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NordVPN upgrades Threat Protection to Threat Protection Pro

One of the best VPNs in the market, NordVPN, has just upscaled its Threat Protection feature to a more robust Pro version. NordVPN was the first VPN to include Threat Protection as an in-app feature, which is capable of holding back some malware, phishing scams, intrusive ads, and trackers at bay using DNS filtering.

Threat Protection Pro steps closer to antivirus-like behavior, capable of catching and neutralizing more and more sophisticated threats. Additionally, the independent antivirus software rating agency AV-Comparatives has already tested its anti-phishing capabilities and issued a certified badge.

I've tried NordVPN Threat Protection Pro to verify its ad blocking. For a comprehensive analysis, I cooperated with the Cybernews research team for phishing and malware detection rates. In this article, I will review what makes this upgrade better, how it works, and its benefits. Currently, NordVPN Threat Protection Pro is available on Windows and macOS operating systems for upper-plan users, which is everything above its Basic tier plan.

How does NordVPN Threat Protection Pro Work?

The Threat Protection Pro expands NordVPN's capabilities to identify more advanced cyber threats. Previously, NordVPN identified intrusive ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts using DNS filtering. This method uses malicious website blocklists to restrict access to verified dangerous domains. Whenever you click on an infectious link, NordVPN would compare it to the threat list and block access if it matches.

Although having DNS filtering is definitely better than no protection at all, it has limits. Because new malware websites and phishing scams appear regularly, the blocklist can quickly get outdated, posing a risk to your digital well-being.

Also, DNS filtering blocks access to malicious websites and domains, primarily targeting website-distributed malware. However, it is less effective against threats from file downloads or malicious applications, which can bypass DNS filtering through email attachments, USB drives, or direct IP connections.

NordVPN Threat protection

Instead, Threat Protection Pro works on JavaScript and URL levels powered by machine learning to identify advanced threats. This significantly expands detection capabilities, as NordVPN can now inspect files for malicious code. Simultaneously, it can spot an infectious backlink, even if it is not included in any DNS filtering blocklists.

The Threat Protection Pro is a multi-function tool that blocks ads and trackers, protects against phishing and malware, and even trims URLs to remove tracking parameters.

NordVPN turned on protection

These features are a valuable continuation of the VPN privacy protection toolkit. A reputable cybersecurity service must respond to evolving cyber threats with adequate updates like the Threat Protection Pro upgrade.

Threat Protection Pro AV-Comparatives anti-phishing test

Regarding cybersecurity software, independent tests prove validity. I regularly rely on AV-Comparatives and AV-Test expertise to rank antivirus services alongside our in-house tests. The fact that NordVPN Threat Protection Pro obtained an AV-Comparatives verification badge almost immediately after launch shows their dedication to cybersecurity.

So far, AV-Comparatives have only tested anti-phishing protection. The demands to pass the test successfully are high. AV-Comparatives require at least 85% phishing scam detection accuracy rates and zero false positives. The latter means that NordVPN cannot mistake a safe backlink for a scam. If any criteria are not met, the test fails.

Out of 15 services that applied to AV-Comparatives for the anti-phishing test, only 8 have passed it successfully. NordVPN Threat Protection Pro was one of them, so it's up to a good start. Phishing is one of the most popular cybercrime methods, and it only gets more sophisticated with AI-generated content, so efficient anti-phishing protection is a valuable addition to the VPN app.

More NordVPN Threat Protection Pro test results

During our tests with macOS, the Threat Protection Pro successfully identified over 92% of malware samples and over 85% of phishing samples. Looks like after the Threat Protection Pro upgrade, it outperformed its competitors by a long shot. We investigated around 500 malware samples and nearly just as many phishing URL samples to test 5 popular VPNs, and here are the results.

Malware testing

The upgraded Threat Protection Pro catches almost ten times as many malware threats as most VPNs, with a 92.27% malware detection rate. Therefore, NordVPN's Threat Protection Pro doesn't quite compete with other providers like ExpressVPN and IPVanish, which detected just over 15% of malware. Things look great regarding phishing scam protection, too.

Phishing test

The anti-phishing test results reveal that Threat Protection Pro is at the top with 85.21% detection rates, with a close second at 77.90% of IPVanish. The Pro version also produced only 1.73% false positives, compared to 14.54% in the ExpressVPN test and 17.11% for IPVanish.

Total average

Overall, Threat Protection Pro is a good supplementary tool for antiviruses for all-encompassing malware protection. Its phishing scam detection rates are excellent for safe browsing, adding to existing VPN encryption and privacy-protection capabilities.

False positives

NordVPN Threat Protection Lite vs Threat Protection Pro

Up until now, NordVPN users could switch between Threat Protection and its Lite version. The lightweight version, available on all plans, was reserved for DNS filtering without real-time file scanning or anti-tracking features. It was also available on all browser extensions, providing sufficient protection within limits.

The Threat Protection Lite stays practically the same but drops the Lite from its name. It remains a lightweight alternative, requiring fewer device resources to protect casual browsing from phishing scams and remove some ads. See the table below for a more detailed comparison.

Threat Protection ProThreat Protection
FeaturesProtects from phishing, disables intrusive ads and trackers, scans downloads for malicious files, blocks malware domains, alerts of fraudulent backlinksUses DNS filtering to block malicious and phishing websites with limited adblock capabilities
Supported devicesAvailable only on macOS and WindowsmacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, browser extensions
VPN connectionDoes not requireRequires connection to VPN server
System resource consumptionRequires more system resources for advanced protectionLightweight with a minimum resource consumption
AvailabilityUnavailable on Basic subscription tierAvailable for all users
PriceFrom $3.39/monthFrom $4.39/month

NordVPN Threat Protection safeguards your device from malicious websites and infectious ads using blocklists. Meanwhile, I recommend using its Pro version whenever you connect to unknown networks, like public Wi-Fi, or download files using peer-to-peer traffic.

Final Words

The Threat Protection Pro upgrade expands NordVPN's cyber safety capabilities to malware detection, anti-phishing protection, and more elaborate ad blocking. I believe the underlying philosophy is to evolve the service into an all-in-one solution for safe browsing, supplementing the VPN with antivirus-like features.

Our in-house tests showed that NordVPN Threat Protection Pro catches the majority of phishing scams with minimal false positives. The AV-Comparatives anti-phishing test certified badge aligns with our results, making this an excellent tool for safe browsing, even if you are not connected to a NordVPN server.