While no VPN is invulnerable to getting hacked, modern virtual private networks are an extremely difficult target for attackers due to a number of reasons. Not least of all the robust protections offered by 256-bit encryption, the current industry standard for secure Internet communications.
The biggest security threat to VPNs – old people trying to ban math
And that’s even when you account for the fact some pretty powerful individuals have been doing whatever they can to dismantle VPN protections for years now. Case in point: South Carolina Senator and living old-man-yells-at-cloud meme, Lindsey Graham. The said gentleman has been trying pushing under-the-table legislation aimed at banning contemporary encryption for years now, most recently in late June 2020, with his justification being that it’s unfathomable how every petty criminal out there can easily use “military-grade” cryptography to protect their communications, ergo this technology should be kept away from regular civilians.
Graham’s proposed solution is rather straightforward – encryption backdoors that would only be available to “the good guys”. In other words, built-in security flaws mandated by law. The fact that selectively accessible backdoors are literally impossible to create isn’t something that troubles the R-SC senator too much, which hence makes his initiative and similar legislation pushes the single greatest threat to modern VPN encryption.
Now, it’s worth noting that the very term “military-grade encryption” is as nonconsequential as something like “military-grade math”. Graham essentially wants to ban integers outside of one small subset of prime numbers. Luckily for us, the laws of math have a much stronger foundation than U.S. federal law, meaning you can’t break them even if you wanted to.
What that means in practice is that even on the off chance something as ridiculous as the aforementioned bill ever got passed, the tech industry would simply keep shifting the definition of “military-grade encryption” on whatever basis is required for the U.S. Congress to fail at its mind-boggling attempt at banning prime numbers.
Nevermind the fact Graham already publicly repented after being called out for his lack of intelligence contaminating Capitol Hill’s agenda just a couple of years ago. It appears the allure of any trickle-down concept that works is too great of a temptation for a 64-year-old GOP member to resist.
Less alarming threats to modern VPNs
In all seriousness, none of the above is meant to say VPNs would have been impenetrable if not for old people drunk on power. It’s just that it’s extremely unlikely for any given VPN connection to be compromised in a real-world scenario.
The human error factor is still massive, mind you, as even the most established industry brands like NordVPN can attest. Yet so long as you trust your VPN provider not to sell you out when pressed, you should put the possibility of having your VPN connection hacked or compromised to that long list of things life is not long enough to worry about.
So, be careful while choosing your VPN provider, particularly in regards to its HQ location, but don’t spend your afternoons researching the likelihood of any given encrypted communications setup getting hacked because that simply won’t do you any more good than obsessing over the probability of your local ATM getting ripped out with a bulldozer.