If you happen to search Google or Bing for “VPN” don’t be surprised if some of the results that come back lead you to sites that promise free VPN service in exchange for downloading a software client that will allow you to run the provider’s VPN on your Windows computer. You may also encounter the same thing if you’re using a Mac. Stop! Read this article before you download any software that claims to be a VPN client.
A wolf in VPN clothing
Just out of curiosity we attempted to visit a random link that was returned in a search for “download VPN client” and this is what happened:
Our antivirus jumped all over this free VPN website and its link to download a software client. Obviously, we didn’t proceed but we’re pretty sure why an antivirus program identified it as dangerous: the software most likely contains harmful payloads in the form of malware or spyware that will allow the provider to track your preferences whenever you use their VPN client.
This practice is more common than you might think. In most cases free VPN providers are only providing access to a web-based proxy that is subsidized by advertising revenue. If they were offering a reputable VPN they wouldn’t be asking you to download a client. The reason why is pretty simple: your computer or tablet already has one.
VPN software is on your device
Pretty much every operating system today from Android and the iOS to Windows already has a VPN client built in. VPN software is even found on gaming devices like the PS4 and Xbox One. Your mobile phone has it and so does your tablet. Since it is already there you don’t need a software download to use a VPN.
When you sign up for a VPN your provider will issue you some credentials that will then be used to configure VPN access via your pre-installed software. All you have to do is enter those credentials…a super easy task…and you can start using a VPN with multiple server locations in minutes. There is no risk whatsoever to your device because you really aren’t making any changes to your system the way you would be if you downloaded a client from one of these sneaky websites.
Tricking you is what proxies do
Proxies depend on a large volume of users in order to stay in business. They need those users to be clicking ads that often appear within a web-based proxy platform or they need to be gathering user data to sell. They are also not above tricking you into being tracked and that’s the real motivation behind their software download.
Our suggestion would be to explore VPN services that are upfront about charging for service and their prices. It’s pretty easy to distinguish a reputable service provider from a shady one when you think about it. The reputable VPN provider will tell you what you’re getting—server locations, speed, cost, logging policy—whereas a shady one will go to great lengths to conceal things by simply getting your attention with the word “free.” Once you download anything and install it on your device the damage is done. You can remove it, of course, but many times that won’t remove the malware payloads that have been delivered. Get your VPN at VPN-accounts.com!
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