Secure VPN providers 2024: safe options for the best security and encryption

Hackers, data leaks, third-party snoopers: the internet is jam-packed with threats to your digital privacy. Fortunately, a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) can help you reclaim your security. That's because it is security software that both spoofs your location and encrypts your data in transit inside the VPN tunnel, adding an extra layer of protection to your browsing.

The very best VPN services keep your data hidden from the prying eyes of governments, ISPs, and malicious hackers, while helping you bypass online restrictions in just a few clicks. You'll even be able to enjoy a more secure online banking and shopping experience, torrent safely, and unlock foreign streaming catalogs to keep up with your favorite shows when traveling.

Unfortunately, not all VPNs have been designed with absolute security in mind. That's why our team of experts has spent hundreds of hours over the last 15 years thoroughly testing dozens and dozens of services, weeding out the services that don't make the cut. I've compared some of the industry's top services, and their security features, to curate this roundup of the 5 most secure VPNs in 2024.

The three most secure VPNs at a glance

In a hurry? No problem. Check out the three secure VPNs that lead the pack:

1. ExpressVPN: the best overall secure VPN

1. ExpressVPN: the best overall secure VPN
Tried-and-tested encryption protocols, a huge list of security features, and an audited no-logs policy make ExpressVPN the best, and most secure, VPN provider around. Plus, 24/7 customer support is on hand to help troubleshoot any issues.

Admittedly, ExpressVPN is a pricey provider, though you'll be able to sweeten the pot with 1 year of unlimited cloud storage and 3 extra months of protection if you opt for the 12-month subscription. A 30-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of time to put the service to the test on your own devices, too.

2. Proton VPN: superb Swiss security standards

2. Proton VPN: superb Swiss security standards
The Swiss provider has upped its game when it comes to safeguarding your privacy, with a clear no-logs policy and a long list of handy features. Users also get access to a ton of secure international servers and open-source apps that anyone can scour for vulnerabilities.

Proton VPN is one of the best free VPNs around, too, thanks to its unlimited free plan. To make the most of its toolkit, however, you'll want to check out its paid options—and rest assured that you're covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Mullvad: online anonymity at its best

3. Mullvad: online anonymity at its best
Few VPNs take security as seriously as Mullvad—a longtime favorite of privacy advocates around the world. The service doesn't keep logs, has undertaken external audits, and won't even ask for your email when you sign up.

Mullvad's apps could use a little TLC, and it's not the cheapest provider, but its commitment to user security makes it a stand-out option. Take the service for a risk-free test drive with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Recent updates

The provider rankings remain the same since my last round of updates. If you'd like to see what's happening in the wider world of VPNs, though, check out our summary of the latest VPN test results.

The best secure VPN services in 2024

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Check out my analysis of the industry's most privacy-focused VPNs, how they compare with one another, and everything I liked (and didn't like) about each service. I'll also take a closer look at their roster of security features, performance, ease of use, and value for money.

The best secure VPN overall

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

Best all-round VPN for security, encryption, and everything else

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 8 | Refund period: 30 days | 24/7 customer support: Yes

Audited no-logs service
Ultra-reliable kill switch
Intuitive apps for all devices
Servers in more than 94 countries
Excellent 24/7 customer support
Above average prices
Not the fastest VPN
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a VPN with proven privacy: ExpressVPN's no-logs policy is regularly audited, ensuring your sensitive information is always in safe hands.

✔️ You want to unblock global content: take your pick of more than 160 locations in 105 countries, and effortlessly sidestep pesky geo-restrictions.

✔️ You need easy-to-use apps: all of ExpressVPN's apps have a fresh and fun design that's easy to navigate—no matter what device you're using.

Don't subscribe if:

You're a bargain hunter: ExpressVPN subscriptions aren't cheap, but the premium price tag does bag you a premium product.

You need a full security suite: while ExpressVPN is the best VPN service on the block, it isn't an all-in-one solution with built-in antivirus capabilities.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🔒 ExpressVPN is the perfect blend of security and useability, with an impressive array of tools designed to keep your browsing sessions private. Put ExpressVPN to the test in your own time, without risking a penny, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more?

Visit our ExpressVPN review to see why this service tops our overall VPN rankings.

ExpressVPN is the total package, and includes every ounce of security you'd expect from an industry leader. The provider uses robust AES 256-bit encryption, almost exclusively, together with the OpenVPN protocol. If you're looking for something a little speedier, but don't want to compromise on security, the WireGuard-inspired, proprietary Lightway protocol is a fantastic alternative.

Put ExpressVPN under the microscope, and you'll see that it also uses an RSA-4096 handshake (a form of connection negotiation between your device and a VPN server) and SHA-512 hash message authentication code (HMAC), along with PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy). That's a solid setup that'll keep you, and your devices, secure whether you're at home or on the go.

Try ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

The provider rounds off its offering with a reliable kill switch that'll cut your internet connection if the VPN happens to drop. The kill switch (and ExpressVPN's WebRTC and DNS leak prevention) ensures that none of your sensitive information ends up in the clutches of snoopers and cybercriminals. I'm also impressed by the fact that the VPN uses its own private, zero-knowledge 256-bit encrypted DNS on each server.

On the subject of servers, ExpressVPN has a massive network spanning 105 countries—which is great news if you're looking for a reliable streaming VPN. During my most recent tests, ExpressVPN had no trouble unblocking the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and you'll also be able to take advantage of its wide array of servers to bypass restrictions and blocks that'd otherwise keep you away from regional news sites and social media platforms.

ExpressVPN, admittedly, isn't the quickest VPN I've put to the test. That doesn't mean it's a slouch, however, and is still more than capable of handling online games and P2P traffic. If you are on the hunt for a torrenting VPN, you'll be glad to learn that ExpressVPN is an audited no-logs provider that just isn't interested in keeping tabs on what you get up to online.

I'd also like to see ExpressVPN increase its simultaneous connections from 8 to something more generous. Other (cheaper) providers give you more, after all, and 8 may not be enough to keep all of your favorite gadgets secure. ExpressVPN is undeniably pricey, too, though you have plenty of time to see whether its security features and easy-to-use apps are worth the investment.

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ExpressVPN test results:
AttributesNotesRating
DesignA stylish design that looks great on desktop and mobile⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useAn auto-connect feature makes it easy to get up and running⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOther services are quicker, but it's still a speedy option⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks popular platforms, like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyMilitary-grade protection and an audited no-logs policy⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 live chat is always on hand to help troubleshoot⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceMore expensive than some of my other picks, but packed with features⭐⭐⭐

The best free secure VPN

Proton VPN interface for various platforms

(Image credit: Proton VPN)

2. Proton VPN

A privacy-focused provider that you can try for free

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 85+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Refund period: 30 days—free version available | 24/7 customer support: No

Open-source, audited, and top-quality apps 
Free plan with unlimited bandwidth
No significant logging of any kind  
Improved network coverage (also for free plan)
Offers a Linux GUI
Somewhat pricey
Customer support needs improvement
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a totally unlimited free VPN: unlike other free services, Proton VPN doesn't hold you back with data caps and bandwidth limits.

✔️ You're a Linux loyalist: Proton VPN is one of only a handful of services to offer full GUI and Linux support.

✔️ You want a VPN that champions digital privacy: Proton VPN launched the VPN Observatory tool to pinpoint spikes in censorship around the world.

Don't subscribe if:

Speed is your priority: Proton VPN has seen some improvement on the performance front, but NordVPN is still a quicker option.

You need servers everywhere: compared to the likes of ExpressVPN and Surfshark, Proton VPN's range of locations is somewhat limited.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

🔒 Proton VPN has been a favorite of privacy purists and advocates for years, now, and is an active participant in the fight for digital privacy. Check it out for free, or subscribe, and take advantage of a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more?

Head on over to our Proton VPN review to learn more about this industry staple.

Same provider behind popular encrypted email service, ProtonMail, Proton VPN has tons to show off when it comes to privacy. Last year, the provider collaborated with the Tor Project to build a more secure internet and an improved user experience when connecting to its apps over Tor. It even launched its very own privacy-first and censorship-resistant CAPTCHA last September.

However, the Swiss provider prefers concrete proof over mere promises and blind truth. You can pay anonymously using Bitcoin, for example, and its strict no-logs policy guarantees your sensitive data cannot be leaked in any way. All of Proton VPN's apps are independently audited and open-source, too, meaning that anyone can check the code for bugs. I also took a look at the Proton VPN site, and its Android app, in search of trackers, but couldn't find a single one.

Try Proton VPN's unlimited free plan.

Proton VPN doesn't disappoint when you dig deeper into its security offerings, either. Strong encryption across the best protocols (WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2) is integrated with a MultiHop VPN function, which adds an extra layer of protection to your browsing sessions. An effective kill switch will also ensure you're not compromised if the VPN drops.

The service has been through something of a transformation, recently, and has upped its network coverage. Its unlimited free VPN can now access 100 servers, rather than just 29, and folks with premium subscriptions have over 3,000 to choose from. If you really want to shore up your security, the 104 Secure Core servers route your traffic through networks across Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden—known privacy havens.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how many streaming services Proton VPN can unblock, too. I was able to browse through various Netflix libraries (including the UK and US), Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+, to name a few. Proton VPN itself advises against using the Secure Core servers when streaming, however, claiming that the additional security measure can cause poor video quality.

It's also worth noting that you'll need to sign up for a paid plan to take advantage of Proton VPN's streaming and torrenting support, which is a little disappointing. I also noticed that its WireGuard speeds have dropped slightly from my last test—from 510 Mbps to 460 Mbps—though this is still more than you'll need for smooth 4K streaming. The good news is that the free plan is well and truly unlimited, with no sneaky caps, so you can get a taste of Proton VPN's apps and features without forking over any cash.

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Proton VPN test results:
AttributesNotesRating
DesignThe dark mode interface looks particularly awesome⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useMobile apps are intuitive, while the desktop can be more complex⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceA decent performer that doesn't top our charts⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingPaid users have access to the most popular streaming platforms⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyTons of security features, and extra add-ons, avaialble⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportAgents aren't always available, though there are plenty of support articles⭐⭐⭐
PriceAn unlimited free plan, but paid counterparts are relatively pricey⭐⭐⭐⭐