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How Should You Evaluate VPNs? Consider These Questions

VPN Warning

With so many consumer VPNs on the market, it can be tough to know which one to go with.

To help you make that decision, the D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology, with the help of five VPN companies, just launched a new initiative called Signals for Trustworthy VPNs. As part of that initiative, the CDT and its partners—ExpressVPN, IVPN, Mullvad, TunnelBear, and VyprVPN—have developed a set of questions they say VPN services should answer.

The questions touch on everything from a company’s business model to its privacy, security, and data use practices.

Best VPN Services

  • NordVPN

    NordVPN

     

    at

    $11.95MSRP

  • TunnelBear VPN

    TunnelBear VPN

     

    at

    $9.99MSRP

  • Private Internet Access VPN

    Private Internet Access VPN

     

    at

    $6.95MSRP

  • CyberGhost VPN

    CyberGhost VPN

     

    at

    $12.99MSRP

  • IPVanish VPN

    IPVanish VPN

     

    at

    $11.99MSRP

  • TorGuard VPN

    TorGuard VPN

     

    at

    $9.99MSRP

  • PureVPN

    PureVPN

     

    at

    $10.95MSRP

  • KeepSolid VPN Unlimited

    KeepSolid VPN Unlimited

     

    at

    $9.99MSRP

  • Golden Frog VyprVPN

    Golden Frog VyprVPN

     

    at

    $9.95MSRP

  • Hide My Ass VPN

    Hide My Ass VPN

     

    at

    $11.99MSRP

Here’s a few important questions to consider: Does your VPN provider have a stake in any review websites? Do they store any browsing or network activity data? What’s their process for responding to law enforcement requests for data? How do they protect user data against hacking attempts?

“A quick search for ‘VPN’ on an app store…reveals how opaque and confusing it can be to sort through the number and variety of different VPNs,” the CDT said in a statement. “Many promise additional security and privacy, but as the US Federal Trade Commission has warned, promises alone do not necessarily make a VPN trustworthy.”

In a statement, ExpressVPN VP Harold Li said to think of the questions as a “nutrition label for VPNs, providing a baseline set of facts you can compare across various services.”

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  • Do I Need a VPN at Home?

    Do I Need a VPN at Home?

The CDT is encouraging VPN providers to post the answers to its questions on their websites under the heading “Signals of Trustworthy VPNs.” To get the ball rolling, the five VPN partners have already posted their responses.

The initiative follows revelations this summer that some free VPN services share user data with third-party marketing firms. Offenders include Hotspot Shield, Hola, Betternet, and Facebook’s Onavo Protect.

Here at PCMag, we’ve independently tested many VPN services. Some of our favorites include NordVPN, Private Internet Access VPN, and TunnelBear. To read more about how we test VPN services, head here.

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