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Do VPNs Protect You From Viruses?

Tristen Cooper

Woman working at office

Hackers around the world have become more sophisticated in recent years. As a result, consumers and businesses have looked for new ways to keep themselves safe online. Virtual private networks, or VPNs, have been lauded as one of the best ways to protect yourself online. But does a VPN connection actually protect you from viruses or other digital threats? 

VPNs hide your online activity from others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can protect you from computer viruses, malware, and other sophisticated digital attacks. Ultimately, there’s no good replacement for a powerful antivirus software. However, there are many benefits to using a VPN in addition to your antivirus protection. 

Key Takeaways

  • VPNs cannot protect you from viruses and other malware on their own. 
  • However, VPNs can help you keep your location, browsing history, and other personal details private. 
  • In order to avoid viruses, you will need to invest in a dedicated antivirus program and firewall. 

What Is A VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network. VPNs obscure your online presence while you are browsing, making it more difficult for third parties to access your personal information. 

The first modern VPN was created at Columbia University in 1993. VPNs became more readily available in the early 2000s and were marketed to businesses. Demand for VPNs among individual consumers took off about 10 years later and continues to remain high. 

VPNs work by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your IP address from other people online. It routes your browsing through the VPN, which makes it impossible for other people to view your data online. The VPN essentially scrambles your data. Even if someone were to try to access your browsing history or any data you submitted online, they would only see gibberish. 

There are many different VPN providers that offer affordable and accessible options. You can use these VPNs on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Some VPNs even work as browser extensions. Once the VPN is installed, you can toggle it on and off as needed for private browsing. 

Most commercially available VPNs are remote access VPNs. This means that they route the user into their own remote server system. These VPNs are very easy to use, but may not offer as much protection for larger businesses. 

VPNs are also used to create private networks. This is a popular security strategy for businesses that have multiple office locations or teams who are working remotely. These VPNs are much more complicated to set up, so they aren’t popular among individual consumers. 

What To Look For In A VPN

Not all VPNs are created equal. While free VPNs are very convenient, they don’t always offer advanced features. The best VPNs use many servers and allow you to set your IP address to locations all over the world. A high-quality VPN will allow you to connect multiple devices at the same time

When using a VPN, it’s also very important to research how much data it collects. Most VPNs log some amount of browsing data and have a responsibility to provide that data to the government in cybercrime investigations. However, you’ll want to make sure you are comfortable with the amount of data your VPN logs and how they store it.

Many free VPNs are actually designed to harvest and sell your data to third parties. Many people download these VPNs to protect their privacy, only to have it compromised where they least expect it. Investing in a paid VPN is going to provide better security and value in the long run.

What Are The Benefits Of A VPN?

The number of VPN users worldwide has increased in recent years. In fact, VPN usage increased by 27.1 percent during the pandemic. With so many people working from their home computers, secure browsing has become more important than ever. 

The biggest benefit of a VPN is that it can help protect you from identity theft. Many hackers will target unsuspecting users and look through their online data to find their personal information or passwords. With so many people managing their shopping and finances online, having a secure connection is essential. 

This is also very important if you use public Wi-Fi networks at places like airports or your local coffee shop. Your internet connection is much more vulnerable on a public network like this. Other people using the public network could potentially exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information. The use of a VPN provides more security in this situation. 

You can also use a VPN to stop websites or your internet service provider from accessing your personal data. Many websites will try to access your browsing history or your location in order to provide more targeted ads. Using a VPN can prevent this from happening. 

Finally, you can use VPNs to access geoblocked websites. For example, there are many streaming sites that are only available in certain parts of the world. A VPN is one of the easiest ways to get around this and consume the content you are interested in. 

VPN services have become very accessible in recent years, and a good VPN can go a long way when it comes to protecting your web traffic. However, even a comprehensive VPN solution cannot completely protect you from cyber attacks. 

Risks Of Using A VPN

​VPNs are designed to keep your browsing information safe while you’re online. However, there are still some key safety risks to be aware of. 

Some free and low-cost VPNs can log your browsing information and sell it to third parties. Although this is usually for advertising purposes, it can still bring up security risks that you are trying to avoid. This practice is much more common than you might think.

Some VPNs also provide their users’ internet activity to government agencies. While this behavior is legal, it’s not ideal for those looking to truly protect their privacy. This is why it’s so important to read the privacy policy carefully when you sign up for a VPN. 

On top of that, some VPNs are not designed to handle high-speed internet use. If your VPN doesn’t have the capacity to handle the amount of browsing you are doing, it can slow you down online. Many free VPNs also have limits on the number of devices you can use. This makes things difficult for businesses who need to connect many different devices. 

Do You Still Need Antivirus With A VPN?

It’s a common misconception that VPN use is an alternative to a good antivirus software program. However, VPNs cannot keep you safe from malware, phishing scams, or other sophisticated attacks. A VPN also cannot encrypt your email address or text messages, which is where many security breaches occur. 

This means you shouldn’t be relying entirely on the VPN encrypted tunnel to protect you from malicious programs and websites. A VPN is just one tool to use as part of a broader security suite. 

If your computer is attacked by a virus, trojan, spyware, or any other malicious entity, even the best VPN service provider won’t be able to protect you. These forms of malware can compromise your personal information and even gain access to your finances. They can also damage your devices, access your social media accounts, send out spam messages from your phone number, and more. Both individuals and businesses are vulnerable to these types of attacks. 

Comprehensive antivirus programs will protect your devices from these attacks. These programs constantly filter incoming network traffic, messages, and file downloads for malicious code. If the antivirus program detects an incoming threat, it will automatically block it to protect your computer. 

Antivirus programs are updated regularly to make sure they are catching the latest threats. This is very important because hackers are constantly developing new strategies and improving their technology to get around security tools. The best antivirus programs will integrate with your firewall and other security tools to provide the strongest possible protection. 

Many security experts recommend using a VPN in combination of a topnotch antivirus program to protect your entire system. When these tools are used together, they can provide extra protection from all angles. In fact, many antivirus providers have started offering VPNs for a comprehensive security solution. 

How Do Viruses Compromise Your Security?

Viruses are a broad category of cyber attacks that can harm your technology, compromise your finances, and even risk your personal safety. Viruses are sneaky and can make their way onto your devices through unsecured download files, malicious websites, or vulnerable network connections. 

Viruses are extremely harmful to your device. If they aren’t caught and removed right away, you can permanently lose important files, and programs on your device may stop functioning. 

Some viruses are also designed to seek out valuable and personal information by tracking your online behavior. Hackers can then sell that information or even use it against you in a ransomware attack. 

Luckily, modern antivirus programs can catch many different types of viruses before they even make it to your computer. It’s important to make sure you’re updating your antivirus software regularly to keep up with the latest virus attacks. 

Do VPNs Reduce The Chance Of Getting A Virus?

VPNs aren’t a viable alternative to a good antivirus program on their own. However, can they reduce your chances of getting a virus, especially on public Wi-Fi hotspots?

In many cases, a VPN can reduce your chances of getting a virus, even if it doesn’t fully eliminate the possibility. While hacking into a secure VPN is possible, it is much more difficult than hacking into an unencrypted connection. Because of this, many hackers will choose to focus on individuals that do not have a VPN. 

Without access to your personal information, it is much harder for cyber criminals to run the ransomware or phishing scams that result in viruses. It is still possible, but it is less likely to happen. 

If you don’t have access to an antivirus program or a firewall, but still want some form of protection against viruses, a VPN can be a good place to start. However, you shouldn’t leave your systems unprotected for too long. 

The Bottom Line

VPNs have become a very popular security solution, but they can’t protect you from all of the cyber threats out there. Because of this newfound popularity, many people will only use a VPN rather than using a full security suite, opening themselves up to the risk of malicious software. 

Now that we are spending more time than ever online, it’s so important to stay protected. Using a VPN in combination with an antivirus program protects your identity and your devices. For businesses, a managed services provider service can be customized to meet your needs. Parachute Technology provides managed IT services to help you and your team work safely and securely.