Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become a popular tool for online privacy and security. They provide users with a secure and encrypted connection, hiding their online activity from prying eyes. While VPNs are available in both free and paid versions, the free ones come with certain risks that can harm your online privacy and security.
Why Do People Use VPNs?
People use VPNs for a variety of reasons, including online privacy, security, and accessing geo-restricted content. Let’s take a closer look at these reasons with relevant statistics.
- Online Privacy: One of the primary reasons people use VPNs is to protect their online privacy. VPNs create an encrypted connection that hides users’ online activity from their internet service provider (ISP) and other prying eyes. According to a survey by ExpressVPN, 74% of respondents cited online privacy as the primary reason for using a VPN.
- Security: Virtual Private Networks also provide users with enhanced security features, such as protection against cyber threats like hacking, phishing, and malware. A study by PCMag found that 38% of respondents used a VPN for security purposes.
- Accessing Geo-Restricted Content: Many people use VPNs to access geo-restricted content, such as streaming services or websites that are blocked in their country. According to a survey by GlobalWebIndex, 25% of VPN users cited accessing regionally blocked content as the primary reason for using a VPN.
- Remote Work: VPNs are also popular among remote workers who need to access company networks and resources securely. A study by OpenVPN found that 60% of companies use VPNs to enable remote access for their employees.
With the increasing importance of online privacy and security, the use of VPNs is likely to continue to grow in the coming years.
Five Reasons Not to Use a Free VPN:
- Security Risks: One of the primary concerns with free VPNs online is that they may not have robust security features. Many free VPN providers lack the resources to develop and maintain strong security protocols, leaving their users vulnerable to cyber threats such as malware, hacking, and phishing. According to a study by CSIRO, out of 283 free VPN apps tested, 75% contained at least one tracking library, 38% contained malware, and 18% did not encrypt users’ traffic.
- Data Logging: Free VPNs need to generate revenue, and they often do this by logging and selling users’ data to third-party advertisers. These VPN providers may log your browsing history, online activity, and personal information and then sell it to advertisers, compromising your online privacy. A study by CSIRO found that 67% of free VPN providers were guilty of logging users’ data.
- Slow Internet Speeds: Free VPNs have limited bandwidth and often throttle internet speed to reduce costs. This can make online browsing and stream painfully slow. Additionally, the best free VPN providers may place restrictions on the share of data you can utilize each month, forcing you to either upgrade to a paid version or seek another free VPN provider. According to a study by Top10VPN, free VPNs are 30% slower than paid VPNs on average.
- Limited Server Locations: Free VPNs typically have fewer server locations than their paid counterparts. This can limit your access to geo-restricted content and make bypassing internet censorship in some countries harder. With limited server options, you may also experience slower speeds due to server congestion. According to a study by VPNMentor, 84% of free VPNs have less than ten server locations.
- No Customer Support: Finally, free VPNs typically offer no customer support or technical assistance. This can be significant if you run into problems with the VPN connection or need help troubleshooting an issue. You’re on your own, and this can make it difficult to get the help you need. According to a study by BestVPN.co, 70% of free VPNs do not offer any kind of customer support.
While free VPNs may seem like an alluring option, they come with significant risks that can harm your online privacy and security. They are often insecure, log user data, offer slow internet speeds, have limited server locations, and lack customer support. To ensure your online privacy and security, opting for a reputable paid VPN provider that offers robust security features and excellent customer support is best.
How can EC-Council University help with this?
EC Council University offers various cybersecurity programs, including a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity. The program covers various aspects of cybersecurity, including network security, data protection, and ethical hacking, which can help individuals understand the risks associated with using free VPNs and take appropriate measures to protect their online activities.
If you’re interested in learning more about cybersecurity and how to protect yourself from online threats, pursuing a degree in cybersecurity from EC Council University can be a valuable option to consider.