Risk of Free VPNs: How these VPN Apps Harvest Sell User Data


It’s a common practice of organizations to use deceptive methodologies to grow their brand identity in the name of a marketing tactic. Among these industries, the VPN industry is following these practices while posing an honest security service. Last year it was found that 26 out of 117 famous VPN security tools logged user data despite claiming to be a logless VPN provider on their website.

The revelation came as a big shock because the whole idea of the VPN is somewhat fraudulent then. However, these findings are not that revealing as to how the free VPN share and sell client data. With the GDPR laws in practice, organizations are on a strict watch where a tight check is on entities.

Then again, considering data abuse, free VPN providers are making headings for harvesting personal data.

VPNs are the best source of protection against ISP tracking your every move and blocking geo-restricted websites for you. Some skilled individuals use a VPN to anonymize their identity online, but they are quick to trust the security service. It is always a possibility that these VPNs will access your data.

In most of the cases, free VPNs mention in their privacy policies that the user data will be shared and distributed to third-party companies for the smooth running of the tool, but users do not bother reading the clauses. Previously a premium VPN data logs were used to track internet stalker, which is a big breach of privacy.
How Free VPN Misuse User Data
Browser hijacking
Browser Hijacking is one of the ways free VPNs generate money from users data. This occurs when VPN hijacks and reroutes your online searches to paid websites without your permission. An excellent example is of Hotspot Shield that was among the famous free VPN with a good customer base.

Hotspot Shield was caught redirecting online requests to e-commerce giants Alibaba and eBay.

Free VPN Injecting Malware

Do not assume that the Free VPN will be 100% safe, these VPNs bring in a host of malware according to the CSIRO study. The study concluded 38% of free Android VPNs available on Google Play Store contain malware.

The malware can:

  • Bombard you with targeted ads and malicious emails
  • It penetrates your online accounts
  • Take control of your account
  • They Loot your money and credit card details
Gives Access of Data Third party Companies

When the VPN records your online activity, it will be given to third-party agencies to make a profit. This is a common practice as these free VPN services do not live up to their policies and fraud users without them knowing it. Among the few that follow such practice are:

  • GO VPN (free VPN)
  • Tuxler (free VPN)
  • Opera free VPN

Data and DNS leaks

The benefit of a secure VPN is exceptional as it encrypts all of the traffic from the device to the server, but when tested multiple VPN providers free and premium leak data and DNS. DNS leak poses a security threat, and users need to be prepared with it. The leaks can come directly through the IP address leak, which makes it difficult for users data protection.

At the end of the day, users need to avail different options to secure their online activities from DNS leak and avoid mishaps from free VPNs.

Online Tracking by Free VPN

The CSIRO study gives a clear image of at least one tracking library in almost 75% of the free security tools that claim and brand to protect online activities where the tracking is directed to collect personal data online.

The study tested 283 VPNs and found that 75% of the total free VPNs that hosted tracking embedded through the source code. For free VPNs to harvest and collect user data, tracking libraries are used to analyze advertising.
  
Conclusion

Users are now well aware of the consequences of free VPNs and are trying their best to avoid them. But few users will do anything to opt for free VPNs regardless of its consequences. The risk is increasing every day, and the Google Play Store is still filled with hundreds of malware containing free VPNs that are not being removed.


It’s suggested to opt for a premium VPN by paying a small cost. It will benefit you in the long run rather than steal your online data. 

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