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According to Go-Globe’s infographic on The State of VPN Usage, 25% of users have recently used a virtual private network. This is no surprise that the VPN industry is predicted to be worth $27.10 billion this year. In 2022, it is expected to gain $35.73 billion worth of revenues. Indeed, VPN is a lucrative business! However, is using a free VPN safe?

In the previous post regarding Free VPN Isn’t the best VPN, I already shared a few reason why a free VPN is not exactly the ideal option for you. Now, I will enumerate more reasons for you to not immediately jump on the free VPN bandwagon.

3. What? More Ads?!

You used a VPN to be secure, but you end up in a more deadly territory because of the pop-ups that suddenly appear. It’s very counterproductive to use a VPN that exposes to more annoying ads that you are avoiding in the first place. Moreover, these free VPNs are sneaking in trackers, which can still snoop and follow all the digital footprints that you leave behind.

A notable example for this is AnchorFree Inc’s Hotspot Shield VPN. In 2017, there was an FTC complaint regarding privacy violations by providing ads. It was found out that Anchorfree Inc sold personal data to third-party firms. In number 14 of the complaint, Hotspot Shield uses this information to “identify [a user’s] general location.” Not only that,  Hotspot Shield also collected “unique device identifiers, and other application information” on a regular basis.

AnchorFree stated that, “the free version… is funded by ads. Since then, Anchorfree has been posting annual reports, which are accessible to the public.

4. Constant buffering would mean more waiting.

Why would people get a VPN? Because they want to access streaming sites even when they are away from home. Usually, some countries ban sites and these include streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Go, Vudu, and more. In some cases, websites block your access if they found out you are in another location. So, how are you supposed to watch the video on a premium subscription site when your connection is slow to be begin with?

A free VPN would mean a very slow connection. Don’t expect to be able to flawlessly stream your favorite shows overseas. Often times, free VPNs only have a few servers available, meaning you spend more time waiting and bouncing between different over-crowded servers because paid users get more priority than you.

Also, subscription websites are doing their best in identifying users who are trying to sneak in their sites. They won’t hesitate to block IP addresses leeching of their premium services. Free VPNs won’t be able to provide you with a new IP addresses every time you go online. So, it would be pretty hard to log in a streaming site if your VPN is merely a free version because you’re stuck with an old and worn IP address.

Final Words

In looking for the right VPN for you, please do read the post regarding the 4 Factors to Consider when Choosing a VPN. Don’t immediately choose it because a VPN is free. Remember, ransomware attacks are continuing to increase each year. In 2019 alone, Kaspersky Lab noticed a 60% growth in vicious attacks, which are targeting passwords and other personal credentials.

Previously, I talked about the basics of having a virtual private network and what the factors to look for when buying a VPN. Catch up on that and more: 4 Factors to Consider when Choosing the Right VPN

A VPN is really helpful when you are always on the go and constantly moving from one place to another. When you are using a public WiFi, the VPN will serve as your shield from anyone who might steal your passwords, bank details, and other personal information. You are paying for a service to protect your privacy and your family’s privacy as well! So, when a VPN offers their services for free, how will they make money? What do they gain from this free service?

Below, I will share to you a few reasons why you should NOT choose a free VPN.

1. Free VPNs are not exactly safe.

Top10VPN.com analyzed a total of 150 VPN apps downloadable on Google Play… and what did they find out? When they tested the 150 free VPNs, majority of them had malware and viruses; app permissions. From the data collected from November – December 2018, the researchers concluded that 85% of the free VPNs are unsafe.

You see, these VPN providers need to secure their users and they would need the hardware for it. Usually, their servers are located in different countries and maintaining these servers are pretty expensive. The thing with free apps — not just VPN — need to maintain their services, and they do this through the data provide. So, go for paid services because if not, you would end up on the VPN provider’s menu.

Another Top10VPN.com found out that 59% of apps they have inspected are connected to China. The free VPN apps are not so free after all because the developers were sharing the data of their users to the Chinese authorities. Other than that, 64% of apps had no activity outside the Google Play Store page, and sadly, only 17% of them bothered to respond to customer emails.

2. It also comes with a free malware.

There’s a huge to get a free malware as well. In fact, the chances are 1 in 3 VPNs have bugs.  To be more precise, 38% of free VPN app may have malware according to a Data61/CSIRO paper. So, would you rather spend more than a $100 per year, or  would you prefer your bank details getting compromised? Surely, having your personal data stolen is more troublesome. You can earn your money again, but if your identity gets stolen, your are in grave danger.

At the end of the day, free services have their own repercussions because you are paying with your personal data. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Talk to industry experts if you need help regarding cybersecurity. Do not put yourself at risk just because of some free app you found on the internet. If you have any questions and want to schedule an IT consultation, you may contact Omnipotech Support Center or call us at 281-768-4800 right now!

 

Next? More Reasons Free Why a Free VPN Is Not Advisable

Virtual Private Network (or VPN) will help you be anonymous online. But wait! Before you think VPN is all you need, it’s not.

What can VPN do?

Your VPN will give you anonymity and privacy only to some extent. However, your real identity is still revealed to the VPN provider and your Internet Service Provider (ISP), making you NOT entirely anonymous. It’s really a common misconception that VPN is the ultimate privacy tool, but the VPNs will only mask your IP address so that others may not spy on you. Websites will see your chosen VPN browsing their site, and not your own IP address.

You see, every sites you visit, you usually reveal your IP address, your unique ID that connects to your computer. The same is true for “incognito mode” on web browsers; it does not offer privacy. Private browsing will NOT offer protection. Additionally, it will not prevent websites from collecting your personal information. It will only delete browser history and not keep anything on your computer. That’s it!

What are the factors to consider in choosing a VPN?

So, now you know the scope of protection VPN and private browsing provide, it’s time to breakdown what you need to look for in a VPN provider. As I mentioned earlier, your VPN provider can still monitor and keep track of all your activity on the web. The only protection it provides is shielding your internet traffic from prying eyes by masking your IP address. With this being said, I believe that you should use a VPN provider that you absolutely trust.

How do you choose? Well, these are the top 4 points to consider when selecting a VPN:

  1. Scope of Protection and Privacy.
    • First and foremost, you should check what’s in it for you. What will happen to your information? Do they share your personal details to others? What logs do they keep? Please carefully go through all your prospects’ privacy policy and know their limitations. Of course, you should go for the VPN provider that does NOT collect or share personal data.
  2. Cost.
    • Next is the cost. Make sure it fits your budget. Free VPNs don’t actually help you. For more details, check out Free VPN isn’t the best VPN.
  3. Browsing Speed.
    • Browsing speed is important so you better try them out first before you buy. Usually, VPN providers offer a free trial so be sure to sign up for that.
  4. Server Locations.
    • Lastly, you should consider the geographic location. Different VPNs are located in different locations. Generally, you get to choose which country to connect to so try to research on where their servers are located. Most popular VPNs have servers in more than 20 countries.

Our Recommendations

With over 100 VPN companies to choose from all over the world, it’s hard to pinpoint just 1 best solution. At the end, the VPN to choose really depends on your needs. That’s why Omnipotech is here, and we will help you assess your needs. You can contact Omnipotech Support Center now and we will help you because we know how daunting it is to select a VPN that’s right for you. Whether you need help in IT consulting or have any questions on cybersecurity, don’t hesitate to call us at 281-768-4800!

 

In Pro-Privacy Tools to Use When You Are Planning to Work from Home (Part 1), I talked about few tools on video conferencing and other related devices on promoting privacy when communicating with teammates. Now, I will discuss options related to web browsers, email apps,  chat apps, and many others. Let’s get right into it!

Web Browsers: 

  • Well, for browsers, there are a number of pro-privacy tools you can use like VivaldiBrave, or Firefox. Plus, whatever browse you end up choosing, you can still add the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension on your desktop browser.
  • Not only that, if you are more of a mobile user than a desktop users, there’s also the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, which is downloadable on both Google Play and AppStore. The great thing about this mobile browser is that it has a “fire” button that will instantly clear all logs, history, and activities on the browser.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

  • To be honest, this is kinda tricky. VPN is used to secure your internet traffic by masking your IP address. However, it does not mean that you are invisible to everyone. Remember, with or without VPN, your internet service providers can still see your traffic. Personally, I would NOT want to recommend a free VPN service. The same is stated on a CNET article right here.
  • Just to make it clear: VPN is not all you need to remain private or anonymous on the web. For an expert advice regarding Cybersecurity and anything related to IT Consulting, I suggest you contact Omnipotech’s Support Center or call 281-768-4800. Again, your Internet Service Provider can still monitor your internet activity and your IP address. I have made a separate post on the factors in choosing the right VPN for you so be sure to check that out!

Email Service Providers:

  • You are not stuck with Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. In fact, there are far more options for you because there are truly pro-privacy email apps out there. Let’s start with ProtonMail and TutaNota. Both are paid versions, but you can use their free account with limited features. Moreover, both offer end-to-end encryption and the only difference? TutaNota servers are based in Germany while ProtonMail is based in Switzerland. For a US alternative, Fastmail is an option to explore. They have data centers in Manhattan, New York and Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Chat Apps:

  • When you want to keep in touch with family and friends, Signal is the ideal tool for private messages and calls. Every message and every call is secured by an end-to-end encryption. Signal is recommended by the one and only Edward Snowden. If Edward Snowden is NOT enough to convince you, I don’t know what will.
  • If you want a business alternative, maybe you would want to check out MatterMost. For starters, it has layered security options and TLS encryption. Multi-factor authentication is also added for more security.

Conclusion

Google is not only the search engine out there. In these difficult times, you should not compromise your privacy and security just because of newly discovered disease. Things, like COVID-19, are beyond one’s control, and to be honest, all we can do is trust our medical experts and stop the spread of fake news. Help protect yourself – and your family as well – by following these 4 Tips in Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus Phishing Sites

 

 

One partner from desktop to datacenter, who can manage and support it all—that’s OMNIPOTECH.

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