Security and privacy tools: compare VPN, TOR, Proxy, Smart DNS and Antivirus

By Jayden Andrews. April 16, 2020

Antivirus? Smart DNS? Proxy server? Firewall? TOR? VPN? Which of them do you need to keep your device safe and protected?

In this quick comparison article, we aim to help you choose the best option.

Top VPNs
1NordVPN
Rating:
9.8
Price from:
$3.49/mo
2Surfshark
Rating:
9.6
Price from:
$1.99/mo
3CyberGhost
Rating:
9.4
Price from:
$2.75/mo

Comparison table

In the table below, we’ve summarized what each of the six tools do and don’t.

Hide IP – This service masks your real IP address and does not give you a new one. In most cases, hiding your IP allows you to unblock many web resources.

Assign New IP Address – Your IP address is your computer’s identifier when communicating online. With a service that assigns you a new IP address, you can surf the web anonymously without putting your online identity and privacy at risk.

Encrypt Your Traffic – This service allows you to hide your online activities from the monitoring of your ISP and protect private data such as financial details and passwords.
Protect Privacy and Security Online – Spies and cybercriminals would love to get their hands on your private information. With a service that protects privacy and online security, hackers can’t track you. Therefore, you remain protected and secure while surfing the web.

Access Geo-Blocked Sites – Streaming services usually set geographical restrictions on their services. Hiding IP can help you can get around these restrictions and access streaming services wherever you are.

Access Blocked Services Requiring Specific IP – Some streaming services have severe geo blocks and check your IP if it is strictly assigned to specific countries – like Hulu that works only for US citizens.

Hide Torrenting Activity – This is an important feature or service that protects you so your torrenting activities won’t be traced back to you.

Protects from Malicious Software and Files – Malware entities are everywhere. So, finding a service that protects you from malicious software and files is essential.

VPN Profile

A Virtual Private Network or a VPN is a connection method that adds a layer of security and privacy. It is widely used by individuals and corporations to secure sensitive data and protect online identity.

When you connect to a VPN, an encrypted tunnel is created between you and a remote server. All your traffic is then routed through this tunnel, keeping your data secure from the prying eyes of the government, your ISP, or cybercriminals.

SPOILER: VPNs provide complete online security in comparison with other similar online privacy tools like Proxy, Smart DNS, and TOR. VPN lacks functions of protecting from malicious software and files, that Antivirus or Firewall do.

Functions Overview:

 

  • Hide IP – YES
  • Assign new IP address – YES
  • Access geo-blocked sites – YES
  • Access blocked services requiring specific IP – YES
  • Encrypt your traffic – YES
  • Protect privacy and security online – YES
  • Hide your Torrenting activity – YES
  • Protect from malicious software and files – NO

Proxy and VPNs

VPNs and proxy servers work to protect user identities. They are handy tools for accessing geo-restricted content. Although different from one another, people tend to confuse one from the other. The truth is one protects your privacy, the other doesn’t. So, which is which?

A proxy server acts a middleman, relaying information from the website you are visiting to your device. The server hides your true IP address so the website can only see the IP of the proxy. Though a VPN acts the same, proxy servers only work on the application level. This means it only reroutes internet traffic and does not encrypt it.

A VPN, on the other hand, reroutes your internet traffic to a remote server. It also hides your IP address the same way a proxy does. With this setup, websites cannot detect your original location or IP. Now, what makes it different from a proxy server is it works on the operating system level, meaning it redirects all internet traffic, regardless of whether it comes from an app or your browser.

You may ask, “Is a VPN better than a proxy?” Of course, it is. Both VPNs and proxies have similar functions, rerouting internet traffic through a remote server and hiding your true IP address. But if you notice, a VPN is way better than a proxy server in many aspects. If privacy and security matter to you, then choose a VPN.

What a Proxy Server Does:

 

  • Hide IP – YES
  • Access geo-blocked sites – YES
  • Access blocked services requiring specific IP – NO
  • Encrypt your traffic – NO
  • Protect privacy and security online – NO
  • Hide your Torrenting activity – NO
  • Protect from malicious software and files – NO

 

Tor vs. VPNs

Online privacy and security are two growing concerns among internet users. For those reasons, many turn to the use of different methods like TOR and VPN. But which is better when it comes to privacy and security?

Let’s begin with describing TOR. TOR, also known as The Onion Router, simply a tool that you can download and install on your Mac, Linux, or Windows device. It is run by a non-profit organization that researches and develops new tools for online privacy. It works by disguising your online identity, transferring your traffic across different TOR servers.

TOR has several layers of privacy similar to that of an onion, hence the name. The more users that connect to TOR, the more your traffic becomes hidden.

VPN, in contrary, has a network of servers spread all over the world. When an internet request is made, it goes through one of the VPN servers before it reaches its destination. However, when it passes through the server, your IP is already changed. Not only does it keep your identity protected, but it also makes your device appear as if it is in a different location.

Now, which is better? While both VPN and TOR work to protect online privacy, VPNs still remain a more secure choice. TOR can encrypt your requests, but it can sometimes be slow and can put you into legal trouble. Meanwhile, a VPN is faster and can encrypt all your traffic. It can also provide you access to geo-restricted sites anytime, anywhere!

What TOR Does:

 

  • Hide IP – YES
  • Partly protect privacy and security online – YES
  • Access blocked services required specific IP – YES
  • Partly Protect privacy and security online – YES
  • Encrypt your traffic – NO
  • Assign new IP address – NO
  • Hide your Torrenting activity – NO
  • Protect from malicious software and files – NO

Smart DNS vs. VPNs

Looking for ways to bypass geoblocks? Then a smart DNS and a VPN are two strong contenders. While the best choice is already obvious, it is worth differentiating the two.

A Smart DNS does not encrypt your data. It does not even hide your IP address. It only directs your internet traffic to a proxy server owned by a DNS company. To connect to this DNS server, you need to pay a certain amount. Now, why should you use it? The obvious advantage of using a Smart DNS is that it tricks the websites that you visit, making you appear to be accessing them from a valid and eligible location.

It is worth noting, though, that some Smart DNSs help you access streaming services optimized for specific countries and show you are accessing services from target regions.

Whereas a VPN creates a safe and secure tunnel through which your internet traffic is passed. Nobody can snoop into this traffic, allowing you to access any content from anywhere in the world.
If you were to choose between the two, we think you could enjoy value for money if you use a VPN. You could experience privacy and security enhancements that a Smart DNS cannot offer.

What a Smart DNS Does:

 

  • Hide IP – YES
  • Access geo-blocked sites – YES
  • Access blocked services required specific IP – YES
  • Protect privacy and security online – NO
  • Assign new IP address – NO
  • Encrypt your traffic – NO
  • Hide your Torrenting activity – NO
  • Protect from malicious software and files – NO

Firewalls vs. VPNs

So, what’s the difference between a VPN and a firewall? The difference can be easily summed up. While a firewall allows you to configure how your device communicates with the web to prevent hackers and malicious files from compromising it, a VPN allows you to secure your connection so cybercriminals cannot monitor your internet traffic and steal your private information.

Unlike a firewall, a VPN does not let you establish network port restrictions on your device.
Between the two, which do you think wins? Well, VPN is the obvious winner. When it comes to online security and privacy, VPNs have the advantage.

What a Firewall Does:

 

  • Partly protect from malicious software and files – YES
  • Hide IP – NO
  • Protect privacy and security online – NO
  • Access blocked services required specific IP – NO
  • Access geo-blocked sites – NO
  • Assign new IP address – NO
  • Encrypt your traffic – NO
  • Hide your Torrenting activity – NO

Antivirus vs VPNs

It’s no secret that the web is a dangerous place. Threats exist here and there, putting everyone in great danger. And as we search for ways to stay protected and safe online, we come across VPNs and antivirus software. Which of the two protect you from internet dangers?

Every time you open your email, a file, or access a website, you run the risk of malware infections. That is unless if you have an antivirus software protecting you. An antivirus software scans your device for any potential threat. It checks all active programs, assesses your computing activity, and makes sure there is nothing strange. This means that your antivirus is your device’s armor.

Now, what is a VPN? It basically serves as your camouflage. It allows you to access the web anonymously by connecting your device to a secure private server and hiding your original IP address. With a VPN, you can access sites that are banned by your government or your ISP.

So, which should you use? If internet security and privacy are important to you, both are great protective tools. You can use one with the other.

What an Antivirus Software Does

 

  • Protect from malicious software and files – YES
  • Hide IP – NO
  • Protect privacy and security online – NO
  • Access blocked services required specific IP – NO
  • Access geo-blocked sites – NO
  • Assign new IP address – NO
  • Encrypt your traffic – NO
  • Hide your Torrenting activity – NO
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