How does a VPN protect you from hackers? That is the exact question I’ll be answering today in this piece.
I’ve kept this piece extremely simple, easy to understand and non-techy. Meaning, even if you’re completely new to VPNs, you can understand this article with ease.
Why be limited to “hacker-threats”? I’ve also briefly discussed how a VPN protects you from other interested parties. And why be limited to “protection”? A VPN does so much more than that. Yes, that too has been touched-upon in this piece.
Let’s jump in then?
- How does a VPN protect you from hackers?
- Which VPN is the best?
- Final words- How does a VPN protect you from hackers?
How does a VPN protect you from hackers?
Here are some of the ways a VPN protects you from hackers (and other parties).
Changing your IP address
IP address is actually one of the biggest privacy and security leaks on the internet. If a hacker has your IP address, he can use it in multiple ways to directly or indirectly hack into your systems.
The IP address publicly reveals your location to anyone on the internet. Absolutely no special hacking skills are required for that.
Click here, it will show you your IP address and location (this is 100% safe and I can’t see this data). However, you do see how transparent, easy and threatening your IP address can be, can’t you
This by itself is a hacker’s paradise. They can use your IP address combined with your location to engineer several attacks. Social Engineering is one of the easiest, most common attacks used by hackers who have access to your IP address.
Other possible attacks include port scanning, phishing, remote code execution and so much more.
You will be surprised how easy it is to get your IP address, even if you’ve no direct contact with the hacker.
Now, if you employ a VPN, you get a new IP address (technically). The hacker never has access to your real IP address and hence there’s no way you could be hacked. Whatever attacks are mounted lead the hacker to the VPN server and not to you.
In fact, simply by changing your IP address you could thwart over 60%-70% of the common attacks against you.
Creates a tunnel and encrypts data in it
The other major protection a VPN offers against hackers is via its encryption and tunnels.
Without a VPN, a hacker may intercept your data mid-way and steal/alter it or in some cases even redirect information.
However, with a VPN, you get a tunnel. All data is passed through this tunnel and is encrypted. Hence, hackers no longer have access to said data making you secure.
The best part? All of this happens in the background. You do not have to do anything special or be “tech-savvy” to use a VPN or its tunnel.
Protection on public Wi-Fi networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are extremely unsecure. I get it, the free Wi-Fi at cafes, stations and many other places does seem lucrative. However, it is also equally lucrative for hackers.
These Wi-Fi networks are generally extremely unsecure. Even a hacker with beginner-level skills can easily hijack one such connection and cause you mayhem.
Now, if you use a VPN before connecting to the Wi-Fi, the hacker’s dreams are shattered. Because your connection is now encrypted, they can not target you as easily. This motivates them to switch to easier (unprotected) targets on the connection and leave you alone.
In-built protection from ads, malware and malicious websites
One of the most common method hackers get into your system? Malicious websites. Ever noticed multiple new tabs popping up automatically when you are on a website? Those are exactly what I am talking about.
You may either be redirected to phishing websites or sites which download malware onto your system. There obviously are many other creative ways hackers get into your system.
Now, most good VPNs like NordVPN include malware and ad protection. This means without paying anything extra, they protect you from adware, malware and malicious websites.
Dark web monitors
This is not exactly a very common feature. However, when available, it is more than a lifesaver.
Some VPNs include a scanner that automatically scans the dark web (and other places) for data leaks. If your data (primarily your e-mail ID) is found anywhere up for sale, you are notified. This allows you time to make changes to your leaked account.
Protects from Digital Fingerprinting
VPNs change your IP address and you get a new IP address each time. Now, every website/browser saves data about you such as visit history, duration, clicks, interests etc.
By changing your VPN each time, you get a clean slate each time. This means, your “profile” can not be created by these websites/search engines or anyone else.
Now, these databases are often either bought or stolen by hackers. Armed with these information, multiple different attacks can be mounted against you.
The VPN makes sure that does not happen.
Protection from any third-party (and not just hackers)
I get it, you are here specifically for hackers. However, a VPN protects you against so much more, especially your government and their agencies.
Regardless of where you live, your govt. already knows a lot about you. In some countries such as the U.S/U.K or China you’re even actively monitored. Even when you are not monitored, all your data, history and everything else is just a tap away for the govt.
A VPN protects that as well. It becomes impossible for the govt. to link any of your online activities to you.
Which VPN is the best?
Now that we have covered some of the ways a VPN protects you from hackers, let us talk about the best of these?
In my opinion and experience, I’d recommend going with NordVPN.
It has some of the most advanced and rare features that any VPN offers. Some of these include Meshnet (no other VPN offers this), Double VPN, Split Tunneling, and even Onion servers.
Despite the features, it is one of the cheapest VPNs in the industry.
To top it all up, the VPN got its “no log” policy independently audited by a third-party company.
Final words- How does a VPN protect you from hackers?
I do hope you have got a neat answer to your question by now. Note that the points discussed above just scratch the surface. My goal here was to get you an idea. The actual technicalities of everything we have discussed are both complex, and boring.
Did you know a VPN does a lot more than just “protect” you? Yes. A VPN also offers you unrestricted access to the internet. E.g. almost all OTT platforms offer you “limited” content even though you pay the full price. This is because some content is licensed only for specific regions. A VPN removes this restriction for you.
Similarly, it can be used to unblock porn, sites critical of the govt. or anything else that has been blocked for you.
Bottom-line? I am sure you can now answer if someone asks how does a VPN protect you from hackers, can’t you?