VPN or Antivirus – Comparison Review

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VPN Or Antivirus: Which One You Should Go For?

Former CEO of McAfee, John McAfee, once said that the mobile phones we use have now become the greatest spies. Mobile phone data is most vulnerable as users unsuspectingly sign in to the nearest available Wi-Fi networks (for example, hotspots at railway stations, coffee shops and restaurants), just to save their allotted mobile data. Hackers, on the other hand, often target these mobile hotspots to set up counterfeit Wi-Fi, just to steal the user passwords and sensitive information. Antivirus programs installed on the mobile devices routinely prevent worms, Trojans and malware, but these programs have their own limitations, and are effective only when fully updated. Should you use a VPN service along with an antivirus program on your mobile? Let’s find out.

How Does A VPN Service Work?

A virtual private network or a VPN is a service designed to hide your identity and protect your privacy while you are online. It encrypts your online traffic so as to protect your sensitive data from the cyber criminals as well as the surveillance agencies when you go online, and these services work on public Wi-Fi- networks too.

VPNs can mask your computer’s IP address to help you browse the web anonymously. You can even tiptoe around the geo-restrictions in some locations that hold you back from accessing certain online services as well as websites. While VPNs can encrypt your data and your online traffic, these services are not enough when it comes to protecting your important data from computer viruses or malwares. Here’s a breakdown of what a VPN service can do for you.

Basic Functionality

Privacy

Data integrity

Encryption

Protect system from virus or malware attacks

Works offline

Does A Standard VPN Service Offer It?

Most VPNs ensure privacy while you are surfing, downloading content or accessing websites/services

Most VPNs prevent modification of data packets from the sender

Most VPNs follow AES or ECC encryption

How Does An Antivirus Program Work?

An antivirus program is essentially a software application designed to detect and remove malware from a device, including viruses, worms and Trojans. An antivirus can combat the spread of malicious programs, and if somebody is trying to sell you an antimalware program, just know that if you have an antivirus program installed on your system, you don’t need an antimalware program at all.

Antivirus programs rely heavily on self-updates to prevent the waves of cyber threats that are popping up every now and then. After scanning a device and detecting a malicious program, an antivirus program would either quarantine it or remove it. Usually, antivirus programs are designed and provided by third-party developers, such as Kaspersky. However, one of the major downsides of these programs is that they can detect certain files as malicious ones when they are not really so (for example, game patches you download from several unofficial sources might be identified by your antivirus programs as malicious programs).

Basic Functionality

Virus Detection

System Scan And Analysis

Malware and virus removal

Online security

Protects your identity online

Works offline

Does A Standard Antivirus Program Offer It?

The most basic function of an antivirus software program

Most standard antivirus programs would allow you to scan your system to detect possible infections

Most antivirus software programs would remove or quarantine infected files

Yes, but with limited features. Works best when fully updated

Do You Need An Antivirus Program Or A VPN Service?

Comparing a VPN service with an antivirus program is like comparing apples with oranges, because their functionalities are totally different.

To take a sneak peek to what the users are saying, I checked out Malware Tips, one of the largest online communities of tech users. 47.4% users voted for VPN when they were asked whether they would opt for a VPN or an antivirus program, and 52.6% users voted for antivirus. Some of the users said that they don’t trust their Windows Defender and they use both – a paid antivirus program and a paid VPN service.
VPN
47.4 %
Antivirus
52.6 %

‘Security Vs Privacy’ seems a never-ending debate. While some users would pick VPN over antivirus (as a user suggested on the forum), not a single program is totally unassailable to malware attacks. Users who have a backup buddy would probably pick anti-virus programs before putting their money in VPN services, just to make sure that their system remains ‘clean’. Masking online identity is not the top priority for most users, as it is evident from the user reviews and opinions. While both the antivirus programs and the VPN services have free alternates, nothing comes completely free in this world and I hope you know that.

Most users would go for a paid antivirus program such as the Kaspersky Internet Security or the ESET NOD32 and opt for a free VPN alongside. However, if you are specifically trying to access some sites or avail some geo-restricted services no otherwise available in your country, you should add a paid VPN service to the antivirus program you are using. It’s just like adding an extra layer of protection, and if you are paying for both an antivirus program and a VPN, you are not actually paying more for the same service. Technically, you cannot achieve 100% privacy. It’s just that you can take your privacy to the near-perfect level. Check the best VPN services according to user’s ratings.

Do Antivirus Companies Offer VPN Service Too?

If you prefer anonymity combined with security while surfing the web, you should try looking for antivirus providers that also offer VPN services. A number of antivirus software developers now also offer VPN services. If you are already using a Kaspersky antivirus, you can pair it up with Kaspersky Secure Connection. The list doesn’t end here. Let’s take a look at some of the VPN services which are offered by PC security companies that are most famous for the antivirus programs they offer.

1

Kaspersky Secure Connection

Talking about Kaspersky Secure Connection, it offers a whole bunch of protocols which you can choose from, and the VPN service from the Russian security giant offers you AES-256 encryption as well as industry-standard OpenVPN. Despite some logging issues detected in the tests I conducted and some compatibility issues, the VPN service is a pretty decent VPN to go for. In case you are an existing Kaspersky antivirus program user, the VPN service they offer is worth a try.

2

Bitdefender VPN

Bitdefender VPN, dubbed as one of the best VPN services on the market right now, is ideal for existing users of the Bitdefender Total Security and the Bitdefender Internet Security. While I am sure that the devs at Bitdefender lab has noticed the shortcomings of Bitdefender VPN as a standalone VPN service, it is not bad either. It provides support for L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, as well as IKEv2 (new) VPN protocols, has compatibility with all sorts of Windows devices and defaults a decent encryption. If you already have a Bitdefender subscription, it can offer you a decent level privacy while you are browsing the web anonymously.

3

Avast Secureline VPN

Avast Secureline VPN is yet another example of a VPN service which comes from the house of an antivirus software developer. It’s gets you through Netflix, and offers decent encryption, but I personally think that it doesn’t offer a good value for money, taking into consideration the limited features that it offers. If you are specifically looking for a VPN service which comes as a part of a big security package, this one would fit the bill for you. However, it doesn’t offer you the same options in terms of speed and security as Hide.me does, nor does it have decent technical configurability.

4

Norton Wi-Fi Privacy

Norton Wi-Fi Privacy helps users protect their private information such as credit card information and bank details when they are using a public Wi-Fi connection. It offers bank-grade encryption, so that you can access your bank’s website using a public Wi-Fi with much peace of mind. You can also block the malicious ad trackers and access your favorite websites and apps using this add-on product from Norton, a security company primarily known for the PC security solutions they offer.

5

Avira Phantom VPN

Avira Phantom VPN is another VPN service from an antivirus company which I personally liked, particularly because the VPN allowed me to surf freely, anonymously and securely. It has a zero-log policy, like most other top VPN services you will find on the market, like ExpressVPN. The VPN service offers 36 server locations, which is not bad at all. Avira has been a global leader in PC and mobile security for more than three decades now, one of the reasons many existing Avira users do not look elsewhere when they top their antivirus program with a VPN service.

Panda VPN and McAfee Safe Connect are two other VPNs you might take into consideration while shopping for VPN services.

ExpressVPN and Kaspersky Secure Connection: A Brief Comparison Chart

ExpressVPN, based in British Virgin Islands, is one of the most popular VPN services right now. While Kaspersky Secure Connection is one of the cheapest alternatives to the pricier VPN services, ExpressVPN does offer some excellent features, along with a swarm of benefits, which justifies the high price of the VPN service in some way. ExpressVPN is, in fact, one of the fastest VPNs at this moment and has quite a few outstanding features. However, I decided to weigh Kaspersky’s VPN service, the Secure Connection, against ExpressVPN. Here’s a side-by-side comparison chart which you can glance through for a better understanding.

Feature

Does VPN keep logs?

Hiding IP

Kill-Switch

Max Connections

Total Servers

Total Countries

Compatible Devices

Compatible with TOR

Torrenting

Netflix

Does it work in China?

Average Speed Tests

Usability

Customer Support

Price

ExpressVPN

Doesn’t keep activity logs or connection logs, but your choice of server locations is logged

Allows you to hide your real IP and use a secure IP address in any of the 148 locations where their servers are present

Yes, the Network Lock Kill Switch prevents your browsing data from flowing outside the encrypted channel

3

2000+

94

Compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, as well as routers

Works with Netflix almost all the time, and there are a few workarounds too in case it doesn’t work

Very Fast

Top-notch encryption, kill switch included, extremely easy to use

Chat and email-based support

$12.95/month (1 month license)

$9.99/month (6 months license)

$6.67/month (12 months license + 3 months FREE)


30-day moneyback guarantee with each plan

Kaspersky Secure Connection

Doesn’t log your activity or your connections, but the service admittedly keeps some log data, which is detailed in their ‘usage restrictions’

Hides your real IP and transfers your traffic data through an encrypted channel

No Kill Switch, which means your browsing data will be instantly exposed in case the connection drops

5 (only in paid version)

Unspecified

18

Compatibility with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices

Doesn’t work in China (Also, doesn’t work in Belarus, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and UAE

Pretty slow download and upload speed. On the US server, download speed was 48.94 Mbps and upload speed was 33.31 Mbps

No leaks or viruses detected. No DNS leaks detected as well. Decent usability

Doesn’t offer a simple live chat option. You need to log into your account to access the support options

Free trial with data cap

$4.99/month (1 month license)

$29.99/year (1 year license)


No moneyback guarantee available

If you are looking for complete privacy online and at the same time, want to protect your system from virus attacks, I would suggest you to go for a paid VPN service such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN and get an AV too. Kaspersky offers ultimate protection against malware, ransomware and viruses, while a good VPN services would get you covered when it comes to protecting your identity and traffic data online. Organized cybercrimes are now regular occurrences, and if you want to safeguard your digital assets, you need both.

Backup Software Application: Do You Need A Third Layer Of Security?

Unfortunately, most people learn the importance of data backup the hard way, mostly due to the fact that they don’t realize that their computer’s hard drives are the most vulnerable components of their PCs. While you can anonymously surf the web using a VPN, and stave off virus attacks successfully with an AV, you still run the risk of losing your important data in case your hard drive crashes accidentally. This might cost you hundreds of dollars if you decide to hire a data recovery expert.

However, there’s always a cheaper way to recover your data and it’s got a simple name – data backup. Top data backup software applications have the ability to compress your system’s data, and these applications allow you to take backup of your data on a second drive, in most cases an external hard drive and you can also store your data on the cloud. If you can find a good backup software product, it will help you take daily backups, yet it won’t disrupt your workflow. Another great feature which you should look for in data backup software applications is incremental backup, which allows you to take backup of files which have changed since the last backup session.

Acronis True Image is one data backup software application which lets you back up your data both locally and on the cloud. It comes with anti-ransomware protection, which isn’t available even in some of the top antivirus programs. Paragon Hard Disk Manager Advanced is yet another great backup solution which breaks the complex data backup process to bare bones. NovaBackup PC, EaseUS ToDo Backup and Genie Timeline Home 10 are some of the other backup solutions which you can avail. Whichever backup software product you pay for, do not forget to look through backup software reviews before making a choice.

Should You Use A VPN And An Antivirus Program Separately?

While all security software vendors offer a slew of products, the total security suites that you might come across are extremely costly. If you are looking for top-notch security and privacy online, you’d be better off if you invest in a good antivirus software program first, and then top it off with a good bypass monitoring. Do not settle for any of those cheap or free antivirus programs, and the free VPNs you’d often come across are capped at a much lower bandwidth. Note that VPNs and antivirus programs would protect you in two different ways. While a VPN service won’t protect you from malicious programs, your antivirus program won’t mask your identity online. Therefore, it’s best to use a VPN and an antivirus program together. Only if you want to add a third layer of security, you can go for a data backup software program. The more layers you add, the better it is.

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