There are hundreds of free VPN apps that are available for Android, and you can easily find them in the Play Store. However, out of those hundreds of apps, a big percentage of them are known to have security problems, which might bring a big risk to the user’s security. Please note that this problem happens even though the apps have been verified by Play Protect, which is Google’s proprietary method to scan malicious apps on the Play Store. So, as a regular user, you should be aware that not all of those free VPN apps are safe for you to use.

There are also certain risks that are known by security experts concerning the use of Android free VPN apps. So, the users should be aware of the risks associated with the usage of these apps, especially if they are planning to use these apps for the long-term. Again, since a big percentage of these apps have shown to have security problems that might risk your data, it is advisable to proceed with caution before installing one of these free VPN apps to your Android device. Here are 5 risks of using Android free VPN apps and how to avoid them:

1. Your VPN Provider Might Sell Your Data To The Advertisers

As is the case with many free VPN service providers, they are making money from the advertisers that display their ads on your mobile device. Of course, many of the Play Store apps integrate with Google’s own advertising network. But, there are still some app developers that want to earn more than just from Google advertising. For that purpose, they record their user’s online behavior and sell the data to the advertisers, in the hope that they can make more money from their apps. Unfortunately, there are a lot of free VPN providers that follow this practice. So, there is a big chance that your service provider is selling your data to the third-party advertisers.

How To Avoid: Try to use the free VPN apps that have transparency in their privacy policy, regarding what they will do with the user’s data that they collect.

2. Your Private Browsing Session Might Be Monitored

When you activate the VPN on your mobile device, it means that you are using a private network to access the internet from your device. Normally, when you use a good private network, there will be no monitoring process of your online activity. The VPN connection is supposed to protect your browsing activity from any kind of third-party monitoring. However, with many free VPN apps, it is found that the service providers might monitor your browsing activity while you use their app. So, at this point, the VPN connection is not free from third-party monitoring.

How To Avoid: Again, take a look at the app’s privacy policy before installing. Find out whether they are monitoring your data or not, for whatever purpose. They might say that they might need to monitor your browsing session for the purpose of improving the user experience, which in this case, you should avoid using this app.

3. The Free VPN App Might Install Spyware On Your Mobile Device

According to the research done by security experts recently, even the apps that have passed the Play Protect scanning might still contain a kind of malicious source code that is undetected. This source code can only be detected by third-party virus scanning apps, since this code is often hidden deep within the app source code. The purpose of the malicious code is usually to monitor your online activity, as well as installing spyware on your mobile device. Your data will in turn be sent to third-party servers, and it might be used for bad purposes.

How To Avoid: First of all, do not ever install a VPN app that is not officially available in the Play Store. For instance, if you install a VPN app in the form of APK file, then there is a big chance that it is a malicious app. Second, always install a good antivirus software on your device, which will do automatic scanning for all your installed apps.

4. The Private Connection Might Not Be Private

Your private connection is supposed to be private, but on many occasions, there are cases of IP address leak that are experienced by the users when they use free VPN apps on their mobile devices. The IP address leak or DNS leak is very common in free private networks, since it doesn’t have a strong encryption to secure your internet connection. As a result, your supposed private connection might turn out to be not private at all. So, beware of this kind of problem.

How To Avoid: Always check your IP address when using a private connection, since there is a big chance that the VPN connection doesn’t completely mask your IP address.

5. Your Private Network Might Be Vulnerable To Hacker Attacks

This is the biggest risk of all. When you use a free private network connection on your mobile device, you should know that you are at the risk of hacker attacks. This is because usually, a free mobile VPN has a very weak encryption system, which is very vulnerable to hacker attacks. This is also the cause, in some cases, where people’s private photos are being leaked to the public due to using a low-security private connection.

How To Avoid: Only use a free VPN app from a reputable VPN service provider, or best of all, start using a premium VPN service instead. This way, the security protection is more guaranteed for you.

Those are 5 risks of using Android free VPN apps and how to avoid them. It is always a good idea to check the app that you want to install on your mobile device to prevent any security problem in the future. Don’t just pick an app based on the ratings or popularity in the Play Store. You have to ensure that the free VPN app is completely safe for you to use.