Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?
“Are free VPNs safe to use?” is a question well worth asking when there are so many available to choose from online. VPNs – also known as Virtual Private Networks – can be a key tool in the armory of your cybersecurity. But are free VPNs good? Here, we’ll explore free VPNs, any risks they create to your privacy and if any work effectively in enhancing your digital security.
Many VPNs come at a cost but in recent years, an increasing number of free VPNs have appeared on the market. Obviously, the lack of price tag is great for users but in some instances, we’ve heard reports of VPN providers exposing personal data or slowing down internet speed.
If you’re looking for a VPN which can provide enhanced security without putting your privacy at risk, then why not try VeePN? With top-grade 256-bit AES encryption, double VPN, and strong bandwidth secured by the network of 2,500 servers in 70 countries, our solution can be a great way of staying secure. Sign up for VeePN today to boost your privacy and security.
How VPNs work
VPNs are simple to use and can be an effective way of shoring up your online security defenses to keep your personal details safe and secure.
When you register with a VPN, you will log onto this service before launching your web browser. This means your IP address will be kept behind the VPN when you’re online and attributed to a remote server run by the VPN host. Another key benefit of using a VPN is how it can encrypt your data too. This means that hackers or over-zealous companies wanting to bombard you with ads cannot follow your browsing. Investing in a VPN can therefore help you avoid being targeted by a deluge of relevant or annoying marketing and promotional information.
Why free VPNs aren’t safe
Generally speaking, free VPNs aren’t safe. Nothing comes for free is the reason here. Many only offer limited protection, with some putting your data or online cybersecurity at risk. VPN providers often have high outgoings to keep users safe and maintain large networks so cut costs in other ways to make up for not charging.
In October 2021, free VPN provider Quickfox suffered a data breach when it inadvertently exposed the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of over a million of its users. This company, which offers customers access to Chinese websites for non-residents, saw 500 million records impacted and 100GB of data exposed. The PII at risk included personal email addresses and phone numbers.
In another high-profile breach earlier in the year, the Colonial Pipeline Company network was attacked by a group known as DarkSide. They hacked into the organization’s network via an old, unprotected VPN which had previously been created to enable remote working for employees. The impact of this was huge with the company paying the best part of $5 million as a ransom to DarkSide to take back control of its networks.
As these incidents show, there’s plenty of risks associated with free VPNs and underline why it is so important for businesses to do their research and ensure they find free VPNs that are safe to use.
What are the risks of using a free VPN
Safe, free VPNs are hard to come by.While the lack of cost is certainly attractive, it usually means that the company is failing to do due diligence elsewhere. Here, we’ll look at the security risks surrounding free VPNs and answer the question: “are free VPNs safe?”, for good.
Putting your cybersecurity at risk
Many free VPN providers can be a little lax when it comes to respecting the privacy of their users. As their service is free, they need to generate income in other ways, including selling your precious data. Without any revenue, they cannot afford to pay their staff or host their networks so need to find alternative ways of staying in business and keeping afloat. When installing a free VPN service, you should take some time to read the terms and conditions and ensure you know what you’re committing to when signing up.
Limiting data usage
Using a free VPN will mean you might end up limiting the amount of data you can use. This is because any data you access will come via the servers of your Internet Service Provider before reaching the servers of your VPN provider. Installing a free VPN might find your browsing experience to be far slower and more limited than before. In this scenario, it’s worth paying for a VPN service just to avoid the frustration of half-downloaded website pages.
Free VPNs do not unblock location-restricted content
One of the most popular reasons for using a VPN is to access geo-restricted content. Many of us love Netflix but there’s often nothing more frustrating than realizing that a favorite show is unavailable in your country. However, if you use the services of a VPN to access the internet, then you should be able to bypass any restrictions on where you are and binge-watch your favorite show to your heart’s content.
Unfortunately, you might need to use a paid-for solution to do so as many free VPNs are incapable of unblocking this kind of content. Free VPNs are often supported by a limited number of servers so chances are you won’t be able to choose a browsing location in the country whose Netflix content you’d like to watch. Even if you do manage to find a free VPN that can help here, the streaming rate could be slow enough to make programs unwatchable.
Unwanted exposure to malware
The irony of the security issues surrounding free VPNs is not lost on us. Many choose the services of a VPN in order to enhance their privacy but unfortunately, some free VPN providers are security risks themselves. Researchers recently discovered that ten of the most popular free VPNs available from Google Play have vulnerabilities, including potentially exposing users to man-in-the-middle attacks. A 2016 study from CSIRO showed how more than half of the top 10 VPNs most likely to be infected with malware were free.
Bombarded with ads
Free VPNs can often seem too good to be true. And in many cases, they are. You might not have to pay for their service, but you will in other ways, sometimes with your internet traffic. The company can often use this and sell it to advertisers meaning whenever you use the VPN, you will also be shown a seemingly endless barrage of ads. These could take the form of pop-ups or you might even be directed to a different website featuring sponsored content. Not only is this disruptive to your browsing experience but it can also reduce the speed and efficiency of your browser too.
Your browser could be hijacked by your VPN
Using a free VPN can put your browser at risk of hijacking by scammers. Sometimes, these malicious hackers will target VPN users by operating behind VPN extensions. They will insert malicious code into ads to lead you to websites you never intended to visit. Again, this can make your browsing experience stressful and disruptive. In 2020, several prominent VPN extensions for Microsoft’s Edge browser were caught directing users to different search engines without permission. Scammers were hiding behind these legitimate brand names as part of their malicious attempts to trick users.
How to use a premium VPN for free
If you’re looking to test-drive a VPN, then follow our instructions below to install the iOs version to test-drive.
- Sign up for VeePN by creating an account
- Hit the button to establish a VPN connection
- Enjoy safe web browsing!
So should you use a free VPN?
From our extensive guide, you can see the numerous risks associated with a free VPN. From your online security to ruining your browsing experience as a user, there are plenty of downsides to taking the cheaper route and opting for a free VPN, particularly when how relatively inexpensive a premium service can be. In fact, the free service is more of a risk than a step towards better online security. It just goes to show that you can and should put a price on protecting your privacy.