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Norton Secure VPN Review (2021) // Pros and Cons

Norton Secure VPN Review (2021) // Pros and Cons

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The good: Norton uses a very clear no-logs policy, and it doesn’t track anything you do online.

bad: Norton uses the AES-128 encryption standard, which is less secure than the widely used AES-256 encryption standard. Furthermore, it does not use its own DNS servers and does not feature a kill switch.

What privacy and security elements do we test?

  1. Registration Policy
  2. Jurisdiction
  3. protocol
  4. encryption
  5. Private DNS Servers
  6. kill test key
  7. leak test

1. Registration Policy

What is the definition of a registration policy and why is it important?

All the information that the VPN service provider keeps about you and your activities are known in the logs. In a perfect world, your VPN provider would not keep any such information. However, the world we live in is not perfect.

In order to improve its services, the VPN provider will need to collect some data. It will do this to improve the performance of its servers and to avoid any potential misuse of its service. The amount of data required to accomplish this will vary between service providers.

Roughly speaking, there are four types of information that your VPN provider can collect about you. Some are harmless and some are not. They are:

  • VPN service data: what VPN server you connected to, what operating system you are using, and which version of the application.
  • Contact data: the times and dates you logged in or logged out, the amount of time you used the service, and how much you uploaded and downloaded.
  • Original IP Address: This is the IP address of the device you used to sign in to the service. Your location can be determined using this.
  • Online Activity: Websites you’ve visited, searches you’ve done, and services you’ve used. Basically, this is your browsing history.

The first two of the four data, service and connection data, are largely harmless. In particular when service providers collect it in an anonymous form – this is where information about all users is gathered together. This allows the VPN provider to improve their service, and users can remain anonymous. Many VPN providers will collect some of this data.

Next is the original IP address. Collecting it is not considered a major crime, but most users will not prefer it. In the end, you are using a VPN to remain anonymous, which means you don’t really want the VPN provider to know your exact location.

Finally, there is your online activity. This is what you need to look for first of all. The VPN provider that collects this information raises major concerns.

For this reason, the VPN service providers we endorse do not collect this type of data. However, some free VPN service providers do. Then, this information will be sold to the data collectors. This is why we do not recommend using free VPNs.

Many VPN providers state that they adhere to a no-logs policy. However, this can actually mean a few different things as there is no single standard. Therefore, you should make sure to review the privacy policy carefully before purchasing a VPN. Or you can go to a review website to learn about this.

What is the registration policy for Norton Secure VPN?

Norton has a clear no-logs policy. Contact and online activity data are not stored at all:

  • Norton does not store your original IP address and therefore cannot identify you.
  • Norton never stores the services you use or the websites you visit.

It only collects aggregated and anonymous information to improve its services and conduct cybersecurity research.

2. Jurisdiction

What is the definition of jurisdiction and why is it important?

The jurisdiction indicates the country of incorporation of the VPN provider. Given that all businesses are required to comply with state regulations, this is important.

If you look at the United States, Australia or many European Union countries, you will see that they have strict laws regarding data retention. According to them, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are obligated to store user data such as emails or site visits.

With a VPN, the data you send through your ISP’s network will be encrypted. As a result, the ISP cannot read or collect it. Avoiding such mass surveillance is one of the main reasons why people use VPNs.

Now, some people fear that VPN providers may also be required to collect data about their users due to data retention laws. But, while an ISP is a public network provider, a VPN is private. Thus VPNs do not have to follow the same rules. In other words, there are no legal obligations on VPNs to collect data.

Of course, highly sophisticated organizations such as relevant government agencies are also looking for other means to collect the data they want. For example, there are secret subpoenas that US federal agencies can issue (the National Security Letter is an example). These agencies allow such agencies to take over data logs or even entire servers of VPNs.

And while this may sound like a conspiracy theory, it certainly isn’t. In 2013, the National Security Agency wanted to spy on Edward Snowden, so it ordered Lavabit, an encrypted email service provider, to turn over some of its data. Instead of selling Snowden, the company suspended operations. Another example is when Private Internet Access decided to shut down its Russia-based servers in 2016 to avoid local data logging rules. The point is that there are government agencies actively trying to grab this data.

Users who want to avoid these issues can do one (or both) of the following:

  • Choose a VPN provider from a country that does not have data retention laws and is not a member of any international intelligence agreements (such as the UKUSA Agreement). This basically means going abroad. Examples include NordVPN, registered in Panama, or ExpressVPN (British Virgin Islands).
  • Choose a VPN provider with a no-logs policy, which means that it will not keep logs of your online activities. If there are no records in the first place, there is nothing to hand.

What is the competence of Norton Secure VPN?

Symantec, the company that owns Norton, is incorporated in the United States (US) and is not known for its internet privacy. Fortunately, Norton has a very clear no-logs policy. And since it doesn’t store any data about your online activity, it can’t deliver anything on demand.

You are safe when using Norton, even in the United States.

3. Protocol

What is the definition of a protocol and why is it important?

The VPN protocol is the technology that defines how data is formatted and then transmitted over the Internet or a local area network (LAN). Different protocols exist and offer varying levels of security and speed. Experts generally consider OpenVPN to be the most secure, outperforming SSTP, IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP.

What protocols does Norton Secure VPN use?

Norton uses the highly secure and open source OpenVPN protocol.

4. Encoder

What is the definition of encryption and why is it important?

The definition of encryption is taking readable data and turning it into something like chatter. This is achieved with the help of an encryption key, which allows only the parties with access to it to decrypt the data and read it again.

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the current standard in this regard. Those in the VPN industry will generally use it with two main lengths: AES-128 or AES-256. Even AES-128 is basically unbreakable, and AES-256 increases the level of security even more.

What encryption standard does Norton Secure VPN use?

Norton uses the 128-Blowfish (AES-128) encryption standard. Although this is widely seen as unbreakable, some VPNs use a more secure standard: AES-256.

5. Private DNS servers

What is the definition of DNS servers and why are they important?

When you want to visit a website, you will type in, let’s say, Facebook.com. But you are actually visiting a long string of numbers – the IP address. Since humans cannot remember such complex numbers, we have domain names (like “Facebook.com” mentioned above).

To use an outdated technology for reference, a DNS server is a bit like a telephone operator. It contains many domain names and their associated IP addresses. So when you type in the domain name of the website you plan to visit, the DNS server ensures that the correct IP address is reached.

A VPN provider that has their own DNS servers can encrypt this process using the same VPN tunnel they use for your other online activities. Therefore, records cannot be created by third parties, and neither governments nor organizations can intercept or monitor them.

Does Norton Secure VPN use its own DNS servers?

No, Norton does not use its own DNS servers.

6. Kill switch test

What is the definition of a key lock and why is it important?

If the secure VPN connection you created stops being active, the kill switch will stop your internet connection automatically. This is an important security feature that ensures that your online activity will not be compromised if the VPN fails.

Does Norton Secure VPN Use a Lock Key?

No, Norton does not feature a lock switch.

7. Leakage test

What is the definition of “leakage” and why is it important?

If part of your data is visible despite the active VPN connection, this is called a leak. DNS leaks, Windows credentials leaks, WebRTC leaks, and IP leaks are the most common.

Is Norton Secure VPN Leaking Your Data?

No, we have not found any data leaks using Norton.

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