The use of a VPN on smartphones is inexhaustible. Smartphones are, in fact, one of the main reasons why VPNs are so widely used, and a good deal of this comes from third-world country users to access geo-blocked content.
Since most of these users are young adults or teenagers, free VPN services for smartphones are the main attraction. Especially with at least 1000+ free VPNs available on the market, it does seem like a good deal.
But, is there any catch? Yes, of course, there is! And to give you a fair warning, we have compiled and mentioned some of the hidden dangers of using free VPNs on your smartphone in this article. You can check them out below.
A VPN service being unsafe seems like a paradox. This is precisely because we use a VPN in the first place to protect our privacy. But when you use a free VPN, a famous saying holds true—if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.
Some recent studies in the US and Australia confirm that these free services could potentially harm your network’s privacy. Studies have also shown that many of these free VPNs contain malware.
Malware, as we know it, is the biggest threat to your online security. The malware that you can usually notice in free VPNs can range from dangerous ransomware to spyware that infringes on your privacy.
Since the service is free, the VPN is bound to be filled with advertisements as a way of earning. These ads give all the security-risking infections a gateway. They have been notorious for being intrusive and gathering your data while assuming your movements are guarded.
In any case, where you’re using an open WiFi, there is an off chance it is subtly monitored by a programmer, giving them an uninvited entry into your online activities.
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Ads, ads, and more ads!
Free VPN services are known for their aggressive advertising practices. It generally begins with a couple of pop-ups here and there and grows into a dangerous game. As mentioned earlier, some VPNs have been found guilty of sneaking ad-serving trackers that monitor your online movements.
In particular, ads have been slandered for violating privacy and raising concerns within users of free VPNs. For instance, a popular VPN service was recently alleged for manipulating the security of users. It was hit with a complaint through FTC (Federal Trade Commission) over privacy violations through ads.
Providing third-party networks, a gateway to your data is a common practice that many free VPNs are infamous for. This is especially dangerous because many brands have been caught off-guard for not knowing what your bandwidth is being used for by third-party networks.
This is why it is crucial that you thoroughly go through the privacy policies of the VPN company before hopping onto their server.
Poor & slow service
Nothing good comes for free. Most free VPN services for smartphones have been known to provide subpar speed. There will always be a limit or cap on the amount of data you can use at a given time. For instance, a free VPN will allow you a one-hour session per day. On reaching this time limit, you will expose your activity to your internet service provider.
Also, whatever data you have left with yourself in one session is honestly never enough. This is because of the slow and tedious service you will receive that you cannot blame your ISP for. Since many of us use VPN to view the geo-blocked content, you should be ready to spend time looking at a buffering screen for the most time.
Most of these free VPNs have servers that cannot bear the burden of multiple users at the same time. This causes the system to put the premium users first, giving you the worst time possible.
Providing slow service is also an established tactic to frustrate the users into buying a premium service. Considering the dishonest and greedy nature of this practice, there is hardly a chance you will receive better treatment as a premium user.
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Netflix is a far off dream
Believe us if you will. No free VPN on the market right now can help you reliably unblock Netflix. It is not as simple to pierce through this streaming website, as it has one of the strongest geo-blocks in the world right now. Users with premium VPNs also claim they have a hard time breaking through them, and only some succeed.
Yes, it is not exactly impossible to do this. But there is a chance that you will most likely be hit by the error message when trying to bypass Netflix. Even if you do gain access, remember the little data they provide? You will hardly be able to get through even one entire movie.
If the struggle of getting through in the first place does not get you, the constant buffering most certainly will. Dealing with the Netflix geo-blocks requires a lot of investment and resources, and no VPN service is going to give you that for free, if you live in the UK and want to access Netflix content of other countries, then check out the list of best UK VPN here.
Sustainability and improvement
A free VPN service is unable to provide you the best speed or security because it can’t. Unlike a premium or paid-VPN, a free service does not have adequate funds or human resources to stay afloat. For a business model to remain competitive in any industry, and provide high-quality services, they will need to charge you!
Any VPN provider that promises you a free service has a risky enterprise at their hands, and if things go downhill, your data will be in a situation of potential damage. Nobody wants their information in the hands of a company that is facing bankruptcy.
Additionally, even if the company does manage to stay intact, there are hardly any service improvements that you can expect. As compared to premium services, that ready funds at their disposal to invest in improvements and updates, a free VPN service provider will not.
Considering all these factors, it is safe to say that a free VPN service provider is barely ever able to catch up. It is recommended not to lay foot in a boat with a hole.
Weak encryptions and protocols
Many free VPNs claim that their sessions are encrypted, but the reality is far from the truth. Even when they are capable of providing you encryption, there is a significant possibility that it will be weak.
A large user base and a low or steady income put all free VPN services in a pickle. Thereby, they have to compromise on the service they provide at the day’s end. This means you, as a user, will be offered low levels of protection.
All free services for VPN have been known for their weak encryption and data protocols. At the same time, at least 18% of them did not even feel the need to provide encryption. Defeats the purpose of using a VPN. Most of these free VPNs do not also provide servers, but exchange data from one user to another.
Because of an unsafe eco-system, free VPNs are prone to get hacked. They are making it easier for hackers to access a large amount of user data during the process. To control this, VPNs require a DNS leak protection and kill switches, but that seems unlikely here. Free VPNs are that—free, so there is hardly any scope of improvement or advancement, as mentioned earlier.
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The dangers of losing your data, or being monitored in your every movement on the internet are very real. Free VPNs for smartphones can be desirable, but they’re not yet a practical option. The purpose of this article is to warn you of all the potential drawbacks appropriately. You might have to deal with a free service.
With a premium VPN service, you can avoid all of the pressing issues of security and protection and enjoy your time going incognito. They will offer you speedy service and all advanced features that protect your data and privacy. Also, no ad-avalanche that makes you pull your hair out.