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The True Cost of a Free VPN

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Cybersecurity is a scary business. Almost every day there's a new virus scandal circulating on the internet. Virtual private networks (VPN) are now standard, partly in response to security fears, while some people use them to watch their shows on vacation. Not all VPNs are the same, though. Like buying a security padlock for your suitcase, they vary in size and complexity, and some are easier to crack open than others.

There are many free VPNs available, and they usually offer to protect your data in exchange for adverts. But that's where you need to start paying close attention.

Are free VPNs safe?

We live in a world full of privacy risks and depending on where you live or travel, increasing government surveillance. A VPN is specifically designed to protect you from attacks by encrypting your Internet and ensuring your anonymity online. You can even switch your virtual destination to multiple countries. It sounds great so far, but how can you trust a free VPN?

Dangers of using free VPN

Companies that give their services away need to make money. They will inevitably want something in return. So what's the catch? Well not only will a free VPN company bombard you with adverts, but your browsing data may be sold to the highest bidder.

Your data is like gold to advertising companies and other actors, who will track your information for commercial or political purposes. A free VPN business model is not designed to safeguard your online privacy as it requires advertising revenue.

Since cybersecurity is an ongoing threat, the best way to protect your data is to pay for a VPN service, one that promises no advertising. Another way of vetting your VPN provider is by reading online reviews. If your privacy is important to you, then make sure it offers "No Logs", as well.

All respectable VPN providers should have a 24/7 customer service line to discuss any concerns you may have.

Why are some free VPNs unsafe?

A Trend Micro study has shown that 85 percent of web traffic on two (tree VPN providers were redirected to mobile advertisements, which is indicative of mass fraud. The same report also revealed that free VPN users were vulnerable to cybercriminals accessing their private or work information.

Hackers are adept at manipulating weak spots so that they can steal bank card details and passwords. A professional VPN company won't allow your data to be tracked in this way, or leave you vulnerable to third-party hackers.

How to find a safe VPN

When searching on Google for a VPN look for one that makes security its top priority. If a VPN company promises not to track your browsing history and charges a monthly fee, then you're on the right track.

Peer reviews are often helpful when buying something online. If you notice lots of complaints from a cross-section of users about a particular product, then, needless to say, you're probably better off without them.

Compromise with a money-back guarantee

If you're not ready to pay for a VPN, then why not try a money-back guarantee from a professional company? With this option, you can test your needs and see if you're satisfied with their service. If not, respectable companies will happily reimburse you, or if you want to stay, they'll convert you to their yearly plan.

Identifying your VPN needs

When it comes to searching for a good VPN, you need to pick one that suits your lifestyle. If your online security and privacy is your primary concern, then a "No Logs" VPN is a must-have feature.

Likewise, if you require unlimited bandwidth and no buffering, then make sure they promise a speedy connection and see if their reviews support their claim. Movie fans wanting to watch Netflix in other countries should double-check with the provider before signing up.

If you're on a limited budget and only require a few features, it won't take long to work out which VPN is right for you. Just remember, when it comes to online security, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

If someone is good at something, they'll never do it for free.

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