Beware of Free VPNs

I know it has been said before, but it apparently needs repeating… You get what you pay for. This is especially true in the world of Virtual Private Networks. With so many people using the net to work from home or whatever, VPNs are a good idea, but not every VPN is a a good idea.

If it is free, you are paying for it in another way. 100+ VPN Logging Policies Debunked.

And it isn’t just the unknown players that you need to beware of.

For example, McAfee’s Safe Connect claims to encrypt your online activity and defend you against cybercriminals. On their homepage, they also claim to protect your privacy.

But their “privacy policy” says that they keep info about the apps you use, the websites you visit, in addition to aggregate statistics. That sounds like fairly detailed usage logs to me.

After the break find a table that details some of the VPNs and how they are not guarding your privacy.

Torrent Freak hasn’t updated its list of VPNs, so we still have last year’s list. It is good. The Good VPNs don’t change much year-to-year. Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous

Table 1. VPNs that access your browsing history.

VPN Provider Type of Logs Privacy Policy Share/Sell Data?
1. McAfee Safe Connect
1+ million installs
  • Websites you visit
  • Your IP address
  • Apps installed on your device
  • Timestamps
We may collect and use…details about your internet or network usage (including URLs or domain names of websites you visit, information about the applications installed on your device, or traffic data… (source)
We may also share aggregate data that does not identify you or any specific device with third parties.
2. Hola VPN
50+ million installs
  • Websites you visit
  • Time on those pages
  • Timestamps
We collect log data that may include browser type, web pages you visit, time on those pages, access items and dates… (source)
We may also transfer or disclose Personal Information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies.
3. Hoxx VPN
<1 million installs
  • Websites you visit
  • Your IP address
  • Timestamps
We collect log information about … access times, pages viewed, your IP address… (source)
We may share your data with our services providers…  We have contracts with our service providers that prohibit them from sharing the information about you that they collect or that we provide to them with anyone else, or using it for other purposes.
4. Hotspot VPN
1+ million installs
  • Websites you visit
  • Things you type into fields
  • Your device information
  • Your IP address
We log information and other data from your device, such as webpage addresses and data fields… (source)
We may share, sell, transmit, or otherwise make available to third parties information that does not include personally identifying information.
5. AVG VPN
1+ million installs
  • All logs
We collect and use VPN Data for the operation of our business to… VPN Data is stored for between 2 and 3 months on our secure servers…(source)
Not disclosed
6. Psiphon
10+ million installs
  • Websites you visit
  • Your IP address
  • Timestamps
We collect what sites are popular…
This information is shared with our partners so that they can see how often their sites are visited… (source)
All statistics shared with sponsors are further aggregated by date, sponsor, and region.

 

7. Unlocator
<1 million installs
  • All logs*
*We keep a log at a personal identifiable level which is automatically purged at a 24 hour interval… (source)
We are transferring your personal data, when necessary to be able to deliver the ordered service to you. These are typically Hosting Providers.
8. Seed 4 Me
<1 million installs
  • All logs
We do keep all logs…(source)
Not disclosed

As you can see, many popular VPNs keep your browsing logs, websites you visit, your IP address and many more.

4 thoughts on “Beware of Free VPNs

  1. Does every free vpn app is selling your data and keeping logs? I am using Atlas vpn for couple weeks and i noticed they have no logs policy, i liked it a lot, using services for streaming and i think i can trust them, but do i ?

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    • If you are not paying for VPN service, they are making money off you somehow. That is they are selling data about you and your web activity.

      Even paying is no guarantee, but there are the reviews, as linked above.

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      • There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. It costs money to setup and maintain VPN servers. They are not free, or even cheap. You have to hire people to run them. That money comes from somewhere.

        It either comes from a monthly or yearly payment you make, or it comes from them selling information about you and your web activity.

        People use a VPN to be anonymous on the internet. If your VPN is keeping info about everything you do, then you are not anonymous on the internet, and you might as well let your ISP/phone company sell that data. They might have a better privacy policy than your “free” VPN.

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    • OK here is a part of Atlas VPN’s (so called) privacy policy https://atlasvpn.com/privacy-policy/

      • Device data. Such as device category (mobile, tablet, etc.), brand name (e.g. Samsung, Apple), device model name, OS, OS version, language, time zone, coarse location (city scale, most probably based on IP address), install source, traffic source. We may keep this data so that we could analyze and make changes to our Services.
      • Device ID. We may use advertising IDs for marketing purposes.

      Using advertising IDs is so that they may UNIQUELY identify you to their “service provider” partners.

      That means, no matter how they dress it up, that they are basically profiting off everything you do on the internet. It was what Verizon was beat up so severely a few years back over.

      Everything. You. Do. On. The. Internet.

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