VPN services can be hacked through encryption cracking, DNS hijacking, IP address spoofing, phishing, etc., which I’ll discuss in detail in my guide.
All in all, I’ll look at how a VPN client can be hacked, the hacking methods used, the measures you can take to counter this, and what happens when hacking actually occurs. I’ll also briefly explore the vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit and highlight the most reliable and unreliable VPNs.
So, if you have security concerns about your VPN, read this to know what to do next time a hacker comes knocking.
How Can VPNs Get Hacked?
Nothing is ever safe from hackers. As technology advances, so do their methods of attack. The following are some of the notable ways a VPN can get hacked.
If a hacker bypasses the authentication process required to connect to a VPN server, they can access the data being transmitted. This is done by accessing the VPN server or intercepting traffic between the user and the server.
Once the hacker has access, they can impersonate a legitimate user and gain access to their data. Or, if the hacker intercepts traffic between the user and the server, they can view or modify the data as it’s being transmitted.
- Activate Two-Factor Authentication if the VPN you’re using has that option.
- Use strong passwords that combine letters, numbers, and special characters.
Another effective method is using a brute force attack to crack the encryption. This type of attack involves trying every possible combination of characters until the right one is found.
Another way to crack VPN encryption is to use a dictionary attack.
In this attack, the attacker tries words most likely to be used as passwords.
If the password is a simple word or phrase, it’s likely to be guessed by this method.
However, a proper VPN with AES-256 bit encryption is almost impossible to crack and your best bet for online protection.
- Use a VPN provider that offers military-grade security (AES-256 bit encryption) as this is currently considered the most secure.
- Avoid using freemium VPNs because they lack the proper encryption to counter VPN hacking.
- Choose a strong password that would be difficult to guess by either of these methods.
In a Man-in-the-Middle attack, the attacker intercepts traffic between the two devices using the VPN. The attacker can then read or modify the data being exchanged. These types of cryptographic attacks are difficult to detect, as the attacker can impersonate one of the devices in the VPN connection.
- Use a VPN with certificate-based authentication. This helps ensure that users within the VPN connection are who they say they are.
- Use a VPN with Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). With PFS, even if an attacker intercepts and decrypts one session, they can’t decrypt future sessions.
DNS hijacking is a cyber attack where an attacker redirects your DNS traffic to a malicious server. This allows them to intercept your internet traffic and possibly steal private data if you’re not using a secure connection.
- Use a secure DNS service, such as Cloudflare’s 126.96.36.199, which encrypts your DNS traffic and prevents attackers from redirecting it.
- Use a VPN that features robust encryption (AES-256 bit).
IP Address Spoofing
In IP address spoofing, the hacker changes their IP address to match the VPN server, tricking the server into thinking the hacker is a legitimate user.
Once the hacker is connected to the VPN, they can then access all of the data passing through the server.
- Switch to a VPN that uses a different IP address for each user. This makes it more difficult for a hacker to spoof the IP address of a legitimate user or a secure server.
- Use a VPN that features AES-256 bit encryption.
ARP Cache Poisoning
ARP cache poisoning is a serious vulnerability because it can allow hackers to intercept sensitive information sent across the network.
There are two ways hackers can exploit this vulnerability.
- Creating a fake ARP message that tells the computers on the network that the hacker’s computer is actually the router. This causes all of the traffic intended for the router to be sent to the hacker’s computer.
- Creating a fake ARP message that tells the computers on the network that the hacker’s computer has the IP address of another computer on the network. This sends the intended traffic to the hacker’s computer.
Use a VPN with a powerful AES-256 bit encryption to make it hard for any traffic to be intercepted when the VPN is active.
Session Hijacking is when a hacker takes over an active session between two computers. The hacker can then access the data exchanged between the two computers.
This attack is usually carried out by exploiting vulnerabilities in a network protocol with inadequate security or using social engineering techniques to trick users into revealing their session information and transmitted data.
- Use a VPN with AES-256 bit encryption to make it impossible for a hacker to intercept your data.
- Use robust authentication methods, such as 2FA, to make it more difficult for a hacker to hijack your session.
- Use a firewall to protect your network by blocking incoming connections from malicious IP addresses.
Malware is software designed to damage or disable a computer system.
It can be contracted in several ways, including through email attachments, downloads from untrustworthy websites, and infected USB devices.
Once malware is present on a device, it can allow an attacker to access the device and any networks it’s connected to, including a VPN.
- Use a reputable security program on all devices using the VPN. This program should include real-time scanning and detection of new and unknown malware.
- Practice safe browsing habits, such as avoiding clicking on malicious links in emails from unknown senders and downloading files only from trusted websites.
- Do not insert USB devices into computers unless they’re verified to be safe.
Another way of hacking VPNs is through phishing scams.
It works by tricking the user into clicking on a malicious link that takes them to a fake website impersonating the VPN login page. The attacker can then capture the user’s login credentials and use them to access the VPN.
Alternatively, the hacker might send an email that appears to be from the VPN provider with a link to a fake and malicious website.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from a trusted source. Don’t click on any links or attachments.
- Install anti-phishing software that can help block malicious websites and emails.
- Keep your software and operating system up to date, as attackers often exploit vulnerabilities to launch phishing attacks.
What Happens When Your VPN Gets Hacked?
In the unfortunate event that your VPN is hacked, the following are some things you should expect to happen.
- Your IP address and location are revealed. The hacker now has access to your VPN connection and can see all traffic passing through it.
- Your browsing history and online activity are exposed. This can be a major privacy and security risk, especially if you’re accessing sensitive areas like online banking through your browser.
- Your data and confidential information are at risk. Unfortunately, even the best VPNs are vulnerable to attack. For example, NordVPN previously had one of its servers hacked. As a result, the data of nearly 2 million NordVPN users was compromised (but not leaked).
- You’re subject to identity theft. Hackers could access your personal information, including your name, address, and financial details. Identity theft can significantly impact your life, both financially and emotionally.
- You could be infected with malware or spyware. This can happen if you connect to a compromised public Wi-Fi network or click on a malicious link in an email or website.
- You could be denied access to specific websites and online services. Hackers might illegally use your VPN to access those sites or services. You become a point of entry and risk for everyone using those sites, so you’re denied access.
- Your internet connection could be slowed down or disrupted. If you’re using a virtual private network (VPN), your internet connection may be slowed or disrupted if the VPN gets hacked. This is because hackers can access your data and use it to slow your connection. They can also disrupt your connection by redirecting your traffic to another server.
- You could be liable for damages if your VPN is used for illegal activities. The hacker can use it to commit crimes in your name, and everything gets traced back to you. You could be mistakenly fined or even jailed.
How to Protect Your VPN From Getting Hacked?
You can protect your VPN from getting hacked by using a reputable VPN, updating it regularly, using a strong password, and activating 2FA if available.
There have been various security incidents where hackers have compromised VPNs and gained access to sensitive data. While it’s impossible to guarantee that your VPN will never be hacked, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk:
Use a Reputable VPN Provider
There are hundreds of VPN providers to choose from, and not all of them are equal. When selecting a provider, do research and only choose one with a good reputation. Pay close attention to their logging policies and the type of encryption. I’ll briefly look at the most trustworthy and untrustworthy VPNs later on.
Keep Your VPN Software Updated
Like any software, VPNs need to be kept up to date to patch any security vulnerabilities. Make sure you’re running the latest version of your VPN software and that it’s set to update automatically.
Use a Strong Password for Your VPN Account
If a hacker manages to get their hands on your username and password, they can access your VPN account and potentially use it to launch attacks or commit fraud. Use a unique and strong password for your VPN account, and change it regularly.
Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are inherently insecure, so it’s best to avoid using your VPN on them. If you absolutely must use a public Wi-Fi network, make sure your VPN is configured to encrypt all traffic and try to avoid accessing sensitive data. Otherwise, a hacker could use that chance to exploit any weaknesses and hack the VPN.
Use Two-Factor Authentication for Your VPN Account
If available, two-factor authentication (2FA) is an effective way to add an extra layer of security to your VPN account. With 2FA enabled, even if a hacker manages to get your username and password, they can’t access your account unless they also have access to your 2FA device.
Be Wary of What You Click On
Phishing attacks are a common way for hackers to gain access to sensitive information, and they can be difficult to spot. Be cautious about clicking on links or opening attachments in emails, even if they appear to come from a trusted source.
Don’t Use Your VPN as a Substitute for Security
There are things a VPN can’t do. They may be a valuable security tool, but they aren’t replacements for other security measures.
Make sure you also have an antivirus program installed and keep your software up to date. You could also set up an advanced firewall to work alongside the VPN.
A firewall can help protect your network from malicious traffic, including traffic that might come from a hacked VPN connection.
If your router doesn’t have a built-in firewall, you can use options such as Windows Firewall or Norton Internet Security.
Avoid Free VPN Services
Free VPNs are often supported by selling your browsing data or showing you ads. They may also have fewer security features and may not be updated as frequently as paid VPNs. All these are serious points of weakness that can lead to hacking. If you’re looking for a free VPN, do your research and only choose one from a reputable provider.
Monitor Your Network Activity
Keep an eye on your network traffic to look for any unusual or suspicious activity.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it could indicate that your VPN is hacked. Reliable tools you can use for this include Auvik, Datadog Network Monitoring, and Checkmk.
VPN Weaknesses That May Lead to VPN Hacking
What are the vulnerable areas and features of VPNs that give hackers a chance to hack them? Here are some of the notable ones.
Lack of Encryption Standards
While the leading VPN providers implement strong encryption standards, not all VPNs use the same encryption. This can lead to hackers decrypting data that are supposed to be protected by the VPN. Free VPNs are especially notorious for lacking proper encryption standards.
Every time a VPN experiences sensitive data leaks in the web traffic, a small window of opportunity opens. If a hacker is lurking nearby, they’ll immediately grab that chance to breach all the data in your network. Some common VPN leaks that are a substantial hacking risk include the following.
- DNS Leaks: Hackers can intercept DNS requests and redirect users to malicious websites if a VPN doesn’t properly secure its DNS servers. This can allow hackers to steal sensitive data or infect the device with dangerous malware.
- IP Address Leaks: IP leaks happen when a VPN doesn’t secure its IP addresses. With this, hackers can easily figure out a user’s actual IP address and location. This can track a user’s online activities or launch targeted attacks.
- WebRTC Leaks: The basic functionality of WebRTC makes leaks easy since the websites you visit can request to access your actual IP address, and there’s little you can do to block that, even when using a VPN. It’s a vulnerability that hackers can use to hack your VPN.
If a VPN allows users to install extensions, hackers can create malicious extensions that can steal data or infect a user’s device with malware.
These extensions may redirect users to dangerous sites or harvest data in the background without the user’s knowledge.
If a VPN uses weak authentication methods, hackers can access a user’s account and data. This can be used to launch attacks against other devices on the network or steal sensitive data. A good VPN should at least offer Two-Factor Authentication to provide that extra layer of security.
Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
A VPN is necessary when connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi network.
However, that too can be its weakness if it gets attacked by a seasoned hacker who intercepts important data. This can be used to steal sensitive information or infect a user’s device with malware. If you can drop the habit of connecting to any unsecured public Wi-Fi, you’ll lower the chances of being hacked.
Untrustworthy VPN Providers
Many VPN providers claim to offer security and privacy but do not live up to their promises. Untrustworthy VPN providers can put users at risk of having their data intercepted or stolen by hackers. So do proper research before committing to any VPN to ensure they offer what they claim.
Lack of Awareness
Many users aren’t aware of the risks of using a VPN. The average user assumes that a VPN is the magic bullet for all their security needs.
This lack of awareness can lead to users making poor security choices that put their data at risk – for example, relying solely on a VPN instead of also using a proper antivirus and firewall. Additionally, forgetting to use the VPN when visiting potentially dangerous sites can also open the door for hacking.
How to Choose an Unhackable VPN?
There are a few key factors to consider when choosing an unhackable VPN.
Going with AES-256 bit encryption is standard procedure, as is ad and malware blockers. Here are the considerations you need to pay attention to.
AES 256-bit Encryption
AES 256-bit encryption is a strong form of security that’s virtually impossible to hack. This means that your data will be safe. Therefore, when choosing a VPN, check that this particular encryption is included in the security features.
SHA-2 is the most recent generation of the Secure Hash Algorithm and is thus more secure than its predecessor, SHA-1. SHA-2 isn’t vulnerable to collision attacks. Therefore, this makes it much more secure and a better choice for VPN authentication. In addition, SHA-2 is also faster, meaning it can provide better performance.
Server Network Management Policies
The Server Network Management Policy is a crucial feature to consider when choosing a VPN that can’t be hacked. By ensuring that only authorized users have access to the remote VPN server and that all traffic is monitored and logged, you can be confident that VPN data breaches don’t occur.
There are a few types of Server Network Management Policies, so it’s important to choose one that fits your needs. For example, if you’re looking for a VPN that can’t be hacked, choose a policy that requires all users to authenticate before accessing the server. This way, even if someone gets access to your account, they can’t do anything without your permission.
IP Address and DNS Leak Protection
Another key feature to consider is IP address and DNS leak protection.
A VPN that doesn’t have proper IP and DNS leak protection is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for hackers.
There are a few ways to test for IP and DNS leaks, for example, using an online tool like ipleak.net.
A no-logs policy is also a crucial feature when choosing a VPN that can’t be hacked. This ensures your data and activities aren’t tracked or monitored by the VPN service, so even if the VPN service is hacked, your data won’t be exposed.
Malware and Ad Blockers
Two other key features to consider are malware and ad blockers.
You can significantly reduce your risk of being hacked by blocking these two threats, as they usually present a point of entry for most hacking attacks.
Consider CyberSec from NordVPN or CleanWeb from Surfshark.
Trustworthy VPNs That Are the Hardest to Hack
A few VPNs stand out as particularly difficult to hack.
Here are three trustworthy VPNs that will give hackers a run for their money.
NordVPN is a well-known VPN service. It has a strong reputation for security and privacy and is frequently recommended as a reliable VPN to counter online threats and maintain online privacy.
The VPN’s encryption is military-grade, making it virtually impossible for anyone to hack into your data. In addition, NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity, so even if someone did manage to hack into the system, they wouldn’t get anything substantial.
ExpressVPN is another quality VPN provider known for its robust security features. Like NordVPN, it uses military-grade encryption to protect your data.
In addition, ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy and secure VPN protocols for countering any data breach.
The VPN app also has a kill switch feature, which immediately disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection is lost, ensuring your data is always protected against a VPN hack or any malicious software.
Surshark uses military-grade encryption like the other two recommendations.
You can rest easy knowing your data is always well protected.
In addition, Surshark has a strict no-logs policy and a unique feature called Camouflage Mode, which makes it difficult for your internet service provider or any third party like a hacker to detect your VPN use.
Unreliable VPNs That Are Easiest to Hack
Not all VPNs do what they promise. Some are easy targets for VPN hacks.
Here are the most unreliable VPNs that are easiest to hack.
Hola VPN is a free VPN service known to sell user data to third parties. Furthermore, the service was involved in malware and botnet activity.
For these reasons, it’s considered one of the least reliable and most insecure VPNs on the market.
SuperVPN is another free VPN service known to sell user data.
In addition, the service was found to contain malware.
These security concerns make SuperVPN a very unreliable VPN that’s a soft target for hackers.
Yes, any VPN can be hacked. However, the difficulty and resources required vary from one VPN to another. The most secure VPNs use the strongest encryption methods and have multiple layers of security.
An example of a VPN that’s hard to hack is ExpressVPN.
It features AES-256 bit encryption, which is by far the most secure security feature that’s impossible to hack.
Yes, a VPN server can be hacked. However, to hack a VPN server, an attacker would need to have sophisticated technical skills and knowledge. Additionally, they would need access to the server itself.
If a hacker could gain access to a VPN server, they could potentially steal sensitive data or commit other malicious activities.
Yes, NordVPN can be hacked. This was demonstrated on March 5th, 2018, when a security breach occurred and some customer data was compromised, though no user data was breached.
Due to this, NordVPN has since taken steps to improve its security and prevent such incidents from happening in the future. Overall, while no VPN service can be 100% secure, NordVPN remains one of the most reliable VPN services in the market.
Yes, ExpressVPN can be hacked. However, the chances of this happening are low. ExpressVPN has several security features that make it difficult for hackers to penetrate.
For example, the VPN security features AES-256 bit encryption, which is virtually impossible to break. In addition, ExpressVPN employs a strict no-logs policy which means that there is no record of user activity that could be used to hack the system.
The short answer is yes; your phone can be hacked through a VPN.
However, it’s more difficult for hackers to do so if you use a reputable VPN service. Hackers would need to gain access to the VPN server to hack into your device, and this is much harder to do than simply targeting your device directly.
A VPN can be hacked, but it isn’t an easy task. If you use a reputable and secure VPN service, your risk of being hacked is significantly reduced.
However, no VPN is 100% secure, and there are always risks associated with using one. Be sure to research your VPN provider thoroughly before committing to a subscription.