Even though cryptocurrencies have entered a bear market, adoption still seems to be on the rise. It's not really surprising - there are plenty of opportunities to make a profit, and the technology behind them is attractive.
But here's a question for those of you who still dabble in crypto - should you actually use a VPN for crypto trading? Is there any reason to actually do that?
The short answer is yes; you should definitely do that. And here's the lengthier explanation why:
Wait - Aren't Cryptocurrencies Inherently Anonymous?
Not really. That's more of a myth, really. A lot of people who don't really understand what cryptocurrencies are and how they work like claim they help you make anonymous payments online.
But here's the truth - cryptocurrencies can only offer a certain level of privacy. They can't offer anonymity.
Don't take our word for it, though. Here's a quote straight from the Bitcoin website:
"Bitcoin is designed to allow its users to send and receive payments with an acceptable level of privacy as well as any other form of money. However, Bitcoin is not anonymous and cannot offer the same level of privacy as cash."
Need more proof? Here's an article that talks in-depth about how Bitcoin "anonymity" isn't foolproof. The tl;dr is that web trackers and cookies can compromise the anonymity you think you get when using cryptocurrencies.
True, linking crypto transactions to one specific identity is harder when certain information is missing (like shipping costs for a package or accurate timestamps). However, according to the researchers, the unique linkage is still possible in over 60% of cases.
Don't you think it's easy to link your crypto transactions to your identity?
Well, answer this - did you buy your crypto assets on a platform that requires KYC (Know Your Customer) AML (Anti-Money Laundering) verification? Did you have to show a form of ID or any document to prove you're who you say you are?
Then there's no anonymity. The trading site might use good encryption, but your transactions can still be traced back to your identity on that platform.
7 Good Reasons You Need a VPN for Crypto Trading
Will a VPN make you anonymous when using cryptocurrencies?
No. It's a common misconception that a VPN offers complete anonymity.
But it will offer you better privacy and a significantly improved experience. Here's why:
1. VPNs Secure Your Traffic
When you use a VPN, it encrypts your Internet traffic - specifically the data going between your device and the VPN server. If you're not familiar with encryption, it's a way to make your traffic indecipherable. Here's an in-depth guide detailing how it works.
Why is that important? Pretty simple - you use your home network or public WiFi to make crypto transactions. Well, those networks mostly use WPA2 for security. Unfortunately, it's not secure at all. What's more, even WPA3 (its successor) has vulnerabilities. And get this - some public networks might not even use any encryption, meaning your traffic is fully readable.
That's not all, though. Cybercriminals might even set up a fake network that imitates legit ones. By simply copying the signal and SSID, they can trick your device into connecting to said network. If that happens, the hackers who run the hotspot can monitor all your traffic.
Basically, what we're trying to say is that a skilled hacker could use a packet sniffer to monitor your network traffic. If they're good enough, they might be able to steal your wallet keys or login credentials for trading platforms.
With a VPN for crypto trading, however, that's no longer a problem. The network you're using might have poor security, which hackers can exploit, but the VPN encryption will make up for it. Yes, even if you accidentally connect to a fake network.
2. A VPN Protects You from Phishing
Phishing is one of the main ways hackers steal crypto assets from people. Whether it's fake giveaways or spoofing well-known exchange platforms, crypto phishing attacks account for 13% of cryptocurrency scams. They also contributed to nearly $9 million in crypto assets being lost each day back in 2018.
Now, a VPN isn't exactly designed to offer any special phishing protection. However, some services use a blocklist that prevents you from landing on phishing websites (many of which might be crypto-related).
Just please keep in mind that a VPN can't protect you from phishing messages with malicious attachments. So make sure to follow tips like these to stay safe.
3. It Keeps Your Crypto Activities on the Down-Low
Picture this - you log into your account on Binance, sell some ETH, buy some BTC, and log out. Nobody but you know about that, right?
Well, not exactly. Your ISP will actually see you used Binance. Your connection requests to Binance go through their network, after all. Sure, they won't be able to see your transactions, but they'll still know you used the platform. Also, they'll know when you did it.
And if that weren't enough, they'll know how much data you used. If you day trade a lot or have to sync many wallets, it can be a lot. If your ISP has a problem with that, or they just don't like you using their bandwidth to trade cryptocurrencies, they can throttle your connections (essentially lower your speeds) to discourage you from doing it.
Well, if you use a VPN, your ISP can't see what crypto websites you browse or what crypto apps you use anymore. They'll only see the IP address of the VPN server you use.
Also, since the VPN will encrypt your traffic, your ISP won't manage to throttle your traffic for crypto websites and apps. They won't be able to analyze your data packets to see what you "waste" their bandwidth on anymore.
4. It Hides Your IP Address
Keep in mind that your IP address reveals a lot of information about you:
- What country and city you are from.
- What your ZIP code is.
- Who your ISP is.
Now, consider this - what if the website in question suffers a leak, and your IP address is exposed to hackers?
And if that weren't enough, here's more - did you know that a node can actually see your real IP address? If you're not familiar with nodes, it's a computer that connects to a blockchain network to support it by validating or relaying transactions. So your computer or device is a node when you use the Bitcoin network, for example.
Normally, this isn't a concern if the node doesn't keep any records. And let's face it - it's unlikely that most people who use a crypto network program their device to record IP addresses.
But here's the problem - anyone can run a node: hackers, the NSA, the FBI, etc. The SEC already said they'll hire contractors to run nodes for XRP, BTC, and ETH. If their nodes keep records, they'll have a log of your IP address and the transactions you make.
Overall, pretty invasive stuff.
That's why you should use a VPN for crypto trading. It hides your real IP address. Since only the IP address of the VPN server is visible, it'll be associated with crypto transactions instead.
5. VPNs Might Prevent Legal Issues
Not all countries see cryptocurrencies in a good light. While trading and using them for payments is okay in most places, some governments heavily regulate it or outright make it illegal. In some countries (like China), the authorities even block online exchanges.
With a VPN, you can get around government censorship and unblock the trading platforms you want to use. You can also hide your digital footprints to a certain extent to make it harder for the authorities to associate crypto transactions with you.
DISCLAIMER: TechNadu does not encourage any illegal activities that involve cryptocurrencies. We included this information since it's relevant to this topic. Also, keep in mind that certain VPNs might make it clear in their ToS that their services shouldn't be used to circumvent the law.
6. You Can Unblock Geo-Restricted Coins and Trading Sites
Yes, geo-restrictions work with cryptocurrencies too. Bittrex is the best example. Back in 2019, they stopped allowing US customers to trade 27 altcoins. Only Bittrex International users (people outside the US) were allowed to trade on those markets.
Here's another example - DEX. Developed by Binance, the platform geo-blocked users from 29 countries. And speaking of Binance, they announced they'll block US customers from trading on the platform back in 2019.
Since a VPN hides your real IP address, the trading platform won't know your geo-location anymore. In the Bittrex scenario, you'd need to use a VPN server in a different country than the US (where Bittrex also works) to trade those altcoins.
7. VPNs Let You Bypass Firewalls
Schools, universities, and companies might use firewalls to block crypto-related sites on their networks. It's likely because they don't want cryptocurrencies associated with them, or maybe they don't want their bandwidth spent on those activities.
Well, many people actually use VPNs to unblock sites at school or work. Since it hides your IP address, the firewall rules no longer apply to you. So you could use it to access blocked cryptocurrency platforms.
Before we go on, though, let's get one thing straight - we're in no way encouraging you to use a VPN to trade crypto at work or school. If you're not careful or just unlucky, you can get caught. Network admins can actually spot VPN usage since they see you connecting to an IP address with no domain name resolution (so no website name).
However, we understand there are situations when you really, really need to unblock crypto sites at work or school.
For example, crypto prices are extremely volatile, and maybe you stand to lose a lot of money or miss an opportunity to make a huge profit if you don't sell/buy right then on the spot. Or maybe you need to check the price for an altcoin ASAP, and you need to unblock CoinMarketCap.
In those scenarios, a VPN for crypto really helps. Just run it, do what you need to do, and disconnect quickly.
Must-Have Features for a Good Cryptocurrency VPN
Will any VPN do when you trade crypto?
Not really. If you want to keep all your data secure, you need one that has some specific features:
This is a feature that hides VPN traffic, making it look like normal HTTPS traffic (most of the time). It's very useful if your country bans or blocks VPNs, something that effectively prevents you from using a VPN for crypto trading in the first place.
Overall, obfuscation helps you stay under the radar and lets you bypass VPN blocks. If you'd like to read more about it, check out our guide.
A Kill Switch is a feature that shuts off your Internet access when your VPN connection goes down.
Unfortunately, even if you use a very reliable VPN, you can experience connection drops due to several reasons. If that happens (even if it's for a few seconds), your crypto trading traffic will be exposed. So a Kill Switch is a good way to make sure your trading activities always stay private.
Kill Switches can also work at the application level. So you can configure your VPN to only shut down your desktop trading platform or crypto wallet when the connection goes down.
If the VPN is keeping logs (especially usage logs), you're not really getting any privacy. While your ISP or the government won't be able to see what you're doing online, your VPN will.
It's usually best to pick a no-log VPN that can back up its claims with proof - like PIA (court documents prove their no-log claims) or NordVPN (they have an in-depth penetration-testing security audit as evidence).
Worried your speeds will be too slow while using a VPN for cryptocurrency transactions?
Fair enough. A VPN can slow down your speeds - especially when you need to sync your wallet to the blockchain. And the last thing you want to deal with is lag while trying to day trade.
Now, there are things you can try to speed up a VPN connection. But the best way to do that in this situation is with split tunneling. It's a feature that lets you leave some traffic out of the VPN tunnel.
So, for example, you could set the VPN to only encrypt traffic that comes from crypto wallets or desktop trading platforms. Or you could set it to encrypt the browser you use for crypto trading and leave out other applications (Skype, Steam, etc.).
Since there's less data to encrypt and decrypt, there's a good chance you'll get smoother and stabler VPN speeds.
Strong Encryption & Leak Protection
Powerful encryption is key when using a VPN for crypto (or for anything, really). Military-grade encryption like AES-128 or AES-256 is usually a good sign. The VPN should also offer strong protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEther, or WireGuard.
If the VPN tries forcing PPTP (which uses MPPE encryption) on you, start running. It's not safe at all since it can be cracked.
Similarly, you don't want any data leaking out of the VPN tunnel. If your DNS queries leak, for instance, your ISP will know what crypto websites you've been browsing. So the VPN should offer leak protection (usually advertised as IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection).
Phishing & Malicious Site Protection
While a VPN can't protect your device from a direct malware infection, it can prevent you from accidentally connecting to malicious websites - like a fake crypto trading platform that tries to steal your wallet keys.
In this case, a blocklist really helps. Basically, the VPN will automatically block access to malicious domains. Depending on how advanced the feature is, it can also block ads and provide DDoS protection.
Which VPN Providers Accept Crypto Payments?
A VPN that offers all the features we mentioned above provides great security and privacy, but let's face it - if you're going to use a VPN for crypto trading, you'll want to pay for it with crypto, too, right?
So we went ahead and analyzed the top 26 VPN providers on the market to see which ones accept crypto payments. Overall, 21 VPNs accept them. Here's the full list:
- ExpressVPN (Read Review)
- NordVPN (Read Review)
- CyberGhost (Read Review)
- Surfshark (Read Review)
- PIA (Read Review)
- PrivateVPN (Read Review)
- TorGuard (Read Review)
- Ivacy (Read Review)
- ProtonVPN (Read Review)
- Perfect Privacy (Read Review)
- ibVPN (Read Review)
- Windscribe (Read Review)
- CactusVPN (Read Review)
- IVPN (Read Review)
- PureVPN (Read Review)
- HIDEme (Read Review)
- SaferVPN (Read Review)
- AstrillVPN (Read Review)
- VPNArea (Read Review)
- Mullvad (Read Review)
We need to mention something about PureVPN, though. According to their support reps, you need to message them when buying a subscription so that they can create an invoice for your crypto payment. When we tried to pay with crypto at the checkout page, there was no option allowing us to do it.
5 VPNs That Don't Accept Crypto Payments
- IPVanish (Read Review)
- StrongVPN (Read Review)
- VyprVPN (Read Review)
- FastestVPN (Read Review)
Now, we're not saying these services aren't decent VPNs. VyprVPN, for example, is a really good VPN that offers most of the must-have features we mentioned above. So if the lack of crypto payment support isn't a deal-breaker for you, check them out too.
Who knows, they might even start accepting crypto payments in the future.
Also, a quick warning - if you see any third-party links saying you can buy subscriptions for those VPNs with crypto, they're likely scams or just very outdated. Here's an example:
Don't Only Rely on a VPN, Though
Sure, using a VPN for crypto transactions is a great idea. But it won't be enough to offer you 100% protection when you trade cryptocurrencies. To enjoy significantly more security, you'll also need:
- Antivirus Protection - A VPN that blocks malicious sites is nice, but you still need a line of defense on your device. If it gets infected, a VPN can't protect it. Antivirus software, on the other hand, can isolate, quarantine, and remove the infection. Here's a list of services you can try out.
- Hardware Wallets - Web wallets aren't as safe since they can be compromised. Hardware wallets are much better because you're essentially keeping your coins offline, out of the reach of cybercriminals. Here's a useful guide to help you learn more about them.
- Script Blockers - Some shady websites can run malicious scripts that infect your device or steal your login credentials. Others could use your device to mine crypto. The best line of defense against them is a script blocker like uMatrix and uBlock Origin.
- 2FA/MFA - Most crypto trading platforms offer 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) and MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication). Basically, it's an extra step in the login process - like entering a code that's randomly generated on your phone. It's a great way to secure your accounts - even if hackers somehow steal your passwords. So, we recommend enabling these options on all accounts.
- Password Managers - They are software solutions that encrypt your login credentials in one place. You can use them to store your private keys (though we'd still recommend storing them offline) and your passwords for trading platforms. Here are some recommendations if you're not sure which one to use.
The Bottom Line
If you really value your privacy, you should use a VPN for crypto trading. It helps you bypass annoying blocks, keep your activities a secret, and even avoid phishing and malware.
Just make sure you pick a good VPN - preferably one that doesn't keep logs has decent encryption, and offers leak protection. If it accepts crypto payments, even better. If you don't have time to go through our list, here are some quick recommendations - NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or CyberGhost.
Know any other reasons people should use a VPN for cryptocurrency transactions? Go ahead and let us know in the comments or on social media. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts.