5 reasons why you shouldn’t use free VPN

If an application developer proposes to protect your digital space for free, the first question you must be aware of is: What will they benefit from this?

Virtual private networks (VPNs) function as a security guard of a bank. When you surf the web over a public wi-fi network, the VPN protects you from password theft and malicious websites. Today, password-stealing spyware has flourished, from which VPN services have sprung up. The Global Web Index estimates that 25% of Internet users have accessed via VPN in the past month, while VPN applications have hundreds of millions of downloads on mobile operating systems. At the same time, the global VPN market is expected to grow to $35 billion by 2022.

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It is not easy to find a VPN service that you can trust in the market today. But make sure there are some services you shouldn’t choose, free goods, for the following reasons.

1. FREE VPN MEANS UNSAFE

According to a recent report from Download.com, a free VPN can be very dangerous. Why is that? Because it is expensive to maintain the hardware and technical expertise needed to operate the network and protect users. As a premium VPN customer, you have to pay for it with money or for free with your personal data. In this case, you are not a customer, but an exchange.

Of the millions of downloads, about 86% of free VPN apps on Android and iOS platforms have an unacceptable privacy policy. From two independent surveys conducted in 2018 by Top10VPN, the policy of these applications is not transparent and sharing user data to the Chinese authorities. In addition, up to 64% of applications do not have any websites other than the application page, and only about 17% of applications respond to customer support requests.

In June 2019, Apple said it had removed a series of apps that share user information with third parties. But according to Top10VPN’s report, top 20 VPN applications on the App Store are violating Apple's new policy.

In August 2019, in the Top10VPN’s VPN ownership survey, 77% of apps are flagged as potentially unsafe, and according to Free VPN Risk Index, up to 90% were flagged as unsafe. The report also said: “The number of applications flagged on Google Play has a total of 24 million downloads, an increase of 85% in the last 6 months. The average monthly number of installs on the App Store is about 3.8 million which is a relative number because about 20% of the applications have been removed.”

On the Android operating system, 214 million downloads came entirely from users, the number excluding unintended application downloads. And what is the most profitable thing for such a huge amount of user data?

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2. YOU MAY BE INFECTED WITH MALICIOUS CODE

According to CSIRO research, up to 38% of free VPN apps on Android contain malicious code. However, many of those apps are highly rated with millions of downloads. The rate of application errors while in use accounts for about 1/3.

Which one is more valuable: hiring a quality VPN service for a few hundred dollars a year or hiring an unknown company can steal your bank account and social security code? But do you think they'll leave you? You’re completely wrong.

The number of data encryption attacks on mobile devices is skyrocketing. Symantec discovered more than 18 million malware in 2018, an increase of 54% over the previous year. And Kaspersky says 60% of attacks use a password-stealing trojan. But malware is not the only way free VPN services can make money from customers. There is an easier way.

3. ADVERTISING

In free VPN applications, besides annoying ad windows, some also sneakily track you through vulnerabilities in the browser feature to recommend ads. In 2017, HotSpot Shield VPN was involved in a major scandal due to a US Communications Authority (FTC) allegation of policy violations in advertising.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that the company not only created a gateway to sell user information to third-party advertising companies but also installed five different tracking code types and redirect users to secret servers.

When the research results were published, HotSpot's parent company AnchorFree denied them in an email to Ars Technica: "We never redirect users to any third party instead of the site they visit. The free version of HotSpot Shield is publicly stated that it is sponsored by advertising, but we do not block the connection even on the free or premium version."

AnchorFree then provided annual transparency reports, but its value was dependent on the reader. Although the possibility of credit card theft is not worrisome, the biggest thing you face when using the free VPN app is the annoying advertising windows and sluggish connection.

4. BUFFERING...BUFFERING...

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One of the main reasons that users use VPNs is to access their favorite services like Hulu, HBO or Netflix when traveling to countries where location-based services are blocked. The bottom line is that you need to watch a blocked movie in that country, but the free VPN app is too slow for you to watch it.

Some free VPN services are found to sell user bandwidth, which could potentially get you in jail because of the activities they conduct on your bandwidth. The most famous incident is that the Hola application was discovered in 2015, silently truncating user bandwidth and selling it as "mercenaries" to any group that needed to set up as a botnet.

At the time, Hola CEO Ofer Vilenski admitted they were being used as a "spammer", but then they also opened up the debate about bandwidth gathering as the obvious of this technology.

"We believe that deploying Hola as a (peer-to-peer) network makes it clear that users will share your bandwidth with the community in return for a free service."

Just being a botnet is not enough to slow down your network. Free VPN services often hire fewer servers, so your line will have to go around remote servers crowded with other users or even behind the traffic of paid users.

Above all, streaming sites know many people are trying to find a way to use the service for free. Therefore, these services block a large number of IP addresses identified as intermediate IPs. Free VPN services cannot be invested to provide new IP lists to users like paid services.

This also means that you may not be able to use online media services even if you have to pay for them when the free VPN service you are using is using old IPs.

5. MANY BETTER CHOICES

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The good news is that there are now many reputable VPN service providers in the market offering a variety of options depending on your needs and budget. You can read reviews as well as the rate of reputable VPN services at affordable prices or you can find out how to choose the service that suits your needs for reference before deciding to spend money.

By: Joe Cook

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