Privacy Virtual Cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit and Privacy will decline any transactions that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock Privacy Cards to the first merchant they’re used at to prevent misuse if stolen

Single-Use Cards

Create Privacy Cards that close automatically after the first purchase is made on them

Pause/Close Cards

Pause or close your Privacy Cards at any time to block future transaction attempts

Sign Up For Privacy Now

Proton VPN Review—How Secure Is It?

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

In the face of rising cybersecurity concerns, virtual private networks (VPNs) have emerged as a potential solution for those seeking to encrypt their internet traffic and protect their online identity. Among these, Proton VPN, with over 100 million accounts, has become a popular choice—but is it the best choice? 

This Proton VPN review will describe its key features and performance, helping you decide whether to entrust your online security to the service. It will answer questions such as:

  • What security and privacy features does it offer?
  • How does it compare to other VPNs?
  • What security risks can still remain?

This article will also introduce an effective method of improving your online security beyond the use of a VPN.

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

How Proton VPN Works

A smartphone displaying a VPN app on a white surface next to a closed laptop
Source: Stefan Coders

Proton VPN operates by establishing a secure connection between an individual’s device and the service provider’s server. The connection between the device and the server is encrypted, making it difficult for third parties to see the contents of the data as it gets transmitted. This includes everything the user shares, uploads, or downloads over the internet.

The user’s real IP address is also replaced by the address of the VPN server, serving as an additional layer of online privacy.

Key Features of Proton VPN

To make sure users find its service useful, Proton VPN offers a range of comprehensive features. Five key areas that distinguish Proton VPN from other services are:

  1. Security and privacy measures
  2. Speed and performance
  3. Global server network
  4. Device compatibility
  5. User experience

Security and Privacy Measures

Proton VPN employs several security measures to shield user's data from third parties. The service offers Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection, ensuring that all DNS requests are routed through the VPN and not exposed to anybody, including your internet service provider (ISP)[1]. It also operates on a strict no-logs policy, meaning it does not track or store user activity.

The following table describes some other privacy and security features this VPN offers:

Feature Description
AES-256 encryption It guarantees a high level of security used to protect sensitive data, making it unreadable to any third party who might intercept it[2].
NetShield It protects users from malware and privacy-invading ads and prevents trackers from spying on users as they browse websites[2].
Secure Core Also known as multihop, this feature routes traffic through multiple servers before leaving the VPN's network, making it difficult for third parties to trace actions back to the user[2].
Perfect forward secrecy This security measure ensures that every time you connect to the VPN, a new encryption key is generated, which cannot be used to decrypt past or future sessions[2].
Strong protocols Proton VPN uses OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols, providing a balance of performance, flexibility, and security[2].
Physical security Proton VPN's servers are housed in secure data centers with biometric security, reducing the risk of physical tampering[2].
Tor Over VPN It allows users to route their VPN traffic through the Tor network, which uses multiple volunteer-operated servers, making it harder for potential hackers to find your real IP[2].
Blurred hands rapidly typing on a laptop keyboard
Source: cottonbro studio

Speed and Performance Evaluation

Proton VPN offers decent speed, although results may vary depending on the user’s location and internet connection. A recent experiment[3] shows that Proton VPN can reach a peak speed of up to 328 Mbps, which can be useful for activities that require a lot of bandwidth, such as videoconferencing.

The same results suggest that Proton VPN can reduce download speed by about 36%, potentially impacting the user experience, especially for individuals with slow internet connections.

Global Server Network

Proton VPN boasts a vast global server network, with 4,900+ servers spread across 91 countries[4]. This extensive network ensures that users can always find a server nearby, which is crucial for maintaining high speed and low latency.

Having servers in various countries also allows users to bypass geographical restrictions on certain websites or services. For instance, when traveling or working abroad, a user can connect to a Proton VPN server in their home country to access local news sites that are unavailable in their current location.

Device Compatibility

Proton VPN is compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms[2]:

  • Desktop and laptop PCs (Windows, macOS, and Linux)
  • Mobile Devices (Android and iOS)
  • Routers
  • Browser Extensions (Available for Chrome and Firefox)

This wide range of device compatibility ensures that users can secure their online activities, regardless of their device or platform.

User Experience

The Proton VPN app features an intuitive interface with a clean layout and clearly labeled buttons, making it easy for users to navigate. To make the user experience even more convenient, the VPN features a “Quick Connect” button[2], which automatically connects the user to the fastest server available. With the “Profiles” feature, users can also save their favorite server locations and VPN settings for quick access. 

Other features that make Proton VPN more user-friendly include:

  • VPN Accelerator—This technology can increase VPN connection speeds by up to 400%, benefiting users who require high-speed connections[2].
  • Alternative routing technology—It reroutes connections over alternate paths, bypassing internet blocks. It helps users access otherwise inaccessible information, ensuring uninterrupted usage[2].

Customer Support

Proton VPN offers users several ways to seek assistance. Its knowledge base can help with troubleshooting issues independently, but it also has a contact form for more specific problems. Those who prefer a more personalized approach can send an email to their support team, and there is also a live chat option for customers. 

Proton VPN vs. Other Services—Quick Comparison

Even though Proton VPN is popular, there are other notable providers, each with unique features that may meet different user’s needs. Here's a quick comparison of Proton VPN with some of the most popular alternatives:

VPN Service Global Server Network Device Compatibility Notable Features
Proton VPN  4,900+ servers in 91 countries[4]
  • Windows macOS

  • Linux

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Routers

  • Chrome and Firefox extensions

  • VPN Accelerator

  • Secure Core (multihop)

  • NetShield

NordVPN 6,300+ servers in 111 countries[5]
  • Windows

  • macOS

  • Linux

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Routers

  • Firefox and Chrome extensions

  • CyberSec

  • Double VPN[6]

  • Onion Over VPN[7]

Surfshark VPN  3,200+ servers in 100 countries[8]
  • Windows macOS

  • Linux

  • iOS

  • Android

  • Routers

  • Browser extension

  • CleanWeb

  • Bypasser[9]

  • MultiHop[10]

ExpressVPN Servers in 100+ countries[11] 
  • Windows

  • macOS

  • Linux

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Routers

  • Browser extension

  • TrustedServer technology

  • Split tunneling

  • Network Lock kill switch[12]

Norton VPN Servers in 29 countries[13]
  • Windows

  • macOS

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Browser extension  

  • Bank-grade encryption

  • Adblocker

  • Compromised network detection[14]

Mozilla VPN 680+ servers in 44 countries[14]
  • Windows macOS

  • Linux

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Browser extension

  • Device-level protection

  • Custom DNS support

  • No bandwidth restrictions[15]

One hand holding a credit card while the other is typing on a laptop, with a smartphone nearby on a desk
Source: Karolina Grabowska

Security Concerns Proton VPN Users Should Consider

While VPNs like Proton VPN significantly enhance online privacy and security, you may still face cybersecurity threats, so you should be aware of these risks and how to address them. Some of the ways unauthorized parties can still get your sensitive information while using a VPN are:

  • Unsecured Wi-Fi networks—Public Wi-Fi networks pose a risk due to their inherent lack of security. Even when connected to a VPN, those on the same network could potentially intercept your data. This risk is particularly high when accessing sensitive information, such as your banking details or private correspondence.
  • Software vulnerabilitiesOutdated software can have security flaws that hackers can exploit. Even with the protection of a VPN, devices with outdated software can be vulnerable to attacks that can lead to data breaches.
  • Social engineering—Social engineering involves manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information, such as passwords or credit card details. A typical example is phishing, where an attacker impersonates a trusted contact or organization via email or social media, luring you into revealing sensitive information. Even the most secure VPN cannot protect those who fall victim to these manipulative tactics.
A woman holding a smartphone with a power button displayed on the screen
Source: Arthur Bowers

Tips for Safeguarding Your Online Privacy

Even though a VPN enhances your online security, you can use other methods to complement it, including the following:

  • Update your software frequently—Regular updates are essential for maintaining the security of your devices. These updates often contain patches that fix vulnerabilities, protecting you from potential threats.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)—2FA provides an additional layer of security. Even if your password is compromised, 2FA requires a second verification step, making unauthorized access more difficult.
  • Opt for virtual cards when shopping onlineVirtual cards offer a secure way to shop online. They include a unique card number you can use at checkout, masking your actual financial details. 

While popular card issuers and banks offer virtual cards like American Express® and Capital One®, independent providers like Privacy typically offer advanced security and control, enhancing your safety and experience when transacting online.

An over-the-shoulder shot of a man holding a blue card and a smartphone, with various items on a table in the background
Source: RDNE Stock project

Shop Worry-Free With Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy Virtual Cards can help protect your financial details from potential cybercriminals, adding an extra layer of security to your online transactions. Even if a specific merchant you purchased from experiences a data breach, hackers won’t get your actual details, bolstering the protection you get with a VPN.

Being a BBB-accredited service, Privacy employs stringent security measures that match those provided by reputable banks, including the following:

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)—By requiring a second form of verification, Privacy Cards can make it harder for unauthorized users to access your account, even if your password gets compromised.
  • Transaction alerts—Privacy sends real-time authorization and decline notifications so you can closely monitor your financial activity.
  • 1Password integration—You can connect Privacy to 1Password, an industry-leading password manager. This integration allows you to generate and use all your Privacy Cards within the 1Password’s web extension.
  • Regular audits—Privacy undergoes regular third-party audits. These audits ensure that Privacy’s security measures are up-to-date and effective against the latest threats, reducing the risk of losing your sensitive information to potential hackers.

Privacy Virtual Card Types and Additional Features 

Privacy offers two types of virtual cards, each with unique features designed to enhance your online shopping experience and security. Here’s a detailed look at these card types:

Card Type Description
Single-Use Cards  These cards become invalid shortly after a single transaction, making them a secure choice for one-time purchases or when shopping from a website for the first time. 
Merchant-Locked Cards Merchant-Locked Cards are “locked” to the first merchant you use them at. Even if the card details are compromised, it’s impossible to use them elsewhere. They are ideal for recurring payments, such as bills and subscriptions.

Privacy Virtual Cards allow you to set spending limits, and Privacy will automatically decline any transactions that go above that limit. This can help you manage your budget and protect your bank account from any charges that you weren’t notified about. Privacy also lets you pause or close your virtual card at any time, which can protect you from accidental charges during the process of canceling your subscriptions, for example. 

Other convenience features Privacy Cards offer include:

  • Privacy App—Available for iOS and Android, the Privacy mobile app allows you to create, pause, or close your cards anytime, anywhere, providing flexibility and control over your online transactions.
  • Privacy Browser Extension—Privacy offers extensions for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, and Safari for iOS. These extensions enable you to generate and manage your virtual cards directly from your browser, making online shopping seamless and secure.

How To Get a Privacy Virtual Card

To sign up for Privacy Virtual Cards, take the steps below:

  1. Visit the signup page 
  2. Verify your identity by providing the necessary details
  3. Link your preferred funding source, such as a debit card or a checking account
  4. Request your first Privacy Virtual Card

Privacy offers three monthly plans to choose from:

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

  • Spending limits

  • Pausing and closing virtual cards

  • Mobile app and browser extension

Pro $10
  • All Personal plan features

  • 36 virtual cards per month

  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases (up to $4,500 monthly)

  • Priority customer support

  • No transaction fees for foreign purchases

Premium $25
  • All Pro plan features

  • 60 virtual cards

Privacy Virtual Cards are accepted at most stores that accept U.S. Visa® and Mastercard® payments, including popular platforms like Netflix, YouTube Premium, and Paramount Plus.

References

[1] Proton VPN. https://protonvpn.com/features/dns-leak-prevention, sourced March 26, 2024
[2] Proton VPN. https://protonvpn.com/features, sourced March 26, 2024
[3] CNET. https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/fastest-vpn/, sourced March 26, 2024
[4] Proton VPN. https://protonvpn.com/about, sourced March 26, 2024
[5] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/servers/, sourced March 26, 2024
[6] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/, sourced March 26, 2024
[7] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/onion-over-vpn/, sourced March 26, 2024
[8] Surfshark Support. https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003069614-Server-locations#, sourced March 26, 2024.
[9] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/, sourced March 26, 2024
[10] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/multihop, sourced March 26, 2024
[11] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/support/knowledge-hub/how-many-server-locations-does-expressvpn-have/, sourced March 26, 2024.
[12] ExpressVPN https://www.expressvpn.com/features, sourced March 26, 2024
[13] Norton Community. https://community.norton.com/en/forums/available-norton-vpn-regions, sourced March 26, 2024.
[14] Norton. https://us.norton.com/products/norton-secure-vpn, sourced March 26, 2024
[14] Mullvad VPN AB. https://mullvad.net/en/servers, sourced March 26, 2024 
[15] Mozilla. https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/products/vpn/features/, sourced March 26, 2024

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Sign Up