Understanding the Risks and Legalities of Decentralized VPNs in Cybersecurity

In today's dynamic cybersecurity landscape, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have gained popularity for their decentralized approach offering improved privacy and efficiency. Businesses need a fast, secure, reliable way to connect employees to their company's networks and applications from anywhere in the world and from any device. However, VPNs can be risky if not designed and implemented correctly, as they serve as a remote path into your network. With the wide variety of VPN products and types available, it's crucial to be aware of the legal and security risks associated with different types of VPNs and choose the right solution for your business.

Here's What You Need to Know About Decentralized VPNs:

Understanding Peer-to-Peer VPNs

P2P VPNs, or peer-to-peer virtual private networks, are a type of VPN service that differs from standard VPNs. In P2P VPNs, a network of user-operated nodes is created, where each participant acts as a client and a server. This means that users can access and provide resources to other users on the network.

While this model may seem efficient, it also opens doors to significant cybersecurity concerns and legal issues. Since each user acts as both a client and a server, it can be challenging to ensure that all nodes on the network are secure and trustworthy. Additionally, using P2P VPNs can potentially violate laws related to intellectual property, privacy, and data protection.

Overall, while P2P VPNs offer some unique benefits, they also come with significant risks and challenges that users should carefully consider before using them.

The Risks for Host Computers

When you participate in a peer-to-peer (P2P) virtual private network (VPN), your device becomes a node in a larger network of devices that communicate with each other directly. This decentralized network of devices means that there is no central server or authority, and each device is responsible for routing traffic to other devices in the network. While P2P VPNs offer several advantages, such as increased privacy, better performance, and reduced costs, they also have some inherent security risks.

One of the main security risks of P2P VPNs is that the decentralized nature of the network makes it difficult to implement strong security measures. Unlike traditional VPN services with dedicated security teams and centralized servers that can monitor and filter traffic, P2P VPNs rely on the collective efforts of all the devices in the network to provide security. This means that if one device is compromised, it can potentially compromise the security of the entire network.

Another security risk of P2P VPNs is that because each device in the network is responsible for routing traffic, it increases the vulnerability of each device to cyber threats like malware and hacking attempts. When your device becomes a node in a P2P VPN network, it becomes more visible to potential attackers, and they can potentially exploit vulnerabilities in the network to gain access to your device and steal your personal information.

To mitigate these security risks, it is important to choose a reputable P2P VPN provider that has a good track record of implementing strong security measures. Additionally, it is essential to keep your device and software up to date with the latest security patches and to use strong passwords and encryption. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of a P2P VPN while minimizing the security risks.

Securing Your VPN from Cyber Threats

Security & Patches

  • Deploy software patches and security configurations to VPNs and remote devices.
  • Reboot workstations every 1-2 days to ensure updates are synced.

Increased Phishing Attacks

  • Cyber actors have ramped up complex social engineering and phishing attacks since the mass shift to remote work.
  • Enforce device health checks such as Updated Endpoint Protection, OS Updates, etc.
  • Alert employees to an expected increase in phishing attacks.
  • Implement MFA on all VPN connections to increase device security.
  • Only grant access to required files and systems.

IT Personnel

  • Limited VPN connections can impact IT security personnel's ability to perform routine cybersecurity tasks.
  • Ensure IT personnel are prepared to handle remote access cybersecurity tasks.
  • Select the strongest device encryption available.
  • Test VPN limitations to prepare for mass usage bandwidth requirements.
  • Disable local VPN network usage to prevent Split-Tunneling.

Legal Implications and Liability Issues

When you use a peer-to-peer (P2P) virtual private network (VPN), you essentially share your IP address with other users. Unfortunately, if one of these users conducts illegal activities while using your IP address, you could be liable for their actions. This could lead to serious legal implications, and you may face legal scrutiny. It is common for individuals to find themselves in such situations, making it a critical concern for P2P VPN users. Therefore, it is crucial that you take this into account before using a P2P VPN to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk. To avoid some of these issues, you could outsource your VPN to ensure it is secure and implemented correctly.

Bandwidth and ISP Limitations

When it comes to P2P VPNs, it's essential to consider the potential bandwidth and ISP limitations they pose. P2P VPNs can significantly impact your internet speeds, leading to slower connections. Additionally, it may cause you to exceed your ISP data cap, resulting in additional charges. This not only incurs extra costs but can also lead to legal issues or service interruptions if it violates your ISP's terms of service. 

While P2P VPNs may seem appealing due to their ability to hide your internet activity and IP address, they come with risks and legal complexities that may not be worth it. The exposure to cyber threats, legal ramifications, and bandwidth issues are significant drawbacks that users must consider. Therefore, opting for traditional VPN services that offer robust security and legal compliance is often the safer route to safeguard your digital activities.

What Are the Next Steps?

Decentralized VPNs, or P2P VPNs, promise enhanced privacy but pose security and legal risks. Acting as both client and server, users face cybersecurity concerns and potential legal scrutiny. Bandwidth limitations may lead to slower speeds and ISP issues. Reach out to iCorps to learn more about outsourcing your VPN to ensure it is secure and properly set up.