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VPN Security: How safe is a VPN?

Bulletproof security and state-of-the-art encryption for ultimate online protection.

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How does VPN security work?

A VPN protects your online life by encrypting your internet traffic and hiding your real IP address.

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From the moment you connect to a VPN server, all data you send and receive is hidden from your ISP, government agencies, and other third parties. You also get a new IP, which hides your location and makes your actions online difficult to track. All of this means that your identity is protected, and your private data stays private — no matter what.

What is AES encryption?

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Let’s start with the basics of how encryption works. To put it simply, it creates a secure ‘tunnel’ that connects your computer to the internet through a remote server. The ‘tunnel’ is protected with something called Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES-256, one of the best encryption algorithms. What makes it so great? For one, it’s used to defend several government organizations around the world and is highly recommended by several cybersec experts. Let’s look from the technical side why AES makes for the most secure VPN.


The answer is in the name – 256. This means that the key to break this encryption would involve trying 2^256 different combinations. To put that into scale, the number of combinations is higher than the number of atoms in the known universe.


Given enough time and resources, a determined criminal could hack into anything. But to break into AES-256, they would need to use advanced technology, which doesn’t exist yet. Even then, it would take them billions of years to hack. So, technically speaking, it’s not impossible to break into — just very improbable.


What encryption protocols are used?

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The best tool available

AES-256 isn’t the only thing that ensures you get the best VPN security. Our apps utilize a combination of either IKEv2/IPsec or OpenVPN encryption protocols.

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Open-sourced and constantly updated

OpenVPN is an open-source security protocol, which means that it is frequently tested by the cybersecurity community. Each newly discovered flaw or vulnerability is quickly stamped out. The sheer amount of work that is constantly pumped into it is what makes it so reliable.

To use AES-256 alongside IKEv2/IPsec and OpenVPN is to power your encryption with excessive levels of protection. Here at NordVPN, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Making the best even better

NordLynx is an encryption protocol that was built specifically to cater to those who want optimum speed. As safe as a VPN will make you online, it will also take up a very small portion of your bandwidth. While most users won’t notice the dip in performance, those with a need for speed certainly will. This issue is a thing of the past with NordLynx.

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No-logs privacy

What makes the technology so fast is the fact that it’s built around the WireGuard VPN protocol, the fastest one out there. The only issue with WireGuard is that user privacy is not guaranteed. Luckily, NordVPN has found a solution: we developed a double Network Address Translation (NAT) system to reinforce NordLynx. This means that no identifiable information will be stored on any of NordLynx servers. Your privacy is paramount to us.

What if someone manages to get around the tunnel?

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How it happens

The only way to get around NordVPN is through human error. Let’s say, you connect your device to public Wi-Fi with NordVPN deactivated and only turn it on once you’re already online. For that handful of precious seconds, you are vulnerable.

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How we protect you

When data transfers through an encrypted tunnel from your computer to the website you’re visiting, the traffic will be hidden from prying eyes.

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What they see

A cybercriminal will be able to see the data exchange between your device and the website, but the information packets will be nothing but gibberish to them.

A Kill Switch is the last line of defense

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A fail-safe measure

The Kill Switch is the final defense measure – it activates if you’re unexpectedly disconnected from one of our servers. A criminal will not be able to connect to your device if you’re not even online.

Once the NordVPN app detects that the VPN connection has been lost, it will instantly block your device from accessing the internet. Your internet connection will stay blocked until you disable Kill Switch yourself, or if the secure tunnel is re-established.

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Protected, online and off

The settings for this feature are customizable – you can choose which apps will stay connected and which ones will get shut down.

Even if your connection to one of NordVPN’s servers drops, your online activity will still be safe with our Kill Switch feature.

Are VPNs safe?

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Yes, and you should be too. If you're active online and want to feel safe, a VPN should be just as important as the antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices.

A VPN is the safest way to stay anonymous online, especially when you look at the alternative: using the dark web. While using the dark web to remain unidentified online may seem an attractive prospect to some, remember that, in doing so, you’re subjecting yourself to unnecessary risks. A VPN will provide you with complete online encryption with no chance of stumbling on something.

Is NordVPN safe?

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We believe your privacy deserves the best protection. Next-level encryption, coupled with a no-logs policy, are a testament to this. Once you activate your NordVPN app, you are the only person who knows what you are doing online.

Remember, a subscription VPN is always more secure than a free VPN. Why? A free VPN has to make money somehow. Some can sell your information to the highest bidder – and these are usually advertising companies. Your safety is our number 1 priority. So if you want the best VPN security, you should choose NordVPN.

Check out any NordVPN review and learn why it’s considered the leading VPN in the industry.

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