Security tools have often been held back because they place technical excellence over user experience. Simply put, they are often too much of a hassle for the average person to use. That’s not the case with NordVPN. It presents a simple face, yet doesn’t skimp on a powerful core service. It has the usual collection of features, but the specialized servers for video streaming, Tor-Over-VPN, and double encryption are the service’s standout features.
In July 2017, NordVPN added a feature called “CyberSec” which both blocks ads and filters out known malicious websites. The website screener consults publicly available URL blacklists, as some web browsers already do, but prevents all internet connections on your computer, smartphone or router from accessing the rogue servers. The new feature is a part of the NordVPN’s Windows version 6.4 or later, and will function together with VPN.
CyberSec can best be described as a mechanism to control traffic. It resembles a content blocker but with the difference that it runs on the system level, and not as a browser extension. Users of the NordVPN service will now not only have VPN protection they will also have additional protection against security risks.
Adverts have become the bane of many internet users browsing. From annoying pop-up ads to potentially dangerous ones, the CyberSec solution blocks ads at the source so the user never needs to experience them.
From now on, a NordVPN user will be able to receive full protection from annoying ads, malware or phishing attacks, and other threats. CyberSec resembles a content blocker, but runs on the network level, and not as a browser extension.
How does it work? It references real-time block lists of harmful websites that may host malware, spyware, trackers or other dangerous software. When NordVPN’s DNS server receives a user’s request to enter a specific site, CyberSec will check its name against the list of possible threats and decide whether or not to allow the requested access.
If the site that the user is trying to reach is included in a list of harmful sites and blocked by NordVPN CyberSec, its contents won’t be displayed and the user will see a warning message instead. It is not the first feature of its kind; Private Internet Access client for instance ships with a similar feature called MACE for some time now.
Here’s when the CyberSec feature comes into play. It references a real-time block list of harmful websites that may host malware, spyware, trackers or other dangerous software. So when their DNS server receives your request to enter a specific site, CyberSec will check its name against the list of possible threats and decides whether or not to allow the requested access.
If the site you are trying to reach is blocked by NordVPN CyberSec, its contents won’t be displayed and you will see a warning message instead. You won’t be able to continue to the blocked website, unless you choose to disable the feature in your system preferences.
Enabling CyberSec is very easy: simply open the NordVPN app for Windows and go to Settings (Android and MacOS versions are coming in the next weeks). NordVPN users can enable or disable the status of the feature in the client interface under Settings > General. CyberSec works automatically once it’s enabled, and all applications that run the user’s network will benefit from its features. NordVPN customers who upgrade to the latest.
NordVPN customers who upgrade to the latest version, will receive a popup informing them about the new feature. CyberSec is available now for all current and future customers as part of the standard package price. It is currently working on the Windows and Mac edition of the VPN software and can be enabled in the settings area.
CyberSec looks on first glance like a great feature; it blocks advertisements and malicious content after all automatically on a system-wide level. So, should you enable CyberSec then if you are a NordVPN customer? It depends. The hands-free approach has its advantages, as anyone may use it without knowing anything about blocking content on the Internet. A better approach would be in my opinion to separate the protective options, e.g. let users decide if they want to block malware, ads or DDoS abuse separately, and provide control.
A better approach would be in my opinion to separate the protective options, e.g. let users decide if they want to block malware, ads or DDoS abuse separately, and provide control and whitelisting/blacklisting functionality on top of that.