5 Risks Of Using Free VPN Services
Recently, 7 Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers who claim not to keep any logs of their users’ online activities recently left 1.2 terabytes of private user data exposed to anyone who comes looking.
The data, found on a server shared by the services, included the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of potentially as many as 20 million VPN users, said researchers at vpnMentor, who uncovered the leak.
Fast VPN, Flash VPN, Free VPN, Rabbit VPN, Secure VPN, Super VPN, and UFO VPN — seem to be owned by the same company or to use the same third-party “white label” VPN infrastructure. The websites for all the services except UFO VPN are strikingly similar. All seem to be based in Hong Kong.
In a recent study by The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation(CSIRO), researchers analyzed 283 Android VPN apps to study their impact on user’s privacy and security. They found out that 75% of the tested apps used third-party tracking libraries, and hence, they can’t be trusted. 82% of the apps required permissions to access sensitive resources such as user accounts and text messages. Worst of all, the study published that more than 38% had malware presence such as adware, trojan, malvertising, riskware, and spyware.
Here are few drawbacks of using free VPN
No VPN provider will offer their services totally free for an unlimited amount of time. If you are not paying your money, then rest assured that you are paying them in other ways. The same situation was observed in Facebook-owned Onavo VPN’s case. Here’s are some drawbacks of using free VPN services.
Tracking Your Online Activities and Selling It
VPN encrypts and tunnels your data so your ISP cannot see what you are doing online. This means ISPs can’t keep track of you, but the VPN provider can. Free VPNs collect user data through tracking libraries, which they can sell for advertising and analytics to some other agency. Betternet’s free VPN app was found to contain 14 different tracking libraries.
Malware & Ransomware
Injecting malware to your device is one of the common traits in free VPNs. Such malware can be used to steal sensitive information from your device or to encrypt your data as evident from recent ransomware attacks.
Free VPNs might also be stealing your bandwidth and selling it to other organizations. Would you like your PC resources to be used to move traffic on the internet? Apparently, Hola VPN did it. Israel-based Hola was found to be stealing bandwidth from users and then reselling it through its sister company Luminati. You can read this article to know about how Hola duped its customers.
Hijacking The Browsers
This refers to redirecting your browser to websites without your permission. HotspotShield free VPN promises its users shielded connections, security, privacy enhancement and ad-free browsing. However, the CSIRO study found that HotspotShield redirects user traffic to alibaba.com and ebay.com through its partner networks Conversant Media and Viglink, respectively.
Hers’s Why We Recomend ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN, which comes highly rated by users and reviewers, works on devices including Windows, Android, iOS, Linux and routers. Based in the British Virgin Islands, it costs around $8.32 a month if you take out a 12-month plan. With a network of more than 2,000 servers in 94 countries, Express offers top-notch coverage in Europe and the US. It also works pretty well in Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. It uses its own DNS servers and employs high-end encryption tech to ensure your security and privacy.
ExpressVPN offers access to more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, alongside maybe the widest platform support you’ll find anywhere.
We’re not just talking about native clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry. There’s a custom firmware for some routers, DNS content-unblocking for a host of streaming media devices and smart TVs, and surprisingly capable VPN browser extensions for anything which can run them.
All that functionality could sound intimidating to VPN newbies, but ExpressVPN does more than most to help. An excellent support website is stuffed with detailed guides and tutorials to get you up and running. And if you do have any trouble, 24/7 live chat support is on hand to answer your questions.
The good news continues elsewhere, with ExpressVPN delivering in almost every area. Bitcoin payments? Of course. P2P support? Yep. Netflix unblocking? Naturally. Industrial-strength encryption, kill switch, DNS leak protection, solid and reliable performance, and a clear no-logging policy? You’ve got it.
Downsides? Not many to speak of. The ExpressVPN service supports five simultaneous connections per user (increased recently from three), and it comes with a premium price tag. But if you want a speedy service, crammed with top-notch features, and with all the support you need to help you use them, ExpressVPN will be a great fit. While they don’t have a free trial, ExpressVPN has a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the service.