In a time when it seems everyone is trying to steal your personal data and personal information, a VPN can help you avoid that by making your connections secure and private. But while sweeping claims of military-grade encryption and total digital obscurity might be appealing, Consumer Reports’ Yael Grauer suggests looking for more specific indicators that a service is genuine before you sign a contract.

Start with compatibility. The service should work with at least the most popular operating systems such as Windows, macOS and Linux, Android, and iOS. You’ll need to know how many devices are supported by the service and how many connections it allows simultaneously. Also, you should check the number of servers that are available and their locations around the world. This will help you select one that is close to home or gives you speedy speeds while traveling across the globe.

Some services offer specialized services, such as dedicated ‘Netflix servers that do not block geo-restricted services, or other security measures like RAM-only servers (which erase data every when the service is rebooted) Dark web monitoring and security measures to protect against threats. Find out the ownership structure of the company and if it has had any privacy breaches or privacy scandals in the past.

The most reliable overall service we tried was NordVPN with its thousands of servers spread across 94 countries AES-256 encryption and ChaCha20, an effective kill switch as well as split tunneling and obfuscated servers. It’s also one of the few providers to publish its detailed no-logs policy and engages PricewaterhouseCoopers for annual audits. The costs aren’t cheap, however, you get a lot for your money. A long-term plan that is generous includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.