Most Free VPN apps are based in China and Offer No Protection New Analysis Shows

How secure do you think your mobile VPN application is? Apparently, there is a good chance that it isn’t that secure at all. And while this is somewhat old news, a recent study reveals new concerning information that might make you think twice before getting a free VPN.

The report, recently published by Simon Migliano, head of research at Metric Labs, shows that a large number of free mobile VPN apps with good ratings either had Chinese ownership or were based in the country, which is concerning in many aspects. If there is a country in which you wouldn’t want your VPN provider to be located, it’s certainly this one.

After investigating VPN apps in both Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, it was discovered that over half of them are run by or created by Chinese companies and developers that are not to be trusted. To make things even worse, many of the apps that were included in the research had little-to-no formal privacy protections nor did they offer user support.

According to Migliano, 86% of the total apps that were analyzed has bad privacy policies that are unacceptable when it comes to online security. Some of them were generic and did not disclose that the provider logs user’s traffic nor mentioned VPNs whatsoever, some were more honest about them sharing the information with Chinese third-parties, while other providers have no privacy policy at all. Nearly half of the free VPNs on this list did not take this issue seriously and provided plain texts of raw IP addresses without a domain name instead of a privacy policy.

Moreover, 64% of the VPN applications didn’t have an official website, instead of operating on the Play Store only.

How is this dangerous?

China is almost on top of the list when it comes to internet censorship. Right after North Korea, this country has gone to extremes in order to gain control over what its citizens are doing online. Besides, with one of the most intrusive online surveillance systems in the world, China managed to restrict the use of Virtual Private Networks as well. The technology, called The Great Firewall of China is capable of blocking every VPN that is not advanced enough.

Not so long ago, the government warned VPN companies that if they are not compliant with the law, that they will be banned from use. At that period, many providers gave up the fight of internet freedom in China, some are still fighting it with their every resource, and others eventually accepted the rules.

With this in mind, it’s difficult to say that a person can stay protected using a VPN that originates from there. In other words, there is a solid chance that everything you do while using VPNs is stored and then sold. We often take this security step in order to establish anonymity and ensure privacy on the internet. Therefore, by using a VPN that stores your data, you are doing the exact opposite. Most of the free VPN apps have proven to be dangerous, and if that was not convincing enough for you, this should probably do it. Besides, think about it, in a country where online piracy has lost meaning, why would your VPN be any exception?

How to protect yourself

For starters, stop using a free VPN! The damage has been done, now what you need to do is to stop making things worse. Uninstall the application from your mobile phone, then find one that is actually trustworthy, even if it means that you need to pay a few dollars per month.

Many popular VPN choices are compatible with smartphones, be it Android or iPhone. All you need to do is download the client on your device, or even better, set it up yourself without third parties interfering with your privacy.

To avoid making the same mistake all over again, this time read the privacy policy carefully. And yes, it can get quite boring, but it’s beyond important to do this.

Additionally, check the other features, including security, compatibility with devices, server count, leak protection, and speed.