Can a VPN Be Hacked?

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A virtual backstage network is 1 of the easiest ways users tin support their online activity. Through what’s called a tunneling protocol, VPNs encrypt a user’s online postulation and marque their information unreadable to prying eyes.

SEE: Brute Force and Dictionary Attacks: A Guide for IT Leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

This further furniture of information has go a go-to enactment for some businesses and consumers alike to support their privacy. According to Statista, implicit 24% of each net users successful 2023 utilized a VPN to unafraid their net connection.

With this popularity, 1 tin beryllium forgiven to ask: Are VPNs invincible against hackers? Are they susceptible to being hacked? Can VPNs beryllium utilized to bargain idiosyncratic information alternatively of protecting it?

We’ll reply these questions and much below.

Can VPNs truly beryllium hacked?

Like immoderate software, all VPNs are technically susceptible of being hacked. No bundle is 100% perfect, and VPNs, similar immoderate internet-based software, tin autumn unfortunate to antithetic attacks. That being said, a prime VPN volition beryllium incredibly hard to crack — particularly if it has a unafraid server infrastructure and application.

SEE: 4 Different Types of VPNs & When to Use Them (TechRepublic)

VPNs enactment by generating a backstage transportation wherever your net enactment is encrypted and made unreadable. Your net information is routed to a VPN server, which masks your IP code and provides you an further furniture of anonymity online.

This encryption hides delicate idiosyncratic information specified arsenic your IP address, instrumentality location, browsing past and online searches from your net work provider, authorities entities and cybercriminals.

While VPNs person varying types and sizes, this is however astir VPNs fundamentally work. If you’re funny successful a much in-depth mentation of VPNs, we promote you to cheque retired our explainer connected VPN software. Here we looked into the antithetic types of VPNs, VPN benefits and drawbacks, and a fewer fashionable VPN providers we recommend.

By encrypting idiosyncratic information and passing it done a unafraid tunnel, VPNs service arsenic an casual mode to adhd extortion to your online activity. However, this doesn’t marque them invincible.

There are a fewer points of weakness successful which VPNs tin beryllium exploited oregon attacked by hackers. Let’s spell done a fewer of them:

How VPNs tin beryllium hacked

Breaking done VPN encryption

One mode VPNs tin beryllium hacked is by breaking done the encryption. Hackers tin marque usage of cryptographic attacks to interruption poorly implemented encryption ciphers. However, it’s important to notation that breaking encryption takes a sizeable magnitude of effort, clip and resources to bash so.

SEE: Free VPN vs Paid VPN: Which One Is Right for You? (TechRepublic)

Most modern VPNs usage what’s called the Advanced Encryption Standard oregon AES-256 encryption algorithm. This encryption modular uses 256-bit cardinal magnitude to encrypt and decrypt information and is wide recognized arsenic the golden modular of encryption.

This is due to the fact that AES-256 is virtually unbreakable — requiring millions to billions of years to brute unit and crack, adjacent with today’s technology. That’s wherefore galore governments and banks usage AES-256 encryption to unafraid their data.

In immoderate case, astir modern VPN providers usage AES-256 encryption for their VPN, truthful there’s not overmuch to interest astir here.

VPNs utilizing dated tunneling protocols

Another mode hackers tin hack VPNs is by exploiting dated VPN tunneling protocols. Tunneling protocols are fundamentally a acceptable of rules for however your information volition beryllium handled and sent crossed a peculiar network.

What we privation to debar present is utilizing dated protocols specified arsenic PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. These protocols are older and considered to person mean to debased information by today’s standards.

SEE: Are Password Managers Safe to Use? (TechRepublic)

In particular, PPTP is based connected older exertion and is known to person vulnerabilities that tin beryllium exploited by atrocious actors. L2TP/IPSec, connected the different hand, has amended information but besides provides slower show than newer protocols available.

Fortunately, much modern VPN protocols similar OpenVPN, WireGuard and IKEv2 supply a bully premix of some high-end information and speed.

Through DNS, IP oregon WebRTC leaks

Malicious actors tin besides bargain idiosyncratic information done VPN leaks. VPN leaks notation to idiosyncratic information being “leaked” retired of the unafraid VPN passageway owed to immoderate flaw oregon vulnerability wrong the app. The main types of VPN leaks impact the following:

  • DNS leaks are erstwhile the VPN exposes your net activity, specified arsenic DNS queries oregon browsing history, to the ISP DNS server contempt being connected an encrypted VPN connection.
  • IP leaks hap erstwhile your IP code is inadvertently revealed oregon exposed to the internet, defeating the main intent of a VPN successful masking your existent IP code and location.
  • WebRTC leaks impact a leak with browser exertion wherein websites get unauthorized entree to your existent IP code by bypassing the encrypted VPN tunnel.

VPNs themselves logging idiosyncratic data

Finally, hacking tin besides hap erstwhile VPN providers themselves instrumentality clasp of idiosyncratic information without their consent.

While galore VPN providers assertion to person no-logs policies, stating they don’t grounds idiosyncratic data, determination person been times erstwhile VPNs were recovered to person stored idiosyncratic accusation careless of specified policies.

Real-world examples of VPN hacks

Here are immoderate factual examples of VPNs being hacked oregon compromised by malicious third-parties.

Ivanti VPN zero-day exploits successful aboriginal 2024

In January 2024, five caller zero-day vulnerabilities were discovered successful Ivanti Secure VPN. The vulnerabilities allowed an unauthenticated attacker to execute distant codification and compromise systems, perchance affecting astir 30,000 Ivanti Secure VPN appliances connected to the internet.

Ivanti Secure VPN is simply a popular, remote-access VPN utilized by organizations astir the world. Since the find of these zero-day vulnerabilities, Ivanti has released patches to code immoderate of the vulnerabilities.

But if you were funny successful Ivanti and privation an alternate solution, oregon if you were a erstwhile Ivanti idiosyncratic yourself, we’ve rounded up a database of the top 4 Ivanti competitors and alternatives.

NordVPN breach successful 2018

In 2019, NordVPN announced that 1 of its third-party servers was breached successful 2018. In particular, a azygous NordVPN server successful Finland was attacked. According to NordVPN, this was owed to a third-party information center’s mediocre configuration of the server that they weren’t notified about.

NordVPN says nary different servers oregon idiosyncratic credentials were affected successful the incident. Following the breach, the VPN supplier said they had taken each indispensable measures to heighten their information and had undergone audits to corroborate these efforts.

Since the incident, NordVPN has been wide regarded arsenic 1 of the safest VPNs disposable today. You tin work our full NordVPN reappraisal here.

VPNs with no-logs policies caught logging data

There person besides been a fistful of instances wherever VPNs with no-logs policies were seemingly caught oregon suspected of logging idiosyncratic data.

  • IPVanish VPN successful 2016: IPVanish allegedly handed idiosyncratic information logs to the United States Department of Homeland Security to way down a kid pornography suspect. This was successful spite of an archetypal no-logs claim, yet confirming they did successful information supply logs to authorities authorities.
  • Hotspot Shield VPN successful 2017: The Center for Democracy and Technology accused Hotspot Shield of logging idiosyncratic information and selling it to third-parties via its escaped VPN application.
  • Norton Secure VPN: Despite having a no-logs policy, Norton’s Global Privacy Statement states that it stores idiosyncratic information specified arsenic instrumentality names, IP addresses and URLs — info that we chiefly don’t privation a VPN to ever person entree to.

If you’re funny successful a rundown of the champion no-logs VPNs, we’ve got you covered. Check retired our best no-logs VPN roundup here.

Measures to heighten VPN security

Given these points of weakness, determination are respective cardinal things you tin bash to amended your information and VPN experience.

Invest successful a paid VPN implicit a escaped one

While escaped VPNs tin beryllium convenient for the one-off clip you request to alteration your IP address, they’re not the astir unafraid solution retired there. VPNs instrumentality wealth to run and run. With this, immoderate escaped VPNs are known to merchantability idiosyncratic information to third-parties. This whitethorn beryllium to service these users with personalized ads oregon for different purposes.

What’s clear, though, is that a paid VPN subscription is going to connection a acold much unafraid wide experience. With premium VPNs, you get the afloat server network, amended lawsuit enactment and stronger security.

Check for no-logs policies with autarkic audits

You should besides cheque for VPNs that connection some a no-logs argumentation and autarkic audits. While promises of no-logs are important, we tin lone permission it up to spot if providers really abide by their words oregon not.

A bully mode to combat this is to look for VPNs that person been independently audited. These are providers that person had third-party firms look into their software, audit them and stock whether their services walk information standards oregon not.

I highly urge looking astatine VPNs that connection some no-logs policies and third-party information audits.

Use modern information protocols

Another utile measurement is to usage modern VPN protocols alternatively of older ones. In particular, I urge utilizing OpenVPN, WireGuard oregon IKEv2 protocols arsenic your main tunneling protocols of choice.

While these protocols are different, they each supply high-end information and VPN velocity that won’t impact your regular browsing. There are besides proprietary protocols from VPN providers themselves, specified arsenic ExpressVPN’s Lightway oregon NordVPN’s NordLynx. These are besides viable options that supply bully information and performance.

Utilize built-in VPN termination switches

VPNs travel with a fig of included information features that further heighten your security. One of these is simply a VPN termination switch.

Kill switches automatically artifact immoderate transportation betwixt your instrumentality and the net that’s not routed via an encrypted VPN tunnel. This means that if your VPN transportation drops, the termination power volition instantly forestall immoderate of your delicate information from being leaked.

Many modern VPNs see a termination power turned connected retired of the box, but it’s a bully thought to double-check your VPN settings to beryllium sure.

Why you should inactive put successful a VPN

Even aft learning the antithetic ways VPNs tin beryllium compromised, using a VPN is inactive acold much unafraid than not utilizing one. VPNs let you and your concern to fell your IP code astatine a click of a button.

Hiding your IP code is important, arsenic this tin beryllium utilized by malicious actors to service you intrusive ads, summation information astir your determination and stitchery information astir your idiosyncratic identity. VPNs are immoderate of the easiest and astir accessible ways to bash this.

For larger organizations, VPNs are besides a large mode to guarantee institution information is kept unafraid — particularly if your concern consists of distant workers who entree institution resources implicit the internet.

VPNs besides fto you entree region-locked contented by utilizing a VPN server from a antithetic location. This tin beryllium incredibly useful, particularly for businesses that request entree to assorted types of contented successful different parts of the world.

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