Making use of a VPN connection is vital in order to protect your privacy online. VPNs provide many security benefits including hiding your browsing history, location, and encrypting the personal information you share on the web. It’s a very simple step you can take to ensure the safety of you and your family whilst using the internet.
However, not all VPNs are equal. Many people choose to make use of free VPN services, which can do the exact opposite of what they promise. Cybersecurity researchers from the website ‘vnpMentor’ claim to have recently found an unsecured server, shared by several VPN companies, which compromised the security of over 20 million users. The data breach is estimated to have exposed over 1 billion online records and many of the affected companies offer free VPN services.
Whilst using a VPN is important, you want to make sure you are doing your research and selecting one that will not expose you to further privacy risks. Keep reading to learn more about what you should look for in a VPN connection and why a free VPN may not be the way to go.
What is a VPN connection?
A VPN connection allows you to connect to the web using an encrypted tunnel, which ensures your online privacy and protects your personal data. The VPN creates the data tunnel between your network and an exit node, which can be located thousands of kilometres away from your device. This essentially makes you appear as if in a completely different place.
A VPN connection also hides your browsing history from your internet service provider and encrypts your data, making it unreadable. This is particularly important when using a public Wi-Fi connection. Carrying out online tasks that involve your personal information (like banking details or your medical history) whilst using a public hotspot can leave you compromised and at risk of identity theft if cybercriminals happen to be lurking.
Are free VPNs safe?
A free VPN may seem like a very attractive offer — private browsing at zero cost! Unfortunately the offer is often too good to be true. Free VPNs come with a whole host of additional security risks that users are often not aware of.
Free VPNs often don’t operate using the most up-to-date or secure protocols. Connection speeds can lag and you may experience a high disconnection rate. Companies offering free VPN may not have as many servers in as many countries as their paid counterparts and may not provide customer support.
On top of that, as demonstrated by vpnMentor, installing a free VPN can put you and your personal information at great risk. Free VPNs have been known to track users, store their data and sell it to third parties for marketing purposes. They may also bombard you with unwanted advertisements and spam.
What you should look for in a VPN connection
When shopping around for a VPN in Australia, make sure to go with one from a reputable site. This can be easily discerned through a quick Google search and a read of customer reviews. Make sure your VPN provider has a no-track policy and check that you will be able to set up the secure connection on multiple devices.
Above all, be prepared to pay for your VPN connection. It’s certainly worth it for the peace of mind and knowledge that you and your family will be safe online.