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VPN and Cybersecurity: Historical Responses to Emerging Threats


During the pandemic, remote work became the new normal, enabling businesses to continue operating as usual. However, it also created opportunities for cybercriminal activity. Cybercrime has increased by 600% since the pandemic began, with hackers and scammers employing various tactics, including classic email phishing scams and advanced cross-site scripting (XSS), to steal sensitive information and hold companies hostage. Today, cybersecurity risks are more prevalent than ever. Let's look at potential cybersecurity threats and what role a VPN can play in protecting against them.

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What known and emerging threats can you prevent through a VPN?

DDoS attacks
DDoS attacks, notorious for inundating web pages with an excessive amount of fake bot traffic, have the potential to render them inaccessible. Hackers infect a large number of computers to construct botnets, which they utilize to unleash a barrage of bot traffic upon their chosen target.

The target, overwhelmed by the influx of bot traffic, becomes unavailable to regular users. While DDoS attacks often target larger entities, such as gaming platforms, banking servers, and online businesses, they can also be aimed at smaller targets.

Using a VPN proves advantageous in preventing any association with a DDoS attack as it conceals your true IP address. By obscuring your actual network location, a DDoS attack is unable to accurately target you.

Fake Wi-Fi hotspots
Hackers frequently create counterfeit Wi-Fi hotspots in popular locations like airports, hotels, and cafes, aiming to deceive users into connecting. These networks are given names that appear authentic and familiar, such as the hotel's name, and are left open for anyone to access. However, connecting to these networks puts your data at risk of being stolen.

A VPN shields you against fake Wi-Fi hotspots by encrypting your data, even when connected to a counterfeit network. Your cybersecurity will not be compromised, since the data is encrypted. If you have a no log VPN, then no one knows the real data you are sending except you and the server to which you are sending traffic. The more VPN features your provider implements, the better. With a no-track VPN solution, you will not be tracked and your data will be safe. It's just important to activate the VPN every time you connect to the Internet, or at least when connecting through unsecured networks or transferring important data.

MitM attacks
Hackers execute man-in-the-middle attacks by placing themselves between your device and the site, app, or web service you are trying to access, allowing them to intercept, eavesdrop, or even interfere with your online activities. During a MitM attack, for instance, if you input your credit card information on a shopping site, scammers can pilfer your credentials and exploit your card number for unauthorized purchases. A VPN shields you against man-in-the-middle attacks by encrypting your data, making it impossible for hackers to access your personal information while only perceiving an arrangement of encrypted data.

Session hijacking
Hackers are continuously adapting to exploit the growing demand for convenience in our online experiences. For instance, when you log into a site and provide your username and password, the server identifies you, generates a Session ID, and allows you to navigate the site without repeatedly entering your login details.

Session hijacking attacks happen when hackers obtain your Session ID and successfully deceive the server into believing they are you. By utilizing a VPN, you can encrypt your activity, preventing hackers from acquiring your valuable Session ID in the first place.

Phishing
Phishing attacks can target anyone online, but with some awareness, they can be easily avoided. These attacks try to trick people into providing personal data by enticing them to download apps that collect payment information or visit websites to enter valuable credentials. While you play a role in not willingly giving away private data, VPNs can help you avoid encountering these attacks altogether. Their ad blockers can prevent pop-up ads and malicious websites, which are often the breeding ground for phishing attacks.

Session hijacking
Logging into an online platform creates a session ID that enables extended login periods. However, if obtained by hackers, this ID can compromise your account. Using a VPN encrypts your online activity, making it exceedingly challenging for hackers to pilfer your session ID.

Cross-site scripting
Cross-site scripting is a technique employed by hackers to exploit compromised websites and target sensitive data during the input process. For instance, they infiltrate credit card payment pages to pilfer your information before it is safeguarded by the organization's firewalls.

A VPN safeguards you against cross-site scripting by establishing a secure tunnel between your device and the websites you interact with while transmitting sensitive data. Hackers attempting to intercept this data in search of credit card information will only encounter encrypted data that remain inaccessible without the appropriate key.

Conclusions

If the history of VPNs was analyzed and users understood the risks, then many threats could be avoided. Only 39% of Americans who go online for work and personal use actually use a VPN, despite 88% claiming familiarity with VPNs and their purpose. This indicates that there is knowledge about VPN technology, but awareness is not yet there. As we begin to value ourselves, our digital lives, and privacy more, the number of people using VPNs should increase dramatically.





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