Vpn Shield

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Best virtual private networks (VPN)

Who wouldn’t love the internet? Many use social networks daily, shop in e-shops, look for information about companies, services, read newspapers or have fun. We use various devices to connect to the Internet – computers, laptops, tablets, phones and smart TVs.

How much do we protect our privacy and anonymity in our daily use of the Internet? What information does the site we visit or the applications we use store about us?

In this article, we will look at privacy, anonymity and security on the Internet through the eyes of a VPN. We will gradually answer the questions:

  • What does VPN stand for?
  • What is VPN used for?
  • Is the solution suitable for individuals or just for companies?
  • Which VPN connection providers do we recommend for individuals?
  • What are the opportunities for companies?

What is a VPN and how does it work?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network. VPN was originally used mainly by companies. Through the VPN, it was possible to securely connect to the corporate network, thus enabling employees to work from home, from branches, or from hotels on a business trip. Today, VPNs are used to protect their security and privacy on the Internet and at home.

The difference in VPN services for households and for companies is in the VPN technology used. VPNs with remote access to the provider’s private VPN network are used for households. For companies, these are more complex intranet or extranet site-to-site solutions, where companies use dedicated VPN servers or dedicated IP addresses.

After registering with a VPN connection provider, you need to install a VPN application to log in to the Internet. The visit to the website from your device then takes place not directly, but is redirected via a VPN server. What does this mean in terms of protection?

  1. Hiding the IP address of your device, the websites you visit see (or save) only the IP address of the VPN server.
  2. Encrypted data transfer from and to your device.

This combination guarantees you more privacy on the Internet. Here are some practical situations where you can use a VPN.

Examples of VPN use

Anonymization of IP addresses

An IP address is a unique number in a specific form. An IP address is assigned to each device connected to the Internet. According to the IP address, it is possible to identify the geographical area from which the device is connected to the Internet and the data of the Internet provider. IP address data is publicly available in various Whois databases.

Many websites store IP addresses in the site visit log. When using a VPN connection, the IP of the VPN server is stored, not your IP. Your internet connection is therefore anonymous, due to the fact that most paid VPN services do not keep records of IP addresses and do not provide them to third parties.

Freer access to blocked content

Some web services are tied to a geographical location. You must have the correct IP address to have this content available. For example, it is known that both Google and Facebook are blocked in China, but with a VPN connection, this can be bypassed. This also applies to online broadcasts and archives of various television stations.

Would you like to see the World Hockey Championship on holiday abroad? It is not possible: Czech TV will make such content available to you only in the Czech Republic. Would you like to watch the latest episodes of Doctor Who on the BBC? The BBC restricts its broadcasting to the United Kingdom. If you have a VPN and switch sites, the content will be available to you.

Security on public WiFi networks

If you connect your device to an unprotected public Wi-Fi in a hotel, for example, you log in to internet banking, an e-shop, etc., a clever hacker connected to the same network can intercept and misuse your login data. When using a VPN connection, the data transferred from the device to the VPN server is encrypted and only then sent to the web page. Data is safer against hackers. They would have to break the encryption.

What to look for when choosing a VPN?

Have you opted for greater security and privacy on the Internet via a VPN connection? What to look for when choosing a VPN service provider?

  1. Number of available VPN servers: A VPN connection may be slower than the speed of your Internet connection. It has to do with the number of servers and their users and the distance of the servers from you. More servers should mean less slowdowns.
  2. VPN connection speed: What will you use VPN for? When streaming movies, downloading or sending large files, or for multiple devices at once, be sure to focus on speed.
  3. How many devices can be connected at one time: Do you plan to use a VPN to connect all the devices in your home?
  4. Device types.
  5. Operating system.
  6. Streaming services unblocked: A VPN connection may not guarantee that every streaming service is unblocked. Check in advance which all services the VPN provider can unblock.
  7. Encryption used.
  8. Privacy Protection: Does your VPN provider log your site visits based on your IP, or does the provider have a “No Log Policy”? Can your data be provided to third parties on request?
  9. Availability of customer support.

Which VPN provider will you choose?

In the following subchapters, we will introduce you to the world’s most famous VPN services.

NordVPN

The NordVPN service has been on the market since 2012, and the owner and administrator of the website is Tefincom SA, based in Panama. The service has more than 12 million users worldwide.

  • Number of available VPN servers: 5563 in 58 countries, of which 27 in Slovakia and 57 in the Czech Republic.
  • VPN connection speed: The “Quick Connect” button is available in NordVPN, which automatically selects the optimal VPN server for you (nearest, least busy). The speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming.
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: 6.
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, routers and more.
  • Operating system: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS (automated configuration) and Linux (manual configuration).
  • Encryption used: 256-bit AES.
  • VPN protocols used: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard, PPTP.
  • Privacy Protection: No Log Policy (your IP address is not logged and is not provided to any third party), The VPN Kill Switch (if there is a VPN connection failure, your devices have blocked access to the web), DNS Leaks (protection against accidental use of DNS servers outside the VPN) , Onion Over VPN (entry into the VPN network at a random point, sequential encryption and decryption, exit at a random point in the network).
  • Availability of customer support: 24/7 chat, email.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Monthly, annual, biennial and three-year subscriptions. 30 day money back guarantee.
  • Another services: Extension to Firefox and Chrome web browsers.
Nordvpn Logo 2

The NordVPN Teams service is intended for corporate customers, which includes a dedicated VPN infrastructure: VPN servers designed exclusively for your company and assigned static IP addresses on the servers. As a result, corporate systems can only be accessed via a VPN connection to devices with these static IP addresses.

An enterprise solution can have a discounted price over connecting individuals, is better manageable, and you have an assigned assistant who handles your service requirements.

Pros and cons of NordVPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ Possibility to connect up to 6 devices.- Manual configuration for Linux
+ No Log policy.
+ Services for corporate customers.

CyberGhost VPN

  • Number of available VPN servers: 6830 in 90 countries, of which 10 in Slovakia and 33 in the Czech Republic.
  • VPN connection speed: the speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming.
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: 7.
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, routers and more.
  • Operating system: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux.
  • Encryption used: 256-bit AES.
  • VPN protocols used: OpenVPN, WireGuard® (based on your activity, CyberGhost automatically evaluates which protocol is optimal for you)
  • Privacy Protection: No Log Policy, Automatic Kill Switch, DNS and IP Leak Protection.
  • Availability of customer support: 24/7 chat, email.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Monthly, annual, biennial and three-year subscriptions. 45 day money back guarantee for three year subscription.
  • Another services: Extension to Firefox and Chrome internet browsers (only some features are available in the free version, full functionality in the paid version). Option to purchase a dedicated IP address.
Cyberghostvpn Logo 2

CyberGhost SA was founded in 2011 in Romania, today it has teams of IT experts in Romania and Germany. It provides its services to more than 36 million users worldwide.

Pros and cons of CyberGhost VPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ Possibility to connect up to 6 devices.
+ No Log policy.
+ 45 day money back guarantee

ExpressVPN

  • Number of available VPN servers: 160 sites with servers, in 94 countries.
  • VPN connection speed: the speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming.
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: 5
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, routers and more.
  • Operating system: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux (automated configuration for everyone).
  • Encryption used: 256-bit AES
  • VPN protocols used: PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, OpenVPN – there is a clear table on the web, which servers use which protocols, not all protocols are always available.
  • Privacy Protection: No Log policy, Network Lock (if there is a VPN connection failure, your devices have blocked access to the web, for mobile devices and smart TV you need manual settings), DNS Leak Test and WebRTC Leak Test and Split Tunneling.
  • Availability of customer support: 24/7 chat.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Monthly, semi-annual and annual subscriptions. 30 day money back guarantee.
  • Another services: Extension to Firefox and Chrome web browsers.
Expressvpn Logo 2

The owner of the service is ExpressVPN ltd. based in the British Virgin Islands.

Pros and cons of ExpressVPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ No Log policy.
+ 30 day money back guarantee
+ Split Tunneling - the option of choosing which data is transferred via VPN and which via a regular Internet connection.

Namecheap VPN

  • Number of available VPN servers: 1000+ servers, 75+ sites
  • VPN connection speed: the speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming.
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: 5.
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, routers and more.
  • Operating system: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android.
  • Encryption used: Not specified on the page.
  • VPN protocols used: Not specified on the page.
  • Privacy Protection: Internet activity is not logged, but the number of connections and the volume of transferred data (for technical reasons, to ensure the required network speed), Kill Switch, DNS leak protection are logged.
  • Availability of customer support: 24/7 chat.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Monthly, annual and three-year subscriptions. 30 day money back guarantee when purchased online (free 14-day trial available when purchased via iTunes or Google Play Store). Lower prices compared to other services.
  • Another services: Hosting, Domains.
Namecheap Logo 2

Namecheap, Inc. is a hosting company based in Arizona, USA. It also offers a VPN connection.

Pros and cons of Nemecheap VPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ Better price compared to others.- No encryption or transfer protocols are specified on the site
- Some connection data is logged

Ivacy VPN

  • Number of available VPN servers: 2,000+ servers, 100+ different sites, of which 20 in the Czech Republic.
  • VPN connection speed: the speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming.
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: 10.
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, routers and more.
  • Operating system: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux
  • Encryption used: 256-bit.
  • VPN protocols used: TCP, UDP, L2TP, IKEV and others.
  • Privacy Protection: Zero Log Policy, Internet Kill Switch, Secure WiFi, IPv6 Leak Protection, DDoS Protection and Split Tunneling.
  • Availability of customer support: 24/7 chat, mail.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Monthly, biennial. 30 day money back guarantee for all packages.
  • Another services: Extension to Firefox, Edge and Chrome web browsers – free version. Option to purchase a dedicated IP address, P2P support, dedicated KODI VPN application as an extension to the popular KODI video viewing application.
Ivacyvpn Logo

The owner and administrator of the Ivacy VPN service is the Singaporean company PMG Pte. Ltd. It has been on the market since 2007. In 2010, it was the first to provide the Split Tunneling service, which allows full control over which data is sent via your internet provider and which via VPN. In 2019, it was rated the fastest VPN network in the ProPrivacy.com rankings. Ivacy VPN is used by more than 500,000 households and more than 1,000 companies.

Pros and cons Ivacy VPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ Zero Log Policy
+ 30 day money back guarantee
+ Split Tunneling - the option of choosing which data is transferred via VPN and which via a regular Internet connection.
+ Free 1-day trial or $ 0.99 7-day trial for new users.
+ Services for households and companies

Norton Secure VPN

  • Number of available VPN servers: The servers are located in 30 countries, in 79 places.
  • VPN connection speed: the speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming.
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: 1-10.
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones.
  • Operating system: Windows, Android, MacOS a iOS.
  • Encryption used: AES-256 encryption at the bank encryption level, allows secure surfing over public WiFi networks or unsecured networks.
  • VPN protocols used: OpenVPN, IPsec.
  • Privacy Protection: No Log Policy (your IP address is not logged and is not provided to any third party).
  • Availability of customer support: 24/7 chat, contact form, by phone – in English. Instructions and forums in Czech or Slovak.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Annual subscription with automatic renewal.
  • Another services: In addition to a secure connection via Norton Secure VPN, you can take advantage of the Norton 360 Deluxe extension, which protects your device from malware, viruses, ransomware and other online threats. The service allows password management, and provides 50 GB of data storage in the cloud (Windows only). It also provides parental controls, a firewall and the SafeCam service for Windows computers. The service is at an additional cost.
Norton Logo (1)

NortonLifeLock Inc. is a global Internet security company. In addition to protecting devices on the Internet from spyware, viruses, ransomware and malware, it also protects the identity and privacy of the Internet through Norton Secure VPN for the home. The services are used by more than 50 million users.

Pros and cons of Norton Secure VPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ Possibility to connect up to 10 devices.- Not for commercial use
+ Subscription discount for the first year of use.- Not for Linux operating system
+ 60 day money back guarantee.- Automatic subscription renewal. If you do not want to continue using the service, pay attention to the deadlines for cancellation of the service.
+ If you have a problem connecting a device, customer support will help.- Additional services such as password manager are available at an additional cost.
+ No Log policy.

Windscribe VPN

  • Number of available VPN servers: The servers are in 63 countries for the paid version, and in 11 countries for the free version.
  • VPN connection speed: the speed is sufficient for normal browsing, file downloading and streaming. Cruise Control (automatic connection to the nearest and most powerful server).
  • How many devices can be connected at one time: Unlimited number.
  • Device types: Computers, tablets, smartphones, routers.
  • Operating system: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux.
  • Encryption used: 256-bit AES.
  • VPN protocols used: IKEv2, OpenVPN, SOCKS5 (possibility to generate configuration files in the paid version).
  • Privacy Protection: There is no logged activity on the Internet, the volume of transferred data and the date of the last use are logged – in order to recognize the quota for free users. Firewall, Kill Switch, IPv6 and DNS leak protection, Split Tunneling (possibility to choose which data will go via VPN connection and which via regular internet connection). Ability to use lists of blocked ads and malware through the ROBERT system
  • Availability of customer support: Chat and ticketing system.
  • Subscriptions / packages: Monthly or annual subscription. Tailor-made subscriptions – you choose the sites you want to make available.
  • Another services: Extension to Firefox and Chrome web browsers. Option to purchase a dedicated IP address. Possibility to buy a package for the team.
Windscribe Logo

Windscribe VPN is provided by Windscribe Limited, based in Ontario, Canada. The service is free for users with data consumption up to 10 GB per month, for higher data consumption you can purchase a subscription.

Pros and cons of Windscribe VPN

Pros (+)Cons (-)
+ R.O.B.E.R.T. firewall and ad blocking system and malware blocking system.- Fewer servers available in the free version
+ You can also choose a "tailor-made" subscription - choose the sites you want to make available.- The volume of transferred data and the date of the last use are logged
+ Possibility to buy a package for the team

Summary

If you want to have your privacy protected on the Internet, we recommend that you subscribe to a VPN connection. Paid VPN connection providers usually guarantee a strict No Log Policy – neither your internet activity nor your internet connection is logged.

The basic economic lesson is “There is no free lunch” – nothing is free. This means that if you are offered free services, look for a catch. VPN providers must manage a global network of servers, update their applications and security protocols, and assist customers through customer support. Therefore, it is not possible for them to provide their services to a wide range of customers completely free of charge.

For example, the study An Analysis of the Privacy and Security Risks of Android VPN Permission-enabled Appscomprehensively analyzed 283 VPN applications available for free on Google Play. 153 of them, after installation, required a fee for VPN services via the option of subscription, and therefore, due to limited financial resources to purchase the entire source code of the applications, only 20 of them were completely tested. In-depth analysis at the application code level focused on:

  • Verify that the application’s VPN code level requires access to sensitive data on the phone, such as access to contacts, text messages, system logs, in which various passwords can be stored, etc. The study compares access permissions for common applications, free VPN applications and paid VPN applications. The aim was to find out whether access to this data for the VPN application is justified or unnecessary and suspicious from a security point of view.
  • Presence of tracking libraries. These libraries can be used to track Internet activity and subsequently for advertising systems. It has been proven that up to 75% of free VPN applications use at least one tracking library. 8% use more than 5 tracking libraries.
  • The presence of malware in the application code was tested using the open source antivirus scanner VirusTotal. The AV-rank metric was used. It has been proven that 38% of free VPN applications have at least one malware and more than 5 AV-rank have 4% of applications.

The study also focused on the user’s awareness of the possibility of misuse of his personal data. User evaluations were analyzed and only 1% of them rated the applications as potentially risky. Many users also rated the applications that had malware in them. It is therefore not always possible to rely on user ratings.

Our recommendation is therefore: Choose authenticated VPN services.

Conclusion

In our article, we compared six VPN providers. All services offered the same level of encryption as well as the same transmission protocols, No Log Policy, protection against VPN outages and DNS leaks.

All providers guarantee a refund, in the range of 30-45 days, respectively. use of the service free of charge up to a specified amount of transferred data. This encourages you to try the service and request a refund in case of dissatisfaction, such as speed.

The VPN application was adapted for all types of devices and for different operating systems at all providers. Not every provider has an automated configuration for all types of devices and for all operating systems. In addition to price, this can also be a decisive criterion for you. You can find tutorials or advice in the form of FAQs on the websites, and if you are not exactly the technical type, customer support is also available.

What sets the services apart is the number of devices that the VPN connection simultaneously covers. Furthermore, the number of servers, their location in the world and the total number of users of the service, from which the utilization of VPN servers and thus the speed of the VPN connection can be deduced. All providers guarantee that normal browsing, file downloading and streaming are possible. However, keep in mind that a VPN connection is always a bit slower than your regular Internet connection.

Do you have experience with VPN? Share them with us in the comments section.

5/5 - (3 votes)

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