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Does a VPN Protect You from Viruses and Malware?

Does VPN PRotect you from Viruses

Key Takeaways

  • VPNs can’t provide real-time protection if you accidentally download an infected file on your device.
  • Some VPNs can block connections to malicious websites, ads, and web trackers. Other VPNs offer antivirus software as paid add-ons. 
  • Use VPNs with an anti-malware tool to boost your digital safety. 

We have found that NordVPN with its Threat Protection feature can protect from viruses and malware.

Does VPN Protect from Viruses and Malware?

VPNs don’t protect you from viruses directly. Their main job is to encrypt your internet connection and hide your IP address for better internet security. 

Fortunately, some VPNs offer additional features like virus protection and ad blocking.

For example, NordVPN offers Threat Protection, which works as in-built antivirus software.

However, this is not a standard practice in the industry. Instead, it’s more of a bonus feature that certain VPNs choose to include.

Using VPNs as a Preventive Measure

VPNs protect your data and hide your web traffic so no one can monitor your online activity. This way, VPNs prevent cyber attacks, data breaches, identity theft, and government surveillance. 

Nevertheless, keep in mind that VPNs can’t protect you against phishing scams, social engineering, and viruses that hack your computer system.   

Can a VPN Protect You against Malicious Websites?

Yes, VPNs can protect you against harmful websites by rerouting your traffic through a safe connection. However, VPNs can’t protect you against all malware types, especially those targeting specific software like Google Chrome. 

To ensure your digital safety, I recommend using a reliable anti-malware tool in addition to VPNs. Also, update it regularly so you can minimize vulnerabilities. 

Protection Against MITM Attacks 

VPNs offer protection against man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks by encrypting all internet traffic and sending it through a secure tunnel. This way, data thieves can’t intercept and manipulate data and you can browse the internet anonymously.

However, not all VPNs offer the same level of protection. That’s why it’s important to use a reputable provider with strong encryption and security measures. 

I also recommend avoiding using public Wi-Fi networks and to use HTTPS websites for additional encryption. 

Protection Across Multiple Devices and Networks

By creating an encrypted tunnel, VPNs can hide your online browsing from prying eyes and hackers, especially if you use public Wi-Fi networks. 

VPNs can offer protection across multiple devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. This way, you can be safe regardless of the network or device being used.

The Limitations of Virtual Private Networks

While VPNs can provide an additional layer of encryption, there are limitations to what they can do to protect your data. Here are some of them: 

  • Compromised websites. VPNs can hide and encrypt your data, but they can’t protect you from certain types of cyber threats. You still need to take basic safety measures against malicious code, any computer viruses, and phishing attacks. Also, if you submit personal data to a site, and the site suffers a data breach, VPNs can’t protect you from that. 
  • Data logging. Many free VPNs may log your data, which means they can see your traffic and real location. It’s important to choose a VPN provider that has a strict no-logging policy.
  • VPNs are not a replacement for antivirus software. Many VPNs can’t prevent viruses from being installed on your computer or any other device. So even if you use secure VPNs, I recommend getting antivirus tools as well.    

Choosing the Right VPN for Virus and Malware Protection

I spent weeks testing the top VPNs on the market that also come with protection against any computer virus. I also checked if they block malicious sites and web trackers. In the end, I ranked them on privacy, functionality, speed, and price. 

What Features Should a VPN for Malware Protection Have?

Here’s a list of the most important features a VPN should have to make your internet browsing safe:

  • Malware protection. Some top VPN providers might offer this feature to make your browsing safer. However, keep in mind that not all VPNs have malware protection.  
  • VPN ad blocker. A few top VPN providers have an ad blocker integrated into the VPN software. In addition to protecting you from malicious ads, this feature can also block connections to shady sites. Since a VPN offers a different kind of service than an ad blocker, I recommend you use a VPN together with an ad blocker for a smoother browsing experience.  
  • Industry-standard safety features. Many VPN providers have a kill switch, DNS leak protection, 256-bit AES encryption, and a strict no-logs policy. If your VPN lacks even one of these features, you might put your data at risk.
  • Advanced privacy features. Check if the VPN you’re using has full leak protection, RAM-only servers, or perfect forward secrecy. Bonus points if its strict no-logs policy has been audited. While it’s not mandatory for a VPN to have these features, the more they have, the safer you’ll be online.  
  • Easy to use. It should have intuitive, bug-free apps available on any popular operating system like iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. Plus, you should be able to download and install it quickly.
  • Torrenting support. VPNs should use a safe internet protocol to protect your privacy if you engage in torrenting activities. Moreover, it shouldn’t limit your bandwidth or speeds while you’re torrenting.
  • Good value. Many VPNs have streaming support, fast speeds, and apps that make browsing easier. The more useful features it has, the better value you get. 

Top VPNs with Antivirus Software and Malware Protection

Here are the best 5 VPNs that can protect you against malicious software or compromised sites: 

1. NordVPN

NordVPN offers maximum security because it has a ton of privacy features. For example, it has Threat Protection, which scans all executable files your download on your device for malware. Also, it blocks connections to malicious sites, ads, pop-ups, and web trackers. 

I tested Threat Protection and it always blocked ads and compromised websites. Plus, I downloaded a few infected files on my test device and it deleted them immediately. I also like that you can use Threat Protection even if you’re not using the VPN. 

On top of this, NordVPN has industry-standard features like a kill switch and strong encryption. 

It also has advanced safety features like full leak protection, which is great because not many providers have that. I performed leak tests and my IP address never leaked online. This service also has an audited no-logs policy, which has been proven true.

NordVPN also has RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy. RAM-only servers ensure that everything is written to the RAM instead of the hard drive. This way, data is wiped after every server reset. Perfect forward secrecy is an advanced feature that changes the encryption key for each VPN connection. So, hackers can’t compromise past or future encryption keys to spy on your traffic.

The VPN also has 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries, so I was always able to find a nearby VPN server for fast torrenting speeds.  

  • Thousands of lightning-fast and well-optimized servers
  • Unblocks all the major streaming sites
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption to protect you from DDoS attacks and other online threats
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

Surfshark is another good VPN you can use to protect your computer and mobile devices from known viruses.  

Surfshark has military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection. Its no-logs policy has been independently audited, it has RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy. I ran leak tests on 20+ servers and I never noticed IP leaks. However, I like NordVPN more because it has full leak protection.   

In addition, Surfshark has Surfshark Antivirus, which is a paid add-on. This software protects you against mobile and computer viruses. In my tests, it had a 100% detection rate when I tried to download compromised files on my test device. However, I liked NordVPN’s Threat Manager more because the feature is included in its pricing plan, so you don’t have to pay extra for it.

The VPN protects you against ads with its CleanWeb feature, which is Surfshark’s ad blocker. I used CleanWeb while accessing ad-heavy sites and it blocked all of them. I also liked that I got notified if I tried to access compromised sites. 

Sursfhark has a large server network with 3,200+ servers in 95+ countries. 

  • A very affordable VPN provider
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • A fast and light WireGuard protocol
  • Allows split-tunneling and has a multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and robust security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN is another VPN service that can block compromised sites and web trackers. 

It has SafeBrowse, which is a very useful tracker blocker. I accessed ad-heavy sites and SafeBrowse always blocked them, making my browsing experience smoother and faster. 

However, compared to NordVPN’s Threat Protection and Surfshark’s Antivirus, SafeBrowse can’t detect if I download malware on my computer. Moreover, NordVPN’s Threat Protection runs even when the VPN is off, while you need to connect to a server to use SafeBrowse.

Atlas VPN has also a good free plan, but it doesn’t provide access to SafeBrowse. Still, I like that it comes with high-end encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection. I ran leak tests while connected to both distant and nearby servers and my IP address never leaked. 

In addition to this, Atlas VPN has a strict no-logs policy, so it won’t log your personal information.  

The free plan gives you access to 3 server locations — 1 in the Netherlands, and 2 in the US. The paid plans unlock all servers network — 700+ servers in 30+ countries. Even if it’s relatively small, Atlas VPN has well-distributed servers around the world for all VPN users. 

  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Helpful against an ISP throttling your connection
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol, DNS leak protection, and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Limited Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

4. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is another secure VPN you can use to protect your sensitive information on the internet. 

This VPN service has Threat Manager, which blocks connections to compromised sites and web trackers. I tested this feature on 10+ shady sites and it blocked all of them. Overall, I like NordVPN’s Threat Protection more because it also blocks ads and scans all executable files I download on my device for viruses. 

ExpressVPN also has 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch. In addition, it has advanced privacy features like full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy. Plus, its no-logs policy has been independently proven true. It’s also based in the British Virgin Islands, which is a privacy-friendly country. 

This VPN has 3,000 servers in 90+ countries. I ran speed tests on 30+ servers and I always had super-fast speeds. In general, I didn’t notice any buffering while streaming videos and browsing apps that use a lot of data. However, when I connected to very distant servers, I noticed minor slowdowns when I streamed 4K videos. 

  • Works with streaming
  • Supports torrenting
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
  • Premium security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Expensive subscription plans
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

5. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a secure VPN that you can use to protect your data from viruses.  

PIA has Antivirus By PIA, which is its proprietary antivirus and it’s a paid add-on. This software scans your device for malware and sends you notifications if you’re about to access compromised sites. Also, Antivirus By PIA can block ads and web trackers. What’s more, you can set the antivirus to perform regular scans, and I like how you also receive a detailed scan report. 

I tested this antivirus by trying to access malware, ad-heavy, and compromised sites. Antivirus By Pia always detected and blocked both simple and advanced threats. Also, while I noticed slowdowns when the antivirus performed scans, I was still able to browse the internet and watch videos. 

PIA is reliable and has strong privacy features to protect your online security. For example, it has a kill switch and military-grade encryption. Also, it has advanced security tools like full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and an audited no-logs policy. 

On top of this, PIA’s apps are open-sourced, so anyone can inspect the code, which is very transparent. 

  • Thousands of servers
  • Great for torrenting and P2P
  • Strong security and encryption
  • Block ads, trackers, and malware
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Anonymous payment methods
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Based in the US
  • Not all streaming services can be unblocked


Using a Virtual Private Network can hide your online activity, but it doesn’t protect you against viruses. Because of this, you’ll need a combination of measures to protect yourself against malware. 

Besides using a VPN, make sure you use antivirus. Also, keep your software and operating systems up to date with the latest security patches. Plus, keep in mind to be cautious when you open email attachments or click on links from unknown sources. 


Here are the most common questions people ask about VPNs, malware threats, and antivirus programs: 

Can a VPN Get Infected with a Virus?

Yes, a VPN can get infected with a virus, but it’s highly unlikely that will happen compared to other software. 

If you download a VPN from a shady source or use an outdated VPN, you are more likely to put your device and sensitive data at risk. So download VPNs from reputable sources and keep them updated often. The VPNs I recommended in this article are safe, secure, and provide fast internet speeds.

Does a VPN Protect You Against Malware? 

No, a VPN alone is not enough protection against malware. A VPN creates encrypted tunneling for your internet connection and hides your IP address, but it doesn’t protect you against malware that you accidentally download on your device. 

For good cyber hygiene, you still need to use antivirus software together with a VPN. This way, you get maximum protection when browsing online. 

Can You Still Get Malware with a VPN? 

Yes, you can get malware even if you use a VPN. That’s because a VPN can’t prevent you from downloading infected files or clicking on malicious links. 

In general, a VPN can hide your internet traffic from anyone who would spy on your online activities, like your Internet Service Provider or hackers. However, you can still get malware on your device if you access phishing emails or malicious downloads. So, it’s important to take extra security measures as well, like using antivirus software.

What Other Measures Can I Take to Protect Myself against Viruses and Malware?

Besides using a VPN together with antivirus apps to stay secure online, I also recommend to: 

  • Keep your antivirus, operating systems, and apps up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Perform regular scans on your devices.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for all your accounts.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an extra layer of protection.
  • Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments in emails from unknown senders.
  • Avoid downloading software from shady sites.

Do You Need an Antivirus If You’re Using a VPN?

Yes, you’ll need antivirus even if you’re using a VPN. A VPN hides your real IP address and makes your traffic unreadable, so prying eyes can’t see what you’re doing online.

In contrast, antivirus software scans your device for malware, blocks malicious websites, and prevents unauthorized access to your system files.

How to Test If Your VPN Has Malware Blocker? 

Firstly, you can check the VPN provider’s website to see if they mention any malware-blocking capabilities. 

Secondly, you can look for paid add-ons like a built-in antivirus or firewall.

Thirdly, you can run a malware scan on your device before and after connecting to the VPN. If you see a decrease in malware or viruses after connecting to the VPN, the VPN has some malware-blocking capabilities.

Can You Get a Virus from a VPN?

The chances to get a virus directly from a VPN are very low because VPNs are designed to protect your device from online threats. However, if you download a VPN from an untrusted source or use an outdated VPN, it can potentially contain malware that could infect your device. 

Can a Virtual Private Network Remove a Virus? 

No, a VPN can’t remove a virus from your device. While a VPN encrypts your traffic and provides an extra layer of protection, it can’t detect or remove malware. To remove a virus from your device, you need to use an antivirus that can scan your device and remove any infected files.

The closest you can get to this is NordVPN’s Threat Protection, which scans all executable files you download on your device. However, even with Threat Protection on, I still recommend using antivirus.

How Can You Tell If Your Device Is Infected with Malware?

Malware can use up your device’s resources so it’ll make it slow or unresponsive. You may also notice random pop-up ads, changes to your browser settings, or unfamiliar software. Your device may also behave erratically, such as crashing or restarting unexpectedly.

If you suspect that your device is infected with malware, run a malware scan as soon as possible.

Does a VPN Protect You from Hackers?

Yes, a VPN can protect you from hackers because it encrypts your traffic, so they can’t intercept or steal your data. The VPN also hides your IP address, making it harder for hackers to track your location and online activities. 

However, keep in mind that a VPN can’t protect you against all types of hacking attempts. So make sure you use a reputable VPN provider and practice cyber hygiene habits. For example, use strong passwords and avoid suspicious websites.

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