Why Your VPN Doesn’t Protect You As Much As You Think

it’s not the only tool you need in your security toolbox, and some VPNs don’t actually protect you as much as they promise.

Cybersecurity threats are lurking around every corner of the internet, and if you’re not fully protected, you could fall victim to a devastating cyberattack. Most attacks can be prevented with the right knowledge and tools, but it’s not as simple as installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and calling it a day. There is a time and a place for using a VPN, but it’s not the only tool you need in your security toolbox, and some VPNs don’t actually protect you as much as they promise.

VPNs leak IP addresses often

Regardless of what you’re doing, if you need to hide your IP address to maintain your privacy, don’t count on your VPN. Most VPN clients leak IP addresses even when you enable the settings designed to hide your IP and those IP leak tests that say you’re protected are often unreliable.

A leaked IP address makes you more vulnerable to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and other types of attacks on your network.

IP leak tests are not always accurate

With this online tool, it’s easy to see what information is being leaked, including your IP address and information about your computer. However, you can’t rely on IP leak tests because several factors can make them produce false results.

Having a VPN is a great idea, but just don’t get too comfortable with the idea that you’re fully protected. There are several more critical components to cybersecurity.

How to secure your laptop in 5 easy steps

1. Start with a newer laptop

Your first priority should be to make sure you’re using an updated computer that can receive updates and security patches from developers. You need a computer that can handle upgrades to the operating system and all the applications you use. If you’re on a budget, reputable brands like Hewlett Packard (HP) always have good laptops on sale that won’t break your wallet. Buying a laptop on sale is ideal because you can get all the specs you want without paying full price.

2. Control access to your device 

The best security measures will fail when someone has access to your device and can start browsing around or accessing your accounts automatically. Never leave your devices unlocked around people who might use them to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, including while you’re at work.

3. Be vigilant about downloading files

Yes, your VPN client will encrypt your traffic and protect it from being stolen by random hackers hanging around the coffee shop looking for victims, but there’s far more to cybersecurity. For example, you need to be vigilant about avoiding phishing schemes, not downloading fake files that are actually malware, and avoiding ransomware attacks.

Don’t download any file you aren’t expecting to receive. If you receive a file from a coworker or friend, verify with them through another source that it’s legitimate. Before downloading, make sure your antivirus software is enabled so it will scan the file.

4. Set tough passwords

Passwords you can memorize are the easiest for hackers to crack. If you’re using a word that can be found in the dictionary, your accounts aren’t safe. Hackers load databases full of dictionary words into software that automatically runs through every possible combination of words and numbers until they successfully breach your account. It doesn’t take long.

The harder your password is to memorize, the harder it is to crack. For the best security, always use at least 11 characters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The more complex, the better. If 11 characters sounds like too much, devices to see how long it would take to crack passwords based on length and content. A typical eight-character password can take only eight hours to crack, but as soon as you get to 11 characters, the time required jumps up to 400 years.

5. Don’t store your passwords in a browser

Browsers today don’t just store your passwords locally – if you’re signed into any major account, like Google, your passwords are being stored in the cloud on someone else’s server. You have no control over who can access those passwords, and if they aren’t encrypted, you can get hacked.

A VPN is only part of a good cybersecurity plan

Although a VPN can give you a degree of protection, make sure to round out your efforts with good security practices and vigilant awareness.