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VPN Report 2020

Security-testing lab AV-Comparatives has released its report of 35 consumer VPN (virtual private network) products for Windows. The test concentrated on two main aspects of the programs, namely speed and privacy.

VPN software is used to establish secure, encrypted connections across the Internet. Anyone who is concerned about privacy on the Internet should consider using a VPN program. But it should not slow down your Internet experience.

In public Wi-Fi networks, e.g. in cafés, everybody is sharing the same internet connection. This makes it easy for cybercriminals to steal your data, in so-called man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. By encrypting your private data, a VPN makes it impossible for anyone to read your network traffic, thus ensuring your security.

Virtual private network services can also protect your privacy, as they hide your genuine IP address and other details. Finally, VPNs have become popular in recent times as a means of hiding your geographical location. This might allow users to access e.g. video streaming services that are geo-restricted, that is, only available to users in specific countries.

AV-Comparatives scrutinised 35 popular consumer VPN products. As usual, testers employed a carefully worked-out methodology that would provide the most realistic and unbiased results. The test simulated both a UK-based user who connects to a VPN server in the USA, and a user in the USA connecting to a UK-based VPN server.

Using a VPN should not slow down your Internet connection. AV-Comparatives tested download speed, upload speed, and latency (reaction time). The privacy-related tests were divided into two parts.

Firstly, a so-called kill-switch test was performed. This checks whether the VPN program will stop all Internet traffic if the encrypted connection drops out. This ensures that your real IP address cannot be exposed.

Secondly, a multi-component leak test ensures that no data relating to your genuine network location, such as your IP address, can be seen when the VPN is in operation. We also checked each vendor’s privacy policy, and if you can buy the products anonymously.

The full report, which contains product reviews as well as the test results, can be downloaded free of charge from AV-Comparatives’ website.

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