South African’s have gone digital. With an internet penetration rate of 62%, we’re more connected to the world wide web than ever before. But the more people with a digital footprint, the more chance of privacy breaches. It’s now more important than ever, to keep our data, and the data of our customers safe. 

Unfortunately, South Africa is slow to the cybersecurity party. Legislation to curb cybercrime was only passed in January 2020, after it was found that South Africans are subject to 577 malware attacks per hour. While the government has been slow to take cybercrime more seriously, South African’s have started to take measures into their own hands with the use of free virtual private networks (VPN’s). But while VPNs provide an extra layer of privacy by hiding your ISP and encrypting the data you send and receive, free VPNs are not good news for personal or business internet users.

If your security is breached by an unreliable VPN, you could end up paying thousands more in the long run for fixing the issues. Let’s dig further into why a free VPN isn’t worth the cost benefit.

Data harvesting

If your VPN service is free, or at least extremely cheap, think twice about how your data is used by the provider you have chosen. According to Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN, “Providing access to a network of VPN servers costs money, so unless you are paying for the service or opt for one of a handful of freemium services, in-app advertising is how the developers turn a profit.”

If you receive adverts while in your VPN app, how you engage with those ads and your in-app activities are shared with 3rd parties who pay the provider for this access. If you come across a cheap or free VPN solution, always consider how the provider is supporting itself financially without charging you for it.

This ultimately negates the purpose of a VPN. It’s role is to keep your data safe, but in fact most cheap or free VPNs will provide your data to third parties when you skim over the fine print in the user agreement.

Poor performance

Secondly, take note of the fact that a very cheap or free VPN solution is most likely not going to have invested in high-performing security infrastructure. This means that you can experience slow internet speeds, constant ad pop-ups and sometimes even malware creeping in without the system being able to detect it.

On top of that, free VPNs come with limited features such as the inability to support a variety of platforms and operating systems, aren’t able to connect to different devices at once and don’t offer reliable encryption of data.

How to choose the best VPN for your business needs

In order to invest in a VPN that will offer a reliable and robust solution, consider the following features during your research:

  • Uncompromised site speed
  • Reliable data encryption
  • Servers are locally housed for a fast connection
  • Data caps are high or unlimited
  • Multiple or unlimited device connections
  • Customer support to resolve issues promptly

Installing a reliable, paid VPN solution is an added layer of security that will safeguard your website’s data for the long term, and it need not be an expensive exercise. It’s well worth the investment when compared to free VPNs that are set to promise poor performance and risky security.