The best overall VPN isn’t always the safest. And vice versa, not being the best VPN overall doesn’t mean you can’t be the safest. That’s why in this article we’ll try to answer the question – is Surfshark safe to use?
Some of our readers might not even know this VPN provider, making it hard to earn their trust. And that’s a fair point. Surfshark started only in 2018, but lately, it has been growing exponentially and is letting itself be heard worldwide. So let’s take a closer look and see whether choosing Surfshark is a good idea for those who have their security and anonymity above all else.
The location of a company behind the VPN is often over-valued because of the two reasons. Firstly, if you are doing something that catches the attention of the NSA or any other surveillance or security agency, you will probably be using extra layers of security that will negate the effect of the provider’s location. Secondly, if you catch the attention of any (inter)governmental institution, it’ll not be a big problem for them to attain records about you, wherever you are. So here it depends more on your provider’s no-logs policy, which we’ll discuss in detail below.
As for Surfshark VPN, it’s registered in the British Virgin Islands (BMI), sharing the place with our top dog ExpressVPN, which says something about the newcomer’s decision. The BMI is one of the best places for a VPN provider. While the islands are a British Overseas Territory, they do not fall under the UK’s jurisdiction and have no data retention laws. This also means they are not among the Fourteen Eyes countries.
Security features of Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN uses AES-256-GCM and SHA-512 encryption that offers state-of-the-art security and also works faster than the more popular AES-256-CBC. The latter uses a secure Message Authentication Code, whereas Surfshark’s GCM version has built-in authentication, which significantly speeds things up.
Surfshark currently uses two popular protocols – OpenVPN and IKEv2. While for most of us it should be enough as both are safe to use, we would like to see more choice somewhere down the road. In particular, it would be good to see a stealth protocol on Surfshark’s roster, making the service more reliable in heavily-censored countries.
Surfshark VPN added this feature in 2018, catapulting itself to the next level of security. Actually, there’s not much to add here. The kill switch is an essential feature for every VPN and if the VPN doesn’t have one, it beats its own purpose of masking the true identity of the user.
Our tests have shown that Surshark has no issues with leaking. It came as no surprise because this VPN has built-in protection from the DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks. The company also uses private DNS on every server that doesn’t store personally identifiable about you, leaving no ways to track you down.
Unlimited number of simultaneous connections
Firstly, allowing to connect multiple devices on the same account, even sharing one subscription among friends and paying virtually nothing for a secure connection is a nice feature. But it also acts as a way to show that actually there is no logging of your online activity because if a provider limits the number of connections on your account, it has to be able to track separate devices and monitor their number real-time to know when to allow another session to open.
Does Surfshark keep logs?
Cookies and web beacons are also used in the website and email communication, but again the data collected is anonymized, so there’s no way to trace it back to you.
Each company can boast about zero-logs, military-grade encryption, and other features that all turn to nothing after one scandal. Unfortunately, these happen in the VPN industry too, sometimes involving even the most respected players. That’s why maintaining a good reputation that is not spotted with different scandals and legal prosecutions is a sought-after thing, as these negative news can take time to disappear from the search engine results.
Surfshark VPN is less than one year old and it would be surprising to see it caught in some shady story so soon. But as it quickly rises through the ranks, those left behind might be inclined to find ways to stop this prodigy.
As for now, Surfshark has not shied away from imposing checks on themselves. We’re talking about the independent audit at the end of 2018. The results were positive, ensuring that the web browser extensions are as secure as it gets.
Anonymous payment options
If you are unable to create an anonymous VPN account, at least paying for it anonymously can give you some more privacy. And if you can actually create an account using a nickname and pay with cryptocurrency or gift cards, such a combination will really help to save you. And here we’re talking not about avoiding being caught torrenting a PG-13 movie in the US, but accessing a censored news portal in China.
Surfshark does very well in the anonymous payment department, contrary to many of its competitors. The options start with cryptocurrencies, of course. In addition to the popular Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum, you can also pay with over 30 more, such as Dogecoin or Mithril. Finally, there are options to use PayPal or AliPay, which are also not always included by the most popular VPNs.
Is Surfshark VPN safe to use?
Given what we’ve learned about Surfshark VPN so far, we think it’s safe to say that this service is safe to use. Not only is it one of the better-rated VPNs, but it’s also proactive in establishing its reputation by submitting to independent audits, something even certain holy institutions are reluctant to do.
It’s not by chance that we named Surfshark the Best VPN Newcomer of 2018. We always have security first when giving our rankings, and this provider has it. We will not be surprised if Surfshark leaves us no choice but to name it the best VPN for privacy next year. And you shouldn’t be surprised either.