The Lord of the VPNs

Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection is the clear winner in tests of VPN performance, privacy, and transparency carried out by the independent IT-security research institute AV-TEST, and is recognized as the institute’s “Approved Virtual Private Network Solution”.

Kaspersky VPN wins AV-TEST’s performance test and gets the “Approved Virtual Private Network Solution” badge

For the third year in a row, Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection has participated in the public VPN package certification tests conducted by AV-TEST, the independent research institute for IT security based in Magdeburg, Germany, and once again for the third year in a row it has received the “Approved Virtual Private Network Solution” badge.

Curiously, there has been a constant fall in the number of participants whose solutions reached the end of the tests and were certified. Specifically: in 2020 there were six VPN packages, in 2021 – three, and finally, this year there were only two left: Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection and Norton Secure VPN (bringing to mind the “Highlander” movie tagline: “There can only be one”). The reason is that participants in a public certification test may choose not to have their results published if either they’re not satisfied with them or their products don’t meet the certification requirements.

This certification test evaluates many factors that affect usage of a VPN: usability, OS compatibility, server locations, upload and download speeds, security, transparency, etc. We were confident in both the stability and security level provided by our VPN solution, so were most interested in the additional performance comparisons with the other VPN products available on the market. Having that in mind, and before the public certification test was started, we asked AV-TEST to test an additional six VPN solutions fully in parallel with the public certification performance test and in full accordance with its methodology. As a result, an extended performance comparative report was published.

The participating VPNs were tested for both their download and upload performance, torrent download performance, YouTube streaming, and measured latency at three geographic locations – the U.S. West Coast, the Netherlands, and Japan. All tests were conducted for the “best” local connection as well as two geographic overseas connections. With the public certification test, there was only one difference: the results achieved by any of the tested products were not excluded.

The Magnificent Seven were: Avast SecureLine VPN, ExpressVPN, Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection, Mullvad VPN, NordVPN, Norton Secure VPN, and Private Internet Access.

AV-TEST performed this test in parallel for all products several times a day for a week, which allowed them to average the results of the performance test. So, let’s dive deep into the numbers and see how modern VPN solutions outperform good old dial-up access or ADSL.

The Speedtest, or There and Back Again

For most VPN use cases in everyday life, download speed is more important than upload speed, but for a full-fledged test, one needs to analyze both. The performance test used virtual machines configurations hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud, and all products were run with their default, out-of-the-box configurations. And trust me, those VMs were pretty good and had a stable and very, very fast internet connection, with reference unencrypted download and upload speeds of up to 9Gbps. Yes, gigabits per second!

The first set of tests – download, upload and latency performances – were conducted using the “industry standard” Ookla LLC command-line application and compared to an unencrypted reference speed benchmark. They show how fast you can surf the web anonymously all around the globe, since all these tests were run for both local and overseas locations, as pictured below.

The comparative test local and overseas connections map

The comparative test local and overseas connections map

Due to the nature of the technology, using a VPN connection almost always reduces performance, and in the graph below we do see a significant drop in speed compared to an unsecured connection. Such is the price of anonymity. But let’s be honest: compare these values with the bandwidth provided by your ISP, and you’ll realize that in most cases you’ll never notice a drop in speed since your connection is still slower.

The comparative local and overseas results for the unencrypted download and upload performances, and the industry averages for all three tested locations (the more the better)

The comparative local and overseas results for the unencrypted download and upload performances, and the industry averages for all three tested locations (the more the better)

However, “average performance” is good for statistics and comparisons, but in everyday life you’re unlikely to prefer an “average car”. So let’s compare how fast all the test participants are, and we’ll see a noticeable difference in performance between the winners and the rest:

The combined averages for download and upload performances for local and overseas connected VPN servers (the more the better)

The combined averages for download and upload performances for local and overseas connected VPN servers (the more the better)

Kaspersky wins almost every race, with the exception of overseas upload average performance due to an unpatched server issue that had not been fixed at the time of testing.

The Latency of Clouds

– What do we want?
– When do we want it?
– Lag-free gaming!
– Now!

Ping time is vital for gamers. If the ping is too slow, players can react as fast as they want, but their reaction in the games they play doesn’t get through due to latency. In the public certification test, Kaspersky VPN showed an average local latency of 5.3 milliseconds across all locations compared to Norton Secure VPN’s average latency of 13 milliseconds (Boom! You lose). In the extended comparative test it shared second place in the local latency test with NordVPN – just behind Mullvad VPN – thus beating the industry average for VPNs. The overseas latency test showed no differences worth mentioning when comparing VPN products, as well as when comparing them to an unencrypted reference.

Leechers in the dark

Where do we value privacy the most? With good old torrents, for sure. Therefore, the speed of leeching through a VPN tunnel is critical for all torrent lovers. The test measured the time between the start of downloading a torrent and the end of writing the torrent file to the hard drive through a third-party torrent client.

The combined averages for the torrent download speeds (the more the better). * Norton Secure VPN doesn't support torrents on tested servers

The combined averages for the torrent download speeds (the more the better). * Norton Secure VPN doesn’t support torrents on tested servers

And here Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection wins again for both local and overseas torrent leeching.

The Tubes Burst

We all love Netflix. Video streaming services are booming and now they generate most internet traffic. And it is these video streaming services that like to annoy the user with geo-blocking the most – but which can be bypassed with a VPN! Therefore, a stable video stream without frame loss and delays through VPN plays such an important role. And here’s some good news for you movie buffs: Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection, as well as all other tested solutions, successfully passed the 4K streaming test with minor issues that users won’t notice (such as a few dropped frames and millisecond range lags).

Over Hill and Under Hill

However, in addition to the performance, it’s worth comparing other parameters of the tested solutions in the public certification test. Compared to Norton Secure VPN, Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection – using the OpenVPN protocol – supports more operating systems (including Linux, ChromeOS, AndroidTV and FireTV), has three times more server locations (90 vs. 29), and successfully passed all transparency tests. But what’s crucial is that Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection showed impeccable leak resistance in all security tests, while Norton Secure VPN allowed a DNS leak on reconnect, briefly exposing the device’s DNS queries.

Transparency is a precious thing

In terms of transparency and confidentiality, Kaspersky takes the privacy of its customers very seriously: the solution doesn’t collect more data than necessary, uses the highest industry standards to secure collected data, and the company regularly gets audited and publishes transparency reports.

Product security is ensured by Kaspersky’s vulnerability management and disclosure program, including its Bug Bounty Program. Kaspersky is also known as a pioneer in the creation of Transparency Centers all over the world to allow independent assessments of the company’s solutions’ security and safety.

The Last Stage

With unmatched performance in most of the speed tests conducted, Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection is the overall fastest VPN product tested in the performance test, and ranked #1 in most of the categories tested. It showed outstanding download and torrent speed in both local and overseas scenarios. In particular, the solution outperforms other participants at least two-fold in terms of overseas data transmission. Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection is the leading product for the local upload test, with results that are twice the industry average.

The measured latency is in the top three among all tested products. Like all other products, Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection had no problems playing 4K video from a local or overseas connection. It’s expected that once the problem with unpatched overseas servers is fixed, the performance of overseas uploads, which is currently below average, will improve significantly. Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection successfully passed all security tests and was awarded the “Approved Virtual Private Network Solution” badge.


And finally, if you’re a number-cruncher, you should definitely check out both reports’ PDFs here and here, where you’ll find plenty of crisp numbers to crunch.