What are the dangers of using a free VPN?

We normally use a VPN to −

  • Bypass geographic limitations on websites and audio/video streaming

  • Stream media such as Netflix

  • Prevent being spied on by using untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots

  • Hide location online to get some anonymity

  • While torrenting

Most often, users use free VPN expecting these benefits, but there lies a problem in doing so. This article aims to show you the dangers of using a free VPN.

What is VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) connects users' computers to a private network across a public network, allowing them to send and receive data as if they were physically connected to the private network.

  • Using a VPN gives you more capability, security, and control over your private network.

  • Telecommuting personnel commonly utilise it to obtain access to resources that aren't available on the public network.

  • Although encryption is common, a VPN connection does not require it.

How Does VPN Work?

  • Connecting to a VPN is usually an easy process. You download and install a VPN software after subscribing to a VPN service. You simply choose a server to connect to, and the VPN takes care of the rest.

  • After establishing the connection, the following will happen to your data −

    • Your data traffic is encrypted and sent to the VPN server over a secure connection via the VPN software on your computer. Your Internet Service Provider receives the data as well, but because to encryption, they are unable to eavesdrop on it.

    • The VPN server decrypts the encrypted data from your PC.

    • Your data will be sent to the VPN server across the internet, and you will receive a response that is intended for you, the user.

    • The VPN server encrypts the traffic again before sending it back to you.

    • The data will be decrypted by the VPN software on your device, allowing you to understand and utilise it.

Dangers of Using Free VPN

  • Low Level of Security − Free VPNs are more likely to use insecure protocols and lack the resources to safeguard their server architecture. In comparison to a premium VPN, this implies your connection is less secure and more likely to be hacked.

  • Basic/No Features & Fewer Servers − Free VPNs provide fewer functionality, and complex functions like Kill Switch and DNS leak prevention are not available. This raises the chance of getting hacked once more. In addition, their server infrastructure is more constrained. They have a smaller number of sites and servers. They must, however, retain a larger user base.

  • Unblocking Doesn't Work − Unblocking a geo-restricted service is one of the most common applications for VPNs (e.g. it only works in a particular country). Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, and the BBC iPlayer are just a few examples. In certain areas, all of these may be prohibited.

  • Slow Connection Speeds − As we've previously stated, the server infrastructure of free VPNs is inadequate, despite the fact that it must serve a large number of customers. As a result, Internet connection rates have slowed, making downloading and uploading extremely sluggish. Even everyday browsing may be a chore at times. When you use a premium VPN, you don't have to worry about this because they can put much more money into the infrastructure to acquire better/more servers. In addition, the user base and bandwidth are both lower.

  • Selling Your Private Data or Bandwidth − Free VPNs track your online activity, such as which websites you visit, how you get there, what you buy, and so on, and then sell this information to third parties. Typically marketing/ad agencies who then sell your profile and allow brands to target you.

  • Aggressive Advertising − This is a common occurrence with freemium VPN providers. They need to offer adverts to users in order to promote their premium product.