Can VPN encryption be broken? What is the safest VPN?

Vlad Constantinescu
by Vlad Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
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  • VPNs protect our online privacy and secure our connections by means of encryption. Reportedly, numerous users fear that VPN traffic can be easily decrypted.
  • The truth is that most reputable VPN providers offer military-grade encryption algorithms, which are incredibly tough to crack.
  • Check out our best VPN recommendations that can keep your traffic well-encrypted.
  • Visit our Security Hub page to learn more about keeping your connection and privacy safe.
Can VPN encryption be broken?

When we think about VPNs, most of us picture these awesome tools that magically keep our privacy safe. Although half of this sentence is true, there’s the other, less-known part of how things really are.

VPNs are very efficient at routing and encrypting traffic so that it doesn’t fall in the wrong hands. Well, actually it can still fall in the wrong hands, but since it’s encrypted, it would be virtually useless.

If you know a thing or two about encryption, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that VPNs use complex algorithms. Let’s find out more about how VPNs work and keep your data private.

How does a VPN work?

Before talking encryption, it’s worth understanding how a VPN succeeds in protecting your data. Usually, your data is handled by your ISP, which is the middleman between you and the world wide web.

A VPN encrypts your traffic and routes it through a secure tunnel that your ISP can’t access.

After you install a VPN client on your PC, all your traffic will first go through it. Unless you use split tunneling, which changes things a bit.

Once your traffic gets to the client, it gets encrypted and pushed through the secure tunnel.

After passing through the tunnel, it reaches the VPN server, which decrypts it and sends it toward its destination.

The website/server/host generates a response and sends it back to you. Only now, traffic gets encrypted by the server and decrypted by the client, before you receive it.

All you need to know about VPN encryption

We’ve already mentioned encryption a few times, so you probably understand that it’s of utmost importance. But how does it work?

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that most VPNs use AES-256 for encryption. This is also known as the Advanced Encryption Standard or the Rijndael algorithm.

When it comes to VPNs, encryption involves taking regular traffic, and coding it so that nobody can make anything out of it. Unless they have the encryption key, that is.

If you’ve been paying attention earlier, you’ll know that your VPN client and server handle encryption and decryption.

Thus, both you and the service you’re trying to access through a VPN have access to the unencrypted data.

Anyone standing between these two points (VPN client/server) will only see encrypted data.

Ranging from passwords and usernames to private messages and emails, everything between you and the VPN exit point will be kept on the hush.

Of course, in reality, things are way more complicated than this, but we wouldn’t want to overburden you with technical gibberish such as symmetric and asymmetric key exchanges, or integrity algorithm check-ups.

Can VPN encryption be broken?

Truth be told, anything can be hacked, but brute-forcing a complex algorithm could take trillions of years. This number is so large, you can’t even wrap your head around it properly.

You couldn’t pull that off even with a supercomputer. Not even all high-end PCs on Earth couldn’t pull it off. So, the answer is no, AES-256 encryption (generally used by VPNs) can’t be cracked.

What’s the safest VPN I can use?

  • Download Private Internet AccessPrivate Internet Access
  • Install it on the device of your choice
  • Launch it and log into your PIA account
  • Connect to your preferred server
  • Enjoy browsing while your traffic is airtight-encrypted

While we agree that Kape Technologies‘ PIA is one of the most secure VPNs on the market, there are other services that provide military-grade encryption standards.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Looking for a VPN with great encryption? Check out PIA.

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Take a look at our best VPN recommendations, for instance. Regardless of what you decide to stick on, those services will make sure your traffic is securely encrypted using state-of-the-art security standards.

VPN encryption can’t be cracked

All things considered, even though it’s possible to break AES-256 encryption, it would take trillions of years to accomplish.

Considering that technology is ever-evolving, chances are you won’t even have this algorithm when the process would be complete.

So, to spare us all the headaches, it’s simpler to say that it’s impossible. Because, for so many reasons, it’s not wrong to assume so.

A VPN can get hacked, but usually, it’s done in other ways that don’t imply cracking a military-grade algorithm. So you can rest assured that it most likely won’t happen in this lifetime.

FAQ: Learn more about breaking VPN encryption

  • Can a VPN be hacked?

Yes, although highly difficult, hacking a VPN is not impossible for skilled individuals or groups.

  • Can VPN decrypt SSL?

Much like your ISP, your VPN can’t decrypt SSL. However, there are a few other ways that your ISP or VPN can snoop on your online activity.

  • What is the best VPN?

If you’re trying to find a secure, stable VPN and don’t know where to start, check out our best VPN recommendations.