Cracked VPN: What is It, What are Its Drawbacks?

Abeerah Hashim  - Security Expert
Last updated: May 8, 2024
Read time: 13 minutes

Find out what a cracked VPN is, learn the risks of using one, and review affordable premium replacement VPNs.


To the average internet user, getting premium VPN services without paying any amount sounds appealing. It looks pretty attractive, but it is not exactly what it looks like. Cracked VPNs come with flaws that can severely damage your device and breach your security. You can learn more about these cracked VPNs and why you should avoid them in this guide.


Cracking a software program means creating a pirated version of it. That means removing its copy protection and utilizing it in a manner that the developer didn’t intend. You can find cracked versions of the most popular software programs, so unsurprisingly, hackers are now targeting leading VPNs.

What is a cracked VPN?

What is cracked VPN

A cracked VPN is a premium VPN software program with removed software or copy protection. Cracking a VPN means pirating it to access all its features without paying.

Wondering, “Can a VPN be cracked?” Hackers are often responsible for cracking VPNs or providing the tools for this. So far, you can find cracked versions of the most popular VPNs, including ExpressVPN, PIA, and Surfshark. There are cracked VPNs for Android, iOS, and Windows operating systems.

You can download cracked VPNs for free or cheaply from certain websites. Typically, they come with a code that enables you to activate them. After successful activation, you have access to all the VPN features that used to be premium.

While this sounds good, cracked VPNs are a lie and unlawful. VPNs require internet access to work, enabling the VPN provider to keep you safe online. Cracked VPNs are instead from hackers looking for ways to harm your computer or steal certain information.

Does a cracked VPN work?

A cracked VPN might work, but this comes with many associated risks. You may still browse the internet anonymously, but this can backfire in the form of security issues to your privacy and damage to your device.

Online safety tips

You may also be the subject of a lawsuit if you’re using a cracked VPN. Beyond these, other challenges make cracked VPNs a dangerous alternative to regular VPNs. It’s advisable to stay entirely away from them.

Cracked VPNs can be illegal

Legal icon

VPNs are typically proprietary software programs with software protection. This means the developers make them available to the user but still exercise copyright protection.

You can purchase a copy of the software but can’t distribute it without permission. This copyright protection typically has legal backing that can make you the subject of a lawsuit if breached. Court cases involving VPN cracking are rare, but they can happen, and it’s better to avoid them by using the VPN legally.

Cracked VPNs can be dangerous

Cracked VPNs pose different threats and can harm or damage your computer. These VPNs don’t function properly and don’t get the level of support that legitimate VPNs get.

Danger icon

Fundamentally, cracked VPNs are incompatible with a VPN app’s actual nature and operation. VPNs can’t work offline as all the work happens on the server, including authorization. When the VPN server realizes you’re an unauthorized user, it denies your connection.

That means just because a VPN app carries the logo of top vendors, such as ExpressVPN and Surfshark, doesn’t mean it’s from them. It may be from a hacker trying to install malware onto your computer. This makes cracked VPNs even more dangerous.

1. Compromise your online security


Unlike premium VPNs, cracked VPNs aren’t reliable in establishing secure connections between two networks. This defeats the primary purpose of using a VPN.

An unreliable VPN poses risks to your online privacy and security. The hacker behind the VPN may intercept every data and traffic you send. ISPs can also monitor your online activities and report you to the government or law enforcement agencies.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software that threatens to block access to your computer unless you pay a certain amount. You can’t download cracked VPNs from trusted and official sources; instead, you find them on unsecured and random web pages. These web pages can contain viruses and ransomware that pose severe threats to your computer.

The VPN itself can also be a disguised form of malware. You may only realize this after you download it. The VPN can completely shut access to your computer until you pay a hefty amount of money.

3. Adware

Besides ransomware, websites that host cracked VPNs also contain various kinds of adware. While these are less dangerous than ransomware, they’re also very pesky and can get on your nerves.

Adware programs continue to display or download advertising materials such as pop-ups. It’s impossible to eliminate these types of advertisements, and they’ll continue to appear as long as the VPN remains active. Adware can significantly slow down your computer and contain links to malicious websites that can cause greater harm.

4. No more updates

Once you switch to a cracked VPN, bid goodbye to updates, as you’ll stop receiving them. That’s because VPN providers don’t recognize your app, and updating will stop it from working.

Developers update their apps to address issues and add new and exciting features. For example, the update might help address bugs and crashes, expand supported devices, or add protection from a new virus. You miss out on these features and further risk your device due to using an unrecognized app.

5. Lost customer support access

If you also encounter an issue while using the app, you can’t raise a complaint to customer support. Technical and customer support is crucial for legitimate customers since there’s a high chance of encountering an issue while using the VPN. Most VPN vendors offer 24/7 customer support through live chat, call, or email.

There are also opportunities to reclaim your money if you’re unsatisfied with the services and features, ensuring you effectively use the VPN for free. Cracked VPNs may seem good when you begin using them, but the numerous issues you’ll later face and the absence of customer support can eventually frustrate you.

6. Privacy risks

Privacy risks constitute one of the main reasons to avoid cracked VPNs. While the VPN might work, you may connect to unknown servers that hackers have set up. Since your traffic first passes through these servers, you’ve given unrestricted access to them.

How to avoid a cracked VPN

Stay safe

Since avoiding such VPNs means saving money for an actual subscription, most people may be reluctant. This is important, though, for your online security.

Below, you’ll find tips on how to avoid hacked VPNs and potentially get quality VPNs cheap or even free.

1. Find VPNs with affordable subscription fees

There are numerous VPNs available for download on the internet. If you’re trying to save costs, you may choose one of the cheaper VPN options.

On average, VPNs cost about $10 per month, but you may find many between the range of $3 to $4. The value of the VPN typically depends on the level of functionality. This means that, while you may find a $3 VPN, its offered features can differ substantially from one that costs $10.

2. Subscribe to an actual plan from the VPN’s official website

The best way to avoid cracked VPNs is to visit the vendor’s official website. Any VPN you download from an official website is sure to be authentic, or the website can point you to official stores.

Below are ways by which you can identify an actual VPN website.

  • Actual brand name – The web address or URL will contain the actual name of the brand or company. For example, you can download ExpressVPN from, showing the registered name of the app.
  • Safe and secure website – You can also identify an authentic website by checking whether it’s or isn’t secure. Businesses and organizations generally secure their websites using the https:// protocol rather than the ordinary http://. Hackers can also obtain the certificate for this protocol, so you may need to check for other indicators to determine the website’s status.
  • Clean and organized web pages – Genuine VPN websites have clean and friendly interfaces to perform your actions efficiently. They usually have no pop-ups or irrelevant ads and contain every detail about the VPN. You can also find the link to the “About Us” webpage on the homepage for information about the company, owner, mission, and vision.
  • Hyperlinks from review platforms – If you’re using a review website to learn more about a VPN, you may be able to visit its official website from there. Hyperlinks from these websites will send you to the right page to quickly subscribe and download the VPN.

3. Make long-term rather than short-term payments

Despite their monthly average cost, most VPNs are cheaper when you sign up for longer contracts. The actual monthly average is around $10, but the annual package may only cost $4, while the biannual package only costs $2.

The initial payment may look huge, but you eventually save excess costs. These cost savings can, sometimes, be as high as 83% of the original monthly payment.

4. Research deals, prices, and promotions

Hundreds of VPN programs are available, so the competition is naturally fierce. Due to this, you can always find some exciting promos and deals.

Most VPN vendors partner with influencers and content creators to provide cost-saving promo codes. These VPNs can give mouth-watering discounts during their anniversaries or other important events. They may also organize contests that give you unlimited access for a limited time.

It’s essential to be careful when researching deals, promos, and lower VPN prices. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. Be more wary of deals you come across on social media and online forums and confirm dubious promises from official sources.

Cracked VPN alternatives

Top VPN services

If you need an affordable VPN, choose one of our three recommended choices below.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN new features block logo 120 by 120 now

A top-notch and fast VPN service that offers advanced encryption to keep your online activities safe and private. It offers lightning-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth, making it suitable for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and downloading.

servers Has vast server network with 160 locations across 94 countries
Trusted servers nord Enhanced safety with TrustedServer technology
encryption Uses industry-leading AES-256 encryption
Zero-logs policy Provide no-logs policy to ensure user privacy remains intact
Split tunneling feature Offers split tunneling to ensure local content access with ease
network lock feature Kill switch for maintaining privacy
tor compatible Has Onion over VPN servers
P2P optimized servers Most servers support P2P file sharing
simultaneous connections Simultaneous connections on up to 8 devices
money-back guarantee Offers 30-day money-back guarantee for risk-free testing
  • Excellent security and privacy features
  • High-speed internet servers
  • 3 extra months free on the annual plan
  • Expensive than most other VPNs

ExpressVPN is a globally recognized service that has built a legacy around its network of vast, ultrafast internet servers and trusted security privacy and security features. It has over 3,000 secure servers in 94 countries, including the US, which means you can bypass geo-restriction for most regions and access anything you want online.

The service uses AES 256-bit encryption, which experts have tested and considered the most secure form of encryption. The VPN does not log and deletes your DNS queries, browsing history, and IP addresses as you browse, preventing anyone from tracking you with them.

For a positive user experience, this VPN is compatible with all major devices, including iPhone, Windows, Mac, Android, and web extensions. You can also complain or make inquiries through its live chat and customer support, available 24/7.

2. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Private internet access pros cons block logo

An industry-leading VPN service that boasts exceptional security features, robust encryption protocols, and the ability to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions.

servers Boasts an extensive list of VPN servers scattered globally
P2P optimized servers P2P support for secure torrenting
encryption AES-256 encryption technology for top-tier data security
Ad Blocker feature Integrated ad-blocking feature
Zero-logs policy Provide zero-logs policy
Trusted servers nord RAM-only VPN servers (warrants superior privacy)
Split tunneling feature Offers split tunneling for selective VPN usage
Kill switch Kill switch feature to prevent data exposure
simultaneous connections Supports unlimited devices to connect at once
money-back guarantee Tested 30-day refund policy
  • Affordable VPN with a simple interface
  • Multiple device support
  • Available on all platforms, including consoles, routers and smart TVs
  • Varying server speeds

PIA is a budget-friendly VPN service that provides that has premium features that a robust VPN should have. It’s one of the largest VPNs containing more than 28,000 servers in 80+ countries. However, more than half of its servers are in the US.

Its servers are fast and support high-definition videos up to 4K resolutions. If you enjoy online video and game streaming, this will give you an enjoyable experience.

This VPN emphasizes users’ security and privacy, featuring DNS leak protection, malware and ad blockers, 256-bit encryption, and a customizable kill switch. PIA’s core competitive advantage, though, remains its cheap subscription fees. Its three-year deal costs $2.03 per month, and you get an extra three months for free.

3. Surshark


A versatile VPN service that ensures lightning-fast speeds and affordable online privacy protection. It provides top-tier security features.

servers Has a network of more than 3,200 secure VPN servers across 65 countries
Trusted servers nord Runs entirely on RAM for enhanced security
Zero-logs policy Has a strict no-log policy for user privacy
encryption Military-grade data protection using AES-256-GCM encryption.
P2P optimized servers Servers that support peer-to-peer for safe torrenting
Kill switch Offers an automatic kill switch
Clean web features CleanWeb function for ad-blockings, trackers, and malware
Split tunneling feature Split tunneling via Whitelister allows specific app/data bypass
simultaneous connections Allow unlimited connections with a single subscription
money-back guarantee Offers 30-day money-back policy
  • Camouflage mode for extra privacy
  • Inexpensive activation and subscription fee
  • CleanWeb feature (blocks ads and malware)
  • Distant servers may exhibit speed lags

Surfshark’s defining feature is its support for simultaneous connections on unlimited devices. You can connect as many devices as you want. Despite these multiple device connections, you won’t notice any lag or drop in the internet speed.

An initial fee of $1.99 also makes it very affordable and one of the low-cost VPNs we recommend. Also, subscribing to a three-year plan gives you three months for free. You also have a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the features or services.

For enhanced security, Surfshark uses the WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols to secure your data, together with 256-bit encryption. Its customer service is also friendly, and you can access it through its website or apps on Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and macOS.

Can a hacked VPN help me stream safely?

VPNs hacker-proof methods

No, using hacked VPN services to watch free movies online is generally not safe or recommended. Here are a few key reasons why:

  • Security risks: Hacked VPNs pose paramount security and privacy risks. They may claim to hide your IP address but expose your information or inject malware. It’s extremely risky since you don’t know who hacked the VPN or controls the servers.
  • Unreliable service: Hacked VPNs often have unstable connections, slow speeds, data limits, and server outages. They are not optimized for smooth, uninterrupted video streaming. You could frequently lose connections and have playback issues.
  • No legal protection: Using such a VPN provides no legal cover if you engage in illegal streaming activities. Despite claims otherwise, it will not shield your identity or location. When using hacked or illegal providers, you have no recourse if your information gets compromised.
  • Promotes piracy: Hacked VPNs are often used to access illegal pirated content. By using such services, you inadvertently help support online piracy networks and cybercrime. This carries severe moral and ethical concerns.

For safe and smooth online streaming, avoid hacked VPNs and use reputable paid providers that stand behind their products. While free options exist, too, paid services tend to offer the best speeds, features, and security needed for streaming media.


You can identify a hacked VPN in several ways if you didn’t download one yourself. First, you can’t access all its features, and its size may be bigger than the genuine version. Besides, it may be a cracked version if you receive numerous pop-ups after connecting to your VPN.

It depends on the level of encryption that the VPN uses. High-end, premium VPNs, such as ExpressVPN and PIA, use AES-256 encryption, currently the most advanced form of data encryption. Even the fastest supercomputers will require a long time to decrypt this, making them highly safe and secure.

Free VPNs are different from these hacked VPNs. A free VPN has its name, list of features, and functionality it offers at no cost. However, it often fails to provide the level of security and privacy that premium VPNs offer. Moreover, using a free VPN has most of the risks of using a cracked VPN, such as adware and privacy risks. Nonetheless, while a free VPN can be cracked, it’s usually unnecessary since it is already free. Cracked VPNs, especially the maliciously crafted variants, are usually successful in luring users when they offer premium VPNs.

VPNs encrypt your online data and reroute the traffic through a secure tunnel. This tunnel is typically a physical server that hides your IP address and tricks ISPs and other snoopers into believing you’re in a different location.

Share this article

About the Author

Abeerah Hashim

Abeerah Hashim

Security Expert
166 Posts

Abeerah is a passionate technology blogger and cybersecurity enthusiast. She yearns to know everything about the latest technology developments. Specifically, she’s crazy about the three C’s; computing, cybersecurity, and communication. When she is not writing, she’s reading about the tech world.

More from Abeerah Hashim


No comments.