Virtual Private Networks are used extensively to hide IP addresses, access remote networks securely, download torrents anonymously, bypass geo-blocked content, and much more. Plenty of reasons to start a new relationship, right?

If you’re here, we’re pretty sure you’ve explored the options and free VPNs have crossed your path. Now you’re probably wondering “is free VPN safe, should I trust it?”

Let us break it down for you – there is no such thing as a free service in general. Operating a VPN requires a lot of resources, so if you’re not paying in cash, then be rest assured that you’re paying in other ways that will cost you your online security or even the leak of personal data.

The biggest dangers of using free VPN services:

#1 Tracking and selling your data

VPNs keep your internet activities hidden from ISPs and other interested parties by encrypting your data but they sure can track everything themselves. Most of paid VPNs are very strict about their logging policy. However, the same can’t be said about free services. They have to make money somehow, right? Therefore, many free VPN providers collect users data through tracking libraries and sell it for marketing, advertising, or other companies. A recent study (2016) by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) investigated 283 Android VPN apps (130 free VPN apps & 183 free VPN apps with premium services) and found out that 75% of them contained some kind of tracking.

#2 Injecting malware

It’s one of the common dangers in free VPNs. Malware comes in diverse forms, and its primary purpose is to make cash by deceiving you or hacking your devices to steal personal information. This can be done by sending you a friend request or chat messages from unknown people, sending you spam emails or making your device inaccessible.

#3 Bandwidth theft

Many free Virtual Private Networks steal users’ bandwidth and sell it to third parties. Individuals who use your stolen bandwidth through the third party services may never be aware that what they are doing is fraudulent.

#4 Traffic leaks

When your IP address is leaked out of the VPN tunnel, your personal information, physical location and identity will be revealed. It’s called DNS leakage which is very common with free VPNs. Even though traffic leaks can occur while using paid VPN services as well, they are way less common.

#5 Pushing advertisements

A free VPN provider can easily decrypt your internet traffic, as well as modify it. Therefore, specific web pages can have their code decrypted to push additional ads into it.

Online security is crucial. If you’re just starting your journey in a VPNs world and don’t feel like going for a paid service just yet, try a free VPN but think twice. Research thoroughly and read terms and conditions carefully. We’ve made a list of the best free VPNs out there – be our guest!