Do VPNs work as the ultimate protection online?

Edward G. | May 15, 2020

How do VPNs work exactly? This question continues to bewilder the general public. VPNs rightfully claim the position as one of the most cost-effective defense mechanisms in the context of modern privacy.

Nevertheless, highly-technical descriptions often fail to communicate the meaning and intent behind VPNs. Also, when answering the question of do VPNs work and how, it is essential to perform threat modeling. This process is relevant as it highlights both the strong suits and limitations of VPN services.

How do VPNs work to protect users around-the-clock?

VPN services stand guard against a range of sinful hackers’ deeds. However, this is only a piece of the puzzle. Cybercriminals are not the only ones interested in your digital identity. For instance, governments might impose strict regulations and monitoring practices. In some countries, ISPs (internet service providers) can legally resell users’ data without their consent. In the USA, ISPs can freely harvest users’ information, while UK citizens can demand that ISPs delete their data. Our global statistics indicate that more and more people use VPN services.

What is the most common description when it comes to the question of how do VPNs work? Service providers indicate that a VPN generates a virtual encrypted tunnel between users and remote servers. As a result, all internet traffic traverses through this secure path. But what does this mean? VPN encryption scrambles all your content and data transmissions into a format that is difficult to decrypt. Hence, no one, not even your ISP, can monitor your browsing, downloads, or communications.

Once you prepare a VPN service in the way you prefer (on a router, or directly on your device), it protects you from many intrusive entities. Additionally, it replaces your actual IP address so that it would be impossible to pinpoint your geolocation. So, a VPN makes you invisible, untrackable, and ready to explore all geo-blocked content. However, do VPNs work as the ultimate protection? Truth be told, it is your responsibility to use the given power wisely. Also VPNs work on cellular data, too.

Do VPNs work against all threats online?

While VPNs are inclusive to an extent, they are not bulletproof. So, do VPNs work as a protection against all malicious attacks? Not quite. Let’s take a look at several threats that a VPN won’t take care of for you:

  • Do VPNs work as a defense against malware and viruses? There are exceptions to the rule, but providers do not design VPNs with antivirus protection. For instance, let’s say that you find a thrilling movie available for download. Hackers might use exclusive programs, films, or other content as bait to get users to download malicious files. Once you unknowingly infect your device, the rest is history. Some VPN providers offer additional features that warn users when they are about to enter suspicious websites.
  • Do VPNs work against phishing scams and social engineering? Of course, this question might raise some eyebrows since some VPN services claim to offer this protection. Do VPNs work against phishing scams? Yes and no. A VPN can prevent hackers from collecting users’ information that would make their schemes look believable. However, whether you fall for deceptive tactics online is up to you. VPN services won’t help you if you give away your data or access to devices willingly.

Do VPNs work on military-grade encryption that renders all your data worthless to hackers? Indeed they do. However, the veil of anonymity lifts as soon as you start acting recklessly online. Keep your social media accounts private as they might give criminals enough information to target you.

Do VPNs work against you?

A reputable VPN service won’t do anything to harm you purposefully. However, due to legal boundaries, they can face certain limitations. You should always check whether a VPN has obligations to follow any laws that would require it to retain user data. How do VPNs work to bypass data retention laws? They operate from regions with less strict regulations on data collection.

Do VPNs work with security services? In 2017, researchers dropped a bomb by revealing that PureVPN cooperated with the FBI in their investigation by handing over user data logs. This action received a lot of attention since PureVPN claimed to be a no-logs VPN. However, upon closer inspection of its Privacy Policy, experts discovered that PureVPN does retain data on users’ origins.

In this case, the service confirmed that the same customer used a VPN from two IP addresses. So, do VPNs work on collecting users’ data and their online activities? There were no indications that PureVPN retained logs about user activity, only their origins. However, it is always important to read the Privacy Policy to know: do VPNs work within their policies?

Once again, how do VPNs work? A case study

Atlas VPN takes your security very seriously. We use SSL/TLS encryption for all data transfers, hashed passwords, firewalls, and regular audits. Additionally, we have no intention of logging user activity or personally identifiable information. Atlas VPN will do everything possible to allow users to use our services comfortably and to the fullest extent. That includes regular updates, support, and insights to the latest threats to your privacy.

Edward G.

Edward G.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.



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