With the increase in malware stealing passwords, the VPN market is booming in 2019. According to the Global Web Index, 25% of Internet users accessed a VPN in the last month, while VPN applications represent hundreds of millions of installations on mobile operating systems. In the meantime, the global market value of the VPN market is expected to reach $35 billion by 2022.
Finding a reliable VPN is not easy. But there are some you should never, never choose: free VPNs.
1-Aggressive advertising practices
The aggressive advertising practices of free VPNs can go beyond a few annoying pop-ups and quickly venture into dangerous terrain. Some VPNs infiltrate through the cracks in your browser’s media playback functions and stick to the basics of your digital life.
In 2017, HotSpot Shield VPN gained painful notoriety when a complaint from the FTC hit for violating privacy in the broadcasting of ads. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University had discovered that not only did the company have a backdoor to sell data to third-party advertising networks secretly, but it also used five different tracking libraries and redirected user traffic to secret servers.
2-You are exposed to malware
According to a CSIRO study, 38% of free Android VPNs contain malware. And yes, many of these free VPNs are highly rated applications with millions of downloads. Your chances of catching malware are therefore higher than one in three.
In this case, ask yourself what costs the least: a quality VPN service for about a hundred euros a year or the use of an anti-imperial theft company after a smart guy has stolen your bank account login and social security number?
3- Slow speeds
One of the main reasons people use a VPN is to be able to access their favorite streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video when they travel to countries where these companies block access based on geographical location. But what’s the point of accessing the geo-blocked video content you paid for if the free VPN service you use is so slow that you can’t watch it?
Some free VPNs are known to sell their users’ bandwidth, potentially putting them in a legal mess for what they do with it. The most famous case is that of Hola, who was caught in 2015 discreetly pumping the bandwidth of its users and selling it, like a mercenary, to any group that wanted to deploy a botnet.