If you use a VPN while you’re online, you might wonder how a website can know your real identity. Is your ISP storing your login data? Are you worried that your VPN provider will hand your data over to the government or a corporation? Don’t be! There are ways you can enjoy high anonymity while using a VPN product.
Here are some of the best free VPNs for 2020 that allow you to maintain a high level of privacy when surfing the web. (You can also find helpful advice in our reviews of the best VPNs.)
NordVPN is one of the best-known VPN providers in the world due to its user-friendly interface and strong encryption protocols, which are known to be discreet. The service is hugely popular among frequent travelers and digital nomads for its global servers, which allow you to access whatever content you want, regardless of where you are located. Whether you want to watch TV shows or stream movies, you can do so without worrying about region restrictions. (You will need a U.S. based server to do this, however.) Better yet, you can use NordVPN’s nifty feature to create a VPN tunnel via your smartphone, which enables you to conceal your real IP address and roam the web freely. (I recommend this method if you’re interested in keeping your VPN connection always up and running.)
VyprVPN is one of the best VPNs with a focus on privacy. The company was co-founded by Jake Bernstein, who also founded the now-defunct De-Anonymizer VPN. (Don’t worry, we will explain what that is later.) Jake created VyprVPN with the express purpose of protecting users’ personal data. (His goal was to create a product that gives users “a sense of safety and freedom on the web,” according to the company’s website.) Naturally, the idea behind VyprVPN is to keep your identity private, which the company claims is the best approach to take when surfing the web. All the VPN’s servers are located in various places around the world to provide maximum privacy and security for its users. (Again, if you want to keep your VPN connection always active, you can use their iOS app or Set-Up Wizard to do so. Alternatively, you can download the app and log in with your Apple ID.)
Also known as the ‘Hide My Ass’ VPN, ExpressVPN is another famous VPN provider that also focuses on providing strong privacy protections to its users. The service was co-founded by Stuart Leighton who also helped create the Safer Web Foundation. (The Safer Web Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes and defends privacy and security on the web.) He also founded and serves as CEO of Good VPN, which operates the ExpressVPN service. It is fair to say that both ExpressVPN and the Safer Web Foundation are leading the way when it comes to prioritizing users’ safety and privacy online. (They’ve even created special tools and protocols to guarantee this.)
Also known as the ‘Ghost VPN,’ CyberGhost is a relatively new entrant to the VPN space, but has already established itself as one of the best free VPNs for 2020. The service was co-founded by ex-MAD (Malware Anti-Debug) engineer Marek Suchòwicz. (MAD is an anti-reverse engineering technology that prevents security researchers from easily locating and exploiting security bugs in software such as VPN software.) After completing his studies, Marek worked as a malware researcher for various companies, including IBM, where he tested mobile security software. He then founded and led the development of CyberGhost, which has since grown to become one of the largest VPN providers in the world. (You might also remember the company from their sponsorship of the Hacking Distinction 2020 awards.)
KeepSolid VPN is yet another new VPN provider that offers strong privacy protections to its users. The company was co-founded by former military intelligence agent and cyber security researcher Julian Sanchez. (He also helps run the Errata Security blog, which focuses on researching and uncovering security issues and flaws in software.) Julian created KeepSolid as a response to the growing number of attacks on the blockchain. At least 20 percent of the world’s Bitcoins are currently stored on the Ethereum blockchain, which is prone to hackers and government surveillance. (If you’re interested in keeping your Bitcoins safe, you can use a hardware wallet to store them, or move them to a different blockchain whenever possible.) KeepSolid hopes to provide similar privacy and security benefits to the users of the Ethereum blockchain. (To give you an idea of how effective their service can be, they were the sponsors of the Hacking Distinction Awards in 2018 and 2019.)
Private Internet Access
Finally, we arrive at Private Internet Access (PIA). First, their website is pretty slick—they designed it to look like a ‘smart’ phone screen—so it’s easy to navigate. Once you’re on their site, you’ll see a big green ‘A’ in the upper-right corner. This is their ‘logo,’ which they use to identify themselves on the web. (It is a common convention for VPN providers to have a symbol or logo of some kind to represent themselves online.) If you click on this logo, it’ll take you to a landing page where you can find out more about the company and its offering.
What makes PIA stand out from the crowd is that they were one of the first VPN companies to implement military-grade encryption into their products.
With regards to their VPN service, they claim to have 29 locations across the globe, so you’re never far from a server. You can use their slick Windows or Mac client to access their awesome servers, or you can use their iOS or Android apps to connect to their servers. (The apps are also available for download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, respectively.)
I should mention that the company provides a money-back guarantee if you meet the right conditions. In case you’re curious, those conditions are as follows:
- You have to try out the service for 30 days;
- You have to cancel your subscription plan within the first 31 days; and
- You have to notify them within the first 30 days that you tried out their service.
If you meet these three criteria, you’re entitled to a full refund on your subscription. (You will have to submit the request via email to get a refund, as they will not be able to process the request otherwise.)
What Is a VPN, And Why Is It Important?
At this point, you might be wondering what a VPN is and why you should care about using one. (If you’re new to the world of VPNs and security, you might also be wondering what a’security’ expert is doing advising you on how to protect your privacy online. Good question. Let’s dive into that.)
In short, a VPN stands for “virtual private network.” When you use a VPN to connect to the internet, you’re basically creating a secure tunnel between your device and the server you’re connecting to. (For more technical information, you can read our guide on what is IPv6 and why you should care.)
Why do you need a VPN? There are many reasons why you might want to protect your identity online, but here are the most prominent ones: