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Norton VPN Review—Does It Protect Your Data?

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Jun 7, 2024
 • 
10
 Min Read

With the estimated losses to cybercrime projected to increase from $9.22 trillion to $13.82 trillion between 2024 and 2028, adopting robust security measures is crucial for individuals and businesses alike. One such measure is using a reliable virtual private network (VPN) to secure browser traffic and protect online security. 

Even though it was launched a few years ago, Norton VPN has become a top contender in the VPN market. But does this service meet all the requirements for enhanced online safety? This comprehensive Norton VPN review will help you make an informed decision by answering the following questions: 

  • How does Norton VPN work?
  • What privacy and security features does it offer?
  • What security concerns still remain? 

This article will also introduce a way to bolster the security of your sensitive details online beyond the protection you get from a VPN.

Disclaimer: The information in this review is accurate and up-to-date as of March 2024. Please note that Norton VPN's features and performance may vary over time depending on the updates and changes made by the provider after this review's publication.

How Norton VPN Works

An illustration of a global network security concept with a world map, connection points, and a centered lock icon
Source: VISHNU_KV

Norton VPN follows these five key steps to keep users’ online activities secure and private[1]:

  1. When an individual activates Norton VPN, the app establishes a connection with a server in the VPN’s network.
  2. Norton VPN encrypts the user’s internet traffic, making data unreadable to anyone who might intercept it.
  3. The encrypted data is then transmitted through the secure tunnel to the VPN server. The server decrypts the data and sends it to the intended destination.
  4. The destination sends data back to the VPN server, which then encrypts it and sends it back through the secure tunnel to the user’s device.
  5. Norton VPN decrypts the incoming data on the user’s device, allowing the individual to access the information.

Features of Norton VPN

A photo of a smartphone placed on a wooden surface and displaying a security app interface
Source: BiljaST

To ensure users benefit from its service, Norton VPN offers a variety of features and services, which fall into these categories:

  1. Privacy and security measures
  2. Speed and performance
  3. Global server network
  4. Device compatibility
  5. Ease of use
  6. Customer support

Privacy and Security Measures

Norton VPN follows a strict no-logs policy, ensuring no user activity is tracked or recorded. The table below describes other notable privacy and security features Norton VPN offers:

Security Feature Description
AES 256-bit encryption Norton Secure VPN protects users’ data with symmetric end-to-end, bank-grade encryption[2], which is the industry standard for data encryption and is considered virtually impenetrable.
Kill Switch If the VPN connection drops, this feature automatically disconnects the device from the internet, reducing the risk of a user’s data being exposed[2].
Split tunneling  This feature allows you to manually choose which apps you want to exclude from connecting to the VPN. You can simultaneously route specific content through the VPN and use direct internet access for other, less sensitive content[2].
Compromised network detection The service automatically secures the connection if an individual connects to a suspicious Wi-Fi network[2].
Ad-tracker blocking  The VPN has a feature that protects against ad tracking and blocks targeted advertisements[2].

Speed and Performance

Encrypting data and routing it through a VPN server can decrease internet speed. Norton VPN claims that its service doesn’t impact your internet speed as much as other VPNs, noting a 2.5x faster data transfer rate than the average VPN[2].

However, speed tests conducted for some of the most popular VPNs[17] found that Norton VPN slows download speed by 9.80% and upload speed by 87.98%, putting it at the bottom of the list of evaluated VPNs. Regarding latency, it showed a significant increase of 6,175%.

It’s important to note that the speed users experience may vary depending on their location, the server they're connected to, and their internet service provider. 

Global Server Network

Norton VPN operates a network of servers across 29 countries[4]. Having servers in multiple countries allows users to bypass geo-restrictions and access content that may not be available in their location. 

The extensive server coverage reduces the likelihood of server congestion, which can slow down a VPN’s speed. Still, Norton VPN lets users connect to a country, not a specific city. While this approach simplifies the user experience, it may impact performance for users who want to connect to the closest possible server for the lowest latency.

Device Compatibility

Norton VPN is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS operating systems. Since you don’t have to switch between different VPNs for each operating system your devices run on, you can have most of your devices covered when you’re on the go.

You can use Norton VPN with:

  • Desktop and laptop computers (Windows, macOS)[2]
  • Mobile devices (Android, iOS)[2]

Installing and setting up Norton VPN is simple and straightforward—the table below explains how to install Norton VPN on specific operating systems:

Operating System How To Install Norton VPN
Windows 
  1. Sign in to your Norton account

  2. Go to Secure VPN and click Download

  3. Run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process

macOS
  1. Log into your Norton account

  2. Go to the section labeled Secure VPN and click Download

  3. Open the app and follow the setup guide

Android
  1. Download the Norton VPN app from the Google Play Store

  2. Open the app and follow the on-screen instructions to install the VPN

iOS
  1. Get the Norton VPN app from the App Store

  2. Open the app and follow the setup guide

Ease of Use

Norton VPN offers a clean, user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate. The main dashboard provides a clear visual indication of the connection status, and users can easily switch between different server locations from a drop-down menu.

The intuitive settings menu allows users to customize their experience according to their needs. For instance, users can choose to launch Norton VPN at startup or enable the Kill Switch feature for added security.

Customer Support

Norton provides several options for users seeking assistance. It offers 24/7 live chat support, which provides immediate help for technical issues. The service also provides online resources on its support page, including guides and FAQs, which can help users troubleshoot issues independently.

Norton VPN vs. Other Services—Quick Comparison

A photo of an individual facing a laptop with VPN connected and holding a card in one hand
Source: StefanCoders

While Norton VPN is one of the most popular services out there, you may want to compare it to other VPNs and determine whether one of them meets your particular needs better:

VPN Number of Servers Number of Countries Where the Servers Are Located  Connections Notable Features
Norton VPN 1000+[4] 29[4] 1,5, or 10[2]
  • Compromised Network Detection

  • Split Tunneling[2]

NordVPN 6200+[5] 111+[5] Up to 6[6]
  • Double VPN Onion Over VPN

  • CyberSec (Threat Protection)[5]

Surfshark VPN 3200[7] 100+[7] Unlimited[8] 
  • CleanWeb (ad blocker)

  • Whitelister (split tunneling)

  • MultiHop[8]

ExpressVPN Unspecified 105[9] Up to 8[10]
  • Network Lock (kill switch)

  • Split Tunneling TrustedServer Technology[11]

Proton VPN 4221[12] 91[12] Up to 10[13]
  • Secure Core NetShield (ad blocker) 

  • Forward Secrecy[14]

Mozilla VPN 680+[15] 44[15] Up to 5[16]
  • Network-level protection

  • Device-level protection

Seeking Online Protection Beyond VPNs

A photo of hands positioned over a laptop keyboard and holding a credit card, with a smartphone and earphones nearby
Source: Mikhail Nilov

Even though VPNs like Norton can provide robust online security, they may not be able to address all potential threats. Some of the ways your personal or financial information may fall into the wrong hands are if your device is lost or stolen, you download malware to your device, or you share your private information with a website that doesn’t follow proper security practices. In such cases, a VPN cannot prevent an unauthorized third party from accessing your sensitive details.

Data breaches are one of the most frequent ways hackers get hold of users’ private information. With all the security measures in place, no website can guarantee complete user data protection. Hackers are constantly improving their techniques and developing more sophisticated methods to penetrate servers’ defenses. Your most sensitive details, such as the financial information you provide to online merchants, are regularly exposed to potential cyber threats.

Luckily, you can effectively shield your financial data online by using virtual cards. These cards are connected to a real funding source, such as your debit card or bank account, but mask that information with random card details at checkout. This means that a potential hacker who breaches a merchant’s server can only access your virtual card details, while your actual financial information remains hidden.

While some banks offer this service to their customers, an independent virtual card provider such as Privacy offers additional convenience features and allows for greater control over your expenses, on top of providing bank-level security.

Use Privacy Virtual Cards for Enhanced Security 

A photo of a combination lock placed on a laptop keyboard, symbolizing digital security
Source: TheDigitalWay

Privacy provides a reliable and efficient way of staying safe when shopping online. A Privacy Virtual Card includes a unique 16-digit card number with its own expiration date and security code. This card works as a regular payment method during transactions but protects your real financial information from unauthorized access. 

You can safeguard your financial details when transacting online by connecting your real card or bank account to Privacy and creating the following two card types:

  1. Merchant-Locked Cards—These cards “lock” to the first merchant you transact with, making them perfect for recurring payments such as bills and subscriptions or merchants you shop at often. If the card number gets stolen from the merchant’s server, it can’t be used anywhere else, which is an effective protection measure against potential hackers.
  2. Single-Use Cards—Designed to be used only once, these cards become invalid shortly after the first transaction is completed. Any potential hacker that manages to steal your Single-Use Card number from a merchant’s server won’t be able to use it at all.

Security Features and Measures Offered by Privacy

Your data is protected with Privacy since the company employs the same robust security measures as any reliable bank, including:

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)—Your Privacy account is automatically equipped with this additional protection measure. You can configure the 2FA settings on your account and enable email, SMS, or a two-factor authentication app from your account page.
  • Transaction alerts—You can enable transaction alerts to notify you when your virtual cards have been used or declined. This measure can help you keep track of your card activity and spot and address any potentially suspicious transaction promptly.
  • Regular audits—As a BBB-accredited service, Privacy undergoes frequent third-party audits, ensuring the security measures protecting your sensitive information are stringent and up-to-date.
  • 1Password integration—Privacy offers integration with 1Password, a popular password manager. This integration makes it easy to create and manage virtual cards through your password manager.

Additional Convenience Features

Other Privacy Card features that allow for smooth transactions and greater control over your expenses are:

  • Pausing/closing your card and setting spending limits—Once you set a spending limit on your Privacy Card, any payments that exceed the preset limit will be declined. This feature protects you from any charges by merchants or subscription services that you haven’t approved. You can also pause or close your virtual card at any time, and Privacy will block all further transactions.
  • Mobile app—Available on iOS and Android, the Privacy mobile app allows you to manage your virtual cards on the go.  
  • Browser extension—Privacy offers a browser extension compatible with Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, and Safari for iOS. The extension autofills your virtual card data, preventing you from having to memorize your card numbers or reach for your wallet whenever you shop online. 

How To Get a Privacy Virtual Card

To start using Privacy, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the signup page 
  2. Enter the required details to verify your identity
  3. Add a funding source, such as a debit card or your bank account
  4. Request and generate your first virtual card

Privacy offers three plans you can choose from:

Plan Cost Features
Personal Free (for domestic purchases)
  • Up to 12 virtual cards per month

  • Card pausing/closing

  • Spending limits

  • Mobile app

  • Browser extension

Pro $10/month
  • Everything in the personal plan

  • Up to 36 virtual cards per month

  • No fees on foreign transactions

  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases (totaling up to $4,500 per month)

  • Priority support

Premium $25/month
  • Everything in the Pro plan

  • Up to 60 virtual cards per month

References

[1] Norton. https://us.norton.com/blog/wifi/how-does-a-vpn-work, sourced March 27, 2024
[2] Norton. https://us.norton.com/products/norton-secure-vpn, sourced March 27, 2024.
[3] Norton. https://us.norton.com/blog/privacy/secure-dns, sourced March 27, 2024.
[4] Norton Community. https://community.norton.com/en/forums/available-norton-vpn-regions, sourced March 27, 2024.
[5] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/servers/, sourced March 27, 2024.
[6] NordVPN Support. https://support.nordvpn.com/hc/en-us/articles/19476515228305-How-many-devices-can-I-use-with-NordVPN, sourced March 27, 2024.
[7] Surfshark Support. https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003069614-Server-locations#, sourced March 27, 2024.
[8] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/vpn, sourced March 27, 2024.
[9] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/support/knowledge-hub/how-many-server-locations-does-expressvpn-have/, sourced March 27, 2024.
[10] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/go/features/how-many-devices-can-i-connect?, sourced March 27, 2024.
[11] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/features, sourced March 27, 2024.
[12] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/about, sourced March 27, 2024.
[13] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/free-vpn/free-vs-paid#, sourced March 27, 2024.
[14] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/features, sourced March 27, 2024.
[15] Mullvad VPN AB. https://mullvad.net/en/servers, sourced March 27, 2024.
[16] Mozilla Support. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/are-there-limits-my-mozilla-vpn-connection#, sourced March 27, 2024.
[17]Security.org https://www.security.org/vpn/speed-test/, sourced May 19, 2024.

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