The Dangers of Free VPNs - What You Need To Know
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If you’re interested in being more secure online, you might have heard of a VPN or Virtual Private Network. VPNs are great because they encrypt your online traffic, keeping it safe from thieves, governments, and anyone else who might be trying to listen in. You might have even seen VPNs that claim to be completely free and thought, “Awesome! Free protection!”
But, unfortunately, those “free and unlimited" VPNs aren’t really free. While a VPN seems like a completely virtual product to the end consumer, they actually require a lot of physical technology. In order to encrypt your traffic (and reroute it, if it’s a proxy) the companies have to keep physical servers. They also have to pay for staff, offices, website upkeep… You get the idea.
So how do they pay for all those expenses? Here are six ways you pay for free VPNs.
1. You pay for free VPNs with your bandwidth.
Perhaps the most famous case of abuse by a free VPN was from the very popular service Hola. Hola was a free VPN that was found to be selling user bandwidth to whoever wanted to buy it. As you can imagine, the people who are interested in buying someone else’s bandwidth (and therefore making it look like their traffic is coming from their network) usually aren’t up to much good. The stolen bandwidth put Hola users at risk of criminal prosecution if it was used for something illegal, when all they wanted was to be protected themselves.
2. You pay for free VPNs with your security.
These “free” VPNs may be infected with malware, which can be used for anything from stealing your login info for sensitive accounts, targeting you with ads and spam, holding your devices for ransom, or even just straight up stealing your money. One study of Android VPNs found that 38 percent of free VPNs were infected with malware.
3. You pay for free VPNs with your data.
Some free VPNs come embedded with hidden tracking embedded in their source code. That code is used to track and collect your user data, which they can go on to sell to advertisers. There are suspected cases of users having their identity stolen after using a “free” VPN.
Other VPNs are explicitly created by data tracking companies, a fact that may not be completely obvious unless a person reads the fine print. And considering most people download apps based simply on title and maybe the one paragraph description, its safe to assume that most aren’t. If the point of a VPN is privacy, secret embedded trackers completely defeat the purpose.
4. You pay for free VPNs with your browser.
Some free VPNs will hijack users’ browsers, redirecting them to partner ecommerce sites. It’s a way for them to make money off of you, even if you’re not paying them directly for their services.
5. You pay for free VPNs with VPN leaks.
A VPN should create a fully encrypted virtual “tunnel” for your information to travel through. However, poorly designed VPNs can “leak,” meaning your IP address visible to anyone who’s trying to take a look. There are VPN leak tests that are easy to use, but why risk it in the first place?
6. You pay for free VPNs with bad service
And last but not least we have something that’s less of a security concern and more of an annoyance. Many free VPNs have slow connection speeds, drop out, or just generally don’t provide a great service. If you’re willing to pay for a “free” VPN by dealing with that kind of thing, obviously it’s your choice. But really, is it worth it?
Private Browsing Essentials
The business model of today's major browsers is to sell your data. But we believe the browser should play a different role. One that works for you and has a business model that doesn't conflict with your privacy. There are certain things that need to be on by default in a truly private browser - VPN is one of those, and something we offer in Tenta for free.
Our business model is straightforward. Tenta's VPN browsing is free and unlimited. If you want to extend VPN coverage to all your devices, we charge a simple monthly subscription. That's it. We don't need to figure out how to make ads work in our browser because we're in the business of protecting your data, not selling it.
Some things in life can be gotten for free or very cheap and they still work well. But VPNs are not one of those things. Steer clear of so-called "free" VPNs with no data limit, paid upgrades or premium tiers. If you’re concerned about your online safety and security, invest in a high quality VPN. In fact, many of the best VPN services offer a free trial before you buy. (You can try Tenta Pro free for seven days.) The point is any VPN service worth its salt is going to come with a price tag. If it doesn't, remember - if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.Share this post
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