Using a free VPN is often a bad idea as the service provider could take advantage of your personal information or your device could be exposed to some malicious software.
It is enticing to use free virtual private network services over paid ones. However, despite the alluring nature of free VPN services, it is often a bad idea to use them. It could be because both you and your device can risk exposure when using a free VPN. We will take a look at some of the challenges you could face while using a free VPN.
What a VPN does for you?
VPN stands for a virtual private network and is a service that allows people to access the internet while ensuring that their privacy and security are maintained. VPN services have a wide range of benefits to users.
In an age where our privacy is under threat from governments and corporations, VPNs allows people to access the internet in a secure manner, maintaining their confidentiality in the process. They also allow you to access otherwise geographically locked content.
Why it is a bad idea to use a free VPN?
While VPNs can offer anonymity to internet users and a few other benefits, some people like to use the services that are free. However, doing so sometimes comes at a high cost. The first question to ask yourself is, if the service is free, how does the service provider pay for the expenses involved?
To run a VPN is expensive. The service provider would require either servers or data lines, and they have to pay cloud vendors such as Amazon for data sent, received, and stored. Carrying out these operations costs money. So if the VPN service is free, how does the provider get the money to pay for all the expenses?
In some cases, free VPN service providers can log your Internet Usage. They have access to the sites you visit, what you do on such platforms, and other crucial personal data.
The information gathered by free VPN service providers potentially becomes a treasure trove for advertisers, cyber criminals, and government agencies. When presented with enough cash, the free VPN service providers could sell your personal information, similar to what tech giants Facebook, Google, and others do.
An example of this is Facebook’s Onavo VPN. While the VPN was free, it harvested user data and sold it to third-party companies. At one point, Apple instructed Facebook to get rid of the VPN app from its store as it violates its App Store guidelines.
Another reason why you shouldn’t use a free VPN is the annoying ads the provider will keep pushing to you while you use their service. This is very annoying unless of course you enjoy intermittently seeing ads pop up while you surf the internet.
A major problem with this is that you can’t trust some of the ads the provider pushes to you. Some of them could be hackers pushing out viruses, leaving your device vulnerable to attacks. While the VPN is concealing your internet data and maintaining your privacy, the ads they push to you could be exposing you to some malicious software.
Don’t I face the same risks using paid VPNs?
While it is hard to conclude that paid VPN service providers don’t spy on you, it is safe to say that the chances are much lower compared to free VPN services. A company that charges customers for services offered is less likely to sell their data compared to one that offers free services.
By paying for a VPN service, you are not buying their servers or their encryption. However, what you are purchasing is the trust that they would keep your personal information and browsing details, both private and safe.
NordVPN is one of the best paid VPN service providers currently available in the world. The Panama-based company has been providing trusted services as it resides in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. It has a strong no-logs policy, which implies that the company doesn’t keep a record of a user’s browsing and personal history. For more information on this VPN service, Blokt.com wrote an in-depth review about it here.
VPNs are expected to provide privacy and security to users. However, you simply cannot be sure of getting those features when you use a free VPN. When it comes to using a service that protects your credentials, it would be worth it to spend a few bucks to ensure that you get precisely what you desire.