For any expat, the most important things you’ll need your VPN to provide are security and privacy. You’ll need your VPN to be secure so that you can maintain your privacy online and keep your browsing habits and sensitive data hidden from hackers, ISPs, and government agencies. And you’ll need your VPN to be secure so that you can bypass government censorship efforts, conduct business securely, and safely use public Wi-Fi. In this post, I’ll let you know what makes a VPN secure, what features to look out for, and recommend a few of the most secure VPNs for expats.
It’s important to be aware that some VPNs are more secure than others, so you’ll need to choose wisely if you want the most secure VPN to protect your privacy while you’re living abroad as an expat. Many, nay, most VPNs claim to be the “most secure in the world” but the truth of the matter is that the majority of them are anything but. There are too many VPNs out there that simply don’t do what it takes to provide an adequate level of privacy and security for their users, so it’s important to be careful and know what to look out for before entrusting any VPN provider with protecting your privacy online.
Though there are VPN providers on the market that do little to protect user privacy, it’s good to know that there are VPN providers that have your back and genuinely do everything in their power to keep you safe and secure online. The VPNs that keep no logs of what you do online when connected to their networks, offer robust encryption protocols, protect against DNS leaks, and include critical privacy features like a kill-switch are the types of providers you should be looking for when considering a secure VPN. Any VPN provider that doesn’t deliver these standards is simply not good enough to protect your privacy or be considered truly secure.
A VPN that logs your internet activity while connected to its servers can potentially be liable to hand over that data to law enforcement authorities if served with a warrant. Even if you’re not doing anything that may be considered unlawful, I’d presume you wouldn’t really want anyone (even your VPN provider) from monitoring what you’re up to online at any time. If you want a secure VPN, you need a VPN that has a strict no-logs policy in place.
As far as VPN encryption protocols go, I’d recommend sticking with providers that offer OpenVPN, as it is the most secure VPN protocol available today. That said, more and more providers these days are also offering the newer WireGuard VPN protocol, which is also considered to be fully secure, but it’s not as battle-tested and proven in the wild as OpenVPN is. I’d feel safe using either one, to be honest, as both provide excellent security in addition to supporting fast connection speeds.
If your VPN leaks your true IP address when connected to its servers, then it is not doing what it needs to do to protect your privacy and secure your identity when connected to its network. When your VPN doesn’t provide sufficient DNS leak protection, your ISP can see what websites you visit and keep logs of your internet activity. If that’s not bad enough, your ISP may be sharing this data with government agencies or law enforcement if obliged to do so. This is obviously not something you’d want to risk regardless of what you’re up to online. When you sign up for a VPN, you expect it to protect your privacy online, not leak your activity to your ISP, and in turn, the authorities – especially when you’re an expat in a country that engages in widespread online surveillance on its populace. A VPN that provides DNS leak protection will guard against this and keep an airtight lock on your internet activity.
Any VPN provider that wishes to join the ranks of the most secure VPNs is one that offers a kill-switch. Despite the menacing moniker, this wicked-sounding feature is actually one of the most important to have in your back pocket as part of your secure VPN package. This is because a kill-switch will effectively “kill” your internet connection should your VPN connection drop for whatever reason. Why should you care? Because if your VPN connection fails and your internet connection keeps chugging along, then you’re left completely exposed and unprotected by the VPN’s encryption, meaning your ISP, hackers, government agencies, and others potentially wanting to snoop on your internet activity could see what you’re doing online. A kill-switch will cut your internet connection and prevent your activity from being exposed, completely unencrypted and accessible to unauthorized parties.
Above and beyond the essential security and privacy features that any secure VPN should offer, many VPNs offer extras like malware and phishing protection, double encryption, and Onion over VPN that are nice to have and will certainly appeal to expats in certain situations but are not entirely essential.
If, however, you’re an expat in a country like China, for example, that actively bans VPNs and engages in heavy-handed surveillance and censorship, then the extra security feature that you’ll absolutely without question need is obfuscation. If your VPN offers obfuscation – often referred to as ‘stealth’ – technology, then your VPN traffic will be disguised as regular HTTPS traffic, allowing you to bypass firewalls and effectively hiding the fact that you’re using a VPN altogether.
What are the most secure VPNs for expats
Well, I’d say the most secure VPN I’ve come across, the one that checks all the boxes and does everything required of it (and does it well) has to be ExpressVPN, hands down. With ExpressVPN you’re getting the most well-rounded VPN in the game and one that offers everything you need as an expat to keep you completely safe and secure online. ExpressVPN offers OpenVPN encryption as well as its own brand new proprietary VPN protocol called Lightway that promises to provide an even faster and more secure VPN experience. On top of that, you’ll also get DNS leak protection, a kill-switch, and obfuscation, along with a solid no-logs policy. The only downside is that ExpressVPN is a bit on the pricier side when compared to other providers. It’s a premium product with a premium price tag, which may be a deal-breaker if you’re an expat on a budget. But if you can swing it, you really can’t get any better than ExpressVPN, and all things considered, you’re really getting what you pay for with this one.
If you’re looking for a secure VPN that’s a little more budget-friendly, then I’d suggest looking into Private Internet Access or Surfshark. Both are excellent providers that seriously take user privacy to heart, offer everything you’d need to stay secure online, and can be incredibly affordable if you opt for a longer-term subscription plan.
If you need something that’s super user-friendly, secure, and affordable as well, then you should check out CyberGhost VPN, which is a provider based out of Romania that similarly gets the job done when it comes to securing your digital privacy. I think CyberGhost’s apps are a pleasure to use and the company really does a great job of making things simple and straightforward while still offering a robust VPN product.
As an expat, it’s absolutely critical that your VPN is secure. You’re simply risking too much and not getting the protection you need if you go with a VPN that doesn’t do enough to keep you secure online. With a secure VPN, you’ll be able to hide your internet activity from hackers and safe from overbearing government surveillance efforts, securely communicate with friends, family, and colleagues online, do business and manage your finances without risking your sensitive data, and use public Wi-Fi with peace of mind. If you truly want to thrive as an expat, you need a VPN; but not just any VPN, you need a secure VPN that goes the distance and gives you all the tools necessary for protecting your digital privacy while you’re abroad. Check out my best expat VPN guide for more information about how to choose a service and for my recommendations.