The most secure VPN in 2024

secure VPN
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Let's face it, the digital world isn't always a safe place to be. Fortunately, the best secure VPNs protect your data by masking your real IP address and encrypting your online activity.

Finding the right tool for the job can be a daunting task, though, and that's partly down to the fact that security and privacy are often confused.

Privacy is the act of keeping what you do on the internet confidential and anonymous. That includes avoiding invasive practices like website or social media app tracking. As a rule of thumb, you should try to limit the 'legitimate' use of your data as much as you can – whether that's for marketing, advertising, consumer research purposes, and the like.

Security, on the other hand, is how you're protected from malicious threats. That means preventing cybercriminals from intercepting your internet traffic or stealing your identifying information.

These secure VPNs are likely to be the best private VPNs, too, but the opposite might not be true – so how can you tell? The Tom's Guide team regularly put VPNs through their paces, and I've shortlisted 5 of the best VPNs in the industry today. Keep reading for my full analysis, or check out the top 3 below if you're in a hurry.

Top 3 most secure VPNs at a glance

1.NordVPN: the best secure VPN

1. NordVPN: the best secure VPN
NordVPN has more than earned its stellar reputation for digital security, thanks to its handy Double VPN feature and rock-solid encryption. NordVPN even has its own built-in cybersecurity tools – like an ad-blocker and malware protection.

If you fancy trying this audited no-logs service yourself, make sure to take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. ExpressVPN: the easiest VPN to use

2. ExpressVPN: the easiest VPN to use
ExpressVPN always impresses, with impenetrable encryption and a verified no-logging status. Plus, its sleek apps handle all of the complicated configurations for you, so you can download the app and get straight back to your day-to-day browsing.

Take ExpressVPN for a test drive with its 30-day money-back guarantee, or grab an extra 3 months free if you subscribe to a 12-month plan.

3. Private Internet Access: feature-packed and inexpensive

3. Private Internet Access: feature-packed and inexpensive
Private Internet Access (PIA) combines battle-tested encryption with an audited no-logs policy – and PIA has proven its claims in court, twice. There are tons of configurable features to check out, too, which is great news for advanced users.

PIA is awesome value for money, too, thanks to its unlimited simultaneous connections. So, you can cover a whole house of gadgets with one plan and enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Recent updates

The latest update to this page saw me streamline the layout, as well as double-checking all the specs for our best secure VPNs to make sure all the info is as up-to-date as possible.

The most secure VPNs of 2024

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NordVPN: the best VPN overall

NordVPN most secure VPN

(Image credit: NordVPN)

1. NordVPN

A super-fast service packed with features

Verified zero logging: Yes | Own DNS servers: Yes | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Protocols: OpenVPN TCP & UDP, IKEv2, SSTP, NordLynx (WireGuard) | Simultaneous connections: 6

Easy to use
Excellent additional app features
Audited twice in two years
Excellent speeds with NordLynx
Slightly blemished history
Basic browser extensions
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for an all-in-one service. With ad blocking and malware protection included, NordVPN doubles down on security.

✔️ You want streaming options. NordVPN is virtually unbeatable when it comes to accessing Netflix (and other platforms.)

✔️ You don't want to break the bank. While it's not the cheapest VPN, NordVPN plans are fairly priced.

Avoid if:

You torrent regularly. Not all NordVPN servers are P2P-friendly, which can impact your downloads. Stick with PIA if you need a torrenting service.

Simplicity is king. The NordVPN apps can feel a little cramped compared to the likes of ExpressVPN and Surfshark.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NordVPN is a solid all-rounder that doesn't skimp on security – and even gets rid of ads and trackers. Try it for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

In our testing, NordVPN takes the top spot as the best VPN on the market, and it's easy to see why. It's a great pick for anyone who wants to keep their data safe from snoopers and cybercriminals – and all for a very reasonable price.

A big name often comes with notoriety, however, so let's address the elephant in the room – 2018’s server hack and NordVPN’s response to it. A security company being hacked is a grim situation all around, and NordVPN was somewhat slow to react. However, four years later the firm has undertaken two independent audits, demonstrating its servers’ privacy to be solid and its no-logging claims to be true. 

I'll let you decide whether past events should color your current impression of the service, but I think NordVPN has taken substantial steps to rectify what went wrong.

Not only this, but the VPN's toolkit is impressive. NordVPN offers excellent encryption, and a kill switch that'll protect your data if the connection happens to drop. It also includes features like Double VPN and Onion over VPN, which uses the Tor Onion network, that add an extra layer of security to your browsing sessions. Additionally, its Meshnet tool is perfect for those who want to secure multiple devices at once, effortlessly, and for free.

NordVPN is the fastest VPN around, too, which means you'll have no trouble streaming HD content from around the globe – particularly as it's also one of the best Netflix VPNs. In fact, the service achieved a perfect 100% unblocking score.

You'll be able to install NordVPN on just about every device you own, thanks to a range of apps for every platform, and I've always found them incredibly easy to use. The only downside here is that they can feel cramped in comparison to the likes of ExpressVPN and Surfshark – and the interactive map, while fun at first, is often quite fiddly.

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NordVPN test results
DesignSome space issues, but generally good⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThe interactive map can be tricky to navigate⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest VPN on the market⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks most streaming platforms with ease⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyAwesome features, including ad and tracker blocking⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 support is just a click away⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceLots of value packed into low-cost plans⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN: the best VPN user experience

ExpressVPN most secure vpn

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

2. ExpressVPN

The best apps for beginners (and everyone else)

Verified zero logging: Yes | Own DNS servers: Yes | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Protocols: OpenVPN TCP & UDP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, Lightway | Simultaneous connections: 5

Strong encryption
Perfect Forward Secrecy
Proven no-logs policy
Dedicated streaming servers
Not quite as fast as NordVPN
May be too techy for new VPN users
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for simplicity. When it comes to security, ease of use, and unblocking power, ExpressVPN makes it easy.

✔️ You want proven privacy. ExpressVPN has undertaken numerous audits of its apps, logging policy, protocols, and more.

✔️ You need global coverage. Servers are dotted across 160 locations, allowing you to hop from continent to continent.

Avoid if:

You've got a tight budget. ExpressVPN is undeniably pricey, which isn't ideal in a cost-of-living crisis.

You want a full suite of software. Unlike NordVPN, ExpressVPN hasn't expanded its offering to include extra services.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

ExpressVPN does it all, putting user privacy first with frequent audits and tough encryption. Put it to the test with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Another excellent choice for protecting your data and browsing habits is ExpressVPN. In our most recent round of VPN tests, the provider scored fantastically in key areas like security, unblocking power, and customer service.

Pivoting back to security, ExpressVPN is one of a handful of providers to undergo regular independent security audits to prove its no-logs claims. More impressively, these audits have held up in practice – in 2017, a Turkish ExpressVPN server was seized by the authorities, but no data was either stored on the server or handed over by ExpressVPN itself. That’s what I call a good track record.

TrustedServer is another excellent addition to Express’s arsenal of security features. In essence, this means that all ExpressVPN’s servers run on RAM, not traditional hard drives, and all data is wiped after a reboot. This means that, by design, your information can't be stored. This is a massive step up from servers running on hard drives that can be difficult to fully erase, and therefore pose a threat to your security.

However, maybe the best thing about ExpressVPN is how easy it is to use, no matter what device you're on. The VPN incorporates state-of-the-art security features, but connecting to a server is as easy as opening the app and tapping 'connect.' You have the option to tweak the settings behind the scenes, of course, but you can go with the recommended settings with confidence.

It's worth noting that ExpressVPN's speeds were in the middle of the pack when I tested them. At around 560 Mbps, you'll have more than you need to stream and game online, and on a domestic line of around 100 Mbps it's impossible to tell the difference.

All in all, ExpressVPN is an easy and effective way of keeping yourself secure online. It's a pricey option, but your subscription gives you access to tools like robust AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and secure DNS – which is a pretty sensible investment.

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ExpressVPN test results
DesignA fresh and sleek UI that's easy on the eyes⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useVPN newbies will have no trouble securing their devices⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceSolid speeds, but not chart-topping⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingCoverage in 160 locations gives you access to content from around the world⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyRegular audits, 256-bit AES encryption, and a kill switch⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportFriendly, expert advice available 24/7⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceNot a budget option, but packed with quality⭐⭐⭐

The best VPN for Linux

3. Private Internet Access

Awesome value and tons of customization

Number of servers: 20,000+ | Server locations: 84 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Excellent value
Unblocks US Netflix
Reliable apps and kill switch
Passed no-log audit
Apps are powerful, but complex
Full app audit still in the works
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want proven privacy: PIA has proven its no-logs policy in court on two separate occasions.

✔️ You need US server coverage: with servers in every US state, PIA can help you get around the most stubborn blocks, blackouts, and restrictions.

✔️ You're a Linux user: PIA is one of a handful of VPNs to offer a native GUI, making it a long-standing favorite in the Linux world.

Avoid if:

❌ You want a speedy service: while PIA doesn't move at a snail's pace, speeds of 360 Mbps aren't as quick as those offered by NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

You're a VPN newbie: PIA is jam-packed with options, features, and tools that could be overwhelming to new users. Stick with ExpressVPN if you need simplicity.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Private Internet Access is a veteran of the VPN world with a long list of security tools and a proven zero-logs policy. It's also a great pick for torrenting and streaming thanks to dedicated servers.

Private Internet Access (PIA) is very aptly names, considering its wide array of features designed to keep your digital privacy under lock and key. Advanced users will enjoy the deep level of customization available, but don't worry if you're new to VPNs – PIA's apps are incredibly easy to use, no matter which platform you're on.

I'm constantly impressed by PIA's no-logs policy. It's clear-cut and jargon-free, which can't be said for all VPNs out there, and the provider has even proven its claims in court on two occasions. When pressured for information by the American authorities, PIA had nothing to hand over – showing that it lives up to its privacy promises.

Another big tick in the privacy and security column is the fact that all of PIA's apps are open source. That's great news for transparency, as it means anyone can check out the source code to check for vulnerabilities or audit it themselves. Basically, the service isn't trying to keep secrets from its users, which is just what I like to see.

It also offers other handy security features, like an email breach scanner and an Boxcryptor license that'll encrypt all of your cloud storage.

Unfortunately, when it comes to speed PIA can't keep up with the likes of NordVPN and Surfshark. During my tests, I recorded WireGuard speeds of around 360 Mbps, which is fairly average. Bear in mind, this is more than you need to enjoy buffer-free streaming and snappy torrenting, but you'll get more bang for your buck if you go with NordVPN.

PIA manages to stuff a ton of functionality into prices that are incredibly budget-friendly. Unlimited simultaneous connections and servers in 84 countries send the value of a PIA plan skyrocketing, and you can try the service yourself, in your own time, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Private Internet Access test results
DesignA clean design that's somewhat cluttered by features⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useAdvanced users will love the amount of functionality⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceWireGuard speeds are pretty average, but still great for streaming⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingMore than 20,000 servers makes unblocking content a breeze⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyTough encryption and a no-logs policy that's been proven in court⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLots of guides to sift through and an expert team on standby⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceA budget-friendly service that won't break the bank⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other quality VPNs I've tested

Proton VPN interface for various platforms

(Image credit: Proton VPN)

4. Proton VPN

Proven Swiss security

Verified zero logging: Yes | Own DNS servers: Yes | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Protocols: OpenVPN TCP & UDP, IKEv2, WireGuard | Simultaneous connections: 10

Open-source apps + audit
Secure Core protects vulnerable servers
Free plan with unlimited bandwidth
Improved network coverage (also for free plan)
Plus plans are pricey
Customer support needs improvement
Subscribe if:

✔️ Privacy is your priority. Proton VPN goes the extra mile, allowing you to pay in Bitcoin or cash.

✔️ You're looking for an unlimited free service. The service offers an awesome free VPN that doesn't cap your data.

✔️ You're a Linux user. Proton VPN provides a Linux GUI for both free and paid users.

Avoid if:

You want the quickest VPN around. Unfortunately, Proton VPN can't quite keep up with the likes of NordVPN.

You're a bargain hunter. Compared to NordVPN and Surfshark, Proton VPN is pretty pricey.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It's great to see Proton VPN commit to improving its service, and the recent rebrand and refresh makes the provider well worth checking out. Plus, its free plan is one of the best around.

In my Proton VPN review, I found that the Swiss provider offered a huge amount of security for its users – which is exactly what you'd expect from the team who also brought the highly regarded anonymous email service, Proton Mail, to life.

With the recent rebrand, gone are the convoluted payment plans. There are no more tiers, and all subscriptions will now bag you 10 simultaneous connections and, more importantly, access to the Proton VPN Secure Core servers.

These ultra-secure, underground servers are hosted in Sweden, Switzerland and Iceland – countries known for good data privacy laws. If you use them, your traffic will be routed through one of the Secure Core servers first before heading to your destination. This is kind of like NordVPN's Double Hop, and a big draw for the most security-conscious users.

Other security features include a MultiHop VPN function that adds an extra encryption layer for maximum security and an effective kill switch to keep your anonymity safe even if the VPN drops. I also liked Proton VPN's Netshield, and found it very useful for blocking trackers and malware.

The service's commitment to digital privacy is underscored by its dedicated Deutsche Welle servers. The unbiased news outlet is a hugely important resource for folks living with strict censorship laws – and now, Proton VPN has ensured that anyone can access its wealth of articles and video content that might otherwise be blocked.

Proton VPN is one of the best streaming VPNs, too, so don't worry about sacrificing fun and games for total security. I was able to access Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime without any hiccups. Bear in mind that this streaming functionality (and other features) aren't available to users on the free plan.

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Proton VPN test results
DesignAn awesome dark mode and dynamic design⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useA handful of features are potentially too technical for VPN newbies⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceNot a speedster, but decent⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingA paid plan will unblock most platforms⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyImpresses with Swiss law protection and audits⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportPlenty of guides to browse through⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceFree plan is robust, but paid plans are pricey⭐⭐⭐⭐

Surfshark most secure VPN

(Image credit: Surfshark)

5. Surfshark

Cheap, effective, and secure

Verified zero logging: Yes | Own DNS servers: No | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | Protocols: OpenVPN TCP & UDP, IKEv2, WireGuard | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited

Excellent value + unlimited connections
Great encryption + selection of protocols
Multi-hop feature
Improved WireGuard speeds
Minor kill switch issue (on Windows only)
Below-par OpenVPN speeds
Subscribe if:

✔️ Speed is everything. Surfshark is a lightning-fast provider – ideal for HD streaming.

✔️ You're working with a budget. Surfshark balances top-notch security with subscription prices that won't break the bank.

✔️ You have lots of devices. With unlimited simultaneous connections, you can secure a whole house of gadgets.

Avoid if:

You rely on your kill switch. I was able to break the Surfshark kill switch during my testing (though this probably won't happen in real life.)

You're wary of virtual servers. Some of Surfshark's virtual servers are hosted far from their apparent locations.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A super-fast service that doesn't disappoint on the security front; Surfshark is a great choice, and one you can bag for a bargain. Other providers offer more watertight security features, however.

Surfshark is a staple of many Tom's Guide best-of articles and one of the most affordable secure VPNs you'll find on the market. At less than $2.50 a month it's incredible value, but in this case a low price does not equal low quality – my full Surfshark review found that the bargain provider is the real deal.

Surfshark provides a few features that you don’t often see together – especially at this price point. That includes Multi-Hop (using two or more separate servers to further obfuscate your traffic), a kill switch, split tunneling, and ad blocking to name a few.

It is worth mentioning that I was able to break the kill switch, and cause it to leak, during my testing (and under extreme conditions.) This only occurred on Windows, however, and won't affect its Mac counterpart – so, in most cases, you can count on the kill switch to protect you without a hitch.

Performance-wise, Surfshark doesn't disappoint when using WireGuard, with staggering peaks of 950 Mbps. Speeds with OpenVPN were still below average, though. These blistering speeds, and its great unblocking power, make Surfshark an one of the best Netflix VPNs

If you run into trouble, or need help picking a server, the Surfshark customer service team is a click away via live chat. But don't worry if you'd rather do your own troubleshooting – there are plenty of articles on the dedicated support site that cover everything from FAQs and tutorials, and in-depth techy guides.

Surfshark also addressed one of my major concerns by undertaking a full independent audit of its server infrastructure. Audits are becoming more and more important (and a great way to signal to customers that a VPN takes their privacy seriously), and I'm glad that Surfshark has taken the time to go through the process. For the price, I really can’t fault Surfshark, and if you’re looking for one of the best cheap VPNs to keep you secure, it's a great option.

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Surfshark test results
DesignA clean design that's intuitive⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIdeal for VPN newbies⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOne of the fastest VPNs out there⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks virtually all streaming sites⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacySome kill switch issues but otherwise solid⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 customer support is reliable and quick⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceA budget provider packed with tools⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

How we test VPN services

When it comes to recommending a product that users will entrust with quite possibly every byte of their online life, I have to be absolutely sure that my choices are correct, and thoroughly tested.

Unlike some sites, we don't simply reel off a spec sheet and declare the provider with most impressive claims the winner. Instead, we have a dedicated team in-house that gets hands-on with all the providers listed (and more). 

Every 6 months, after scouring the website for new claimed features or changes in policy, we sign up to a plan and install it on a range of devices. The Windows app sees the most rigorous testing, and it's here that we'll try to break the kill switch, ensure any leak protection is working correctly, and measure connection speeds.

The other apps, including the Mac VPN, iPhone VPN, and Android VPN also see comprehensive testing, and we'll check every available setting in every app to make sure it's functioning as promised by the provider.

As we use the apps, if anything appears to be behaving strangely we'll investigate that. We might dig into the source code, or view the contents of its RAM. This general usage stage is also how we make decisions on aesthetics and ease of use – although these are admittedly more subjective.

Then comes the streaming testing. We'll test each VPN with all the big streaming sites from a number of locations to ensure it's working as claimed. As Netflix is still hugely popular and somewhat troublesome when it comes to VPNs, we test the biggest providers every month to make sure my recommendations are still relevant.

Secure VPN FAQ

What makes the most secure VPN?

Let's start with privacy. First up, you should make sure your VPN has a no-logging policy. If a provider doesn't keep any logs, this means that whatever the situation – government investigation, server hack, data breach – your information will be safe because it was never stored in the first place.

When it comes to security, reliable encryption is a must. Look out for at least AES-256 encryption and a good range of protocols. WireGuard is now the industry standard, as it combines tight security and excellent speeds, but OpenVPN is still a good choice for most users, and some more advanced obfuscated technologies still rely on the old faithful protocol. 

Perfect Forward Secrecy is a great addition if you want an extra layer of security. It changes your key on every login and at least each hour thereafter. A kill switch is another essential feature, too, seeing as it'll prevent private information from leaking in the event of a VPN dropout by cutting your internet connection.

My top pick, NordVPN, does all of this and more, and it's the VPN I use to protect my own data on a day-to-day basis. However, all the providers on this list are reputable choices I'm happy to recommend.

What is the most secure VPN?

Why do I need a secure VPN?

A secure VPN is the first step in protecting yourself from cyberattacks including DDOS and Man in the Middle. By encrypting all your traffic, even if a criminal gets hold of your traffic, they won't be able to get any information out of it.

Even if you don't think you'll be at risk of this, by using a VPN you'll have permanent peace of mind that no matter where you are – and what networks you connect to – you'll be totally private, safe, and secure.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).

2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.

With contributions from