus protection
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Independently audited no-logs policy
  • No anonymous payment options

Digital security involves patching up all potential attack vectors. With IPVanish, you can do just that thanks to its limitless simultaneous connections, excellent device compatibility, and reliable connections.

IPVanish runs an impressive fleet of 2000+ dedicated servers across 50+ countries. The provider operates the server network without third parties, ensuring zero interference from unwanted interlopers. Plus, virtual servers are unheard of and connections are facilitated with WireGuard.

In terms of security, IPVanish provides every new subscriber with VIPRE Antivirus software for keeping their devices protected. Furthermore, the infrastructure and no-logs policy of this VPN has been independently audited by Leviathan, a well-known cybersecurity consulting company. You can enjoy the verified benefits of this provider on desktop and mobile devices, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and ChromeOS.

Grab an IPVanish deal and subscribe for merely $3.33/month. There’s no free trial, but your purchase is insured with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Payment methods include credit cards and PayPal.

For a deeper investigation of IPVanish, read our IPVanish review.

8. VyprVPN – reliable Swiss-based VPN provider

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
70
Number of servers
Number of servers:
700
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
  • Audited by third parties
  • Fast and confidential
  • Dedicated router app
  • Expensive

VyprVPN is a veteran of the VPN industry and was one of the first services to conduct an independent audit of its infrastructure and zero-logs policy. Combine that with its home turf in Switzerland and you have a truly confidential provider.

Users gain access to an extensive network of 700+ servers across 70+ countries. The fleet is completely physical and operated by VyprVPN. Additionally, users can alternate between WireGuard for speed or the proprietary Chameleon for extra security.

Besides typical consumer subscriptions, VyprVPN offers plans for business needs as well. These options include global business servers, apps for all devices, and an administrator interface for managing multiple accounts. Plus, customers can rent their own servers with dedicated IP addresses.

Use a VyprVPN discount code and unlock consumer subscriptions for $8.33/month. Meanwhile, business plans are pricier and begin at $299 per year. Either way, a 30-day money-back guarantee has your back if you ever change your mind.

For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.

9. PrivateVPN – low-cost and efficient VPN

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
63
Number of servers
Number of servers:
200
Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
  • 7-day free trial
  • Versatile features
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Lacks WireGuard

Some may argue that well-established and reliable technologies are better than the new groundbreaking yet unpredictable ones. If you’re like that, consider PrivateVPN. It doesn’t include WireGuard and instead relies on OpenVPN for balanced and reliable connections.

Sweden-based PrivateVPN runs a tight ship with 200+ servers across 63+ countries. It may appear subpar at first, but connections are quite good thanks to the utilization of HQN (High Quality Network). The VPN service purchases internet capacity directly from IP transit providers and guarantees lower than average latency.

Customers unlock a wide array of features with PrivateVPN. For starters, Application Guard closes your chosen apps if the VPN connection drops. Additionally, Stealth VPN is critical for circumventing VPN blocking methods like DPI (Deep Packet Inspection). You can also use SOCKS5 and Shadowsocks proxies to protect your IP address on other apps without enabling PrivateVPN.

Secure up to 10 different devices simultaneously using a PrivateVPN deal. Pricing plans begin at a mere $2.00/month, but you can try out the service without commitment, thanks to the 7-day free trial. Lastly, data confidentiality is guaranteed when purchasing the service with Bitcoin.

For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.

10. Hide Me VPN – well-rounded secure VPN

Number of countries covered
Number of countries covered:
40
Number of servers
Number of servers:
2000
Support
Support:
Live chat
  • Solid free version
  • Good selection of tunneling protocols
  • Fast and feature-rich
  • No router app

Hide Me VPN does exactly what the name implies – it masks your online activities and keeps you secure against various digital threats. Plus, you can get some of the benefits without monetary commitment by using the free plan.

Based in Malaysia, this VPN is equipped with 2000+ servers in 40+ countries. In addition to a diverse range of locations, Hide Me VPN provides multiple VPN tunneling protocol options as well. The top choice is obviously WireGuard, while secondary options include IKEv2, OpenVPN, SoftEther, and SSTP.

Effective activity masking can be ensured by using VPN Multihop and rerouting your connection through multiple servers. However, you don’t have to lose much performance by enabling Bolt, which improves connectivity by prioritizing TCP over UDP. Further optimization is possible by utilizing split tunneling to select which apps need the VPN connection and which can live without it.

The free plan of this provider comes with a 10 GB monthly data cap, 5 locations, and only one simultaneous connection. However, upgrading is easy with a VPN coupon code. Then prices begin at $2.96/month and are secured with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of Hide Me VPN, read our Hide Me VPN review.

Top 5 most secure VPNs comparison

Check out a quick side-by-side comparison of the top five most secure VPNs and see if you can notice some common features.

Starting priceJurisdictionTunneling protocolsServersCountries
NordVPN$3.29/monthPanamaNordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv25500+60+
Surfshark VPN$2.30/monthNetherlandsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv23200+95+
Proton VPN$4.99/monthSwitzerlandWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv21700+63+
PureVPN$1.99/monthBritish Virgin IslandsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv26500+70+
Atlas VPN$1.99/monthUnited StatesWireGuard, IKEv2750+37+

Most secure VPN protocols

Before enabling or even purchasing a VPN, you should check what tunneling protocol options are available. The most secure VPNs should have a good selection of modern and reliable technologies for various use cases. For example, some are essential for fast connection speeds, while others are better suited for circumventing online censorship.

WireGuard

Arguably the fastest and most reliable open-source protocol currently available, WireGuard released a stable version in 2020 and is incorporated by more providers as time passes. It has a relatively small codebase, uses modern encryption standards, and is compatible with the most widely-used operating systems.

The downside is that this protocol passes traffic over UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and thus won’t work on networks that restrict it. This is why a secure VPN needs to provide other options as well.

OpenVPN

Before WireGuard entered the scene, OpenVPN was the rockstar of the VPN industry. It was released way back in 2001 and is still one of the most widely used open-source protocols today. It uses the OpenSSL encryption library and has various other security and control features for circumventing firewalls. Plus, it’s compatible with various devices and is even used on routers.

Unsurprisingly, the codebase grew into a behemoth over the years and left its connection speeds lagging compared to lean protocols like WireGuard. Plus, the age-old technologies that the protocol uses are potentially vulnerable to exploitation. But if WireGuard is unavailable, OpenVPN is still a trustworthy choice for adequate speeds and security.

IKEv2

IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange Version 2) is a closed-source protocol developed by Microsoft and Cisco. It’s considered faster, more lightweight, and more stable than OpenVPN and is a common alternative to it. However, the speed isn’t as good as with WireGuard. Additionally, IKEv2 is usually combined with the IPSec protocol.

Meanwhile, an unfortunate similarity to WireGuard is the reliance on UDP and potential issues when circumventing network restrictions.

Proprietary protocols developed by VPN providers

Some of the fastest VPN providers go the extra mile and develop in-house VPN tunneling protocols. Usually, they’re not created completely from scratch and instead upgrade existing open-source software. For example, the NordLynx protocol is based on WireGuard and provides similar or even faster speeds with improved privacy.

Of course, closed-source software is a contentious and polarizing topic in terms of cybersecurity. For starters, it isn’t available for public auditing and scrutiny like open-source tech is. However, proponents argue that security by obscurity is a viable strategy.

We believe that proprietary protocols are an acceptable choice if they have a solid foundation and strong encryption standards.

VPNs to avoid

You’ll find skeletons in the closets of practically any online service if you dig deep enough. And while no VPN is infallible, some have crossed the point of no return and should be avoided when possible.

Edward Snowden Tweet against ExpressVPN

The most shining example of such disgrace is Kape Technologies, but quite a few have earned a permanent place in the VPN hall of shame.

  1. ExpressVPN. The famous yet arguably the most dubious VPN of the Kape Technologies (formerly Crossrider) conglomerate. Before working at ExpressVPN, their Chief Information Officer Daniel Gericke worked as a hacker for the UAE. Authorities concluded that he was violating international and USA hacking laws. Thus, he was forced to pay a fine and cooperate with the FBI. Despite the controversy, ExpressVPN stands by and still employs Gericke.
  2. Private Internet Access, CyberGhost, Zenmate. Other services under the Kape Technologies thumb. While they don’t have any particular instances that would cause mistrust (yet), they’re part of a company responsible for distributing adware in the past. Plus, such consolidation of services under one umbrella is terrible for the consumer.
  3. HMA VPN. HideMyAss VPN failed to hide one particular ass back in 2011. The user was involved in hacking Sony, authorities discovered that his IP address belonged to HMA, and swiftly sent a court order to the provider. Since it’s based in the UK, it quickly complied and exposed the user. Justice was served, but the incident stained the reputation of HMA irreversibly.
  4. Hola! VPN. Enabling this VPN is like living in a house made of glass and welcoming any passerby to visit. The provider is upfront about collecting vast amounts of activity data, storing it indefinitely, and even using your bandwidth for its benefit. Whatever you do, don’t use Hola! VPN.

Naturally, there are arguments for using these VPNs as well. On the other hand, some may think of plenty of reasons for not using our recommended services too. Just remember that these are only suggestions and that you’re free to make your own purchasing decisions.

Are free VPN services secure?

Although free VPNs usually include military-grade encryption and a few security essentials, plenty of other aspects make them completely unreliable. Consider the fact that virtual private networks need funds for continued maintenance. How would any online service manage that without a steady flow of income?

With free services, ad revenue is only part of the solution. The complete story is much more nefarious and detrimental to the user. It may involve:

  • Limiting user bandwidth and imposing data caps to reduce network maintenance costs
  • Providing a small selection of servers
  • Using outdated technologies
  • Inability to circumvent geo-restrictions
  • Showing ads in the VPN application
  • Collecting user data and selling it to data brokers
  • Injecting malware or other viruses

Reliable protection doesn’t come cheap, and cybersecurity is no exception. The web is filled with scams and services trying to take advantage of naive or uninformed users. Plus, free VPN services have no incentive to maintain a high-quality service if no one’s paying.

The best zero-cost security you’re going to get is a free plan of an existing premium VPN. Unsurprisingly, it will come with some caveats, namely data caps, slow connection speeds, and a lack of features. But if you can live with that, go with Proton VPN or Atlas VPN.

Conclusion

The online realm is constantly evolving and digital threats are not slacking off either. Cyber hygiene and caution are crucial when surfing the internet and a secure VPN is an essential part of that. And just like regular hygiene, some products are more effective, while others can cause even more issues involving viruses and headaches.

Stay clean online with NordVPN, the fastest and most secure VPN currently available!

Which VPN do you use to keep your online activities clean of viruses? Share your digital security tips in the comments section!


You may also like to read:
Best antivirus software
Best password managers
Best VPN for crypto trading
Best VPN for China
Best VPN for Travel
Best VPN for torrenting


FAQ

Why do I need a secure VPN?

Impenetrable digital security is vital for getting anything done with a VPN. For starters, your online activities will remain exposed without strong encryption. Meanwhile, you won’t be able to circumvent geographical restrictions if the VPN doesn’t have adequate DNS leak prevention.

What is the most secure VPN?

NordVPN is the most secure VPN provider. It’s based in Panama, went through multiple independent audits, and even grants immunity to viruses via Threat Protection. Besides that, it’s ridiculously fast with the WireGuard tunneling protocol and unblocks geo-restricted content on Netflix and other streaming platforms.

What is the safest free VPN?

Proton VPN is the safest free VPN that’s worth using. It isn’t bogged down by data caps or speed limits and maintains the service via premium subscriptions. Naturally, the no-cost plan isn’t perfect either since it can’t unblock geo-restricted content and doesn’t provide all the security features of the paid plan.

Which VPN protocol is the most secure?

For most use cases, WireGuard is the most secure VPN protocol. It’s modern, uses the latest encryption standards, and has a relatively-small codebase for easy maintenance. It’s also ridiculously fast and is used by some of the best VPN services.

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