VPNs can do many things including masking your IP address, hiding your browser activities, and helping you get around censorship. It does that by creating a secure tunnel. However, they can’t protect you from a virus by themselves. Though some providers offer antivirus software, VPNs don’t natively have that ability. Below, we’ll take a look at and explain several different types of malware and online threats. Here are the most common ones.
While there are different versions and new methods of malware, they fall into six basic categories. These are:
- Trojan horse – Named after the trojan horse from history, these files may look legitimate but they trick the user into clicking something they shouldn’t download. For example, a trojan horse could look like a PDF or image file, but it may be an executable (exe) file instead. They’re used to delete or modify data in a system.
- Ransomware – You don’t have to look far to hear about this one. This one will stop you from seeing your important files unless you pay the criminals a set amount. It’s common for these criminals to demand an amount of money in Bitcoin.
- Adware – This one has been around for a while. While this style is more or less annoying these days, it can slow down your computer or phone and use up bandwidth. Some VPN providers have built-in adware blockers.
- Worms – Worms are highly destructive and they can sometimes copy themselves. You can get these from software weak spots, phishing, or even Smishing attacks (on your mobile device).
- Viruses – This sneaky malware can attach to text, PDF, exe, and other files. It spreads via infectious files. Though it doesn’t self-replicate, it can wreak some serious havoc.
- Bots – Of course, bot is short for robot. However, they’re more like hacker-controlled zombies when talking about online threats. They are infected systems or computers that they can remotely control. Once they have that control, they can infect other systems and launch phishing, DDoS, keylogging attacks, and more.
Of those threats we just mentioned, some providers have a variety of features that will help protect you. These include anti-malware/adware blockers (as a preventative measure), kill switches, split tunneling, anti-virus (as an add-on to PrivateInternetAccess), and more. Connecting to a VPN will help protect your information from 3rd party advertisers, nosy ISPs, and more. It will also help you get around geo-restrictions and censorship.
In contrast, anti-virus software will automatically identify threats, isolate them, and remove them. Of course, anti-virus constantly evolves and updates to keep up with the latest threat.
To summarize, let’s go over some goals and the functions of each.
- VPNs will – Prevent online tracking, make sure others don’t access your browsing data, allow access to geo-restricted and censored content, and provide anonymity while browsing or torrenting.
- Anti-virus programs will – Identify, isolate, and remove viruses & malware and scan future files for threats.
If you want to protect yourself from online threats, you need to use a combination of an anti-virus program and a VPN, because using a VPN will not protect you from getting a virus.