Proton VPN Secure Core: what it is and when to use it

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One of the best VPN providers on the market, Switzerland-based Proton VPN naturally takes the security and privacy of its users’ data very seriously.

In addition to the recent release of its all-new Proton security pack, the company’s VPN service also comes packed with security-focused features. One of the most interesting and unique is its Secure Core option.

Here, we break down everything you need to know about it: from how Proton VPN Secure Core works in practice, its pros and cons, to specific situations you should consider going with this option.

What is Proton VPN Secure Core?

Proton VPN Secure Core is a technology that redirects your VPN traffic through an additional secure server, before connecting to a second server location of your choice.

Simply put, if you connect to one of its Secure Core servers located in over 60 countries, your traffic will first pass through one of its servers based in some of the most privacy-friendly countries. These are Switzerland, Iceland and Sweden.

For example, are you in the UK and want to connect to a server in India? If you opt for a Secure Core server, your VPN traffic will move like this:

United Kingdom > Switzerland > India

Enabling this option is very simple. Open your Proton VPN app and enable the Secure Core option – on Windows, macOS and Linux you’ll see a padlock icon, while on your Android VPN and iPhone VPN version you’ll see a Secure Core switch to enable. After that, you just have to choose the desired location and start browsing with an additional secure layer.

Proton VPN used on a smartphone

(Image credit: Proton VPN)

What are the benefits of Secure Core?

The operation of Secure Core servers brings two main advantages to Proton users: better privacy and enhanced security.

Double encryption will make your connection less vulnerable to network-based attacks. In fact, even if the server is compromised, the extra step in your VPN traffic journey will make it harder to trace your true IP address.

There will be no connection between your device and the end server so that your anonymity is better preserved, which means that the protection of the confidentiality of your data will increase.

Your information passing through an additional server also means that Secure Core increases the security of your data in transit. Additionally, as Proton is the direct owner of these servers, the security of your data will benefit as the provider is the only entity processing your data.

And it’s not just online threats; Proton technology also seeks to minimize physical threats. In addition to being located in countries with strong privacy laws in place, the Secure Core network is placed in highly secure data centers to provide strong physical protection as well.

While these centers are unlikely to be seized or physically compromised, this feature clearly demonstrates Proton’s efforts and commitment to protecting subscriber data.

And the disadvantages?

There are also a few downsides to consider before you start using Secure Core technology.

First of all, while double encryption is good for data protection, the same cannot be said for speed performance. As your VPN traffic will take a longer detour between the server and your device, this may result in lower connection speeds.

Moreover, of the more than 1,700 server locations offered by Proton, Secure Core is only available for a few of them. This means that many users might not be able to take advantage of this feature.

Finally, Secure Core servers are only available to paid subscribers – not something you can use if you’re only on Proton’s market-leading free VPN. (However, that’s not the only additional feature available only to those with a Plus plan. Other perks are its streaming VPN and torrent VPN power, ad blocking software, and the ability to use the Tor browser on its VPN service.)

When should I use Proton VPN Secure Core?

Having that extra layer of security could be useful for people connected from high-risk locations. This feature therefore makes Proton a very good option for anyone looking for a secure VPN for Turkey or the United Arab Emirates, for example, as these governments are known to actively monitor Internet connections.

As the Proton team explains in a blog post (opens in a new tab): “Even though Proton VPN is based in Switzerland, we cannot be certain that the authorities are not monitoring our VPN servers located in these high-risk countries.”

Secure Core servers are also a valuable feature for users who perform sensitive activities onlinesuch as journalists, activists or anyone else who has a strong concern for the protection of their data.

What about other providers?

Even though Proton Secure Core is quite an unusual technology in the industry, there are some of the most secure VPN services that use double encryption to provide better privacy and security for their users.

Another top provider, NordVPN, for example, offers a Double VPN option. Similarly, one of the best cheap VPNs around Surfshark has a MultiHop feature that redirects traffic through two servers to boost online security.

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