Virtual Private Networks: Is Free Good?

April 10, 2019

VPNs are the new wonder tool in Internet security and privacy. Want one? Download Opera.

DarkCyber has noted that Vladimir Putin is not a fan of digital tunneling. In our weekly news program, we have mentioned that some VPNs are not providing the security the user wants. In some enforcement circles, use of a VPN is a red flag.

It seems logical to assume that anything free on the Internet comes with a catch. Free VPNs come with with a special extra. Tech Radar explores free VPNs in, “Four Ways That A Free VPN Can Profit From Its Users.”

Paid VPNs manage to stay on top of their game by having their users pay a monthly subscription fee. Free VPNS do offer comparable services, but in order to do that they have to make money somehow. There are four ways free VPNs can make a profit from their users. The first one is called a “gateway” VPN, because it is a free trial or tier associated with a paid VPN The hope is that the trial users will become monthly subscribers when they discover the free version’s limitations, such as low bandwidth.

Another alternative involves free VPN selling information about your Internet habits. This information would usually be collected by ISPs, but the VPN blocks them. ISPs sell the information to the highest bidder, but the VPNs do that instead. Free VPNs can also share and reroute bandwidth amongst its various users:

“Yet with one free VPN provider, HolaVPN, this is exactly what happened. HolaVPN doesn’t have its own network of servers, but effectively crowd sources, with everyone using the service providing them bandwidth – not only for the free HolaVPN offering, but also for a related paid product known as Luminati. In addition, your device could become the exit node for another user’s activity, making you potentially liable for their actions.”

Then there is the tried and true method of selling advertising on the VPN network, including targeted ads. The VPN might block the ISPs from collection information, but the VPN collects it and makes a profit from the user’s information.

Yep, free.

Whitney Grace, April 10, 2019


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