Virtual Private Networks are means and ways of circumventing location-specific controls and regulations. They, therefore, allow you to access contents you would otherwise be unable to. They generally do so by concealing your IP address and making you virtually undetected while online.
There is a range of free VPNs in existence today. They confer the aforementioned benefits. They are however not without their fair share of downsides. To name but a few, they can compromise your security, online safety, personal privacy and even your personal data.
We have sampled and are going to examine the five major reasons why you inevitably need to stop using the free VPNs soonest possible.
Reasons You Need To Stop Using Free VPNs:
1: Track and Sell your Data
VPNs are ideally supposed to safeguard you while you are online. They in the course of their operations block your internet service provider and other data trackers from selling your data to third parties for profit.
They do so mainly by encrypting your data and routing the same via their own servers. This shields your ISP from monitoring you online. They, however, are still capable of tracking you, making them able to sell your data to third parties.
Most premium VPN service providers do not engage in this activity. This is because they have in place extensive privacy policies besides adhering to strict anti-tracking standards. Free VPNs do not uphold these stringent standards though.
They have to find a way of off-setting their operational expenses somehow. They in most cases use your data as their primary source of income.
A recent study by the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization which investigated 283 VPNs found that 75% of the free VPN apps consisted of some tracking algorithms. This means that VPNs are generally unsuitable for privacy purposes. You should only employ them to download pirated contents and overcoming geo-blocking restrictions.
In most locations where these free VPNs are utilized, there are lax laws and regulatory regimes. The same is not the case with the ISPs. In North America and Europe for instance, there are transparent and tight rules that govern the sale of your data to third parties. Moreover, such rules and regulations are availed to the users.
Many VPN providers, on the other hand, are based in shady and obscure off-shore locations. They are thus difficult to locate and understand. For this reason, you should make every effort to shun free VPN services that are located in ‘weak spots’ like Russia and China. They are generally more likely to track and use your data for dishonest gains.
Moreover, these free VPNs provide prospective hackers, cyber-criminals, and cyber bullies unsuspecting victims like those who opt to use their services. They entice you with the term ‘free’ to furnish them with your personal data in the sign-up stage which they subsequently pass on to these people.
As soon as you have furnished these vital pieces of information, they collect the data and store them in their system. Such data give them a complete picture of who you are in a matter of days.
#3: May Normally Utilize your IP Address as a Network Endpoint
These VPN service providers may also utilize your IP address as a network endpoint. Perhaps the most outstanding example of such a provider is the Hola VPN. Not so long ago, it was the most widely used free VPN service. It aided tens of thousands of people to circumvent the geographical restrictions that were in existence back then.
As of mid-2005, a team of experts discovered that the app was so designed as to convert the connections of end users into endpoints. This way it used the connections of users to increase the bandwidth of its network and provide portal services to other users.
This posed numerous problems. It placed the IP addresses of users on the server logs. This predisposed users to several security-related problems such as mistaken identities. Most criminals would use the IP addresses of third parties to carry out illegal activities.
#4: Prioritizes Advert Traffics
As stated, these free VPN providers have to stay in business and make money. They will normally have to do so somehow, even if they do not sell your data to third parties. They often take advantage of the advertising means to do so.
This is not so unusual, however. As a matter of fact, most websites and online publication agencies make good use of the advertisements to generate their income. However, advertisements that utilize the VPN platforms are somehow different.
The VPN service providers usually subcontract third-party companies to undertake these advertisements. These third parties are individually assigned to your specific proxy server session. Given that the VPNs normally want you to respond to the ads as a matter of urgency, the traffic of the advert networks is granted a topmost priority. This results in slower loading times as well as less fluid online experience.
#5: Possibilities of IP Address Leakage
A VPN service that functions correctly is like a secret tunnel. This is Tomean that it channels all the traffic away secretly and out of the reach of any potential hacker or third party. As such, no one can know the source or origin of the said piece of data.
Free VPNs may not guarantee this level of secrecy though. This is because such a service is generally prone to data breaches. Because of this, it is more likely to leak your data and IP address. This may predispose you to all manner of issues in case an unauthorized third party gains access to them.
This process is technically referred to as ‘DNS leak’ or ‘traffic leak.’ Both the IPv6 and the IPv4 addresses are particularly vulnerable to these challenges. This means you are generally exposed and unsafe while using the VPNs.
Other than that, some VPN service providers have also been found guilty of deliberately leaking traffic. However, such cases are generally rare. For this reason, you are better off paying for the VPN services rather than opting for the free versions.
The five points we have highlighted and discussed above are indeed sufficient to bar you from utilizing these free VPNs. The risks that come along with them are too many and critical that you would rather than not use them. Instead, you should just send your data via your normal Internet Service Provider.
Alternatively, you may consider signing up for a leading paid service or the onion router (TOR). The latter has some safety and privacy concerns, granted. However, it is by far safer and more reliable than the VPNs.