As governments around the world ramp up mass surveillance on their own citizens, the search for online privacy has driven many people to adopt the use of a VPN. An annual VPN usage study from 2021 shows that 85% of adult internet users are aware of VPNs and what they do, up from 72% in 2020. Since a VPN is an indispensable tool in protecting your online privacy, it is important to pick the right one.
In this article, we’ll look at the reasons you should use a VPN and the factors to consider when selecting a VPN.
Why use a VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) refers to a suite of technologies that aims to increase your online privacy and security. A VPN works by encrypting and routing your internet traffic through a secure tunnel, preventing your internet service provider from tracking your online activity and the website you’re visiting from seeing your real IP address.
A VPN also allows you to:
- Bypass geo-restricted content and websites
- Use public WiFi safely
- Mask your IP address and location
- Avoid censorship and government surveillance
- Access streaming libraries around the world
- Use P2P file-sharing services like BitTorrent
Factors to consider when picking a VPN
While there are many VPNs on the market, not all of them are created equally and your privacy is not necessarily protected just because you’re using a VPN. You should only choose a VPN that is private, trustworthy, and secure. These are the factors you should look out for when evaluating a VPN.
A no-logs policy should be the first requirement you consider when picking a VPN. A VPN with a no-logs policy does not monitor your online activity, meaning it does not keep or collect information on what websites you visit, what you download, or what you search for. Everything you do online is private, and your data cannot be accessed by third parties, such as your ISP or authorities.
By default, Proton VPN enforces a strict no-logs policy, and we do not keep session logs or metadata that can compromise your privacy. Our no-logs policy is audited by external, independent security professionals, and we publish the results on our website for all to see. Proton VPN is also developed by the same team who created Proton Mail, the world’s largest encrypted email service. Our mission is to build an internet where privacy is the default, and we’re committed to respecting your privacy by keeping zero logs about what you do online.
A VPN’s legal jurisdiction dictates how it can operate and the laws it has to abide by. As a result, it plays a critical role in determining the level of privacy protection it can provide. Some VPNs are based in countries that are members of surveillance networks, such as the 5 Eyes or 14 Eyes intelligence-sharing agreements. If you choose a VPN based in these countries, there is a chance of your online activity being captured and shared with foreign governments.
Compared to other countries, Switzerland has rigorous privacy protections in place to protect its citizens and businesses. Any surveillance request that comes from a foreign government has to be approved by a Swiss court before it is legally valid. For these reasons, we’ve chosen Switzerland as Proton Mail and Proton VPN’s headquarters. This allows us to fully extend the privacy protections afforded by Swiss laws to the entire Proton community.
Strong encryption protocols
The security of a VPN begins with its encryption protocols. As technology advances, obsolete and outdated encryption protocols can pose a serious risk to your privacy. However, there are still encryption ciphers and VPN protocols that have withstood the test of time:
- AES: AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard and is the cipher of choice for the US government when securing classified data.
- ChaCha20: An advanced encryption cipher that is as secure as AES. It is used in the WireGuard VPN protocol for high-speed connections.
As a privacy-focused company, we’ve built Proton VPN with the highest security standards and only with trusted and vetted VPN protocols. We use both WireGuard and OpenVPN, which are widely considered to be two of the most secure and safe VPN protocols available.
You should be able to protect your online activity with a VPN no matter what device you’re using, which is why multi-platform support is another factor to consider. Proton VPN offers apps for all major platforms, including:
Our native apps are intuitive and easy to use, allowing you to connect to the internet safely no matter where you are. Our VPN apps are also open source and have been independently audited by top security firms. You can find the results of the audits on our website.
The number of servers a VPN has directly impacts how much traffic it can handle and the speed of your connection. This means you should only pick a VPN that offers good server coverage.
Proton VPN has a global network of over 1,500 servers in 60+ countries, and our unique VPN Accelerator can improve VPN speeds by up to 400%. If you’re looking for additional privacy, Proton VPN’s Secure Core servers route your online traffic through privacy-friendly countries, such as Sweden and Iceland before connecting you to the server of your choice. This means your online traffic passes through multiple servers, making it difficult for third parties to trace your activity back to you.
Protect your privacy with Proton VPN
At Proton, we believe everyone has the right to choose how their data is shared and with whom. Using a VPN is one of the easiest ways to protect your online privacy. Our Free plan:
- Has no speed or bandwidth restrictions
- Does not display ads
- Has a strict no-logs policy
- Is protected by Swiss privacy laws
All you need to sign up for a free Proton VPN plan is an email address. Once you’ve downloaded the Proton VPN app for your device, you can connect to a server of your choice in just one click.