VPN service is one of the most popular and convenient solutions for protecting personal data online. With the help of modern data encryption methods, the user gets an excellent tool for protecting personal information, IP address and other sensitive data. However, no matter how convenient VPN services are, hackers can hack them like any other program.
There are specific vulnerabilities that hackers take advantage of and break into data protection services. Today, there were some cases of hacks of different VPN services like Pulse Secure VPN or NordVPN. Hackers have used various approaches to break into services. However, after scandalous VPN hacks, services are trying to improve their reputation, increase protection measures, and improve the quality of service.
Our article will tell you how VPN services can be cracked, what happens if a hacker attacks your application, and why you are always at risk using a VPN service.
How Big VPNs Get Hacked
Most often, a virtual private network hack is the fault of the software developer. Hacking your favorite VPN service can occur both at the hardware and software levels. So, most often, hackers are attacking VPN services with weak software because developers do not want to implement more reliable tools for VPN operation. At the same time, VPNs with hardware problems are hacked through no developers’ fault, as developers have limited budgets or act according to the law.
This knowledge can help you choose the right VPN service that will be as protected from potential hacks as possible, and your data can remain as secure as possible.
Now we will tell you why hackers can attack your favorite VPN service.
Bad VPN Encryption Protocols
One of the most critical factors that can increase the likelihood that your VPN will suffer is the private network’s protocol. There are six popular VPN protocols that protect your data and your identity. If one protocol was a quality tool a few years ago, today, such a protocol is irrelevant and unsafe for the user.
For your right choice, we will give an example of a comparative table of popular protocols and talk about their drawbacks:
- PPTP is unreliable.
- L2TP/IPSec can be secure if VPN uses the AES encryption method. But it has vulnerabilities to MITM attacks.
- SSTP is closed-source and may be vulnerable to MITM attacks.
- IKEv2 / IPSec works fast, perfectly protects mobile devices, and is closed-source.
- Wireguard is open source, very fast, secure, and new to use.
- SoftEther is fast to use, evades censorship well, and requires manual installation for higher protection.
- OpenVPN is open source, fast, and secure.
When choosing a future VPN service, you should pay attention to the protocol and choose only the service that can provide you with the best methods to protect your data. We would recommend using OpenVPN or WireGuard-based VPNs as these protocols are trustworthy.
VPN Encryption Method
It would be best to consider what data encryption method your VPN operator uses. To date, AES-256 is the best and most reliable. The military uses this method to encrypt their data, so there should be no doubt about the reliability of this approach. Try to choose a VPN only with this encryption so that no one can hack into your connection. Please note that the AES-128 encryption method may be less secure for you, as the cypher is much shorter, making it easier to crack. Consider this fact when choosing your VPN provider.
IP, DNS, WebRTC Leaks
In simple terms, your data can get into the network, and a hacker can use it to compromise your identity even if you are still connected to the VPN service. Most often, this is because your ISP, not the VPN, handles the IP address and DNS, and WebRTC does not provide data transfer.
Fortunately, many popular VPN services include automatic data leakage protection in their service package, so the user remains protected while connecting to the VPN service.
When choosing your VPN provider, check for data leaks with VPN turned on. Just enter the query “Check VPN leaks” into Google to do this. This will help you choose an exceptionally reliable service that will provide you with the highest level of protection.
Another point where your VPN provider can be hacked is the logging policy. Many VPN services refuse to save data about network activities and connections, but some save such sensitive data.
If your VPN service gets cracked (the probability may be low, but not 0%), your data recorded in the data log will tell a lot about you. The ideal VPN service does not store any data about users. How to check it? Read the service’s VPN usage policy and ensure that their rules do not provide for recording your data and its storage.
Data Center Security
Do you remember how classic action movies about agents use the most reliable protection methods to access essential data, such as a retinal, finger or voice scanner?
In an ideal situation, the developers should use these methods to protect access to VPN servers. If one of the attackers wants to get into the servers and steal critical data, you must ensure that physical access is limited as much as possible. Most likely, nobody will tell you about such details. However, advertising VPN companies may indicate such information, and you should always pay attention to it when you see a VPN ad.
The server setup is also crucial to achieving maximum security. VPN services may use your hard drive or RAM to process your data. In the case of RAM, the VPN service will not be able to save data, and it will always erase the data after the session. This approach ensures maximum security of your data. In the case of a hard drive, data can be collected and stored for years, making you vulnerable to hacking. Always consider those services that do not use hard drives to store your data.
Also, an important point may be the legislative framework to which VPN services in some countries are subject. Pay attention to where the headquarters of your provider is. Romania, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Switzerland are safe. If your VPN is in this area, you are lucky, and the VPN service won’t store your data. And in case of judicial requests VPN will have nothing about you to give to authorities.
What Is VPN Encryption and How Does It Work?
For many, the job of a VPN service is to launch the application and click on the beautiful “Connect to server” button. However, VPN services are more complex and can hide a whole chain of complex sequences unknown to the average user. Like an iceberg, VPN shows only a small part of its work on the surface when a layer of complex actions is under the water below. We will talk about them in this paragraph.
When connecting to the server, the encryption procedure takes place, and this is how it looks:
- You send your data to the servers of the VPN service.
- While this data goes to the VPN server, the service is already encrypting your data.
- As soon as the data gets to the server, it looks like complete nonsense from a bunch of letters and numbers. However, for a computer, this is a language that it understands.
- When it reaches the server, your data is decrypted.
- At this moment, you perform your action on the site (for example, click on a video).
- After that, the VPN receives the encrypted data again and reacts to your actions on the Internet.
- After that, you get the result on the site (for example, your video starts).
- This chain will repeat once your VPN works on your phone.
Surprisingly, this happens automatically in real-time and in a split second.
Why Is VPN Encryption Important?
VPN encryption is essential because it ensures your data remains private and secure online. Without encryption, your data could be unsafe since anyone with access to the same network as you can intercept your connection. This includes your ISP, government agencies, hackers, and even other users on the same public Wi-Fi network as you.
VPN encryption is vital for keeping your data safe and secure while you are online. VPNs encrypt all of the data sent between your device and the VPN server by using a process known as tunneling. This makes it impossible for anyone to intercept or read your data. If you worry about protecting your privacy online, use a VPN with strong encryption.
Why You Are at Risk If Your VPN Is Hacked
If you’re using a VPN, the chances are you’re doing so to protect your privacy and security online. After all, that’s what VPNs should do. However, everything goes down the drain if your VPN provider is cracked.
Unfortunately, no system is perfect. There are cases of hacking of even the most reliable and popular services with a large budget and a professional development team.
You may think that if VPN is hacked, it’s a problem for the company and it does not concern you. However, it is not. You are missing one crucial fact – your VPN can store your data on the company’s servers. Here are some potential risks that may come with hacking a VPN platform.
In the case of a successful hack, a hacker can easily gain access to your device and do whatever they want with it.
Once your VPN is compromised, anyone with professional programming knowledge can easily view your traffic and personal information on your phone.
Once a hacker can gain access to your device, they can also get all your data. Using them, attackers often sell users’ data, take loans, steal cards, and commit many other cyber crimes.
Tracking Your Activity
This point is the least dangerous but still as unpleasant as the others. Once your VPN is cracked, the government, ISP, and other individuals can track your traffic and see what sites you visit.
All of this highlights the importance of choosing a VPN provider carefully. Now, we’ll take a closer look at the dangers of a VPN hack and how you can protect yourself.
When choosing a VPN provider, it’s essential to consider factors like:
- Encryption strength.
- Logging policies.
It’s also essential to ensure that the provider has a good reputation and has a HQ in a country with strong data protection laws.
Free VPNs and Their Security
Many users don’t know that free VPNs can be dangerous for devices. So, you should know that free VPNs:
- Put a ton of ads on your screen.
- Sell your data.
- Break your phone battery.
All this results from poor application optimization and a huge desire of developers to earn money with minimal cash investments. However, it’s one thing when your device slows down due to poor optimization, which means you can always change your VPN provider. Another thing is when the question concerns your security and protecting your data.
Not only are free VPNs unsuitable for use due to weak security protocols and lack of additional encryption features, but such services often cooperate with hackers and provide your data for them. Using a free VPN, you are going to get your data leaked, if not because your account will be hacked, then because the VPN owners themselves will sell your data to attackers.
Remember that using such services is strictly prohibited, which can lead to disastrous consequences for your device and your data.
What to Do If Your VPN Is Hacked
To ensure your data is not lost and you are not at risk, you must act immediately if you notice someone is in your account. You should do the following:
- If your VPN has been hacked, you must disconnect from the internet. This will prevent the hacker from seeing any of your internet traffic.
- Next, change all your passwords. Especially the password for your VPN account. Enable two-factor authentication on all your accounts if available.
- Once you have taken these basic protection steps, you should reach out to your VPN provider and report your account is hacked. They will help you determine whether or not your account is unsafe. And then can you take appropriate steps to secure it.
- In some cases, they may even be able to help you track down the hacker and take legal action against them.
In this way, you will be able to obtain the necessary level of protection and minimize possible damage to your sensitive data. In general, to further minimize the risks, you can store your data exclusively in encrypted form and not send it over the network, even if you use the best VPN on the planet.
Despite their many security benefits, it is essential to remember that VPNs are not infallible. Hackers can attack them, and doing so may grant attackers access to your data and devices. However, using a reputable VPN service with strong encryption can significantly reduce the risk of hacking. Additionally, keeping your software and devices up to date will help to keep your VPN connection secure.
To prevent hacking of your data, you should adhere to the basic rules for choosing the right VPN service. Pay attention to:
- Encryption methods.
- Logging policies.
- What country the headquarters is.
Once you take into account all the recommendations, you will definitely be able to find the right tool for you. However, with a quality and reliable VPN, you can always stay protected online. Also, your data will remain safe, and your IP address and identity will not be revealed.
Is banking safe with a VPN?
Banking online is convenient, but it comes with security risks. A VPN can help protect your banking information from hackers, but choosing a reputable and secure VPN service is essential. Additionally, keeping your software and devices up to date will help to keep your VPN connection safe.
Can a VPN spy on your activity?
A VPN can help to protect your privacy by encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP address. However, it is essential to remember that your VPN provider may be able to see your activity. If you worry about online privacy, consider using a reputable and secure VPN service.
Does private browsing protect you from hackers?
Private browsing does not provide complete protection from hackers. However, using a VPN with private browsing can help keep your data and activity safe from prying eyes.
Is using a VPN safe?
Yes, using a VPN is generally safe. However, it is crucial to choose a reputable and secure VPN service. Additionally, keeping your software and devices up to date will help to keep your VPN connection safe.
Can ISP track my activity with VPN?
VPNs encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, making it more difficult for your ISP to track your activity. However, if you are using a reputable and secure VPN service, your ISP should not be able to see your activity.
Do I need a free or a paid VPN?
There are both free and paid VPN services available. However, it is essential to choose a reputable and secure VPN service. Additionally, free VPNs often have data limits and slower speeds, so consider a paid VPN service if you plan on using your VPN regularly.