Can VPNs Be Hacked We Did The Research Heres The 2021 Guide
A VPN or virtual private network is one of the best ways to secure your internet connection and keep your data private. However, all of that protection amounts to nothing if a VPN can be easily hacked. How secure is your VPN service? We decided to find out. In the end, it comes down to encryption and how much your VPN leaks.
VPNs work by creating a secure virtual tunnel through the Internet to another network or device. Using this virtual tunnel makes it difficult for anyone including your ISP to see your browsing activities.
A VPN protects the confidentiality and integrity of messages as they travel over the public Internet. This means your data remains secret and unaltered.
Its easy to establish a secure connection. After you connect to your ISP, initiate a VPN connection through the software youve installed on your device. This software is also called the VPN client. From there, the VPN server fetches the requested web pages and returns them to you through a secure tunnel, thus keeping your data secure and private.
But how do you know if your VPN is truly secure? The top VPN services like ExpressVPN can be independently verified. Even so, well walk you through the important aspects of VPN security below.
What Is Secure Remote Access
Secure remote access provides a safe, secure way to connect users and devices remotely to a corporate network. It includes VPN technology that uses strong ways to authenticate the user or device. VPN technology is available to check whether a device meets certain requirements, also called a devices posture, before it is allowed to connect remotely.
What Does A VPN Kill Switch Do
Put simply a VPN kill switch kills your internet connection if it detects that your VPN’s connection has failed. There are generally two types of VPN kill switches.
The first runs in the VPN client app on your computer, so if the VPN connection fails while the VPN client app is running, that VPN client app can turn off the computer or mobile device’s internet connection. However, if your VPN connection has failed because the VPN client app itself crashed, then the kill switch may not work, and your IP and data may leak onto the internet.
The second type of VPN kill switch is at the operating system level. These are usually driver-level systems that run whether or not the VPN application is running. As such, they provide a bit more protection for your surfing activities.
Given that so many VPN products we reviewed in our directory support a kill switch, we recommend choosing a client with a kill switch feature. There may be a slight annoyance if you lose your connection, but that’s more than made up for in the added security.
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Will A VPN Slow Down My Internet Connection
No, a VPN should connect to your existing Wi-Fi network with no conflicts. The VPN should only affect your virtual network connection and not the actual connection with the phone/broadband line. So, youll still be connected to your original network, though you will appear to be running through your own network. Therefore, your internet connection should still run at a reasonable speed.
Choosing The Most Secure VPN For Your Organization
So how do you choose the most secure VPN? Even though it is open source-based, many view OpenVPN as the most secure VPN protocol. It is stable and reliable, easily configured to run on any port, supports hardware acceleration for improved speeds, is able to traverse firewalls and network address translation , and uses OpenSSL libraries for encryption. However, it requires client software and cannot be used on iPhones and only on a limited number of Android phones.
Another secure VPN protocol is L2TP/IPSec. It has strong encryption, no additional software for devices, is built into most desktop operating systems and mobile devices, is fairly easy to implement, and has no known major vulnerabilities. However, it does have trouble with firewalls, it is challenging to configure on a Linux server, and it is relatively easy to block by Internet service providers.
SSTP provides strong encryption, is very hard to detect and block, and is supported on all Microsoft Windows computers. At the same time, it is not supported by all VPN providers, and there is limited support for non-Windows devices.
The least secure VPN protocol is PPTP. Its benefits include easy setup, wide support for most devices, and low overhead. Because it has been around for a long time, it has known security issues that could be exploited by hackers . It has weak encryption and is relatively easy to block by ISPs.
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Which VPN Should I Use
Our roundups of the best VPNs and the best cheap VPNs are excellent places to research the top choices, but below is a quick list of our top picks if you just want to get started with online privacy protection right now.
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How Does A VPN Work
A VPN masks your IP address by redirecting it through a specially configured remote server run by the VPN host. So, when you browse online using a VPN, the VPN server becomes the origin of your data. This makes it impossible for your ISP or any other third-parties to see what websites you are visiting or what information you are entering. A VPN works like a filter that turns all the data you are sending and receiving into gibberish. Even if someone did get their hands on this data, it would be useless.
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Setting Up A VPN Connection
Join the VPN protection trend, set up your NordVPN account, and have an encrypted VPN connection wherever you go. All you have to do is:
Thats it you can now enjoy a fully encrypted VPN connection! To have more control over your VPN experience, you can explore the servers list and the Settings section. It doesnt matter if you use a Mac, an Android tablet, or a Windows laptop. We strongly believe that people shouldnt struggle to protect their home network and mobile devices. However, if you prefer to configure your VPN manually, you can. We have multiple manual set-up tutorials in our Help Center.
What To Do If You Find Out That You Are Not Being Protected
In case the tests reveal that you have leaks issues, you can follow a simple process to fix any small errors. If there is an IP address leak, you can check if your VPN is connected and once you confirm this, you can do an IP test again to see if you get different results. You can close the VPN and connect again to test once more and if the results continue showing leaks, the best thing may be to change your provider.
If the extended IP test shows that your Java or Flash are leaking, you can try the same process to verify that your VPN connection is active and if needed, you can close it and re-connect. If the results dont change you may need to consider getting a different provider.When it comes to DNS leaks, it is worth considering that they are very common but if you choose a reliable VPN provider that offers a good quality service, you shouldnt experience these issues.
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Your Ip Address Used As An Exit Node
Finally, the last of the VPN security risks in our list of the 7 deadly sinsis one that can practically incriminate you for something you havent even done.
There are some free VPN services like Hola VPN that use a questionable approach to building a VPN network by using volunteer peers and their bandwidth as well as their IP addresses. This can be dangerous because when you join such a network, you also become an exit node. This means that other people will use your IP address and bandwidth.
While this could be used for good and beneficial practices, in our world, you need to be prepared for when duality strikes. And it does strike hard.
On the dark side of this volunteer computer network is the possibility to use an exit node for illegal activities. Or such a network could also be used as a botnet for all kinds of malicious attacks like DDoS.
Want to be on the safe side? Never sign up for a service that uses your IP address and bandwidth.
How Many Servers Are There
VPN providers with lots of servers can spread their users out to avoid overloading any one server. This ensures faster and more stable connections for everyone. Wondering how many servers your chosen VPN has? Weve got the numbers right here:
Avast SecureLine VPN: 700+ servers
AVG Secure VPN: 700+ servers
CyberGhost: 6,900+ servers
TunnelBear: Approximately 3,000 servers
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Free VPNs Are Not A Secure Option
The dangers of free VPN services have been proven by testing and analyzing apps, looking over their privacy policies and ownership . One extensive analysis found that around have tracking embedded in their source code. That doesnt sound good, does it? If youre being tracked through an app promising you privacy and security, it loses its primary purpose.
And not only that. The development and maintenance of a VPN require a lot of resources. The software needs constant supervision, not to mention keeping up with security trends and challenges. Thats why paying for someone to take care of your digital privacy is standard practice.
Free VPNs like most free apps are filled with irritating ads that often are extremely targeted on top of being annoying. And if ads are targeted, that means trackers are involved.
Besides ads, free VPN services tend to stay afloat by selling users data to third parties without consent.Data is the hottest currency of our times and you never know who might get a hold of it.
Now that you know what better not to choose, lets go over what you should choose.
Can A VPN Stop Hackers
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This Is What Happens When You Connect To A VPN
A lot of components go into the inner workings of a VPN. But it all happens in a blink of an eye.
What you dont see, aka what really happens when you connect to VPN:
|A DNS request is made||The secret keys are made||A secure channel is created||VPN protocols encrypt your data|
As you can tell, its a complicated process, but thats what it takes to secure users data.
What you can see, aka benefits you get:
- Anything you do on the internet goes through an encrypted VPN tunnel, meaning your browsing activity belongs only to you. Your internet service provider , websites you visit, and hackers monitoring public networks cannot access your now-encrypted data.
- Your real IP address is hidden, and you get a new one. This way, no one can trace it back to you or your actual location. You get secure and private access to geo-blocked websites. That includes unfair censorship or network blocks .
Some people also wonderif VPNs can be tracked, and the answer is no. Theres no way to monitor live VPN traffic. However, there are many ways you could be tracked online, and a VPN cannot cover all of them . VPNs minimize your chances of being tracked by a mile, but no software will help if youre not careful.
In short, a VPN secures your internet connection, making the information you send out unreadable it literally looks gibberish to any onlooker. Heres an example:
But what makes it all possible, and ensures there are no mistakes and leaks? Onto the next section.
Why Using A VPN Is More Secure
The internet, as advanced and expansive it has become, is still a digital jungle- where stepping in the wrong place or not watching your back leads to hackers easily stealing sensitive information or authoritarian regimes restrict your access. For all the different types of attacks and traps that are hidden in public networks, it is best to avoid the cesspools all together by employing a VPN.
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Advantage : Bypass Geographical Restrictions
Its not just countries that impose restrictions on the internet. Some online services also restrict access to their content in certain regions. This happens with streaming services that only have broadcasting rights in certain countries and not in others.
If you are on holiday or you moved to a different country, you might be unable to view your usual streams. A VPN will also enable you to connect to the internet via servers in your home country, so you can watch your favorite show or access blocked websites again. It also works the other way around: if you want to gain access to websites or streaming services from a different country , you can do so with a VPN.
What If You Have A Leak
If any of the tests failed and showed leaks, follow a quick simple troubleshooting process to eliminate any simple or obvious mishaps and mistakes. DNS leaks are common and many services do not offer adequate protection. If you start by picking a reputable and dependable service provider, you will almost certainly avoid these issues.
When you have an IP address leak, check and ensure that your VPN service is open and connected, once confirmed, test again. If the same result appears, close the application and re-connect, testing once more. If you still have a leak, cease usage of this VPN service and report the issue to their support team. You would also be due for a refund or compensation of some form.
When doing an extended IP test and you find that your Flash and/or Java are leaking, follow same process and check your connection, re-launch it and test again. If the results persist, you may have a bad VPN service. Stop using it, as you will have poor protection when browsing websites.
DNS and IP leaks defeat the purpose of using a VPN, additionally, it means all of your data is not being encrypted, at least not all the time, allowing any third party to intercept the information in transit or at different connection points. Testing only takes a few minutes.
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Secure Your Data Over Public Wi
The convenience of free public Wi-Fi often comes with a loss of security. Since anyone can hop onto an unsecured Wi-Fi network, theres no way to know exactly whos connected at any given time, or what theyre doing. Its easy for a hacker to sit on a public Wi-Fi network and intercept all the traffic flowing across it.
If you log into your bank account, check your email, or hang out on social media, a hacker can snap up your login credentials. Any messages you send or personal data you transmit can be intercepted and used for blackmail or identity theft. The risks of public Wi-Fi are almost endless.
Because a VPN connection encrypts your communication with its server, anyone trying to eavesdrop on the public network will see only gibberish. Thats a big part of what VPN protection is: ensuring that no one can access your data.
VPNs And Their Current Use
According to the GlobalWebIndex, the number of VPN users worldwide increased more than fourfold between 2016 and 2018. In countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and China, where internet use is restricted and censored, one in fiveinternet users uses a VPN. In the USA, Great Britain and Germany, the proportion of VPN users is lowerat around 5%, but is growing.
One of the biggest drivers for VPN adoption in recent years has been the increasing demand for content with geographical access restrictions. For example, video streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube make certain videos available only in certain countries. With contemporary VPNs, you can encrypt your IP address so that you appear to be surfing from another country, enabling you to access this content from anywhere.
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Using A Corporate VPN In Windows
Connecting to a VPN is fairly simple. In Windows, press the Windows key, type VPN, and click the Set up a virtual private network connection option. Use the wizard to enter the address and login credentials of the VPN service you want to use. You can then connect to and disconnect from VPNs using the network icon in the system tray the same one where you manage the Wi-Fi networks youre connected to.
What Does A Consumer VPN Service Do
A consumer VPN service is, fundamentally, a software-as-a-service offering. The VPN service provides a secure tunnel between your computing device and the provider’s data center.
This is important to understand. Consumer VPN services protect your transmission from your location to their location, not from your location to the destination application you’re using. If you think about it, this makes sense: A consumer VPN service is operated by a completely different company than, for example, Facebook or your bank.
The VPN service gives you an app that you run on your local device, which encrypts your data, and it travels in its encrypted form through a tunnel to the VPN service provider’s infrastructure. At that point, the data is decrypted and sent on its way.
Two things happen here: First, if you’re using an https connection, your data is encrypted by your browser and then by your VPN app. Your data is decrypted only once at the VPN data centre, leaving the original encryption provided by the browser intact. That encrypted data then goes on to the destination application, like your bank.
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