VPN vs antivirus: do you need both?
VPN vs antivirus: do you need both?
Antivirus and VPN are two types of security software, but they work completely differently and perform different tasks. For some people, a VPN has nothing to do with security and everything to do with unblocking Netflix or another streaming service.
Here we’ll explain what you need to know about each, demystify the jargon, help you understand the differences between VPNs and antiviruses, and why you might want both on your laptop, phone, and other devices. .
What is a VPN used for?
Almost everyone knows what antivirus software is: it helps your computer and phone block dangerous apps and other threats that might be downloaded while you’re browsing the web, or that you might accidentally download and install while browsing the web. thinking they are completely safe.
VPNs are still a mystery to most people. You may know it stands for Virtual Private Network, but even that might be news.
Where antivirus is constantly running, watching for the bad stuff, a VPN provides security by encrypting your internet connection. If you already know how Wi-Fi works, you know that any password-protected Wi-Fi network already gives you an encrypted connection. But that’s only between your computer (or phone) and whatever provides that Wi-Fi — usually your home’s router.
A VPN goes beyond that, encrypting data traveling between your device and a server on the internet (operated by the VPN company) which could be located anywhere in the world.
Privacy and Security
The advantage is that no one can see the websites you visit,
In addition to encryption, sending your data through this server means that your IP address is replaced with that of the VPN provider. An IP address is a unique number identifying a device connected to the Internet. It’s a bit like a car’s license plate that can be used to identify both the car and its owner (or driver).
Likewise, your IP address can be used to log the websites you visit and other online activities.
So when you use a VPN, you get privacy. Websites can’t track you as you move between sites, your ISP can’t see what you search for, sites you visit, or files you download.
Encryption also helps protect and any personal or financial information transmitted over that connection. It can be an email or a password you entered on a website. In either case, the data can be sent as plain text, which is easy to intercept, but nearly impossible when encrypted.
The other thing your IP address reveals is your location, even if it’s only general. But just tell Netflix, for example, that you’re in a certain country. And that means you can only see the videos available in that country.
When you connect to a VPN and choose a server in a different country than the one you’re actually in, any website (or Netflix) will think you’re located where the VPN server is, and this is how a VPN can be used to allow you to watch videos that are blocked in your country.
Many people use a VPN to watch shows on BBC iPlayer (a UK streaming service) from abroad.
Jim Martin / Foundry
VPNs also let you access other blocked online resources. Some US websites, for example, block all traffic from the EU due to GDPR laws. Instead of putting measures in place to comply with data protection, the lazy option is to detect the presence of a European visitor and simply prevent them from using the site.
You can also use a VPN to bypass certain blocks on your school or work network to listen to Spotify or access other blocked sites and services.
The VPN service we recommend is called NordVPN. You’ll find it at the top of our roundup of the best VPN services. We’ve also put together a guide that shows you how to use a VPN.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Is a VPN better than an antivirus?
Hopefully you can now see that a VPN is quite different from antivirus software. The two offer a very different kind of security.
A VPN isn’t “better”: it’s another tool in your toolbox that can give you more privacy and security alongside antivirus software. But you might want to use a VPN just to watch blocked videos.
Above all, a VPN does not replace an antivirus.
Antivirus software is always a necessity and should be a top priority if you have a Windows laptop or PC. It is also a good idea to run it on your Android phone because there are lots of nasty viruses in Android apps. Viruses can even be found in apps you get from the Google Play Store.
Viruses and other types of “malware” can take many forms, from irritating pop-up messages to ransomware that encrypts your files so you can’t access them unless you pay the ransom. You should never pay the ransom because there is no guarantee that you will get the “key” to decrypt your files. But if you’re using top-notch antivirus software, you won’t have to worry about that.
Chris Merriman / Foundry
Antivirus is only part of a modern system security suite. The best security apps can alert you if an unauthorized app tries to access your device’s camera or microphone, warn you before you click (or tap) on a dangerous link, and can alert you if your email -mail or other personal information is leaked online. .
Some also include a password manager that will remember your login details for hundreds of websites, as well as parental controls so you can lock down your kids’ devices.
Should I buy antivirus with VPN?
A trend we are seeing more and more is that antivirus companies are starting to include VPN service in their app, and some VPN companies are adding antivirus.
So far, we’ve yet to see a single service that offers a truly excellent version of both, so we recommend subscribing to them separately.
And if you don’t currently have an antivirus, we recommend Norton 360 Deluxe. You’ll find more alternatives in our guide to the best antivirus software.
The bottom line is that antivirus is an absolute necessity, a full security suite is a plus if you benefit from the extra features on offer, and a VPN is essential if you connect to public Wi-Fi or want to access websites. and blocked services.