With increased cybersecurity threats nowadays, the safest option is to use VPNs. So many free VPN services are being offered to unsuspecting users, who easily fall for such products because there are no costs tied to them.
But, is a free VPN really safe?
Experts warn against taking risks, especially when it comes to the internet. While some of the free VPNs can provide useful services in some instances, you may come to pay dearly later on. With that in mind, today we discuss why free VPNs are not so good.
What is a free VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a powerful tool that creates a tunnel to keep your internet communications private. As a result, your connection is encrypted so that someone trying to intercept your packets of data can’t access them.
Cybercriminals usually target internet users who aren’t using VPNs to steal their information. Since most of the premium services are costly, most people opt for the free version.
Do I need a VPN?
If you’re not familiar with the word VPN, you must be wondering why you need to use such a tool. Here are the main reasons why you should be using a VPN.
- Masking. You might have come across certain streaming services that you can’t access from your country. VPNs will reroute your traffic so that it appears as if you’re in that particular region. For instance, you can use a VPN to connect to a server in America even if you’re located in South Africa.
- Security. Most of the airports, hotels, and coffee shops have Wi-Fi hotspots. Hackers use such platforms to track your traffic and steal sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details. A VPN encrypts the traffic in and out of your computer to block such attempts.
- Privacy. Virtually everything is digital around the globe. This means that you leave a lot of traces on the internet when shopping, making payments or simply browsing. By masking your activity, it becomes difficult for anyone to retrace your traffic.
Why you should avoid free VPNs
Despite what you might have heard, there are no such things as free VPNs. At least, not in the true sense of the word. This misleading term is used to lure you into a trap that could potentially be risky. The privacy and safety of your data is of paramount importance, and by paying for a VPN service, you’re buying the trust of the provider.
Just like with any free product or service, there’s always a catch. Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid free VPNs.
For a company to run effectively, it requires qualified staff to handle and fix issues. Since free VPN service providers lack enough resources, they expose your data to vulnerabilities.
In a recent research on free VPNs, Italian researcher Paolo Stagno discovered that 23% of VPN companies are leaking the IP addresses of their users through the VPN flaw known as WebRTC.
The free VPN service attracts thousands of users. With limited funding for the providers to invest in servers that could handle the load, complaints of slow speeds are the norm. If you depend on a free VPN service for streaming or downloading files, the experience can be very frustrating.
Risks of malware
One thing you will notice with free VPN service providers is that they install malware disguised as harmless programs. These ‘extras’ actually track your internet behavior since all the traffic passes through them.
Next time you receive suspicious emails from people or companies you don’t know, the free VPN may very well be part of the reason.
Have you ever tried to open a browser only to be redirected to a different site? This is known as browser hijacking. It’s the responsibility of a VPN to protect your data by blocking such sites.
However, you’ll still notice this behavior while using a free VPN. Instead of protecting you, the VPN is exposing your data to sites that could infect your computer with a virus.
Your privacy is at risk
To understand just how risky it is to use a free VPN, you need to know that all your traffic is routed via the VPN’s servers. If your VPN provider is not trustworthy, they can peek at, intercept or alter your data packets.
How can you trust a free service that handles everything you do online? Only a paid VPN can offer top-notch encryption services that will protect your privacy. Reports show that most hackers are creating free VPNs to spy on users, collect their information, and then sell it to third parties.
What’s the solution?
Look at VPN reviews to find test results and details on each VPN’s performance in different situations. The best VPNs are tested for speed, security and other characteristics, so you don’t have to do the testing yourself. Just read the reviews and pick the best VPN to satisfy your requirements.
Unfortunately, the majority of free VPN service providers rely on third parties to fund their projects. To avoid fraud, only use a paid VPN.
However, the paid version does not guarantee total security. The following tips will help you pick the right paid VPN.
- Do a thorough research on the VPN you want before subscribing to their services. Opt for reputable VPNs with proven track records.
- Reliable services. Do they have 24/7 customer support? The internet is unpredictable, and you want assurances that whenever there’s a security breach, your VPN is available to resolve the issue.
- Speed means everything when using the internet. Check if there are instances of downtime with the VPN provider. You want faster connections and download speeds for convenience and efficiency.
We all agree that VPNs protect our data from security threats. However, every day hackers are improvising and developing new malware that’s difficult to trace. For absolute peace of mind, get your hands on Auslogics Anti-Malware.
Not only is the program intelligent, but it also blocks suspicious cookies from tracking how you communicate online. The tool also prevents your browser from redirecting your traffic to untrusted sites without your permission.
This way, you’re always assured of the security of any crucial information stored on your computer or shared on the network.