5 Reasons Why You Should Not Use Free VPNs
Date: 7 June 2022
Cyber security threats to both businesses and individuals are increasing daily. The good part is that consumers too are increasingly become aware of the amount of personal data they are unwittingly divulging to online businesses. To mitigate these risks, cyber security experts often advise the use of VPNs.
A VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It masks your IP address, encrypts your browsing data, and lets you bypass geo-restrictions.
Ideally, your data should be one hundred percent safe and within your control. Sadly, however, this may not always be true, and the security of your data will depend on the kind of VPN you use.
You might be enticed by some VPN providers' promise to keep your data safe and secure online at no cost. Considering the technology that makes VPN work, these claims are too good to believe.
When it comes to VPNs, remember that there are no free lunches. A VPN requires specialized software and expensive infrastructure to run. If someone is offering that service to you at no cost, you’re definitely paying in other ways.
Here’s a quick look at the cons of using a free VPN so that you’re motivated to look for other options when you’re offered free VPN services the next time!
1. No personal data protection
Standard VPN connections do not guarantee total anonymity on the internet. VPN only masks your IP addresses and encrypts your data. Websites you have an account with, like Google, will always have your data regardless of VPN.
With a free VPN, it is even worse. Free VPN providers embed tracking mechanisms in their service and collect users' data. Also, websites with newer and stronger tracking mechanisms like browser fingerprinting would be able to track and collect your data despite using a VPN.
Paid VPNs, on the other hand, need your subscription money so they cannot run the risk of security failures. They never share your data or track activity because that’s not what they’re making their money from.
2. Slow internet speed
A VPN connection reduces your internet speed. Two processes – encrypting and decrypting your browsing data – must occur to make your internet usage truly private. The connection between you and the internet through a VPN is rerouted and encrypted via a VPN server. This, however, adds a significant amount of lag to your internet speed.
With free VPNs, this lag is further amplified. This only means that you will waste more time waiting for web pages to load. PrivacyJournal offers more insight on the best VPN providers for your needs.
3. Increase in phishing attacks
Using a VPN does not secure you from cyber security threats or hacking and a free VPN, in fact, makes you a ripe target. Some of these free VPNs are fronts for malware distribution schemes. Because the technology behind them is either outdated or poorly monitored, these kinds of VPNs are rife with lots of vulnerabilities.
Intrusive ads are features of free VPNs. Free VPN providers don’t charge for their services, and it is usually through ads that they generate revenue. They display pop-ups or occasionally redirect you to pages with malicious content. These ads pop up anytime during your browsing sessions and can make the experience frustrating. If you knowingly or accidentally, click on these pop-ups, you could be risking a phishing attack and your device could easily be infected with malware before you even know it.
In fact, if an employee in your organisation falls prey to a phishing attack of this nature, they could be opening the door for cyber-criminals to infiltrate your entire network. Many widespread, large-scale ransomware attacks begin as phishing attacks.
It is for this reason that proper employee training in cybersecurity and ransomware readiness is critical today.
4. Limited access to websites
One big reason VPNs are becoming popular is their ability to bypass location restrictions on content-based websites. For instance, Netflix only allows the streaming of certain videos in certain locations due to copyright issues.
Accessing such content from a different location requires that you find a way to bypass that restriction. VPNs and proxies can easily be used to achieve this.
However, using a free VPN to access Netflix content will mostly be unsuccessful. Free VPNs use poor encryption technology, and websites with strong security protocols will block access when it detects such methods.
Only a few premium VPNs can unblock Netflix content, and when they do, it is always difficult to sustain the connection for a full movie show.
5. Increased data consumption
As explained earlier, a VPN connection involves an encryption and decryption process. These processes increase the amount of bandwidth you use when connected to the internet. You will end up consuming data faster than if you do not use a VPN at all.
Free VPNs make it worse as your data would be wasted because of intrusive ads, poor encryption technology, and sales of your bandwidth.
Keep in mind that free VPNs are not entirely free. The risks associated with using them outweigh the risks you try to avoid.
For you to ensure your data is safe and secure on the internet, it might be better to use premium VPN services or alternatives to VPN like an anti-detect browser. If you use a VPN, make sure it is trusted and safe.
About the Author: Paul Cawthon
Paul has been passionate about content writing since 2010. During his career he has managed to accumulate a lot of experience in covering various fields, while focusing on cyber security and technical writing. Currently, he is a content director at Incogniton, where he enjoys helping the staff to better their skills and come up with catchy and useful content for the audience.