A VPN is one of the most important tools you can have in your cybersecurity toolbox. VPNs keep your identity hidden and your browser history secure. In this review, we take a close look at one of the industry leaders in VPNs, NordVPN.
NordVPN has a lot going for it. The company hails from Panama, for instance, which is outside of any surveillance jurisdictions. We also know that in the past, it’s had a reputation for reliability. Let’s check out whether NordVPN is still as good as its reputation suggests and examine how it stacks up against other top VPN services.
Servers Around the Globe
With more than 5,200 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN reassured us that we wouldn’t have to look too far for a server to use. To us, that translates to not having to worry about slow internet speeds. You see, the closer we are to a server, the quicker our internet speeds are. So, whether we’re home in Brooklyn or globetrotting with our pals, we knew that we could count on NordVPN.
Encryption locks away data about our online activities so that no one, besides authorized users, can see what we’re doing online. It’s a key feature that has led us to use VPNs, and NordVPN has impressive standards.
To establish secure connections to its servers, NordVPN used two internet protocols: IPSec and IKEv2. While IKEv2 helped re-establish our VPN connection if we lost our Wi-Fi, IPSec established encrypted connections among our many devices. These internet protocols were helpful when we switched from Wi-Fi networks to mobile hotspots or used our own data.
By default, NordVPN encrypted all of our web traffic automatically and routed it through a secure VPN server. This is known as a full-tunnel mode. But did you know that NordVPN also offers split tunneling?
Enabling split-tunnel mode, which was easy to find on our Windows laptops and Macbooks under NordVPN’s Settings tab, allowed us to route traffic to both the VPN server and a public Wi-Fi network at the same time. The idea behind split tunneling is to give us more control over our web surfing, but keep in mind that full-tunnel encryption is always the more secure option.
NordVPN also employed a double VPN, meaning that our data went through multiple servers to gain multiple layers of encryption. This concept, known as VPN server chaining or multi-hop, enhanced our security so that absolutely no one knew what we were up to.
Even if, let’s say, a hacker managed to get through one layer of encryption, a second encryption layer would stand as extra protection. Most VPNs only use one server, so we felt good knowing that our data had twice the encryption protecting it before it reached its final destination.