Should You Use a VPN With Your Antivirus Software?
Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Well here’s the thing: you aren’t being paranoid. You ARE being watched.
Every time you open up the internet, sign into social media, shop online, search in Google… internet providers, marketers and site owners are constantly collecting as much info on you and your habits as they possibly can.
And then, of course, there are malicious agents like hackers and identity thieves, busying away in the background, trying to get hold of your private and payment information to rob you blind at the first opportunity.
WAIT! Don’t unplug just yet. There’s no need to whip out the tin foil hat. In fact, there are very effective tools out there to help you safeguard your privacy online. Among the most effect are virtual private networks, typically referred to as VPNs.
What is a VPN?
Typically, VPNs work by re-routing your connection to the internet through a remote server or series of servers. This shields your IP address, making it much harder to trace your online activity back to you. It also assigns or allows you to choose an IP address from a different server. This means your connection to the internet is totally secure. The data you send and receive is encrypted and kept safe from prying eyes.
Why Would I Need a VPN?
There are a bunch of reasons why people prefer to connect to the net via a VPN. One of the most common reasons is that it often allows you to access the internet from a server in a particular country. If certain content is blocked or censored in your own country, this allows you to get around the restrictions and firewalls for unfettered access to the web.
However, for others it’s about more general privacy concerns. Using a VPN prevents others from seeing your real IP address or tracking your online activity. Whether it’s identity thieves or marketers you want to confuse, there’s nothing wrong with craving a little anonymity as you go about your business online.
But I Already Have Antivirus Protection…
That’s great news. A top antivirus software or internet security suite will keep you safe from spyware and malicious software known as malware, as well as prevent your devices from infection. But here’s the rub: security and privacy are two different things.
Unless your antivirus protections specifically come with a VPN, you probably won’t enjoy the full range of privacy benefits that a VPN provides.
So Can I Use it INSTEAD of Antivirus?
Whoa now, hold your horses! Yes, a VPN will fill in the gaps left by your antivirus software, but that’s all it does. It absolutely shouldn’t replace your antivirus software or internet security suite altogether.
While a VPN will help safeguard your identity, it can’t stop you from accidentally downloading something malicious. Think of it like this: broadly speaking, your antivirus software is there to protect your devices from being damaged or compromised. Your VPN is there to protect you - the actual user - from being compromised in some way.
In short, you need tools that protect your privacy AND your security – and that means investing in antivirus and a VPN.
Won’t My Antivirus Interfere Block It?
While your antivirus program shouldn’t interfere with your VPN, there are some reports of overzealous antivirus packages misdiagnosing perfectly safe VPNs as malware and preventing them from working correctly.
But provided you are using a top internet security package with plenty of controls, and provided you are using a recognized and reliable VPN provider, you should be absolutely fine.
Where Should I Get It?
Some internet security packages do actually come with VPNs as an additional perk. Opting for this is an excellent way to go – if you do have any little niggles, like compatibility issues or slow connections, you can call your antivirus provider to get it sorted. Failing that, take a look at this list of the top VPNs to figure out which one works best for what you need.