Surfshark VPN Review-is it reliable and secure?

Surfshark’s entry into the VPN market will turn some heads. Amazing security, anonymity and speed – all the tool needs is a little time!

Everyone knows that the surfer community is welcoming and tolerant. But if there’s one thing surfers don’t accept, it’s a shark. Famous, even vegetarian sharks are viewed with suspicion on Santa Monica beaches. While Surfshark may seem like a lot of fun, it’s also very tragic, like Romeo or Rorshach. Fortunately, the VPN community will open its arms to it. Our Surfshark VPN review and opinion will tell you why!

Surfshark-VPN
© Surfshark VPN Review

Rarely do promising VPN services merit review, but there are reasons to keep an eye out for Surfshark VPN. It is a very secure tool that uses AES-256-GCM and SHA-512 encryption to protect your data. The letters and numbers refer to an unbreakable cipher, which is also faster than the more commonly used AES-256-CBC (more on that later). Surfshark offers its own DNS network, as well as built-in DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection. Recently, they plugged another hole by introducing their own Kill Switch, making the suite of security features quite comprehensive.

Appropriate for its name, Surfshark VPN is registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI – British Virgin Islands). These sunny Caribbean islands are British Overseas Territory, but are not subject to British law or control. There are no data retention laws in the British Virgin Islands, and the territory does not belong to the 5 Eyes or 14 Eyes country groups. This allows us to trust their no-log policy. Even Surfshark won’t know what you’re doing online! Additionally, Surfshark does not limit the number of simultaneous connections users can have. A MUST therefore.

Currently, the service has impressive speeds, an expanding server list that grew from 1,700 to 3,200 servers in a matter of months, a presence in 65 countries that will easily bypass the geo-blocking of Netflix and other streaming platforms. streaming. The VPN would work in China, it seems. Lastly, the app is as easy as ABC, and if it wasn’t, you could always find out by asking their 24/7 live chat support.

Surfshark currently has Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and FireTV apps, as well as Chrome/Firefox extensions, which you can get for €11.03 per month or €2.12 per month billed every two years . Only a few months ago they only offered an Android client, so the tempo is very impressive – as is the service!

Surfshark is not one of our top 3 VPNs. If you want to favor the best VPNs on the market, here is our top 3: 

Is Surfshark VPN safe to use?

It will be some time before we see the VPN put to really serious longer-term testing. Nonetheless, preliminary testing for our Surfshark review suggests some promising things.

Surfshark offers strong encryption algorithms which are a bit different from the norm. AES-256-GCM sounds like AES-256-CBC, but there is one crucial difference: speed. To protect their VPN against so-called “chosen cipher attacks,” those relying on AES-256-CBC will use a secure Message Authentication Code (MAC) in addition to the AES algorithm. Meanwhile, AES-256-GCM authentication is built-in, which makes the process much faster.

Our baseline tests indicate that this VPN has no leak issues (i.e. no DNS/WebRTC/IPv6 leaks). The program has built-in DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection, as well as a private zero-knowledge DNS network. Simply put, unlike many tools on the market, Surfshark VPN keeps your personally identifiable information hidden!

Currently, four security protocols are offered by Surfshark – OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard and Shadowsocks (only on Windows and Android). It’s always better to have a choice. This is therefore another positive point in this opinion, especially since it is about good security protocols, which give excellent results in most situations. The only concern here is that the selection might harm Chinese users – the OpenVPN protocol is not known to be reliable against the “Great Firewall”.

Securite-Surfshark
© Surfshark

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws or dodgy information-sharing agreements. As the company is subject to the laws and regulations of the British Virgin Islands, it has the luxury of having a no data misuse policy. In fact, according to their FAQ, Surfshark doesn’t log anything at all except your email address and billing information. It is extremely rare and impressive!

To wrap up the security part of the Surfshark VPN review, there are a lot of good things to say about Surfshark’s access data privacy and anonymity. The company recently launched its kill switch, which is a big improvement, but that’s not all.

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Security Bonuses

The list of security tools in Surfshark’s arsenal keeps growing. Le VPN recently introduced four major models:

Bypass – some VPN providers call this feature “split tunneling” or “whitelisting”. It allows users to choose apps that can work outside the VPN tunnel.

Camouflage and NoBorders modes – it is misleading to say that these are two separate features. In effect, it switches the tunneling protocol to OpenVPN with the XOR patch. This scrambles your traffic and makes it harder to detect through Deep Packet Inspection (DPI).

MultiHop – for those who engage in extra-sensitive activities, the MultiHop is an impressive feature. It chains two VPN servers together creating better isolation between the user and their online activities. Enough to guarantee 100% anonymous browsing.

CleanWeb – Anti ad, anti tracker, anti malware and a phishing blocker. Many VPN services have introduced some version of this feature.

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Surfshark Features © Geek Journal

All of these features combined bring Surfshark VPN closer to other security-focused VPN services like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and NordVPN.

Browser extension-independent auditing

Recently, we reported that Surfshark published a report on the independent audit of its Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. Submitting your VPN apps for an independent audit is a laudable initiative, regardless of the results. The market is jam-packed with service providers who brag about their ironclad security but never dare to fire a gun. Not Surfshark VPN!

The independent audit was carried out by a respected German cybersecurity company, Cure53, who also carried out the first-ever independent VPN audit (kudos to TunnelBear) in 2017. You can read the full report here.

In short, Cure53 only found two vulnerabilities, only one of which could cause problems for users. This is a very good result and gives a lot of credibility to this young VPN service provider.

We hope Surfshark continues this trend, but we’d like to see Cure53 take over the real VPN apps – Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Secure extensions are great, especially for increasing user privacy, but they’re not the most important part of the service.

Speed ​​and performance

Let’s continue this opinion on Surfshark VPN by taking stock of the quality of its connection. Normally the fastest VPN services have a lot of servers. In this case, our Surfshark VPN review team found that not to be true: Surfshark VPN was pretty fast even before it got a huge server list. Today, however, their network has grown exponentially and includes over 3,200 servers in 65 countries. Additionally, the type of encryption used by Surfshark VPN is faster than standard AES-256-CBC with separate authentication.

We tested Surfshark in the field, with a baseline speed of 302 Mbps download and 285 Mbps upload in Europe.

United Kingdom, London

43 Mbps download and 152 Mbps upload can still be considered very good, although the percentage decline in speed is very significant.

United States, New York

34 Mbps download and significantly reduced 29 Mbps upload. The fact that the download speed didn’t drop much after crossing the Atlantic impressed us. The latency is 112ms, which means you should still be able to play games online.

United States, Los Angeles

Latency increased to 171ms, but download speed remained solid at 49Mbps, not to mention the upload speed increased to 72Mbps at times.

Japon, Tokyo

Surfshark’s servers in the Far East seem to be working fine. We measured 48 Mbps download and 8 Mbps upload. Latency was 279ms, but you can’t expect much of a difference from such a remote location.

Australie, Sydney

Our most remote test site held up well – 31 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload. That should still be enough to stream 4K video, but with a ping rate over 300ms, you should expect connection lag during video and VoIP calls.

There are obviously a lot of investments in this VPN. Servers cost money, as do talented professionals. In our opinion, there is no doubt that Surfshark VPN will continue its meteoric rise!

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How to download and install Surfshark VPN?

In this Surfshark review, we will now focus on installing the software. Users can download all types of Surfshark VPN applications from the “Applications” tab of the site. Once there, choose your device and where you want to download the app.

Windows users can download directly from the site, Android users will either have to download it from the Google Play store or download the APK directly from the site. The Mac app can be downloaded directly or from the App Store, where users will also find the iOS app.

On the “Apps” page, users will also find a Linux app as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

The installation process is straightforward for all apps – nothing fancy. However, if you have any problems, you can go to “Help” where everything is explained.

Before actually using Surfshark VPN, you will need to register and pay, which you can do as follows:

  • Go to the website and click on “Get Started”
  • Choose a rate plan
  • Use an email address to create your account
  • Decide which payment method you will use.

Using Surfshark

Surfshark crews are obviously working overtime. Within months, they managed to release apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, and Fire TV Stick. Until very recently, there was only the Android version and extensions for Chrome and Firefox. The VPN also contains instructions for setting up your router so you can use it to protect your entire home network.

The Surfshark app is as easy to use as it is to install, and as you’ve seen before in this Surfshark VPN review, the process of getting started is extremely simple. We have performed tests on macOS and iOS but the result is similar with Windows and Android. With Linux, there are some peculiarities that may require following a tutorial made available by the brand in its help section.

Once the account credentials are entered, the Surfshark application opens and we are pleasantly surprised by the interface which is both clean and modern. The vendor also emphasized simplicity with few complex commands.

Application-Surfshark
Interface of the Surfshark VPN application on macOS © Journal du Geek

There is therefore a list of positions on the left and the “Connect” or “Disconnect” button on the right. We understand quite intuitively how to navigate within the application.

To connect to a server, you can therefore choose a territory among those offered or establish an automated connection by clicking on “Fastest server” or “Nearest country”. These options are ideal for a quick connection, but you won’t have control over the geographical location you want to simulate. Use only when the choice doesn’t matter. Surfshark also offers to save the servers you use the most by clicking on the star. They are found directly in the “Favorites” section at the top of the other servers, which allows you to connect to them in one click.

When you click on the toothed wheel, you have access to the application settings. The provider allows users to open the Surfshark application from the start of the connection. It’s very practical because it eliminates oversights and the risk of browsing without protection. This is also where you can activate or deactivate the Kill Switch. That said, we strongly advise you to enable it to protect your data and IP address at all times.

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Surfshark settings © Journal du Geek

From the settings, you can also check that the version of the application you have is up to date. If not, consider doing so as updates bring useful fixes.

In our opinion, Surfshark has struck the right balance between functionality and ease of use. The application is ergonomic and is not intended only for IT pros.

Les extensions web

Browser extensions are essentially proxy services – you can use them to secure your browser traffic and nothing else. In other words, if you want to use torrents, try one of the regular clients or run the VPN another way. If you just want to protect your browser, you’ll be happy to hear that Surfshark VPN apps have recently been independently audited for security and other issues. Only minimal vulnerabilities were found.

Surfshark VPN pour Netflix

According to the Surfshark website, the VPN is ideal for streaming geo-blocked content. And that’s true ! This may come as a surprise because many more established VPN providers have given up on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and others. The cause ? Until recently, the VPN was simply too small to warrant the attention of streaming giants.

In any case, Surfshark has concentrated its efforts on access to Netflix and the results are there: the VPN allows access to about fifteen different catalogs. This is an important part of this Surfshark review that we wanted to highlight because it is far from all providers.

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Surfshark VPN pour le “Torrenting”

Not a bad choice for torrenting – speed is good, security certificates are near perfect. Surfshark doesn’t shy away from inviting torrenting fans to try out their service, and they don’t discriminate against P2P traffic.

When we initially checked for our Surfshark review, the program had no kill switch. That’s why we were somewhat hesitant to unreservedly recommend using it for torrenting. That has changed though – there’s now a Kill Switch as well as apps for all major platforms. So if you’re looking for an agile frigate that can outplay the authorities, look no further!

Is it compatible for users in China?

When writing this Surfshark review, we were skeptical about the reliability of this service in China. The reason was the list of available tunneling protocols, which only included OpenVPN and IKEv2. One of the features of the Great Firewall of China is that it uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to detect VPN traffic within the network. OpenVPN is known to be particularly vulnerable to DPI and Surfshark had nothing else to offer.

The situation has completely changed since the introduction of the “Camouflage” and “No Borders” modes. Surfshark is now able to mask VPN traffic – functionality is moving from the default tunnel protocol to OpenVPN with the XOR patch, scrambling your traffic and confusing censors. A very nice surprise that makes our opinion of Surfshark all the more positive.

Additionally, the additional security features added by Surfshark are perfect for the most sensitive types of users: journalists, political activists, whistleblowers, hackers, etc. Anyone wanting a VPN for China need look no further.

L’assistance client

Surfshark is off to a strong start and introduces 24/7 live chat support right from the start. That’s a great statement of intent – ​​it’s a lot easier than just having an email from support. So a good point!

As with the rest of the support section, there are only pure basics at this time. You’ll find installation instructions, FAQ articles, helpful technical information texts, and blog posts there, but the site still needs some fleshing out.

Surfshark VPN Pricing in 2022

Surfshark VPN offers three different pricing plans, all of which offer the full set of features. Only the duration of commitment varies and the price. You can get a one-month subscription at €11.03 renewable if needed, 6 months at €5.52 per month (i.e. a single payment of €33.15) or 24 months at €2.12 per month (i.e. a single payment of €50.88 for 2 years).

Tarifs-Surfshark-VPN
© Surfshark

It’s a cheap VPN, the prices are decent – ​​neither very high nor very low. Rates become even more advantageous when you know that an account comes with unlimited simultaneous connections. Surfshark VPN has certainly proven itself, and the prospect of getting a long-term subscription shouldn’t be of particular concern anymore. If you can get the tool for just five bucks, we’re inclined to say, “Go for it!”

There are plenty of payment options to choose from when paying. This includes anonymous options, like crypto. There’s also PayPal and AliPay, for those interested. Some of the best VPN service providers have overlooked the kind of privacy given by a crypto payment option, and that’s a big shame.

Are the packages cancellable?

If you are planning to create a Surfshark account and subscribe to one of its subscriptions, it is completely legitimate to wonder if the purchase is refundable. In the case of Surfshark, the answer is yes. You may cancel your subscription within 30 days of the date of purchase by notifying Customer Support and receive a full refund.

However, in the event of a subscription cancellation after the 30-day period, you will not be refunded. You can simply stop automatic renewal and avoid direct debits for a new cycle.

You get it, Surfshark VPN doesn’t offer a free trial, but all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. So you lose nothing by trying it. There is nothing better for you to form your own opinion on Surfshark.

Conclusion on Surfshark VPN Review

After investigating long and hard for this Surfshark review, we can say we like the route the VPN is taking. They did well to cover the basics – security, jurisdiction, speed, support, etc. and took steps in unique directions.

It’s very rare to see a paid VPN with no limit to the number of simultaneous connections and applying a true zero-logs policy. On the infrastructure side, the VPN already provides more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries and its network is expanding. Added to this is an anonymous registration process and the ability to pay in cryptocurrencies, Surfshark is already a step ahead of the competition.