Think of a good1; a set of technologies that link computers together and then encrypt your data as you browse online – with your most valuable information, and maybe even your family. So when a VPN provider offers to protect your digital life for free, the first question you should ask yourself is: What is it for them? (VPN) as a bodyguard for your bank account. When you take a walk through the lively public Wi-Fi paths, your VPN protects you from password pockets and keeps you away from unsafe areas. You trust your VPN ̵
Withon the rise, it is no surprise that the VPN market is booming as consumers try to protect their online information. The Global Web Index reports that 25% of Internet users gained access to a VPN in the past month, while VPN apps account for hundreds of millions of mobile operating system installations. At the same time, growth in VPN's global market value is estimated to be $ 35 billion in revenue in 2022.
Finding a VPN you can trust is not easy this market. But there are some VPNs that you should never choose, ever: The free ones. Here's why.
first Free VPN is simply not as safe
As our sister site Download.com previously reported, free VPN can be very dangerous. Why? In order to maintain the hardware and expertise required for large networks and secure users, VPN services have expensive bills to pay. As a VPN customer, you either pay a premium service with your dollars or you pay for free services with your information. If you do not order at the table, you are on the menu.
Some 86% of free VPN apps on both Android and iOS – account for millions of installations – have unacceptable privacy policies, ranging from a simple lack of transparency to explicit sharing of user data with Chinese authorities. , according to two independent 2018 investigations of free VPN apps from Top10VPN. Another 64% of the apps had no web presence outside their app store pages, and only 17% responded to customer support emails.
As of June 3, Apple lowered the hammer on apps that share user data with third parties. But 80% of the top 20 free VPN apps in the Apple App Store seem to be breaking these rules, according to a June update on the Top10 VPN survey.
As of August, 77% of apps that are potentially unsafe in the Top10VPN VPN Ownership Survey – and 90% of those flagged as potentially unsafe in the Free VPN Risk Index – still pose a risk.
"Google Play downloads of apps we flagged as potentially unsafe have increased to a total of 214 million, rocketing by 85% in six months," the report states.
"Monthly installs from the App Store held steady at about 3.8 million, representing a relative increase as this amount was generated by 20% fewer apps than at the beginning of the year as a number of apps are no longer available."
On Android, 214 million downloads represent a lot of user login data, removed from unknown volunteers. And what is one of the most profitable things you can do with big streaks of user login data?
Read more : All VPN terms you need to know
2. You Can Catch Malware
Let's get this out of the way right now: 38% of free VPN for Android contains malicious software, a CSIRO study found. And yes, many of these free VPN apps were high-ranked apps with millions of downloads. Your odds of catching a nasty bug are greater than one in three.
So ask yourself which cost less: A high-quality VPN service for about a hundred dollars a year, or hiring an identity theft recovery company after some chump steals your bank account login number and social security number?
But that couldn't happen to you, right? Wrong. Mobile ransomware attacks skyrocketed. Symantec discovered more than 18 million instances of malicious software for mobile in 2018, which represents a 54% increase from last year. And Kaspersky recently noted a 60% peak in password-stealing Trojans.
But malware is not the only way to make money if you run a free VPN service. There is an even simpler way.
Aggressive advertising methods from free VPNs can go beyond being hit with some annoying pop-ups and quickly move into dangerous territory. Some VPN files sneak up advertising trackers through the loopholes of the browser's media reading features, which then stop on your digital track as a prison guard in a B-class remake of Escape from Alcatraz.
HotSpot Shield VPN earned a painful notoriety for such accusations in 2017, when it was hit by an FTC complaint for breaches of privacy in ad serving. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that the company not only had a baked back door used to secretly sell data to third-party advertising networks, but it also employed five different tracking libraries and actually redirected user traffic to secret servers.
When the story broke, HotSpot parent company AnchorFree denied researchers 'results in an email to Ars Technica: "We never redirect our users' traffic to third party resources instead of the websites they intended to visit. The free version of our Hotspot Shield solution states openly and clearly that it is funded by ads, but we do not intercept traffic with neither the free nor the premium version of our solutions. "
AnchorFree has since offered annual transparency reports, although their value is still up to the reader.
Although possible credit card fraud is not a problem, you do not need pop-ups and ad teams that weigh you when you are already dealing with another major problem with free VPN.
4. Buffering … Buffering … Buffering
One of the main reasons people get VPNs is to access their favorite subscription services – Hulu, HBO, Netflix – when traveling to countries where these companies block access based on your location . But what's the point of accessing the geo-blocked video content you've paid for if the free VPN service you use is so slow you can't see it?
Some free VPNs have been known to sell your bandwidth, potentially putting you on the legal hook for what they do with it. The best known case of this waswhich was captured in 2015 quietly and stole the bandwidth of its users and sold it, mercenary style, to any group that wanted to use its user base as a botnet.
At that time, Hola CEO Ofer Vilenski acknowledged that they had been a "spammer," but argued in a lengthy defense that this bandwidth harvest was typical of this type of technology.
"We assumed that by saying that Hola is a (peer-to-peer) network, it was clear that people shared their bandwidth with the community network in return for their free service," he wrote.
If pushing into service as part of a botnet is not enough to slow you down, free VPN services usually pay for fewer servers as well. This means that your traffic usually bounces longer between remote, overcrowded servers or even waiting behind traffic for paid users.
To end it, subscription streaming sites are knowledgeable for those trying to sneak in their video services for free. These services routinely block a large number of IP addresses that they have identified as belonging to turnstile-jumping freeloaders. Free VPNs cannot afford to invest in a long list of new IP addresses for their users in the same way a paid VPN service can.
This means that you may not even be able to log in to a subscription media service that you paid for if your free VPN uses an old IP number. Good luck getting HBO to charge over that connection.
5th Paid alternatives are getting better all the time
The good news is that there are many solid VPNs on the market that offer a variety of features depending on your needs and budget. You can browse our ratings and reviews to find the right VPN service for you. If you are looking for something mobile specific, we have.
If you want a founder before deciding which service to lose money on, we haveto help you take care of the basics of VPNs and what you should look for when choosing a VPN service.