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Are VPNs Safe to Use in 2023? Is Your VPN Secure Enough?

is vpn safe

For an average privacy-conscious Internet user, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) has become the best way to safeguard data from prying eyes and keep a low profile online. But, with new online privacy challenges constantly emerging, are VPNs still safe to use in 2023?

In general, using a premium VPN will keep your Internet connection safe and private. However, filtering the secure VPNs out of the untrustworthy ones can be more complex than it seems. 

or discover other no-log secure VPNs

In this article, I’ll examine the features that make a good VPN, go over the most common VPN limitations, and help you choose a safe VPN service to ensure your online activity is secure and protected.

Are VPNs Safe?

Yes, VPNs are generally safe and effective tools for enhancing online security and privacy. A reliable VPN encrypts your Internet traffic, protecting it from potential eavesdroppers and hackers on public Wi-Fi networks or other insecure connections. 

It also masks your IP address, making it harder for websites and services to track your online activities and location.

However, not all VPNs are equal in terms of safety and privacy. It is crucial to choose a trustworthy VPN provider that has a no-logs policy, meaning they do not store any records of your online activities

What Features Make a VPN Safe?

Understanding the key features that make a VPN safe is crucial in choosing the right service. With that in mind, here are the most important traits safe VPN services share:

Secure VPN Protocols and Encryption

NordVPN security and protocol settings

A VPN works by using strong encryption algorithms to encode Internet traffic, making it incomprehensible to unauthorized parties, such as hackers or cybercriminals. 

A reliable VPN protocol, like OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec, establishes a secure encrypted connection between the user’s device and the remote server, preventing data interception or tampering. 

By utilizing robust protocols and encryption methods, a VPN enhances user privacy and protects sensitive information from being compromised, ensuring that online communications and data remain secure and confidential.

No-logs Policy

Surfshark no-log statement

A strict no-logs policy is a hallmark of a trustworthy and privacy-focused VPN company. It ensures the provider does not store any user data or online activities. 

This means no login credentials, no connection logs, no search history logs, or any other private data you wouldn’t want anyone to see. So, even if requested by government agencies or hackers, the VPN has no sensitive information to share. 

By adhering to a no-logs policy, a VPN enhances user privacy and maintains anonymity, preventing the tracking and profiling of users’ online behavior. With no logs stored, there is no risk of data breaches or data misuse, making it harder for third parties to compromise user identities or monitor their Internet activities. 

IP and DNS Leak Protection

Custom DNS settings in a VPN app

DNS leaks occur when the device bypasses the VPN and uses the default DNS server, potentially revealing your browsing activity. IP leaks expose your real IP address, compromising your anonymity. 

By implementing robust leak protection mechanisms, VPN software prevents DNS or IP leaks that could expose your true IP address and search history. This way, your data, and online activity remain hidden.

Third-party Audits And Provider History

ExpressVPN security audit announcement

Third-party audits validate a VPN’s security claims and privacy practices, offering independent verification of their trustworthiness. A VPN provider with a positive audit report instills confidence in their commitment to user privacy and data protection. 

At the same time, examining a provider’s history is equally vital as it reveals any past online security breaches, controversies, or data mishandling incidents. A transparent and reputable provider with a clean track record is more likely to prioritize user privacy and adhere to strict security standards, ensuring a safer and more reliable VPN service for users.

VPN Kill Switch

VPN kill switch security feature

A VPN kill switch acts as a fail-safe mechanism to protect user privacy in case of unexpected VPN connection drops. If the VPN fails, it immediately halts your device from obtaining Internet access, preventing any data from being transmitted outside the secure VPN tunnel. 

This prevents accidental exposure of the user’s IP address and online activities to the Internet and potential surveillance. Without this feature, users could unknowingly be vulnerable to data leaks, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks or facing intermittent VPN connection issues. 

Ad and Malware Blocking

NordVPN's Threat Protection feature

Ad and malware blocking in a VPN provide a secure connection and an overall more enjoyable online experience. Many websites and apps contain intrusive ads that can track user behavior and compromise privacy. 

By blocking these ads, a VPN prevents advertisers from collecting personal data, enhancing user anonymity. Additionally, a VPN’s malware-blocking feature helps protect against malicious software and phishing attacks, reducing the risk of falling victim to cyber threats. 

NordVPN has threat protection and ad-blocking features.

RAM-only VPN Server Network

RAM-disc server architecture on Surfshark

A RAM-only VPN network is crucial for enhancing user privacy and security. Unlike traditional VPNs that store data on hard drives, RAM-only servers operate without persistent storage. 

This means that once the VPN servers are powered off or restarted, all data is wiped, leaving no traces of user activities or sensitive information. This approach ensures that user data is not retained beyond the VPN session, making it significantly harder for unauthorized parties to access or exploit any stored information.

Perfect Forward Secrecy

Perfect Forward Secrecy in a VPN ensures that even if an encryption key is compromised, past communications remain secure. With PFS, a unique session key is generated for each VPN session, not derived from the long-term master key. 

This means that even if attackers gain access to the master key, they cannot decrypt past or future communications. PFS significantly enhances the security of a VPN connection and protects sensitive data from potential decryption.

Two-factor Authentication

NordAccount 2FA

Two-factor authentication is important in a VPN because it adds an extra layer of security to the authentication process. With 2FA enabled users must provide two forms of identification before gaining access to their VPN account. 

This prevents unauthorized access, even if the user’s password is compromised. It enhances the overall security of the VPN by reducing the risk of credential theft and unauthorized logins.

VPN Headquarters

The headquarters location of a VPN provider determines the jurisdiction under which the company operates. Different countries have varying data retention laws and privacy regulations. 

VPN providers based in privacy-friendly jurisdictions are generally more trustworthy, as they are less likely to be compelled to log or share user data with authorities. 

Additionally, the legal framework of the VPN’s headquarters can influence the level of protection afforded to user data and impact the provider’s transparency in terms of data handling practices. Opting for a VPN headquartered in a privacy-respecting country enhances the chances of a secure and private online experience for users.

Which VPNs Are Safe to Use?

Keeping in mind the features that make a secure and trusted VPN, I’ve singled out five of the best providers in this regard. These five services are guaranteed to keep you safe online.

Here are the most secure VPNs in 2023:

  1. NordVPN — The most secure VPN in the industry and my top pick. NordVPN is based in Panama, doesn’t keep any logs, and has passed multiple audits. It includes a Threat Protection feature and offers obfuscated servers for extra privacy. NordVPN also offers private DNS servers and an automatic kill switch in its apps.
  2. Surfshark — Surfshark is an excellent alternative to NordVPN. Although it’s not as stacked with security features as my top pick, it comes with a handful of convenient security and privacy traits. This includes Camouflage Mode, CleanWeb, kill switch, and DNS and IP leak protection.
  3. Atlas VPN — Atlas VPN is a reliable and affordable provider with excellent safety features. Like NordVPN, this service can block malware and keep you safe. Atlas VPN also includes safety features like MultiHop+, SafeSwap servers, and a SafeBrowse feature.
  4. PrivateVPN — PrivateVPN is a trusted and safe VPN provider based in Sweden. The service doesn’t keep any logs, offers strong leak protection, and has a kill switch. It’s great for users who want a simple and straightforward VPN.
  5. ExpressVPN — Based in the British Virgin Islands and with a strong no-logs policy, ExpressVPN is as safe as they come. It runs its own DNS on every server, offers strong encryption, and includes a Threat Manager security feature. Plus, with its TrustedServer technology, ExpressVPN ensures that no data is kept on its servers.

Are Free VPNs Safe?

Free VPNs can be risky and potentially unsafe. While some reputable free VPN services may offer basic encryption and privacy features, many free VPNs have serious drawbacks. Some common safety concerns with free VPNs include:

  • Data Logging — Some free VPN services track and log user activities. They then sell this data to advertisers or other third parties, compromising user privacy. This defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
  • Security Vulnerabilities — Free services typically lack proper VPN security measures compared to their premium counterparts. This makes them susceptible to hacking and data breaches, potentially exposing user data.
  • Malware and Adware — Certain free services go as far as to inject ads or even malware into users’ browsing sessions, putting users’ devices and data at risk.
  • Slow Internet Speeds — A free VPN provider has limited server resources and will most often throttle your Internet speed, leading to frustratingly slow connections.
  • Limited Features — Free VPNs typically offer fewer features and server locations than paid options.

For the highest level of security and privacy, I recommend using a VPN with a paid subscription model. Such Virtual Private Networks generally invest in better infrastructure, security measures, and privacy policies.

Is Private Browsing Really Private?

Private browsing, often referred to as “incognito mode” in web browsers, offers some level of privacy by preventing the browser from storing your browsing history, cookies, and data locally. 

However, it’s essential to understand that private browsing is not entirely private. It only provides limited protection against local tracking on the device you are using. Your Internet Service Provider, the websites you visit, and potentially other entities can still monitor your online activity. 

Private browsing does not encrypt your Internet traffic or hide your IP address, making it unsuitable for truly anonymous browsing. To achieve comprehensive privacy, using a reputable VPN provider alongside private browsing is recommended.

What Are The Benefits of Using Secure VPN Services?

VPN services offer many benefits. This includes everything from protecting your valuable information to making some everyday activities easier. Here are some advantages you can enjoy when you use a VPN:

Ensuring Secure Web Browsing

When you use a VPN server, all your Internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a secure tunnel, protecting it from interception by hackers, cybercriminals, or even your ISP. Plus, with IP address masking, your real IP address stays safe and private.

Thanks to this, you can browse the web with peace of mind, knowing that your activities are shielded from prying eyes. With a VPN, you can confidently access your online banking, shop, or conduct any sensitive transactions without fear of data theft.

Accessing Bonus Streaming Content

Many streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and others, offer different content libraries based on users’ geographic locations due to licensing and copyright restrictions. With a VPN, you can bypass these geolocation restrictions and access bonus streaming content from different regions.

By connecting to a server in a specific country, you can appear as if you’re accessing the Internet from that location. This allows you to unlock and watch exclusive movies, TV shows, and other content that might not be available in your home country.

Enhancing The Online Gaming Experience

A VPN can reduce latency and ping times by connecting to a VPN server closer to the game server’s location. This results in smoother gameplay and faster response times, which are critical for competitive and immersive gaming sessions. 

Additionally, a VPN allows you to access game servers in other regions. This allows you to play with friends from around the world or access exclusive game content unavailable in your area.

Facilitating P2P File Sharing

Many ISPs and network administrators restrict or throttle P2P traffic due to copyright concerns or network congestion. A VPN can be a valuable tool for P2P enthusiasts as it conceals P2P activities from ISPs, making it harder for them to detect and throttle such traffic. 

By connecting to a VPN server, you can engage in P2P file sharing more freely and securely, without worrying about potential ISP interference or compromising your online privacy. This benefit extends the advantages of VPN usage beyond privacy and security, enhancing your ability to share and access files in a more unrestricted manner.

Supporting Remote Work and Business Use

It’s expected that between 32 and 37 million people in the US will be working remotely by 2025. VPNs can play a crucial role in providing secure and private access to business networks and resources over the Internet.

For businesses, VPNs enable secure communication between geographically dispersed offices, allowing employees to collaborate effectively and access shared resources. This facilitates seamless data exchange, maintaining productivity and efficiency even when teams are physically distant.

What Are The Limitations of a VPN?

VPN services have many great benefits, but it’s also crucial to consider the main limitations of VPN usage. Here are some considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Limited Anonymity — VPN providers can enhance your online privacy, but they do not provide absolute anonymity. Some websites and services can still identify users through other means.
  • Legal and Jurisdiction Issues — VPNs are subject to the laws of the country where they are based, potentially impacting user privacy. Moreover, the legality of VPNs can also be an issue depending on your location, as some countries have an unfavorable stance towards these services.
  • Logging Policies — Some VPN providers may log user data, potentially compromising privacy. This threat is one of the main reasons why you should pick your VPN service carefully.
  • Resource Intensive VPN providers can consume additional device resources, particularly on older or less powerful devices. This shouldn’t be an issue for most desktop users but can make a difference for mobile VPN users.

Conclusion – Are VPNs Safe and Worth the Money?

To sum up, everything I’ve outlined on this page, VPNs are generally safe and worth the money for everyone seeking to enhance their online privacy and security. A reputable VPN encrypts Internet traffic, protecting it from potential threats and masking users’ IP addresses.

However, it’s essential to choose a trustworthy VPN provider with a strict no-logs policy and robust security features to ensure maximum safety. Don’t go for free providers, and never compromise on vital privacy and security features.

Lastly, consider the inherent limitations of VPNs and stay vigilant against other cyber threats, such as malware, phishing, and social engineering attacks. And, if you need the top VPN that offers the best all-around security, including malware protection, I recommend NordVPN as the safest VPN in 2023.


Is it safe to use a VPN on public WiFi?

Using a VPN can keep you safe on a public Wi-Fi network. A VPN can protect you from monitoring, logging, and preventing your personal data from being snooped or stolen. Using a VPN on public Wi-Fi is the safest way to hide your browsing activities.

Is VPN safe for torrenting?

Using a VPN is the safest way to keep your torrenting hidden from ISP. A VPN protects your downloads with strong AES-256 encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch so no third parties can see what you do online.

What is the most secure VPN?

NordVPN is the most secure VPN service in 2023. It uses only RAM-based servers, has a zero-logs policy, and has been audited several times. NordVPN also includes a Threat Protection feature, which blocks malware, ads, threats, and other threats.

Are VPNs safe for online banking?

A VPN adds an additional layer of security when using your online banking. With a VPN connection, any payment details you input when banking are encrypted and protected from hackers and snoopers. 

Are VPNs safe for business?

Yes, VPNs are generally safe for business when implemented and managed properly. A business VPN allows employees to securely access company resources and data from remote locations, ensuring data encryption and protection against potential cyber threats.

Can you get hacked with a VPN?

VPNs don’t provide immunity against cyber threats like malware, phishing, or social engineering attacks. If your device has vulnerabilities or is compromised by malicious software before connecting to the VPN, you can be susceptible to hacking.

Does a Virtual Private Network protect you from viruses?

A VPN creates a secure tunnel and focuses on encrypting your traffic. It doesn’t provide direct protection against viruses or malware. To protect your device from viruses, you need to use dedicated antivirus software and practice safe online habits.

Can you be tracked with a VPN on?

A VPN is a valuable tool for privacy protection, but it’s not a guarantee against all forms of tracking. It’s equally important to practice proper data management practices and be wary of how much data you share over the Internet.

Does a VPN hide my Internet activity from my Internet Service Provider?

Yes, a VPN can hide your Internet activity from your ISP. When using a VPN server, it encrypts your connection. This encryption prevents your ISP from seeing the specific websites you access and the content of your data packets.

🌐 Website:nordvpn.com
🏢 Headquarters:Panama
📍Servers/Countries:5800+ servers in 60 countries
₿ Accepts CryptocurrencyYes
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