It should go without saying that any true VPN tunnel is going to add strong security through your Internet connection with cryptography and encryption technologies. If you use the right security protocol, it will become virtually impossible for an attacker or eavesdropper to capture and decipher your data.
But unfortunately, there is a lot of variance among the types of encryption that different VPN services use them. Some of them are rock solid an impregnable, while others use weaker security algorithms that suffer from flaws and security vulnerabilities. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the best VPNs for encryption, but first, there’s a few things you need to know.
A Fair Word of Caution
I would first like to bring a critical warning to your attention. If you choose to opt for a VPN provider that isn’t included in this review, make absolutely certain that you know what type of encryption they use. I say this because I’ve run across a few services that market their software as a ‘VPN tunnel.’ However, these false VPNs are little more than a proxy service, and some of them don’t provide any encryption whatsoever.
If you dig a little deeper into their features, you’ll find that they provide some type of SmartDNS or related service. This can be disastrous for your privacy, anonymity, and security if you’re transmitting sensitive information. These types of services will still be able to spoof your IP address and grant access to geo-restricted content, but they do nothing in terms of security. In addition, there are several free services that only provide PPTP tunnels.
It’s a little bit of a marketing ploy, because they’re trying to upsell customers on premium plans in order to gain access to OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec connections. While this may sound reasonable at first, please realize that PPTP only offers incredibly weak encryption. In fact, it can be cracked in as little as one day with cheap software. So, proceed with caution and make sure your provider includes security protocols that are stronger than PPTP, such as Blowfish, OpenVPN, or L2TP/IPSec.
Special Encryption Features
Though I would say that AES-256-bit encryption keys – such as those used in OpenVPN connections – offer security that is virtually impregnable, some people still prefer stronger forms of encryption for peace of mind. And even though I feel perfectly safe using OpenVPN and know that it doesn’t suffer from security flaws like PPTP, I think some of the ‘extra encryption’ features are pretty darn interesting.
However, the majority of providers don’t include these features. For instance, I’ve only run across a handful of VPN services that offer cascaded VPN tunnels. A cascaded VPN tunnel is a bit like Russian nesting dolls, and is essentially a VPN tunnel within another VPN tunnel. The idea is to chain together VPN server connections to add increased security and anonymity by adding an extra layer of security.
In addition, I’ve see a few VPN providers offer features such as double 256-bit encryption. After the data has been encrypted once with a 256-bit key, the encrypted data is scrambled even further by running it through the encryption process yet again. Mathematicians and cryptographers have claimed that even with the fastest modern computers, it would take billions of years to crack single AES-256-bit encryption, so I’m sure you can imagine how much more difficult it would be to crack with double encryption.
Lastly, I want to briefly discuss key lengths. Generally speaking, the longer an encryption key is, the more difficult it is to decrypt the data. Though there are key lengths smaller than 128-bits, I haven’t seen any competent provider use key lengths that short. The shortest you’ll likely see any leading VPN service use is 128-bits, though I’d urge you to always opt for 256-bit encryption if it’s available. However, I’ve seen some providers offer 512-bit encryption, which is ludicrously more complex and offers exponentially more possible decryption key combinations, which makes it even harder to crack.
NordVPN – Complete Review
I had to rank NordVPN number one in terms of encryption for several reasons. Firstly, they use standard AES-256-bit encryption, which is so strong that it’s used in military applications. But if that weren’t enough, they even have a double encryption feature, which runs data through the encryption algorithm twice back-to-back to scramble the data even further. Plus, they have Tor integration in their client software. Imagine running a VPN tunnel with double encryption through the Tor network for extra anonymity and security.
Furthermore, they’re a very well-rounded service. Right now they have servers in 54 countries, and you can get their service for a s little as $4.00 per month – and they even have a 30-day money back guarantee. Their server is chock full with features, too, such as an automatic VPN kill-switch, a DNS leak resolver, encrypted chat applications, web proxy extensions, and the ability to connect up to 6 devices simultaneously per account. Last but not least, they’ll even permit their users to download Bit Torrent files through their VPN servers.
TorGuard VPN – Complete Review
To date TorGuard runs 1600 servers spread out across 59 countries, and they offer a smattering of different connection protocols such as PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. Naturally, OpenVPN is going to provide the strongest encryption. Though they offer AES-128-bit encryption, you should really stick with AES-256-bit encryption, which is the default. But one thing I loved about their encryption service is that they have a feature that helps to bypass DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) from security appliances like firewalls.
Furthermore, their VPN servers act as an additional layer of security that will help block malicious ads and malware. The client even has a DNS lead protection mechanism to make sure DNS requests are resolved through the tunnel, and not your local ISP. Last but not least, note that you can get their service for as little as $5.00 per month, and that they permit up to 5 simultaneous connections per account.
AirVPN – Complete Review
AirVPN is based out of Italy, so you won’t need to worry about the US NSA building back-doors into their VPN servers. One interesting thing about their service is that they use OpenVPN exclusively, and have a lot of content on their site pointing out the security flaws of other protocols such as PPTP and L2TP. Naturally, because they only use OpenVPN, they only provide strong encryption using AES-256, which is so strong it’s used by the military, banking industry, and other highly sensitive applications. One of the real advantages to their OpenVPN implementation is that you can tunnel it to other ports (i.e. ports 80, 443, and 53) to disguise it as other types of traffic.
Another thing I love about their client is that it comes complete with DNS leak prevention tools and a VPN kill-switch to halt downloads in the event of a tunnel drop. Users can connect up to 3 devices at the same time, too, and AirVPN even allows P2P and Bit Torrent traffic over their network. However, one thing I really loved about their service was the software client’s integration with Tor for an extra layer of security and anonymity. Lastly, note that they’re not too expensive, and you can get their service for as little as $.50 Euros per month.
VyprVPN – Complete Review
I also had to mention VyprVPN as one of the best VPNs for encryption, mainly because of their proprietary Chameleon encryption technology. Their Chameleon encryption algorithm basically runs on top of OpenVPN standards, which uses AES-256-bit encryption. But the Chameleon algorithm scrambles metadata in the OpenVPN packet header, which helps defend it against deep packet inspection. This means that it can be used to circumvent restrictions such as the Great Firewall of China.
Naturally, they do provide PPTP and L2TP connections as well. They do offer a free trial, and their pricing isn’t unreasonable, either. The Pro version of their service only costs $6.25 per month, though I wish they offered more than 2 simultaneous connections. Still, they do have a VPN kill-switch feature and per-application tunnel routing.
Private Internet Access – Complete Review
PIA VPN doesn’t have flashy extra encryption features like NordVPN, but they do have above average encryption and security – and I think every review needs to have a low cost alternative. PIA VPN can be purchased for as little as $3.33 per month with a 1-year subscription, and they provide connections using PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN; I highly recommend sticking with OpenVPN.
They are extremely secure because the OpenVPN connections use AES-256 for encryption, an RSA 4096-bit RSA handshakes, and SHA-256 for authentication. To put it bluntly, that’s more than you need to adequately secure your data, so it should put your mind at ease. Furthermore, they operate servers in 24 countries, and allow up to 5 simultaneous connections per account. Their client software is rather basic, but I think the lack of advanced features offsets the benefit of favorable pricing. And though they don’t have a free trial, they do provide a 7-day money back guarantee.
Encryption is the lifeblood of any VPN service, though only a rare few providers go the extra mile and bolster their service with exceptional encryption features. The aforementioned providers have some of the best encryption options that I’ve seen in consumer markets – and most of them revolve around customizing a proprietary version of the OpenVPN encryption.
Last but not least, remember that L2TP and PPTP aren’t nearly as strong as OpenVPN. I cringe when I think of using PPTP, because it can be cracked with software that’s pretty simple to use. I think NordVPN offers the strongest encryption of these providers because of their double encryption feature, though any provider mentioned above will make it virtually impossible for others to decrypt your data.