Common VPN Security Threats and How to Mitigate Them
The post-pandemic world has ushered in a new era of remote working. This recent shift to remote work has introduced many new and unregulated devices into the formerly well-protected networks, causing an array of security issues for IT professionals.
Even if employees are using secure “work” devices, they are utilizing public or personal Wi-Fi networks that may expose their protected network to new threats. Therefore, enterprises need to secure their IT networks and limit cybersecurity challenges. And this is where Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) come in.
VPNs have become a staple in the management and safekeeping of IT networks across the globe. Essentially, a VPN ensures secure connections by transferring encrypted data over a public or shared network to reach its endpoint. Often, VPNs coupled with other security tools help to offer safe environments for both consumers and businesses.
That said, there are several concerns and vulnerabilities when it comes to deploying VPN services. Understanding these common VPN security risks can help fully protect your company’s network security. You can check this PrivacyJournal article that can help you choose the best VPN service.
In this blog, we will understand the common VPN security threats and how to mitigate them quickly. This will help your company adequately implement VPN services and safeguard itself from all kinds of cyber threats.
Common VPN Security Risks
Virtual Private Networks play a critical role in ensuring secure and private online connections. However, these VPNs are not immune to threats and vulnerabilities. Here, we will look at some of the most common VPN risks and effective strategies to mitigate them.
1. Malware Attacks
VPNs indubitably do a brilliant job at encrypting and safeguarding information before transferring it over a shared network. However, it does not necessarily protect against malware.
Many times, malicious software can infiltrate your device via other means such as unsafe downloads or phishing emails. Users may inadvertently download and execute malware, authorizing it to infect their devices. This malware may not only harm devices but may also steal information, disrupt operations, or gain unauthorized access to networks.
The most efficient way to mitigate this threat is to use anti-virus and anti-malware software that regularly scans the device to detect and remove any malware on the system. Additionally, users must practice safe browsing habits and be wary of visiting any untrusted or suspicious websites. It is also important for an enterprise to provide adequate training to its employees about the risks of malware. Implementing network security measures such as intrusion detection systems and firewalls can also help to block malware at the network level.
Worms are among the most difficult malware to get rid of. Worms can self-replicate and spread from computer to computer, wreaking havoc in the entire network. It is also simple for machines to get infected as all it takes is a user connecting their device to a worm-infected network. And this is one of the primary reasons why these worms are so difficult to remove.
VPNs help secure the enterprise via perimeter security. They solely focus on encrypting traffic and ensuring a secure online connection. In other words, they do not exert much control over what comes in and goes within that connection. This is why a traditional VPN platform cannot add protection and allows the worm to freely move about the network.
The best way to prevent a worm attack from escalating is by using anti-malware software. They can help to initiate preventive measures as well as resources to eliminate existing malware from devices.
Another detailed and more effective solution is to use a Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) solution. Such a solution safeguards enterprise-level networks through controlled access as well as micro-segmentation of particular resources. This means that a single infected device will not contaminate the entire network and instead put a stop to this type of havoc. An SDP solution is much more complex than installing a simple anti-malware as the former offers robust network security.
3. Domain Name System (DNS) Leaks
A DNS leak is a security risk that reveals the Domain Name System (DNS) requests to ISP servers regardless of the user’s effort to hide them through a VPN service. This means that a user’s online browsing activity, which includes their web searches, location, and IP address, is routed through the ISP as if they were never using a VPN.
This creates a massive security threat as the user’s confidential online data is exposed and hackers can easily follow their activity and snoop on their DNS traffic, readdressing them to mischievous websites.
With default DNS settings, the ISP or any other entity with access to your DNS server can track your online activity. But if you use a Virtual Private Network, your DNS queries are pushed through a secure VPN tunnel, making it impossible for your ISP to see what you do online. However, a VPN service is not 100% secure. And if a VPN server leaks a DNS request, it is called a DNS leak.
The best way to prevent this security threat is to configure your device to use the VPN’s DNS servers or employ tools that actively avert leaks. Look for reputed VPN providers that offer DNS protection features.
4. Wi-Fi Security Risks
This is another one of the common site-to-site VPN security risks. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, your data can be seized by cybercriminals. This risk remains even when you are using a VPN service.
Many times, public Wi-Fi networks deploy weak encryption methods. This enables cybercriminals to capture the data transmitted between the Wi-Fi router and the user’s device. Thus, they can easily seize private and sensitive information such as financial details or login credentials.
Cybercriminals may even establish fake Wi-Fi networks to deceive users into connecting to them. Similarly, public Wi-Fi networks may be compromised by malicious actors who intentionally set up mischievous hotspots to deliver malware or capture private information.
The best way to mitigate such risks and enhance security is by using a VPN server in conjunction with public Wi-Fi. Additionally, you can enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) to provide an additional layer of security. It is also advisable to use your mobile data or set up a personal hotspot with your smartphone as mobile connections are typically encrypted and much more secure than public Wi-Fi.
How Can You Choose The Most Secure VPN?
Choosing the best and most secure VPN involves considering several factors. Some of the most notable ones are as below:
No-Logs Policy: Make sure the VPN service provider you choose has a strict no-logs policy. This implies that the provider does not gather or store any logs of your online activities. A no-logs policy ensures the privacy of your data as well as prevents its misuse.
Level of Encryption: Stronger encryption is one of the best site-to-site VPN security best practices. 256-bit encryption is standard, however, many providers offer 128-bit encryption which is way less secure. So carefully check the level of encryption offered before finalizing any VPN service provider.
Security Features: You must evaluate the security features offered by your chosen VPN provider. Look for features such as a kill switch that automatically disconnects your internet connection if your VPN connection drops to help prevent data leaks. Similarly, there are many other security features like split tunneling and DNS leak protection. Opt for a provider that offers the maximum security features to safeguard your network.
Country of Origin: A VPN provider’s country of origin can also impact security and privacy. Choose a provider located in a country with strong privacy laws and no obligatory data retention policies.
Apart from this, make sure to check your chosen VPN provider’s reputation by going through reviews on online forums. Also, ensure they have a responsive customer support panel in case any technical issues arise.
Although VPN services offer many benefits, they are prone to vulnerabilities that can result in serious security and privacy breaches. It is important to follow some best practices to prevent these vulnerabilities and stay vigilant against cyberattacks. Additionally, it is essential to choose a reputed and trusted VPN provider and pay heed to their security policies.
Deepankur is a Senior Marketing Manager with extensive experience in creating lead-generation strategies for SaaS. He is skilled in using data and analytics to guide their decision-making and ensure measurable results.