As more people integrate in the digital environment and switch from offline to online shopping, the demand for security of transactions and anonymity on the web grows. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the most common Internet security tools that enable users to safely use unprotected networks. Despite the fact that most VPNs offer security, anonymity and confidentiality at an affordable and low monthly rate, many users opt for free VPN services. However, the use of such services can lead to unforeseen problems.
Perhaps you did not know, but almost all Free VPNs are unsafe. Recent cybersecurity tests have revealed that the use of free VPN services creates a number of threats to security and security threats. The main reasons for using VPN services are the desire to avoid government censorship, ensure security and privacy, avoid espionage or hacking, and protect personal information from prying eyes. However, they are the main threats emanating from the use of free services.
Free VPN could contain a wide range of malware. Malicious software (malware) is any software that could be harmful to a computer user. It could take on a various forms. Being hidden within a VPN program or service, it can access the most confidential data and use the user’s personal information to send spam, emails to obtain personal data of other users, hack accounts and also to block the user’s computer, demanding a ransom for its decryption. Malware is the most popular way to infect not only desktop computers, but also smartphones. Many free VPN services for Android users contain malicious programs that successfully steal personal data from users around the world. However, the shortcomings of free VPN are not limited to only malware.
Another problem is tracking software. Analysis of free VPN services showed that most of the offers contain tracking software even though developers promise users maximum privacy and high levels of encryption. It is used to track user actions on the network, collect personal information and patterns of behaviour that are subsequently sold to third parties. This information is sold with huge profits, as it is an effective tool for advertising and marketing companies, which allows for the creation of individual offers based on customer preferences, places visited, hobbies and interests. Although most tracking software is used to provide targeted advertising, don’t neglect network security.
In addition, free VPN services cannot prevent leakage of Internet traffic. A good VPN protects all traffic and encrypts all information transmitted between user and VPN servers. However, studies have shown that free VPN, unfortunately, allows for the leakage of users’ IP addresses, which discloses the original location and violates anonymity. Moreover, this problem can be encountered in some paid services.
The good news is that there are free VPNs that are reliable. Below is a short overview of the three most credible of them:
- Hotspot Shield – https://www.hotspotshield.com/
HotSpot Shield is probably the most popular VPN service. It offers a free version that is limited to 500 MB per day. Despite the fact that this service requires unique account for each device, it’s ideal for evading censorship and data protection in the web. Moreover, it’s one of the fastest VPNs and ideally compatible with all mobile and desktop operating systems.
- TunnelBear – https://www.tunnelbear.com/
TunnelBear is an ideal option for novice users, since it contains the most user-friendly interface. On the other hand, free traffic is limited to only 500 MB per month. However, recently the service was purchased by the American corporation McAfee, so now it has additional resources to develop high-level security updates and privacy upgrades for its VPN.
- OperaVPN – https://www.opera.com/
Although free OperaVPN app for iOS and Android was shut down in April 2018, its browser with a built-in free VPN remains one of the most reliable services. As a bonus, it has a built-in ad-blocker. Moreover, OperaVPN is one of the oldest services and has a good track records of providing the Internet security.
Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in both freelancing and academic writing industries, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.