VPNs (virtual private networks) have rightfully earned their role as the go-to solution for connection security and privacy in 2019. Traditionally, an internal and secure data transfer tool for enterprises, VPNs were always associated with security and privacy. Today, VPNs are used by companies of all sizes, as well as consumers worldwide, to keep their data private from those who would take advantage. However, many users who opt to use VPNs to navigate the web privately and securely are actually exposing their private and valuable data without their knowledge.
Rewind to 2018, when a certain VPN, who will remain nameless, was accused of allowing their peer-to-peer VPN to become a botnet used for malicious intent. The network turned each of its 8.3 million users into exit nodes and made their IPs available for sale for bots who can create ad fraud, data mine, and cryptojacking campaigns. So, in essence, a tool used by millions to surf the web safely was actually extremely unsafe and not at all private.
The incident has hurt consumer trust in VPNs, especially free or cheap ones. However, many premium VPN proxies still provide encrypted sessions that are highly secure and reliable. Below, is our selection of the five most secure VPN proxies.
How secure is your VPN?
Assuming your company has an information security strategy in place, odds are you are already using a VPN service. But is it secure enough? This is a question many businesses ask themselves with news like the VPN crypto wallet hack and The National Defense ISAC warning of potential breaches in enterprise-grade VPNs being published far too often.
So how can a security-conscious business pick a VPN service? What criteria should you consider if privacy and security really matter to you?
One of the most important features of VPNs is data encryption, making it close to impossible to decrypt the data sent between the VPN client and server. This is done through the use of mathematical algorithms of varying complexity.
There is no point in discussing and comparing the types of encryption offered by VPN service providers in 2019. The subtle differences in encryption protocol complexity have very little impact on the actual level of security you get as a result of picking one over the other. What matters is not how the data is encrypted, but rather the scope of the encryption. Ideally, you want everything encrypted – including the handshake and authentication with the VPN server.
If you’re required by law to double-encrypt the data (like medical records), or if you’re looking to add another layer of security, you may consider double encryption. A VPN tunnel within a tunnel provides an additional layer of safety, but will “cost” you in connection speed and performance.
Authentication & Verification
Multi-factor authentication is important if you don’t want strangers using your VPN account, which you probably don’t. In addition, it’s important to ensure that the user verification process and service handshake are properly encrypted to prevent data leakage.
Data Leak Prevention
Your VPN connection can “leak” various details such as your DNS and IP addresses, compromising your privacy. It’s worth testing your VPN service of choice for leaks, though the cause of those is usually an operating system or browser bug or exploit.
So your system is leak-proof, your data stream cannot be decrypted before the sun goes nova, and you’ve set up fully secured multi-factor authentication. However, your connection and browsing history may still be stored on the servers of the VPN service provider, who can then willingly (or unwillingly) hand your private data to someone you don’t want to have it. What can you do? Make sure you choose only the most reliable VPN service provider. One that has a strict and transparent no logging policy in place, and a history of upholding that policy.
What happens if you’re working or shopping online and your VPN connection suddenly drops, for whatever reason? Normally, the software and services running on your machine would default to the direct and unencrypted connection you’re on. This can be mildly annoying in the best of cases, and pretty disastrous in others. Look for the VPN services that will automatically quit the apps affected or simply disconnect from the Internet and notify you.
For most digital professionals, GDPR is a big pain in the neck, hurting our productivity and costing us money. However, there’s a bright side to GDPR regulations in the way they force VPN service providers to comply and thus respect your privacy and data security. Be sure to pick a VPN service provider that is fully GDPR compliant.
Residential IP Database
VPNs are often used to bypass geo-blocking for various services, put in place by governments or the services themselves. Like letting people in Iran access YouTube or giving Europeans access to US-exclusive Netflix content. Today, many of these governments and services are getting smarter and are beginning to block traffic from IPs they recognize as owned by VPN services. This is just one of the reasons you should be looking for a VPN service that doesn’t only offer a large number of servers to connect to, but also one that can tunnel your connection with a spoofed residential IP address in the location of your choice.
While this is not critical to connection security, it can seriously impact your productivity if you are, for example, an ad operations professional checking for ad visibility and performance in specific cities or regions. Not all premium VPN providers have servers in all countries, and even fewer can boast broad coverage that includes different broadband and mobile providers.
Top 5 Most Secure VPN Services for 2019
Considering the above criteria, we’ve selected the top 5 VPN solutions to keep your data safely yours.
Designed for professional use and ad operations, Pangeo is backed by GeoEdge’s strict verification and authentication methods. In addition to top-of-the-line encryption and leak prevention features, Pangeo holds a vast database of vetted residential IPs.
As a brand and service targeting businesses and professionals, Pangeo is fully GDPR compliant and takes special care of the privacy and security of clients’ data.
In short, we challenge you to find a more secure VPN that is also capable of providing GDPR compliant servers, hundreds of global locations, and vetted residential IPs.
One of the top choices for security novices (mostly looking to get access to those geo-blocked Netflix shows), ExpressVPN offers a good package for a fair price and includes many necessary security features like AES 256-bit encryption, secured and encrypted handshake, DNS leak prevention and a kill switch. However, it lacks the features needed for professional work, like multiple simultaneous connections per account.
CyberGhost is a reliable high-speed VPN service with good security and privacy features, as well as optimized servers for torrenting and most streaming services. The license allows up to 7 instances making Cyberghost a good choice for general users.
Professionals looking for a more thorough solution may find the IP pool size somewhat modest, while the price is quite high compared to other services.
Aimed strongly at users in China looking for access to blocked Western content, Trust.Zone is a fairly affordable and secure solution. One of its main advantages is the ability to pay anonymously with BitCoin for the VPN service. It does however lack client apps for Mac, Linux and mobile operating systems.
NordVPN is a good choice for beginners (thanks to a friendly user interface) and users looking for dual encryption of the VPN tunnel. With a fairly limited number of countries, and non-flexible license limited to 6 devices, it might not be the best choice for professional users.
Most people neglect to research the privacy features and reliability of the VPN service they choose, assuming the proxied connection and spoofed IP are secure enough. Sure, you might be able to get the job done with a free or even cheap VPN proxy service, but as the users of Hola discovered, there can be hidden costs. Costs a serious business simply cannot afford, like the ones where data leaks irreparable harm the business’ reputation.
Eyal Katz is head of marketing at Pangeo. Eyal also likes long walks on the beach at sunset, having a cocktail with friends, and listening to Swedish Death Metal