Norton Secure VPN Review Overview
- User-friendly app
- Easy to cancel
- 12 month plan - $3.33 per month ($39.99 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $4.99 per month ($4.99 total cost)
Norton should already be a familiar name to you, thanks to its antivirus software. But the company also recently unveiled a new product – Norton Secure VPN, formerly known as Norton WiFi Protection.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Norton fancies itself the leading cybersecurity company in the US (though there are arguably stronger contenders for that position). Their parent company, Symantec (who acquired Norton in 1990) also owns the SurfEasy VPN.
We were very curious as to how this might affect Norton Secure VPN’s functionality and suitability as a VPN service. Which is, of course, why we decided to do this review.
How Norton VPN Compares to the Competition
Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!
Bad Location for a VPN
Right off the bat, we’re more cautious than optimistic about Norton Secure VPN.
Symantec is based in California, which makes Norton Secure VPN an American provider. As you should already know by now, this means it’s in one of the notoriously privacy-unfriendly 5 Eyes jurisdictions.
Norton Secure VPN allegedly shares its backend infrastructure (where all user data is stored and processed) with SurfEasy VPN, which is based in Canada – another of the 5 Eye jurisdictions.
Still, this doesn’t automatically disqualify Norton Secure VPN as a trustworthy provider. It just doesn’t look good.
You need to jump through hoops just to find their Global Privacy Statement, though. That’s already a negative in our books.
(Lucky you, you can just follow the link we provided!)
Once we did find it, we nearly gave up on finishing this review. Norton openly admits to logging a LOT of information about its users:
It gets worse.
Symantec openly admits they “Share your data with partners for sales conversions and lead generation” as well as with law enforcement provided it’s “on the basis of legal obligations.”
These legal obligations include (but are not limited to) “in response to a subpoena, warrant or other process issued by a court or other public authority of competent jurisdiction.”
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t overtly claim to be a no-logs VPN on their features page. But they do strongly imply they are by repeatedly mentioning the importance of using a no-logs VPN.
This is outright duplicitous of the company. And when we spoke with their customer support (more details in the relevant section), they kept trying to dodge our question:
Unspecified Encryption Standard and Protocols
Nowhere does Norton Secure VPN specify what type of encryption standards or VPN protocols they use.
This is a serious transparency offense in our books, because it doesn’t tell you how well your private data is protected.
The support agent we spoke to simply told us to search the community forums when we asked for this information.
Well, when we navigated to the community forums, all we could find was a claim (shared by a user, not the company) that Norton Secure VPN uses 128-bit AES encryption.
This isn’t the “bank-grade encryption” promised on their features page. Bank- or military-grade encryption would be 256-bit AES, which is what other reviewers are claiming Norton Secure VPN offers.
This seems to be based on Norton using 256-bit AES for storing data with one of their other products.
We had the same issues when it came to figuring out exactly what VPN protocol they use. The community forums suggest “Norton uses some OpenVPN functions,” but nothing else.
That said, we did discover OpenVPN is indeed the protocol used for their Windows, Mac, and Android apps by taking a look at the in-app settings.
For iOS, on the other hand, L2TP/IPSec is used (this is due to iOS not being compatible with OpenVPN, though).
All told, we’d much prefer for Norton to be a lot more transparent about the encryption standards and VPN protocols they use.
If we were a privacy-conscious client considering Norton Secure VPN, we would quickly get frustrated and give up trying to figure out what’s fact and fiction in this area.
No Kill Switch or Split Tunneling
When it comes to security features, a VPN kill switch is an absolute must-have.
Without one, any time your connection to the VPN server falters (even if it’s just for a nanosecond, which does happen), your data is automatically leaked until the connection is restored.
A kill switch prevents this by preventing your device from connecting to the internet if your connection is lost.
Norton Secure VPN does not have any kill switch whatsoever.
Nor does it have a split tunneling feature, which allows you to choose which websites/apps you want to protect via the VPN and which ones you want to use on your normal (unprotected) connection.
Granted, this is normally a nice-to-have and we’re not too concerned with a VPN not offering one.
But its absence causes a few other issues for Norton Secure VPN… such as the VPN switching itself off without warning when you visit your bank’s website.
And that’s just one example.
The issue is many financial institutions don’t cooperate with substandard VPNs (you need a VPN that masks the fact you’re using a VPN at all).
So when Norton Secure VPN picks up you visiting one of these sites, it shuts itself off – ostensibly so you can log into your bank account without any issues.
A split tunnel feature would fix this by allowing you to log into your bank account on your normal, unprotected connection while still having the rest of your internet traffic routed via the VPN.
IP and DNS Leaks?
Some users reported experiencing occasional IPv6 and DNS leaks. This absolutely should not be happening.
We couldn’t replicate the issue ourselves.
However, given the fact Norton Secure VPN is known to switch itself off at random, we suspect this is what’s happened: the users complaining about occasional leaks didn’t realize the VPN was disconnected.
Either way, this is a major issue Norton doesn’t seem too concerned with fixing. And that’s a huge red flag for us.
As you probably know by now, we want our VPN to have at least 1,500, preferably 2,000+ servers.
Norton Secure VPN is very new, so we’re a little more forgiving of their not being able to meet that standard. However, the fact Symantec also owns the SurfEasy VPN, which has “over 1,000 servers in 28 different countries” did make us hopeful.
Unfortunately, all we know is Norton Secure VPN also has servers in 28 countries. We don’t know how many servers there are, but they all seem to be in the same countries as SurfEasy’s.
Even worse, there isn’t a Double VPN feature available and you can’t mimic one using The Onion Router (TOR) either.
We’re not surprised by this fact, but we’re still disappointed. It wouldn’t fix any of Norton Secure VPN’s considerable issues, but it would’ve made us feel at least a little more secure.
Given all of the above, we were not optimistic about Norton Secure VPN being able to provide good speeds. But we weren’t about to dismiss the possibility it might be the provider’s redeeming quality.
As always, we need to specify VPN speed results will vary from one user to the next based on a myriad of factors, not all of which are in our power to control.
We try to standardize our speed tests across all VPN providers, but just be aware you’ll likely have a slightly different experience to ours.
With that out of the way, here’s how Norton Secure VPN performed:
Norton Secure VPN was a bit of an odd entry when it came to speeds. We tested several different times using the US server, but never reached higher than the speed shown above. The UK server, on the other hand, offered higher speeds – though still not satisfactory.
Device Compatibility and Connections
Norton Secure VPN seems intent on being a disappointing service. The only compatible devices are:
This means if you use Linux, or want to protect your gaming consoles or even your router, you’ll have to look elsewhere. We suggest checking out our guide on The Best Overall VPNs.
The slightly-good news is you can choose how many simultaneous connections you want: 1, 5, or 10. 10 simultaneous connections is a great offering, considering 5 or 6 tends to be the industry standard.
The catch? The more simultaneous connections you want, the more you’re going to pay.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
Which brings us to Norton Secure VPN’s pricing scheme:
- 1 Device for 1 Month – $4.99
- 1 Device for 1 Year – $49.99 ($39.99 for your first year)
- 5 Devices for 1 Month – $7.99
- 5 Devices for 1 Year – $79.99 ($39.99 for your first year)
- 10 Devices for 1 Month – $9.99
- 10 Devices for 1 Year – $99.99 ($59.99 for your first year)
Granted, this is relatively cheap. But Norton Secure VPN’s multiple issues mean that right now, even paying $4.99 a month to protect 1 device is asking too much.
Don’t Count on Being Able to Access Netflix
Norton Secure VPN performs inconsistently with online streaming services like Netflix.
Some users haven’t had any issues with Netflix, but others – especially those experiencing IPv6 leaks – have.
In a user review from another VPN comparison site, they complain that even though they were able to stream Netflix regardless of which server they connected to, their catalog didn’t reflect the server’s location.
This requires some quick explanation.
Netflix has different catalogs based on the distribution rights they’re able to obtain in different countries. The streaming service also uses powerful proxy detection software to block VPN IP addresses to make sure you can’t access the catalog of another country.
So if your original IP is leaking, Netflix won’t know you’re using a VPN. Your IP will also tell them where you’re connecting from and automatically match their catalog to your location.
We also got mixed results when trying to access Netflix with Norton Secure VPN. All told, you’re better off using one of our suggestions for The Best Netflix VPNs instead.
Forget About Torrenting
Remember how we mentioned Norton Secure VPN has a habit of switching itself off without warning?
It always does that as soon as you try to access a torrent site or open your BitTorrent client. You’ll get a pop-up notification (if you’re lucky) saying “Warning: Torrent Traffic Active.”
Unfortunately, if you don’t know what this warning means, you won’t know the VPN switched itself off. You’d have to read their Solutions Document, which informs you “Norton Secure VPN does not allow or protect active torrent traffic.”
This is bad news for anyone trying to use the P2P filesharing method for legally distributing documents you own the copyright to.
If you want/need to torrent, check out our guide on The Best Torrenting VPNs.
In Norton Secure VPN’s defense, their app is incredibly easy to use.
As soon as you finish installing it, simply log in. You’ll automatically be connected to the nearest detected server, but you can easily switch to a different country if you prefer.
Another plus is there’s a rudimentary ad-blocking feature in the app. It’s not great, but it’s a nice addition.
That said, the app is extremely slow – for as simple as it is. Additionally, there’s no clear cut way to “disconnect” – and because of the layout, it’s impossible to take screenshots using the screenshot programs we have.
Support is Useless
Back to the negatives, unfortunately.
There’s no way to sugarcoat how terrible the customer support options are. The Support Section doesn’t offer a lot of information, which means you absolutely need to (try) getting hold of a Live Chat Support agent.
And you’ll need to click a lot of buttons to get that far.
Once you finally get to this page, Norton insists you give them a lot of private information before opening up the chat window (you’ll need to disable pop-ups, otherwise it won’t even do that):
You’ll then need to wait an average of 10 to 15 minutes before a support agent connects with you:
And then, as you’ve already seen, they’ll dodge around your questions before telling you to visit the community forum instead.
In our experience, it’s difficult to get any answers in the forum too. You have to hope Norton’s search function actually works and then hope someone’s already asked your question and received an answer.
Most of the time, you’ll be relying on other community members to provide the answers. We didn’t find a lot of engagement from the company.
How to Cancel Norton Secure VPN and Get Your Money Back
If you’ve been duped into paying for Norton Secure VPN, we highly suggest you cancel and demand a refund. This is arguably one of the worst VPNs we’ve ever had the misfortune of testing.
- Sign in to your Norton Account
- Click “My Subscription”
- Move the slider to “Off” to cancel Automatic Renewal
- Provide a reason for canceling
- Click “Turn Off”
- Contact Support to request a refund
If you paid for a year’s subscription, you have 60 days to request a refund. For monthly payments, you only get 14 days.
Norton isn’t very transparent here either (their refunds page doesn’t actually specifically mention Norton Secure VPN), which is yet another red flag for us.