Data protection is more important than ever. A quick Google search on cybersecurity best practices would yield results related to regularly updating antivirus software, creating strong passwords, training employees to spot phishing attacks, and using virtual private networks (VPNs).
VPNs work by cloaking users’ IP addresses and providing end-to-end encryption for devices that connect to the internet, effectively hiding the identity of users. Once encrypted, data becomes private and secured from the prying eyes of cybercriminals, governments, and competitors.
But you shouldn’t use just any VPN. Here’s why.
The dangers of free VPNs
VPNs may be too costly for some SMBs, leading them to use free alternatives.
Analytics firm Sensor Tower allegedly harvested user data through its software, landing them in hot water. Its free VPN apps were found to have been asking for access to all traffic and data on a user’s device.
VPNs are typically a paid service because they cost providers a lot of money to run servers simultaneously in multiple locations. So if a VPN is “free,” service providers may have hidden agenda, such as:
#1. Bandwidth selling
Some VPN service providers will use your system to provide bandwidth to other computers. While you are trying to stay anonymous to protect your data from intruders, other VPN users could be jacking your Wi-Fi to connect to the internet.
This not only slows down your machine but also holds your business liable for any breach. For instance, intruders could use your connection to visit illegal websites. And since the intruder’s identity is supposedly cloaked by a VPN, the malicious activity will be traced back to your device that connected to the compromised network.
#2. Target ads display
When you download a free app, developers usually make money through advertising. Free VPNs make profits the same way. They will collect data logs from your browsing activities, app usage, and online purchases, and sell them to companies that use it for advertising purposes.
Not only does this invade privacy, but this also defeats the purpose of using a VPN — to protect one’s identity and confidential information.
#3. Activity monitoring
Disreputable companies can peddle free VPNs promising anonymity and data protection. However, free VPNs can secretly monitor user activity to steal information such as login credentials, company files, bank information, and other important data.
This means that any employee logging in to your company’s various business programs and applications could have their details stolen. Some cybercriminals may even threaten to leak your data unless you pay a ransom.
#4. Data capping
Free VPNs limit the amount of data that users can consume every month. This is to entice users into upgrading to a premium plan. This is not an ideal setup for businesses that are dependent on a stable and fast internet connection with unlimited bandwidth.
Why a paid VPN service is worth it
VPN services are typically paid through a subscription, which means businesses must constantly shell out money to keep using them. However, it’s money well spent as it entitles you to the following benefits:
#1. Better bandwidth
Paid VPNs normally offer large bandwidths, so your business doesn’t have to worry about going over a data cap.
#2. Device compatibility
VPNs can be used across different platforms like Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. This makes it possible for your employees to use a VPN on any device, including smartphones and tablets.
#3. Flexible server locations
VPNs are helpful if you need to access a region-locked website. Many services allow you to move from one server location to another, so you can access a wide variety of content while staying anonymous.
Remember that “free” doesn’t always mean entirely free of costs, especially with VPNs. Avoid free VPNs and instead invest in a paid service that protects your identity and confidential business information.
Need help in choosing the right VPN service for your business? ERGOS can help. Our Network Solutions can ensure robust network performance and protection from all threats. To learn more about affordable cybersecurity solutions that your organization can take advantage of, download our FREE eBook today!