As a general internet user, you’d come across umpteen sites that are a part of a phishing campaign--out to steal your credentials and personal information. Basic information--like name, date of birth, email address and phone number--could be used against you or for the benefit of the attackers who have laid their hands on your details. To prevent your identity from being leaked, companies in the market offer virtual private network (VPN) service, which will hide your exact location and, thereby, avoid your information from being accessed by persons or organizations with malicious intent.
Traveling into the tunnel
VPNs are basically tunneling software, which attaches you to random servers across the globe so that the website you are browsing isn’t aware of your precise location. The software spoofs your IP address to look like someone else or being from somewhere else other than the current location. For illustration, a website that is blocked in a specific country can be accessed through VPN service as it fools the website about the browser’s original location. Therefore, VPN is used popularly by users of movie streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO and more. Not just these: VPN service has several applications where a company can use a secure tunnel to exchange data or perform tasks, to keep the channel from interception. VPN is highly effective against eavesdropper whose primary intention is to intercept data or messages passed between two systems or individuals.
Free is not necessarily good
As VPN’s popularity grew, it was adopted by consumers more and more, to access content that was once not available in their region. Soon, users across the globe relied on this new private, secure channel to camouflage their identity and location. However, offering VPN service requires significant infrastructure and capital, which compels enterprises to develop VPN products that generate revenue in return from the users. Thus, some companies offer a wide gamut of pricing plans for the usage of their service based on the number of hours, data, and location. However, there are companies which offer free VPN services to consumers, but, in return, collect users’ browsing activity, personal information and more. These free VPN services also pose risks to your system. Here are some of the potential threats.
Malware -- While these infections come in various forms their main goal is to make money using your data. The malware hidden in VPN can spam the user with ads and messages based on his/her personal browsing habit.
Tracking -- These services track your data completely and sell it to companies that spam you with ads and malware. A research suggested that a large portion of the free VPN services have the ability to track your information.
Stolen bandwidth -- Some of the VPNs steal your internet bandwidth to make your system behave like a server on the web and route other through your internet connection and use your data.
Browser hijacking -- You will find VPN services that will hijack your browser and direct users to websites of the major brands and advertising companies.
So, users should evaluate carefully before choosing a VPN service. If security and privacy is of paramount, it is recommended to use paid VPN services for much more secure way of browsing or exchanging information.