Is a Free VPN Safe To Use?

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There is a hack for everything. Your jeans got torn out? Turn it into a skirt. Puffy eyes from crying? Apply some ice to them. Out camping and you can’t find any twigs? Use doritos. Want to watch a show, but the streaming service is blocked in your country? Use a VPN.

VPNs have become really popular in hacking all of the internet restriction policies. They allow you to bypass Geo-restrictions, unblock streaming services, and most importantly, protecting your privacy online. They’ve become so important that most people opt for the free VPN services to make the most out of their internet usage. But are they really making the most out it?

It might seem really convenient to have all of those privileges for free. However, when it comes to VPN services, the rule of thumb is that “if you’re not paying for the service, then you are the product”.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure tunnel between two or more devices. They protect your information from being used by third-parties, being spied on, and re-route your web traffic to make it look like you’re connecting to the internet from a different country.

Is Free VPN Safe To Use?

The risks associated with using free VPNs are many, despite promising you with protection, data encryption and security. Free VPNs can log and keep track of all your content, your IP address, the types of sites you visit -the exact thing VPNs are meant to protect you from. But the worst, is what they could do with this information.

A recent study conducted by The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) reached terrifying results. After analyzing 283 Android VPN apps to study their impact on users’ privacy and security, they found out that:

  • 75% of the apps used third-party tracking libraries
  • 82% of the apps required permissions to access sensitive resources such as user accounts and text message
  • And worst of all, more than 38% had malware presence such as adware, trojan, malvertising, riskware, and spyware.

Having access to your information or tracking your activity, might not seem like such a big deal to you. After all, you just wanted to watch your favorite show. But it’s not just about having access to your data, it’s how they use it. Free VPNs need to find a way to make money after all.

These services actually allow malicious third-parties to spy on you, or even use your internet connection to conduct illegal activities on the web using your identity. Such an incident occurred before, when a service sold users’ spare bandwidth to be used for malicious Denial-of-Service attacks and illegal purposes – accessing anything from copyrighted content to images of child abuse.

They might also steal your bandwidth and sell it to other organizations, making you experience slow browsing speed, unstable connection and data usage caps. Some even hijack your browsers, redirecting you to partner-sites for advertising purposes.

When To Use a Free VPN?

So all of this might’ve scared you quite a bit (for good reasons), but there remain some free VPN services that are indeed safe to use.

Those services are usually ones that provide paid services, but offer premiums to try their service. The premiums are usually of a limited amount of time, or with limited bandwidth, or with some of the premium features restricted from free users. However, you might do the maths and realize that their pros outweigh the cons, and it’d be just a matter of time when you subscribe to the premium service.

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2 Comments
  1. James says

    A “free VPN” is oxymoron IMHO, I pay for Surfshark and do so gladly. I have tried CyberGhost free version, even though it was good the speeds left wanting more, once they canceled free version switched to Surfshark and the difference is palpable. Maybe they could add more servers, but the ones they have perform very well and I’m paying only 1.99$/month, used “SHARKXMAS” coupon to get their Christmas deal. I follow their blog and the devs really care about privacy so feel a lot safer using their VPN.

    1. Jake says

      This smells if fishy promoting of little known VPN service….

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