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Surfshark VPN Review—Features, Benefits, and Security

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Jun 5, 2024
 • 
10
 Min Read

Data breaches are a growing concern, with 6.41 million data records leaked worldwide in the first quarter of 2023. This alarming statistic highlights the need for robust online security measures, and virtual private networks (VPNs) serve as one such measure. Surfshark, a VPN service launched in 2018, has been at the forefront of providing secure internet connections. But how does it fare when compared to other VPN services? 

This detailed Surfshark VPN review will provide insights into the service’s features, performance, and standing in the VPN market. You will also learn about another important online security tool–virtual cards, which shield your payment details online.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is valid as of March 2024 and is subject to subsequent change. For the latest information on features and services, please visit Surfshark's website.

How Surfshark VPN Works

A hand holding a smartphone displaying a VPN app, with a blurry laptop and a potted plant in the background
Source: Dan Nelson

When a user activates Surfshark VPN, it creates a secure connection between the user's device and one of its servers. Once the secure connection is set, the user's internet traffic is routed through the encrypted tunnel created by the VPN. This includes all the data the user sends and receives over the internet, such as browsing history, downloaded files, and uploaded data.

As the user's internet traffic is routed through the VPN, their real IP address is masked and replaced with an IP address from the VPN server, adding a layer of online anonymity that makes it difficult for third parties to track the individual's online activities[1].

Surfshark VPN—Key Features

Surfshark VPN offers several features designed to provide secure internet access. Three areas that stand out include:

  1. Privacy and security measures
  2. Speed and performance
  3. Device compatibility and support

Privacy and Security and Security Measures

Surfshark VPN prioritizes user privacy and security. It uses industry-standard AES-256-GCM encryption to secure the user's data[2]. This encryption standard is used by governments and security experts worldwide and is almost impossible to break. 

Surfshark also uses the IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard protocols, which create a secure path for data to travel between the user's device and the VPN server[2]. The best protocol for users depends on their online activities, security needs, and flexibility preferences. 

Here's a breakdown of the other security and privacy features this VPN service offers:

Feature Description
CleanWeb Surfshark's CleanWeb feature blocks ads, trackers, and malware while the user is browsing the Internet, enhancing the individual's online experience and security[2].
Bypasser It allows certain apps or websites to bypass the VPN. This is useful when users want to show their real IP or make specific apps faster by running them without a VPN[2].
Kill Switch If the VPN connection drops unexpectedly, the Kill Switch disconnects the user's internet connection, reducing the risk of their data being exposed[2].
Private DNS & leak protection Each Surfshark server has a private DNS and leak protection to reduce the risk of the user's real IP address being accidentally revealed[2].
MultiHop It routes the user's traffic through multiple VPN servers to further mask their online activities and provide an extra layer of privacy[3].
GPS Override Also known as GPS spoofing, this feature automatically sets your device's GPS location to that of your chosen server. The feature can be useful when you don't want a specific app to see your current location[4].
A laptop on a wooden surface, displaying 'CYBER SECURITY' in red
Source: cottonbro studio

Speed and Performance

Surfshark VPN uses a network of over 3,200 servers in more than 100 countries[5], which helps ensure that users can maintain fast and reliable internet connections. This extensive server coverage also reduces the likelihood of server congestion, which can slow down a VPN's speed.

While the high speeds allow users to shop online, download files, and browse the web without noticeable lag or buffering, results may vary depending on location. Surfshark's internal tests show that the service can reach download speeds of 190.78 Mbps when using Australian VPN servers, and 260.79 Mbps when using a European server. 

Device Compatibility and Support

Surfshark VPN is compatible with a wide range of devices[6], including the following:

  • Desktop and laptop computers (Windows, macOS, Linux)
  • Mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • Smart TVs and TV devices (FireTV, Apple TV)
  • Browsers (Chrome, Firefox)
  • Game consoles (Xbox, PlayStation)

Here's a table showing how to install Surfshark VPN on specific operating systems:

Operating System How To Install Surfshark VPN
Windows
  1. Download the Surfshark VPN client from the official website.

  2. Run the installer.

  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

macOS
  1. Get Surfshark VPN from the Mac App Store.

  2. Open the app.

  3. Follow the setup guide.

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

  2. Open the app.

  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the VPN.

iOS
  1. Download the Surfshark VPN app from the App Store.

  2. Open the app.

  3. Follow the setup guide.

Linux
  1. Use the command-line interface to install Surfshark VPN.

  2. Update the application.

  3. Log in to the Surfshark app

User Experience With Surfshark

Surfshark VPN is designed with a focus on user experience. The interface is clean, intuitive, and easy to navigate, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced VPN users. The setup process is straightforward, with clear instructions provided for various operating systems.

Once installed, users can connect to the VPN with a single click. The app automatically selects the optimal server for the best performance, but users also have the option to manually select a server from the extensive list.

One of Surfshark’s standout features is its unlimited simultaneous connections policy. Users can protect as many devices as they want with a single subscription, which is a significant advantage over many other VPN services.

The VPN service also offers 24/7 customer support, providing assistance and resolving issues promptly[7]

Comparing Surfshark With Other VPN Services

A person in an outdoor setting using a laptop with a map displayed and a cup of coffee on the side
Source: Kevin Paster

To understand Surfshark's relative strengths and unique offerings, we've assessed its standing in the VPN market. The table below compares Surfshark VPN with other popular services:

VPN Service Global Server Network Simultaneous Connections Key Features
Surfshark  Over 3200 servers in 100+ countries[2] Unlimited[2] 
  • GPS spoofing

  • Camouflage Mode[2]

  • 24/7 customer support 

NordVPN  Over 6,300 servers in 111 countries[8] Up to 10[9]
  • CyberSec (Threat Protection)

  • Meshnet

  • Dark Web Monitor

  • Double VPN[10]

ExpressVPN Servers in 105 countries[11] Up to 8[11]
  • Split tunneling

  • Private DNS

  • Lightway protocol

  • Network Lock[11]

Norton VPN Servers in 29 locations[12] Up to 10[13]
  • Integrated with Norton 360 Suite[14]

  • Split tunneling

  • Ad and tracker blocker

Proton VPN Over 4900 servers in 91 countries[15] Up to 10[16]
  • Offers a free version[17]

  • NetShield Adblocker

  • VPN Accelerator

  • Unlimited bandwidth[18]

Mozilla VPN Over 680 servers in 44 countries[19] Up to 5[20]
  • Integrated with Mozilla products

  • Custom DNS support

  • Multihop[21]

An overhead view of a pair of hands, one holding a payment card and the other typing on a keyboard
Source: cottonbro studio

Complement the Benefits of VPN With Additional Security Measures

While Surfshark VPN provides robust security features, using a VPN service may not offer immunity to all cyber risks. Even with a VPN, you can still fall victim to scams or fraud if you visit unsecured or malicious websites and share your information with them.

Hackers are also improving their methods every day, and data breaches are possible regardless of how secure a website claims to be. No website can guarantee absolute protection of your information. It's safe to assume that if you've ever provided your sensitive details online, they have likely been exposed to cyber threats.

However, there are methods you can employ to mitigate the risk of your sensitive information being compromised during online transactions:

  • Secure connection—Always verify whether the website you're transacting on uses a secure connection. The presence of "https://" in the URL and a padlock symbol in the address bar indicates that the website encrypts data, making it difficult for unauthorized third parties to intercept your information.
  • Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA)—2FA ensures that hackers who may get hold of your login credentials can’t enter your account without access to the second verification step.
  • Virtual cards— Consider using virtual cards for online shopping. Virtual cards mask your payment details with unique numbers at checkout, keeping your financial information safe in case of a data breach. 

While renowned banks like American Express® and Capital One® offer virtual cards, independent virtual card providers such as Privacy offer an invaluable level of protection, more control over spending, and do not require you to be an account holder at a specific bank.

A close-up photo of a person browsing an e-commerce website on a laptop while holding a payment card in one hand
Source: Antoni Shkraba

Safeguard Your Financial Information With Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy Virtual Cards add an extra layer of security by shielding your financial details when you’re shopping online. Each Privacy Card has a unique 16-digit card number, expiration date, and CVV that you can use as a regular payment method. If a specific online store you purchased from gets compromised, hackers can only see your virtual card details—they can't access your real payment data as they were never stored on the merchant’s servers.

The security measures employed by Privacy are robust and reliable, on par with those of any reputable bank. This is further confirmed by their Better Business Bureau® accreditation. 

Privacy Card Types and Features

Privacy offers two types of virtual cards: 

  1. Merchant-Locked Cards—These cards “lock” to the first merchant they're used at. Any attempts to use the card elsewhere would be declined, which is an effective security measure in case a hacker steals the card number from the merchant’s server.
  2. Single-Use Cards—These cards become invalid shortly after the first transaction. If a potential hacker gains access to your card number, they won't be able to use it for any transaction. 

You can set spending limits on your Privacy Cards at any time. Doing so protects you from any deliberate or accidental overcharges as Privacy will decline any transaction that goes above the preset limit. You can also pause or close your Privacy Virtual Card, and any subsequent charges on it will be automatically declined. This feature can be helpful for preventing sneaky charges by a subscription service you’re trying to cancel. 

Additional Convenience Features

The Privacy App allows you to manage your virtual cards on the go. Whether you're using iOS or Android, you can create, adjust spending limits, or close a card directly from your phone, wherever you are.

The Privacy Browser Extension, available for Chrome, Edge, Safari (including Safari for iOS), and Firefox, autofills your virtual card details so you don't have to manually enter them every time you make a purchase online.

Privacy also integrates with 1Password, allowing you to quickly create and manage your virtual cards right within your password manager.

How To Start Using Privacy

To get a Privacy Virtual Card, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Create an account on the Privacy website
  2. Verify your identity by providing the necessary details
  3. Link your preferred funding source, which can be a debit card or a bank account
  4. Request your first Privacy Virtual Card

Privacy offers three monthly plans—Personal, Pro, and Premium. Each plan comes with its own set of features:

  1. The Personal plan is free for domestic purchases and allows you to create up to 12 virtual cards per month. This plan also includes all the above-mentioned card features, as well as access to the mobile app and browser extension.
  2. The Pro plan costs $10 per month and allows you to create up to 36 virtual cards per month. It includes all the features of the Personal plan, 1% cashback on eligible purchases (totaling up to $4,500 monthly), waived foreign transaction fees, and priority customer support.
  3. The Premium plan costs $25 per month and allows you to create up to 60 virtual cards a month plus all the features of the Pro plan.

Privacy Virtual Cards are available to U.S. citizens and legal residents who are at least 18 years old and have a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union. Privacy Cards can be linked to your bank account or debit card and can be used at most stores that accept U.S. Visa® and Mastercard® payments. 

References

[1] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/learn/what-is-vpn, sourced March 22, 2024
[2] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/, sourced March 22, 2024
[3] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/multihop, sourced March 22, 2024
[4] Surfshark Customer Support. https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360011723459-What-is-the-GPS-override-feature-and-how-to-use-it, sourced March 22, 2024
[5] Surfshark Customer Support. https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003069614-Server-locations#, sourced March 22, 2024
[6] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/multiple-devices, sourced March 22, 2024
[7] Surfshark Customer Support. https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003069114-How-to-contact-Surfshark-s-customer-support, sourced March 22, 2024
[8] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/fastest-vpn/, sourced March 22, 2024
[9] NordVPN Support. https://support.nordvpn.com/hc/en-us/articles/19476515228305-How-many-devices-can-I-use-with-NordVPN, sourced March 22, 2024
[10] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/, sourced March 22, 2024
[11] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/features, sourced March 22, 2024
[12] Norton Community. https://community.norton.com/en/forums/available-norton-vpn-regions, sourced March 27, 2024.
[13] Norton Support. https://support.norton.com/sp/en/us/home/current/solutions/v53465626, sourced March 22, 2024
[14] Norton. https://us.norton.com/products/norton-360, sourced March 22, 2024
[15] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/vpn-servers, sourced March 22, 2024
[16] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/features/multi-platform-support, sourced March 22, 2024 
[17] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/pricing, sourced March 22, 2024
[18] ProtonVPN. https://protonvpn.com/features, sourced March 22, 2024 
[19] Mullvad VPN AB. https://mullvad.net/en/servers, sourced March 22, 2024
[20] Mozilla Support. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/are-there-limits-my-mozilla-vpn-connection#, sourced March 22, 2024
[21] Mozilla https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/products/vpn/features/, sourced March 22, 2024
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