President Biden warned on Monday that evolving intelligence suggests "the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks" in the U.S., urging the private sector to "harden your cyber defenses immediately."
Top products in this article:
Best-rated VPN: ExpressVPN, $8.32/month and up
Most popular VPN: NordVPN, $3.29/month and up
Best budget VPN deal: Surfshark VPN, $2.49/month and up
Cyyber security has been in the news a lot lately due to Russia's war on Ukraine. A few hours before the Russian invasion, malware named "FoxBlade," designed to target Ukraine's digital infrastructure, was detected by Microsoft's Threat Intelligence Center.
Since then, criminals have tried to take control of the social media accounts of several Ukrainian military officials and public figures. Even Ukrainian civilians and private institutions across many sectors are now digital targets.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin's administration hasto Twitter and Facebook, and protesters are being arrested. This censorship has made it more difficult for antiwar groups as well as residents to organize or get reliable information.
As a result, the demand for virtual private networks (VPNs) has soared in both countries -- up nearly 28x since the invasion began. Demand is up sharply in Ukraine, too.
You can beef up your own security with a VPN service. We've rounded up a selection of the most highly rated VPNs on the market. Whether you do a lot of important business online, like to travel or use public Wi-Fi hotspots, using a VPN service can give you an important extra layer of digital security.
What are the benefits of using a VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) is software designed to protect your devices from cyber criminals and prying eyes. VPNs cloak IP addresses and encrypt your internet traffic, making it all but impossible for snoops to know what sites you've been visiting and what data you've been transmitting.
VPNs are commonly used by those who transmit sensitive information. Some businesses require work-from-home employees to use them. Individuals also use VPNs to increase their level of cybersecurity when using a public hotspot — public Wi-Fi networks are hunting grounds for cyber criminals. And, of course, people can and do use VPNs to get around government censorship, though, in those countries, using a VPN in that manner is often illegal.
Are VPNs hard to use?
VPN services may sound complicated and intimidating, but the truth is that they're really simple to use. Once you sign up for an account, you download and install VPN client software onto your devices. You enter your account information, click or tap, and that's it -- your privacy and data are being protected.
5 top rated VPNs that will help protect you from cyberattacks
There are many virtual private network services available, and most offer the same basic level of encryption. These five VPN providers stand out, however, as being the most highly rated by industry reviewers while offering the best value for your money.
ExpressVPN: $8.32/month and up
ExpressVPN, hailed by many reviewers as the best VPN provider, gets a lot of commendation for its quality of service and coverage, though it is the most expensive option on this list. ExpressVPN has a network of high-speed servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, giving users reliable connectivity from most areas in Europe, Asia and the Americas. ExpressVPN offers the same encryption standard used by security experts and the U.S government, plus IP address masking, support for up to five simultaneous connections, and 24/7 responsive live chat support. It comes with a 30-day, risk-free trial.
Service plans currently start at $8.32 per month if you're willing to commit to an annual subscription. Month-to-month subscriptions are $12.95 per month.
NordVPN: $3.29/month and up
NordVPN is the most popular VPN service in terms of market share. With NordVPN, you get connection speeds of up to 6,730 Mbps, the same advanced encryption standard as ExpressVPN, plus 24/7 live chat support and more than 5,100 servers in 60 countries. NordVPN has extra features like a password manager, cloud file encryption and 10 GB of private cloud storage that you can add to your plan. You can connect up to six devices simultaneously.
If you're looking to pay month-to-month, NordVPN will cost you $11.99 per month. Signing up for a one-year plan drops the cost down to $4.99 per month, while the two-year plan is just $3.29 per month. As a free bonus, you'll get either one extra month, one extra year or two extra years of subscription time (determined by random draw) when you sign up for a two-year plan.
The service comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee. For more, read our explainer on.
Surfshark VPN: $2.49/month and up
With the same advanced encryption standard as its pricier rivals above, Surfshark VPN is among the best value on this list -- ideal for budget-conscious users who want to keep the cost down. While other services limit your VPN usage to only five or six devices, Surfshark VPN protects an unlimited number. It has only 3,200 servers, fewer than NordVPN, but they are spread across more than 65 countries. This service also allows specific apps, website and and streaming services to bypass the VPN for your convenience.
Surfshark costs $12.95 per month, but you can save a lot by choosing an annual ($3.99 per month) or 2-year subscription ($2.49 per month).
Private Internet Access: $2.03/month and up
The Private Internet Access VPN service is a good value if you're willing to commit to a three-year plan. The network is optimized for 10 Gbps and boasts more than 35,000 servers spread across 84 countries. It uses open-source VPN applications and protocols like WireGuard for encryption. Plans include coverage on up to 10 devices simultaneously, plus a dedicated IP address and an email breach monitor. Private Internet Access offers 24/7 chat support should you need assistance.
A month-to-month subscription to Private Internet Access will cost you $9.95 per month, but again, you can save with a longer-term commitment. The one-year plan is $3.33 per month, while a three-year-and-three-month subscription works out to just $2.03 per month.
CyberGhost VPN: $2.29/month and up
With more than 7,500 servers in 91 countries and ultra-fast speeds that rival those of ExpressVPN and NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN is certainly in the conversation when it comes to the best VPN in 2022. The company's plans include the same high-level 256-bit AES encryption as more expensive providers, plus automatic Wi-Fi protection and simultaneous support of up to seven devices.
A single month of CyberGhost VPN service is priced at $12.99, while a one-year subscription is $4.29 per month. The best deal here is when you sign up for a three-year-and-three-month subscription -- it's priced at just $2.29 per month.
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