Visiting a friend of mine in the countryside put my cybersecurity skills to a test.
My mobile internet connection was unstable while I had no idea who else has access to my friend’s Wi-Fi network.
Since making financial transactions online over insecure networks is not a good idea, I had to decide which is the best VPN for online banking.
VPN features such as kill switch, DNS leak protection, OpenVPN protocol availability, and no-logs policy are all important when assessing whether a VPN service is suitable for online banking.
Company headquarters location is also a crucial factor, as you want to prevent prying eyes from tracking your online transactions even though you have nothing to hide.
What Is the Best VPN for Banking?
Here is a list of the top VPN service providers you can rely on for secure and encrypted online banking transactions:
My hours-long research produced the following top choices for a VPN you would safely use for online banking and making financial transactions online.
NordVPN is a known name in the world of VPN services, offering all the security features required for secure online banking. It is also easy to use and operates close to 6,000 servers throughout the world.
The company is located in Panama, which is a safeguard against excessive user tracking policies applicable in some other countries. You will not spend a fortune on this VPN service while you get steady security through encryption protocols such as OpenVPN, IPSec, and IKEv2.
You can use your NordVPN account on up to 6 devices simultaneously, which is an added advantage.
All in all, NordVPN is a VPN service you can trust with your online transactions and they also have apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
2. Surfshark VPN
Surfshark is one of the new players on the global VPN market yet it is expanding rapidly through a marketing strategy that involves support for unlimited devices and low prices.
Having more than 800 servers, Surfshark is operating in 50 countries across the globe, offering a very user-friendly VPN service.
They encrypt your connection using OpenVPN and IPSec & IKEv2 security protocols and boast no-logs policy.
One of the problems with Surfshark is that sometimes their service might slow down your Internet connection more than usual.
You cannot find reports about viruses or data leaks associated with Surfshark on the Internet, though.
Surfshark is easy to use, their speeds are good and they have one of the lowest monthly fees available through a 2-year contract.
You should decide for yourself whether their BVI jurisdiction fits your requirements toward data retention legislation.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is one of the leading world VPN providers along with NordVPN and a few others. They offer very good security for your online connections while their service will not empty your bank account while being costly compared to NordVPN.
They support about 4,000 servers across the globe and the service works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Custom Linux connections are available.
No data leaks or malicious code are reported for CyberGhost VPN while they claim to follow strict no-logs policies.
The service is based on Romania but in 2019 was sold to an Israeli company called Kape Technologies who were in the online marketing and advertising business in the past and were accused of collecting excessive personal info and being involved in distributing malware.
In fact, Crossrider Plc rebranded as Kape Technologies due to these allegations.CyberGhost VPN is one of the trusted VPN service providers although some users report their browsing and downloading/uploading speed gets markedly lower when using the service.
Nonetheless, you can safely use them for online banking as no data or DNS leaks have been ever detected.
4. Ra4W VPN
Ra4W VPN is a U.S.-based VPN service provider, which is an advantage for those seeking stronger regulation and bad news for those looking for online privacy (the U.S. is one of the members of the 5 Eyes alliance).
This is a secure VPN that is using 256-Bit AES encryption and OpenVPN protocol to protect your connection while being relatively easy to use.
They claim they do not keep important log files other than your email address, for instance.
Ra4W VPN is an affordable service although they do not offer a free trial to test if this is the VPN of your choice.
You should know that some security researchers claim Ra4W VPN can leak DNS information and their installation package used to contain some potentially malicious files.
Given the above-mentioned characteristics, Ra4W VPN is not for privacy-conscious users as the company is located in the United States and DNS leaking has been detected.
On the other hand, their U.S. jurisdiction means they are not likely to play with sensitive information such as data on online financial transactions.
Best for parent company regulation.
5. TouchVPN - Not Recommended for Any Use
TouchVPN is a free virtual private network provider that has servers in 30 countries worldwide. No premium version of the software is available and they support their operations through delivering ads via their mobile VPN apps for Android and iOS.
Expectedly, their speeds are slower compared to paid VPNs but more worrisome is that they are logging your personal information.
The company is located in the United States i.e. under 5-Eyes jurisdiction where VPN service providers are required to keep records on their users.
Free it may be but there are numerous reports that TouchVPN leaks your DNS information, which is a major fault for any VPN service. Maybe you can use TouchVPN to check the availability of funds in your bank account, but anything different from passive banking is not recommended.
Actually, the only advantage is they are free, but the cost of a free VPN can be very high when online transactions are concerned.
Do You Really Need a VPN for Online Banking?
First thing first.
Let’s start with the most fundamental questions, which of course is whether you need a VPN for online banking at all.
The short answer is ‘No’; you do not need a VPN to conduct financial transactions online since your bank most probably has a secure website and a mobile application for banking online.
The problem is that as secure as a website or a banking app might be, you need to access your bank’s servers and exchange information with them in order to safely complete a transaction.
Sitting in the comfort of your home, you feel safe to make bank transactions from your home computer. The man in the middle, however, is sniffing your connection for any unsecured data you transmit and is ready to extract any sensitive information from the data packages you exchange with the outside world.
That is why a VPN comes handy if you are to transmit online sensitive data such as bank account login credentials. A report by Ovum reveals that about 22% of all merchants and billing organizations worldwide are reporting stolen payment data, which involves information about your credit card or bank account.
Those data breaches are occurring mostly through otherwise secure online connections such as e-commerce platforms and online payment systems that link to your bank account one way or another.
Once you realize that there is no such thing as excessive cybersecurity protection, you will also realize that adding a VPN to your list of defenses protecting your online bank account is a good idea.
But how do you know a VPN is suitable for online banking?
What To Look For in a VPN?
Many reviews refer to ease of use, speed, and a number of servers a VPN service is offering, when determining its overall rating. When the matter in hand is online banking, though, the single most important factor to consider is security.
You should be aware that a VPN’s security involves multiple elements that include specific functionality but also company jurisdiction and a history of detected data leaks.
You want secure online banking transactions in the first place, and only then you can compare the speed or ease of use of different VPNs.
The list of features you look for in a VPN you use for online banking is a bit different from the list of features you need to watch your favorite TV shows online.
What should you looking for, really:
Now, after we have defined our methodology for researching reliable VPN services and VPN applications for online banking, we can move on to the real list.
And before we continue, lets’ be clear that a VPN does not provide anonymity for online financial transactions, it makes your connection private.
In other, a VPN for online banking protects your privacy and secures the transmission of sensitive data but it is not a tool for anonymous banking if there is still such a thing.
Do You Need Extra Protection for Making Online Transactions?
A reliable VPN service provides adequate protection for your online transactions, while an official banking app should be secure enough by itself.
That said, you should be watching for spear-phishing attempts and malicious software trying to steal bank/card account credentials rather than installing further data encrypting or anonymizing tools.
Also, select a strong and unique password for both your VPN and online banking account and, for God’s sake, do not use the same password on more than one service.
It might sound a bit paranoid, but avoid entering your password for online banking and other sensitive services in situations when someone can view and remember your passcode.
You will be surprised to learn that a great number of successful hacks are due to carelessness, rather than the use of sophisticated hacking techniques.
After testing all the features and assessing their privacy policies, NordVPN emerges as a clear winner to me.
They are offering strong encryption and Kill Switch functionality that protects your IP address in case your connection to the VPN server drops.
Surfshark and CyberGhost also have Kill Switch and they too are using 256-bit encryption but NordVPN’s double encryption feature beats them.
NordVPN offers DoubleVPN servers whose operation results in the second server not knowing anything about your IP address while encrypting your data one more time.
Furthermore, NordVPN is located in Panama, which is outside the reach of state legislation demanding for VPNs to keep logs on their customers.
Surfshark can be a bit slow at times, which is nor a problem for online banking but still. A company that was allegedly involved in the collection of personal data and distribution of malware in the past owns CyberGhost, for their part.
Thus, NordVPN leads the way in terms of privacy and protection of personal data they provide.
As far as security and privacy of a VPN should be your primary concern when using this kind of service for online transactions, NordVPN is your obvious choice.