The primary task of any VPN service is to encrypt user traffic and make sure the privacy and anonymity of the user are maintained on the web. If you want to calculate how secure is a VPN, all you have to do is look for the measures which a VPN service takes to make sure it fulfills its sole purpose without any problems.
Although this is what a VPN is required to do – to ensure the user about the safety and privacy it offers. But it is not possible for any VPN to fulfill its primary purpose without having back support from other secondary factors.
Even if a VPN has an unbreakable encryption method and a top-notch protocol, what if it faces a DNS leak issue, or what if the VPN connection drops without warning? You end up exposing your original identity and this is just a failure of your VPN provider.
In this guide, we discuss more on how you can know if the VPN service you are using or about to use is really secure, or you’re just going to waste your money on it.
How Secure Is A VPN
It can be a thinker when it comes to determining if the piece of software you use to perform all your online activities is whether secure or not? If it is, then how much? and if not, then what scale does it have to cover to actually be secure? Well, it all depends on which provider’s VPN service you are using.
A VPN encrypts all the traffic while you are carrying out your online activities on the web. It makes sure to keep your online privacy secure and anonymous. But if we go back, VPNs were already here and being used widely, but not just in today’s fashion. When businesses needed their employees to connect to their internal network, they would set up a Virtual Private Network and the employees would have remote access to it by simply logging in with their credentials.
VPNs are safe if you choose them to be safe. All you have to do is research the VPN provider you’re planning to get a subscription to. Make sure the provider you choose covers all the factors which make it a secure and trusted VPN service.
Similarly, you don’t have to make your decision final for a VPN provider which just encrypts your online traffic. Well, it is the primary purpose of a VPN, but that’s not just it! Apart from having a strong encrypting method, a reliable VPN service would have secondary features, transparent policies, and a value-for-money user interface to make sure the user is hundred percent satisfied that the VPN team is on their side.
A secure VPN would have a kill-switch feature, a double encrypting method, transparent logging policies, and instant ability to fix any kind of leaks.
How Secure Is A VPN When It Comes To Protocols
A VPN protocol determines how your traffic is routed from your end to the destination. These are a set of rules or instructions which your internet traffic follows. Different protocols have different encryption methods which scale how securely can your data be transferred from one end to another.
Reliable VPNs have the latest protocols available which are flexible to use. But we have seen some master protocols introduced by the best VPN providers of the industry by simply combining two existing protocols for enhanced security.
It all started with the PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) developed by Microsoft in the 1990s which is now available on many devices and operating systems. But in today’s world, as technology is advancing, PPTP is becoming obsolete as it can be cracked and the security features are not up to the mark.
By this time, the widely used and popular VPN protocol is OpenVPN, which is considered a flexible VPN protocol because of the security features and speed it offers. It is an open–source protocol that allows developers to modify its code. OpenVPN has an AES–256 bit key encryption method which makes it an unbreakable and secure option to go for today’s businesses.
How Secure Is ExpressVPN’s Lightway Protocol
The Lightway protocol released by ExpressVPN is the fastest and most secure VPN protocol. It has a 256–bit encryption method and also has a kill–switch option available. It is faster than OpenVPN. Lightway is considered to be more flexible to audit than OpenVPN as it has only 1,000 lines of codes while OpenVPN has 70,000. It is not open-source yet but considerations are being made.
If Lightway Protocol goes open-source then it will get more secure as third–party experts would get a chance to audit this protocol and remove the flaws if there are any.
The flashing speed of Lightway makes it the best option for gaming as it has no lags. A test conducted revealed that ExpressVPN’s Lightway only takes 4 seconds to reconnect if it somehow disconnects.
For movie streamers, Lightway is the best option as it can bypass almost any geo-blocked Netflix, Hulu, or BBC IPlayer region. With its fast performance, you can easily stream your favorite movies in HD.
As of right now, Lightway Protocol is compatible with macOS, Android, Linux, and Windows. The iOS version is soon to be released.
You can get to know more about how ExpressVPN works and what features it offers.
How Secure Is NordVPN’s NordLynx Protocol
NordLynx Protocol was first introduced by NordVPN for Linux users only, but after some time it was launched for macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows users also. NordLynx Protocol is based on the WireGuard Protocol but there is a catch to it.
Without a doubt WireGuard is the best VPN protocol that offers high security and fast speed, competing with ExpressVPN’s Lightway all along, but it forces VPNs to store users‘ real IP Addresses for temporary bases. It cannot assign a user an IP address that is dynamic, it needs a static IP address which would be your original IP address to assign you a WireGuard Key.
Since that was not acceptable for NordVPN to go on with, NordVPN took a different approach of Double NAT (Network Address Translation). From which the user would have the same IP address but the VPN tunnel has a different one which would be assigned to it by NAT. With this, you can have a VPN connection that doesn’t leave a trace of your data on the VPN server.
Although some users might have no problem with WireGuard’s logging of the real IP address for temporary bases, it is still a loophole if anyone decides to snoop on you using your static IP.
With WireGuard’s only 4000 lines of codes, it can be easily audited and maintained. Being an open-source protocol, it is regularly checked for flaws by third-party experts which are then determined, pointed out, and removed to make WireGuard and eventually NordLynx Protocol more secure.
You can get to know more about how NordVPN works and where you can find the cool features it offers.
What Factors Make A VPN Secure
A VPN connection has its back covered if it has other secondary features like double encryption or a built-in kill–switch. A reliable VPN provider offers everything which makes the VPN service value-for-money. A secure VPN should have the following factors covered.
Masking IP Address
One of the primary tasks of a VPN is to change your IP address and mask your location, hiding your true identity and surfing the web with complete anonymity. While getting a VPN subscription, you should consider checking if the VPN provider is legit and doesn’t have a history of VPN leaks.
With MFA, your VPN account is secured. Even if your password is compromised, MFA uses different ways of authenticating if the user trying to access is actually the authorized user or a phony. A VPN may have different ways to set up MFA, a secret code being sent on your email or mobile number to prove your identity, to answer a secret question that is only in the knowledge of the authorized user, or to enter a backup pin code.
It is possible that your VPN connection could crash because of some reason and if you don’t have a kill-switch feature then you end up exposing your real IP address on the web. A kill-switch feature makes sure that when your internet connection drops, it terminates your internet connection until the VPN connection is restored again so you don’t get exposed.
There are two reasons why leaks happen, it can either be a faulty VPN service or it has no kill-switch. Make sure you choose a VPN that prevents DNS Leaks and WebRTC Leaks so you don’t end up exposing your real identity on the web while still being connected to a VPN thinking that you’re perfectly secure.
A reliable VPN provider will be very clear and transparent about its logging policies. Moreover, a VPN provider which has strict no-log policies is the one to go for only. Some of the best VPN providers of the industry like ExpressVPN and NordVPN even get audited by third-party firms to prove to the users that they don’t log user activities.
What A VPN Can’t Do
Although VPNs come in handy and are considered to be the most powerful tools to protect your online privacy it doesn’t always have your back. If you’re thinking that having a VPN makes you immune to everything on the web, well that’s not the case. A VPN is not able to protect you if you click or browse to something dangerous like Malware or Phishing sites.
Some VPNs have built–in features to detect and filter out phishing practices but that’s not the primary reason why a VPN is used in the first place so you will not find this feature in every VPN. Nonetheless, even if you’re connected to a VPN, it is possible to be prey to attacks if someone specifically targets you.
How Can I Install A VPN On My Device
VPNs are easy-to-use and the best VPN providers offer a value-for-money user-friendly interface. A VPN can be downloaded on your phone or your PC, most VPN services are compatible with all the widely used operating systems.
If you are using Windows, Linux, or macOS, all you have to do is download the VPN from the provider’s website, install it on your computer and you’re good to go. You can set up a VPN easily by just following some step-by-step guidelines or just use the quick–connect option if you’re not looking to manually set it up.
It doesn’t matter if you have iOS or Android. The best VPNs have compatibility for both platforms. You just have to go to App Store or Google Play Store (depends on what device you’re using) and download the VPN app, log in with your VPN credentials, and connect to any VPN server you want.
Is It Possible To Hack A VPN
It is possible to hack a VPN but let’s say if the person who does it would have been dreaming of this for very long and it would be an incredible achievement for him or her considering the fact that it would take literally thousands of years and multiple supercomputers to make this possible as the encryption methods like AES 256 or ChaCha are no joke.
If we look back, there was one event in which NordVPN had faced a security breach in 2018 in one of their Datacenter. It was acknowledged in 2019 after which NordVPN terminated its contract from the data center they were renting it from. No customer data or credentials were compromised and since NordVPN doesn’t log user activities, no user became victim to it.
After acknowledging the breach, NordVPN published a post in which it described the prevention steps which were taken to make sure such activity never happens in the future.
Is It Possible To Be Tracked While Using A VPN
Well, it depends on how you use a VPN. If you’re connected to your VPN and browse for something, your online identity is perfectly secure and no one is able to track you unless you decide to log in to your Google Account. You see, when you search for something anonymously without logging in to your google account, you remain anonymous. But as soon you log in with your account, Google knows that it was you who searched for a particular topic.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Can you track a VPN?
How do I know if my VPN connection is secure?
What is a kill-switch feature?
Does ExpressVPN prevent leaks?