VPNs (virtual private networks) run over a communication channel. However, they are also a service for the individual netizen worried about privacy and safety. Thus, the need for a VPN stems from the ever-changing landscape of the internet. Today, the digital world is unsafe. It is fraught with latent dangers and glaring traps that can render even the most cautious users helpless. Also, there is an increase in malicious hackers and cybercriminals that have made the internet their playground.
With such apparent issues, the daily rendezvous on the web can cause users irreplaceable harm. Hence, tech insiders and the privacy-centric crowd advocate using a VPN. It can effortlessly fight off a cyberattack by preventing one in the first place—a VPN can stop hackers. How? That is what you will find out in our article on VPNs and one of their uses.
How can a VPN stop hackers?
Before talking about how VPNs are useful against hackers, we have to understand how any cyberattack takes place. Chances are, a hacker doesn’t know you personally. Why do they select you as the target, then? Honestly, most cyberattacks happen indiscriminately. The attacker and the defender don’t know one another. Hence, the hacker relies on the intercepted data traffic to roughly figure out the scenario in advance to select and initiate an attacking method. But what if the hacker can’t gain access to the data traffic or extract any semblance of workable information from a bunch of random trash?
In that case, any consequent attacking plan would be void. Due to the severe lack of actionable data, the hacker doesn’t have a choice but to drop the plan. The VPN helps in exactly this manner. The core of the service lies in encryption. Today, we won’t delve deeper into what it is and how VPN encryption works. You can find out sufficient information in other articles we published, too. Any decent VPN uses reliable security protocols to initiate the tunneling process. During it, a VPN ensures the safety of user data by making them undergo encryption.
The current market standard AES 256-bit encryption profile is virtually impossible to hack or crack. Thus, any data traveling from the VPN client to the VPN server is safe. Even if a hacker intercepts it in transit, all it can export is a bunch of indistinguishable gibberish. Plus, since the hacker doesn’t know what the data is, they can’t target it. Thus, the VPN stops hackers by preventing an attack from taking place rather than acting after the fact.
Which attacks can VPN prevent?
A VPN can prevent a range of attacks depending on the medium. Some security and privacy invasions that a VPN can stop are:
- Adware infestation — A VPN can prevent the spread of adware. VPNs hide your IP address, thus making it impossible for marketers to recognize you on the web. Hence, without a target, advertisers don’t know who to approach. Consequently, the purpose of adware is lost. Therefore, VPNs can prevent adware infestation.
- Cookie theft — Cookies are crucial to both the user and the website owner. They collect relevant data and aid both parties but are easy to manipulate. Hence, malicious individuals are always on the lookout for intercepting cookies. Because once a hacker gets his hand on this data, it can prove to be a goldmine. By using a VPN, you can hide behind servers. Even if the hacker steals the cookie, you won’t be bothered.
- DoS or DDoS attacks — DoS (Denial of Service) or DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) are cyberattacks where a hacker can force the whole network into a shutdown by targeting the IP address. It overloads the server with unnecessary requests and temporarily overloads it. VPNs can prevent DoS and DDoS attacks with ease. After employing one, since the transmission is encrypted, there is no risk of IP leaks.
- MITM attacks — Man-in-the-Middle is yet another invasion where the hackers intercept the data in transit. Be it by making a fake website or hacking, they get a hold of your data and use it to undermine your digital life. But we know that any data traveling within a VPN network gets encrypted. Thus, there is no hazard. Even if the hacker targets the data leaving the VPN network, they can’t find the source, because VPNs mask IP addresses.
What are attacks a VPN can’t stop?
VPNs aren’t foolproof against online threats. They are digital software with distinct limitations and shortcomings. Thus, there are many attacks a VPN cant predict, much less prevent, such as:
- Human error — VPNs are software and are not competent enough to tackle human error. Thus, the user-end issues can prevent the VPN from taking effect. If the user has misplaced the credentials or shared the VPN access, or if they fail to incorporate a VPN at critical timing, there’s nothing the service can do.
- Phishing — In this situation, hackers lure victims into revealing critical information like passwords, IDs, bank accounts, and so on. Phishing gets done via numerous means, and there is no surefire method to prevent it save a healthy internet habit. Users should not share their information on the web. They should be suspicious of dubious websites. Furthermore, they should refrain from clicking on external links from unknown sources.
- Malware and viruses — Although a VPN can somewhat prevent the spreading of viruses by hiding the target, it can’t do anything once they infect the device. The post-ops on malware come under the jurisdiction of antivirus software. VPNs aren’t enough to deal with a virus outbreak.
- Internal threat — It can only prevent outside elements from affecting the network, not internal issues from doing the same. Take an infected VPN server, for example. Since the server is in charge of decryption, a malicious server can cause irreplaceable damage. Hence, providers with personal servers get preference over rented ones. This also applies to virtual servers, as they are less secure.
What else can block hackers?
A user can adopt many habits and methods to prevent hackers. At times, they can prove to be more effective in stopping hackers than VPNs. These are significant:
- Healthy internet habits — A VPN can stop hackers. But users should adopt common sense to cover the blind spots of VPN protection. Furthermore, it is never a bad thing to be preventive while tackling cybercrime. These habits include using private browsing when needed, logging off from websites, not sharing unnecessary information over the web, and so forth. One shall also avoid auto-filling and saving passwords on browsers.
- Reduced digital footprint — Another effective method is to lessen your digital footprint. Don’t simply visit any website or subscribe to any random web service. Users should be wary while allocating permissions to applications.
- Two-factor authentication — If possible, users should employ a two-factor method of validation. It reduces the risk of external intervention and enhances user security by improving the human factor.
- Firewalls — Firewalls are gateways to networks that stop the inflow of suspicious traffic. They work as a security border and prevent the network from falling under attack. Also, firewalls are good at segregating, and they can work with other software to provide a comprehensive defense.