Most internet users nowadays make use of a VPN for an extra layer of security while browsing the web. It can also grant you complete access to restricted websites and geo-blocked streaming channels across the globe. As is the case with any gratis software, free VPNs are likely to be the most downloaded. People install these free VPN providers on their devices not knowing what risks they might be carrying.
The Top Risks of Using Free VPN
Whenever you look for a VPN on the web, you’ll be overwhelmed with the number of providers available for downloading. Many internet users around the world get free versions of VPNs just for the sake of paying nothing, not knowing how using a free VPN might impact their online security and privacy. With that said, here are a few risks you might encounter when using a free VPN service provider.
1. Malware Infection
When you use a free VPN, you might notice that your device has been receiving ads and emails in a nonconventional way. This is probably because of some malware the provider you have installed is infecting your device with. In addition to that, cybercriminals may be posing as a legitimate VPN app to hijack your personal online accounts. By doing so, they will get a hold of your emails, passwords, and even your credit card details. This is considered a direct approach to an identity theft crisis in the near future. Another thing is that a malware can act as an encryption software to lock your phone. Any hacker can shut your phone down unless you pay a certain amount of ransom for decryption.
2. Internet Speed
If you’re looking for high internet speed and unlimited usage, free VPNs are definitely not what you need. It is probably because of the insufficient number of servers which are usually overloaded.
VPNs with a free lower quality version tend to tamper with your internet speed claiming that if you subscribe to their premium edition your internet speed will double. In other words, they prioritize paid users over free ones.
One other way to slow down your internet speed is by overwhelming your device with unstoppable ads. Stacking up ads will drastically lower your internet speed. Moreover, the limited bandwidth you are given means that you can only use the free VPN for a short period of time before having to pay for it.
3. Internet Traffic Leaks
The main focus of using a VPN is to encrypt your internet traffic and increase your online security. However, a lot of users who choose free VPN apps face the issue of IP address leaks. As a result, your original location is left exposed, putting your personal data at risk. Now, whatever you were doing while a VPN connection was established is out in the open. This definitely goes opposite to what the purpose of using a VPN truly is. Exposing yourself while using a VPN connection may result in being monitored by the government or your own ISP. A good VPN always provides that online anonymity everybody’s looking for. This is why traffic leakage is a problem that certainly needs to be avoided.
4. Selling Your Personal Data
VPNs are supposed to keep you safe while you’re online. It is well known that one of a VPN’s main jobs is to block your ISP and other data trackers from collecting your private information and selling it to third parties. That’s why you should be wary of the VPN services that offer their private connection free of charge. It’s simply because hosting more than a thousand user or simply distributing servers around the world cost a lot of money.
5. Browser Hijacking
Another method used by free VPNs to collect money from their users is Browser Hijacking. This is when the VPN intercepts and redirects you straight to partnership websites without your permission. So, how would a free service be able to pay its dues if it’s not funded by any source? That’s where you become the provider’s primary source of income. Bottom line is:
“If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product.”
6. Stolen Bandwidth
A free VPN provider might steal your own bandwidth and resell it to sister companies. It harvests your bandwidth to increase the network’s capacity, offering a portal that others can benefit from. Meaning that your own IP address will be used by someone else out there when they connect to a server in your country and vice versa. In essence, if that person with your IP does something illegal online, then you’re the one who’s going to get the blame in the end. That is totally not what a VPN must be like and you should be aware of the risks and disadvantages you’re putting yourself through.
Top Free VPN Alternative
The best way to avoid all these problems and secure yourself while you’re surfing the web is to get a premium VPN provider. A reputable VPN can help you protect your private information and prevent any data leakage to the open.