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Safe Encryption & VPN Protocols: A Review of Atlas VPN

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In the world of VPN services, Atlas VPN has quickly gained recognition for its strong performance and generous features. Launched in 2020 and subsequently acquired by Nord Security, Atlas VPN has been steadily improving its offerings to cater to the needs of its growing user base. With a focus on providing fast speeds, reliable security, and affordable prices, Atlas VPN is positioning itself as a top contender in the VPN market. In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of Atlas VPN’s encryption and VPN protocols, examining its safety, performance, and unique features.

Encryption and Traffic Security

When it comes to encryption, Atlas VPN utilizes the robust ChaCha20 cipher to encrypt user traffic. This encryption method is widely regarded as virtually unbreakable, ensuring that your sensitive data remains secure while connected to an Atlas VPN server. In our independent tests using Wireshark, a packet-sniffing tool, Atlas VPN consistently encrypted all web traffic, as evidenced by the encrypted data packets displayed in the screenshot below.

atlas vpn wireshark review

Analyzing Atlas VPN’s encryption using Wireshark

While Atlas VPN’s encryption is commendable, it’s worth noting that the service currently defaults to the IKEv2 protocol. However, we strongly recommend manually switching to the more secure and efficient WireGuard protocol, which offers faster speeds and consumes less data. It is our hope that Atlas VPN will eventually drop support for IKEv2 and adopt the widely acclaimed OpenVPN protocol for enhanced security.

Kill Switch for Added Protection

One notable feature of Atlas VPN is its kill switch, designed to protect your online privacy in the event of a VPN connection drop. The kill switch automatically disconnects your device from the internet, preventing your true IP address from being exposed. This feature is enabled by default on all Atlas VPN apps, including iOS, making it a standout option for iPhone and iPad users. While it is possible to disable the kill switch in the settings, we strongly recommend leaving it enabled for maximum security.

Our independent testing confirmed that Atlas VPN’s kill switch functions effectively. When we intentionally dropped the VPN connection while running our kill switch testing tool, Atlas VPN promptly blocked our internet traffic, ensuring that no data was transmitted outside of the VPN tunnel. The reliable performance of the kill switch further solidifies Atlas VPN’s commitment to user privacy and data protection.

Leak Tests: Privacy and Anonymity

To ensure that Atlas VPN maintains its commitment to user privacy, we conducted comprehensive IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests. These tests assess whether a VPN service effectively hides user information and prevents leaks that could compromise privacy and anonymity.

In our tests, Atlas VPN successfully passed all leak tests, with no personal information or network details exposed during any of the tests. The screenshot below demonstrates the absence of any visible network details during our leak tests conducted in the UK.

atlas vpn review

Atlas VPN leak tests

One noteworthy feature of Atlas VPN is its provision of an IPv6 address, a feature rarely seen in VPN services. By offering an IPv6 address, Atlas VPN sets itself apart from its competitors and provides users with additional security measures. Other VPNs often attempt to block IPv6 connections, which may result in privacy concerns. For instance, during our testing, we discovered that Surfshark occasionally leaked our real IPv6 address due to flawed blocking technology. Atlas VPN’s inclusion of IPv6 addresses demonstrates its dedication to safeguarding user privacy.

Third-Party Servers and Security Measures

Atlas VPN’s server infrastructure consists of rented servers from unvetted third-party providers, a practice that may raise some security concerns. When contacted about this matter, Atlas VPN confirmed that it does not conduct a vetting process for each server provider, which is less than ideal for ensuring the highest level of security. While the company claims to implement its own security measures on each rented server, it has not disclosed the specifics of these measures.

It is worth noting that Atlas VPN’s servers are not diskless, which means that in theory, information could be stored and extracted from a compromised VPN server. To address this potential vulnerability, we encourage Atlas VPN to adopt server security practices similar to those employed by its parent company, NordVPN. NordVPN’s use of colocated and diskless servers significantly reduces the risk of user data exposure through compromised third-party server providers.

MultiHop+ Servers: Double Encryption for Enhanced Security

Atlas VPN’s paid subscriptions include a unique feature called MultiHop+, which utilizes double VPN servers to encrypt internet traffic twice. With MultiHop+, your data passes through two different VPN servers, offering an extra layer of security and making it more challenging for anyone to trace your online activities. While some VPN providers, like ProtonVPN, only encrypt traffic at the final server, Atlas VPN goes the extra mile by encrypting traffic at both VPN servers.

This double encryption feature is not explicitly advertised on Atlas VPN’s website, but our independent testing using Wireshark confirmed the presence of double encryption when connected to MultiHop+ servers. The inclusion of double encryption in MultiHop+ servers further enhances the security of Atlas VPN’s services and sets it apart from many other VPN providers.

SafeSwap Servers: Enhanced Anonymity

Atlas VPN offers its paying subscribers access to SafeSwap servers, which provide an added layer of anonymity. Unlike traditional VPN servers that assign a static IP address until disconnection, SafeSwap servers rotate your IP address while you browse the internet. This rotation occurs seamlessly without interrupting your connection to the server.

SafeSwap servers are currently available in three countries: the United States, the Netherlands, and Singapore. While Atlas VPN claims that SafeSwap makes it more difficult for snoopers, authorities, ISPs, and advertisers to spy on your online activity, it should be noted that it does not significantly impact these entities as user data is already hidden during VPN usage. Consequently, SafeSwap servers may be considered more of a novelty feature rather than a substantial improvement for privacy. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that similar features have been implemented by other VPN services, such as HMA VPN’s IP Shuffle.

Missing Security Features and Room for Improvement

While Atlas VPN offers commendable security features, there are some areas where it falls short compared to other premium VPN services. Here are a few features we believe should be implemented or enhanced:

Tor over VPN: Atlas VPN should consider adding support for Tor over VPN, allowing users to easily access the Tor network for enhanced privacy and anonymity.

Diskless VPN servers: Implementing diskless VPN servers would provide an additional layer of security, ensuring that user data cannot be extracted from compromised servers.

Split tunneling: Currently, only the Android app supports split tunneling, which allows users to selectively route specific internet traffic through the VPN while keeping other traffic outside the VPN tunnel. Adding support for split tunneling across all platforms would enhance compatibility with local streaming sites and online banking services.

By incorporating these additional security features, Atlas VPN could further solidify its position as a top-tier VPN service and compete more effectively with leading providers in the market.


In conclusion, Atlas VPN offers a strong combination of security, speed, and affordability. With its use of the robust ChaCha20 cipher for encryption, reliable kill switch functionality, and successful passing of leak tests, Atlas VPN provides a secure environment for protecting user data and maintaining online privacy. The inclusion of features like MultiHop+ servers and SafeSwap servers adds an extra layer of anonymity and enhances user experience.

While there is room for improvement in terms of server security practices and the inclusion of advanced features like Tor over VPN and split tunneling, Atlas VPN is continually evolving and refining its services. As it grows under the umbrella of Nord Security, we expect to see further enhancements that will solidify its position among the top VPN providers in the industry.

Overall, Atlas VPN is a promising VPN service that offers a compelling combination of security, performance, and affordability. Whether you’re a privacy-conscious individual, a frequent traveler, or a streaming enthusiast, Atlas VPN is certainly worth considering for your VPN needs.

Note: The information provided in this article is based on our analysis and testing of Atlas VPN’s services. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, VPN services may undergo changes and updates over time. We recommend visiting Atlas VPN’s official website for the most current and accurate information about their offerings.

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