Everyone who owns a computer and is aware of online security is familiar with antivirus software and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). If you need ways to protect yourself and your data when you are online, these are the topmost solutions.
The web is a dangerous place where at every digital corner, there is something dark lurking. Keeping your data safe from scammers and hackers is becoming more and more difficult these days. So, what are the best tools you could use to fight the unknown dangers of the virtual world? Here is where VPNs and antivirus software come into the picture.
VPN vs Antivirus: Which Is Best for Online Protection In 2023
Both VPNs and antivirus clients secure your computer from threats. So, the lingering doubt you may have is whether you can substitute them with each other.
VPN And Antivirus – Differences
Though on the surface, it seems like they are both used for similar purposes, they have deeper differences.
What A VPN Does
A Virtual Private Network offers you complete privacy when you are online. You can maintain a private communication with a VPN’s secure encrypted connection. Third parties or hackers cannot view your data or browsing activities as all your internet traffic will be encrypted. It conceals your original IP address by directing your internet traffic via an encrypted tunnel.
What An Antivirus Does
Antivirus software scans the websites you visit and other devices you connect to your system. It detects incoming threats like viruses, Trojans, and worms. Other hidden threats include malicious software which enters your system, stay hidden and infect your files. When the antivirus detects a malicious software, it sends it to quarantine, from where you can take appropriate action.
Let us now dig deeper into the functionality of antivirus software and VPNs and learn which can safeguard your online privacy better. But first, you need to know what sorts of threats you face online.
Online Threats You Face
The digital world is full of dangers, which can be destructive to innocent users who are unsuspecting of the websites they visit. There are powerful threats everywhere, in all sizes and forms.
These are collectively referred to as malware or malicious software. These are in the form of a software program that can enter your device through your browser. Spyware, Trojans, viruses, adware, and worms are a few types. Some of these can cause irreparable damage to your data and your hardware. These can infect your device, erase files and slow down the processing.
- Boot Sector Viruses are those which are present in CD-ROMs and other external storage devices. When we talk about cloud storage, these are very rare occurrences.
- Trojans are executable programs that, on the surface, resemble useful applications. These contain hidden viruses within them.
- Worms are destructive programs that have the capability to infect various devices by replicating themselves.
However, defending malware is not your only concern while browsing. There are other perils too, which you can encounter while streaming or downloading data from the web. Identity thefts, spam, and phishing scams are the most common threats everyone faces. Internet censorship and penalties for accessing restricted content also depend on geographical location.
Hackers access your server by exploiting vulnerabilities in the DNS (Domain Name System), known as DNS attacks. One of the top attacks is a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack, which temporarily disconnects you from the web. Above all, there is an increase in surveillance by governments, ISPs, companies, and cybercriminals, who mine your data for various purposes.
But the good news is that antivirus software and VPNs can defend your computer against these cyber threats. Let us look at their crucial strengths and potential weaknesses.
Antivirus software compares all your running programs to its existing list of known threats. By scanning your device for the presence of malware and assessing your computer activity, it makes sure that there is no danger.
Whenever you connect to the internet, you are open to receiving malware infections via any channel you use. When you use email clients, websites, apps, or new files, a new code introduces itself to your device’s processor. Antivirus software can prevent that. This suspicious code gets detected in the antivirus scan, which you should keep continuously running. The code gets isolated and automatically removed.
Unfortunately, it has only a limited list of known and existing threats. But newer threats emerge every day, and antivirus solutions need to evolve constantly. This is why you should update the software from time to time.
Virtual Private Network
VPN can camouflage your identity and protect your privacy online. Hackers, criminals, and some authorities spy on people’s web activities. But when users opt for VPNs, these spying agencies cannot harm them. VPNs use a tunneling process and encapsulate your data, which keeps it hidden from prying eyes. It establishes an encrypted connection that makes your data and activities unreadable to governments, spying agencies, or cyber criminals.
With a VPN, you can remain anonymous online by connecting to the web using their secure private server. This way, your true IP address is kept hidden. In some countries, governments ban some websites or restrict citizens’ access to the internet. The users can still access these censored content, blocked TV networks, and other restricted services through a VPN server.
Quality VPNs also employ safety valves and automatic kill switches for additional security. They cut off your connection to the web if the VPN server disconnects. This is especially important because if the VPN server is down, the doors are left open to tracking.
But as far as defending your computer from malicious software, VPNs lag behind. It is possible to download viruses or infected files if you are not cautious and click on suspicious links.
Now that you have learned the basic differences between both of these, it should be clear that what tool you use depends on your needs. If you need online protection and privacy, you should go for a reputed VPN. It stops hackers from snooping into your activities and protects your sensitive data from getting stolen. But you cannot say that VPN offers you 100% protection.
Though the best VPNs have built-in malware protection, it is not as effective as the one you get with antivirus clients. On the other hand, the antivirus cannot offer you anonymity and privacy online. The fact is that VPNs and antivirus software work well by complementing, not competing with each other. It is better to combine them to get the most out of both of these tools.