Are VPNs Effective Against Ransomware Attacks?
Have you ever had extremely sensitive data compromised? Or, to be more precise, have you ever been a victim of a ransomware attack?
With the rapid spike in cybercrimes resulting in huge loss of files and other kinds of compromisable data, you need to look at all angles of how you can protect yourself online.
Even the slightest precautionary measures can make a small difference in lowering an attack – a ransomware attack. One such way is by using a VPN.
However, is a VPN truly effective against ransomware attacks? Keep reading! I’ll be covering all angles so that we can understand ransomware attacks and VPNs a lot better!
What is a VPN?
By now, the majority of us have already heard about VPN services and what they’re used for.
Times like today have evolved the digital space so much that cybercrimes have also managed to evolve and advance.
A VPN is a security software that is designed to help lower cyberattacks, which in this case – ransomware attacks.
For those of you who are not too familiar with VPN services, this guide is for you.
A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, as mentioned above, is a security software that is designed to encrypt data by passing it through a secure tunnel and then to the internet.
It comes with an array of security features like a Kill Switch, Split-Tunneling, and Ad-Blocker, and other attributes, but only if you’re lucky.
Only the best top VPN service offers reliable and working features, which is why choosing one does call for special attention.
It’s not as simple as you think, because if you use the wrong one, the security or protection levels might not be great enough to protect you against ransomware attacks.
What is Ransomware and how does it work?
If we break the word up for a bit, and only look at the word “Ransom,” it means taken hostage, captured, or a demand that needs to be fulfilled that always results in monetary payments or of kind.
Ransomware is a kind of malware that is used by hackers to compromise and encrypt large amounts of user data, sensitive documents and more.
They use this technique to drive out large amounts of money from the owner by holding their files, data, or documents at ransom.
At times, the payments required are usually through cryptocurrency or other kinds of undetectable payments.
These attacks are sneaky, and infiltrate a user’s computer system without them even knowing about it.
If ever you fall victim to a ransomware attack, you won’t realize it until the perpetrator notifies you asking you to pay up for the stolen and encrypted data.
Attacks like this happen on the regular, which sadly no system is 100% secure enough to fight against.
In fact, according to statistics, these attacks have jumped to 148% in recent times.
However, the good news is that there are other security software like a VPN designed to protect users and their devices against ransomware attacks or other kinds of malware intrusions.
But, are VPN’s successful in protecting you against ransomware attacks?
Are VPNs effective against ransomware attacks?
The truth is, no matter how much a VPN claims to be able to remove ransomware from your system, it can’t.
A VPN isn’t created to stop ransomware attacks, but to slow down and protect users from possible threats.
VPNs can protect you from malware attacks like ransomware, by encrypting your traffic, data, and other files, especially while you’re connected to public or unknown WiFis.
Secondly, there is only so much a VPN or any security software can do for online protection and the security of data and devices.
You need to take other precautionary measures like go through the kind of information or files you download from the internet, and also evaluate what’s saved on your device that can be compromised.
A good VPN will help lower any possible threats and at the same time offer other perks, like safe access to unlimited geo-restricted or blocked websites, apps, and more!
Can a VPN be affected by ransomware attack?
Technically speaking, not exactly. As mentioned above, you need to use a reliable VPN service that only works, but also one that comes with the best features matched with strong encryption standards.
The servers that a VPN offers also need to be well-secured. However, this shouldn’t be your main focus since it’s not much of a vulnerability to begin with.
Why? Well, if you choose a VPN that doesn’t log user data, there is no way of a ransomware attack affecting VPN systems to compromise user data.
Hackers mostly attack vulnerable ports on devices with high levels of sensitive files, documents and more.
On the other hand, if you’re worried about ransomware attacks hitting VPN services, you then need to refrain from using free VPN services.
Free VPNs are susceptible to cyberattacks and might not be able to protect anyone from ransomware attacks and other kinds.
Always go for a VPN that offers a free trial or a refund period instead – much more secure that way.
Read: Best free VPNs for android
What do you do when you’re under ransomware attack?
A VPN might be a preventative method to fight off ransomware attacks, but what do you do when you’re already under attack? Here are a few tips:
- Contact any law enforcement body that deals in cybercrimes and ransomware attacks to see what steps are best to be taken.
- For those who aren’t willing to pay any fine, and would like to rid off the ransomware attack from their device, you will be able to do so with an anti-malware tool.
Other than that, you have the option of wiping out your system or rebooting the entire thing. Sadly, this is only to get rid of the intrusion and avoid paying the fee.
The downside is that you will definitely lose all your data. In the future, if there’s something of great importance stored on your device, make copies on other unretrievable hardware.
- With point number one in focus, never pay the attacker. They are criminals afterall, and there is zero guarantee of you getting any data back.
- When you’re notified about the attack, don’t panic! Some ransomware attacks are scams and don’t actually encrypt/lock up your data.
Their main goal is to trick users into reacting and complying with the ransoms. Double-check to see if your files are retrievable before making any hasty decisions.
Coming towards the end of this guide, you now know the abridged explanation on what a VPN is, what a ransomware attack is and steps to consider when under attack.
Lastly, coming to the main point, a VPN doesn’t stop a ransomware attack, but does protect you from it by making it difficult overall.