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Beware masquerading malware dressed up as mobile VPNs

August 21, 2018    |    Company News    |    Lauren Elkins

With the rise of online privacy concerns today, many users are aware of what a virtual private network (VPN) is and what THEY can do with it.

But not many know how to spot a bad VPN and HOW it works.

With the combination of consumers' increased attention on protecting their privacy and the ubiquity of mobile devices, cyber criminals have jumped on this. They've flooded the app stores with disreputable VPNs. Millions of users have downloaded VPN apps on their smartphones and tablets that aren't keeping their data and devices private. Instead, they've installed actively harmful apps. They've granted disreputable companies extensive access to their browsing data (or even more, such as texts!) to do with as they please. Or they've even installed supposed VPNs that are actually malware, damaging their devices with concealed malicious activity.

We have some important stats about it, from an in-depth analysis by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), along with what you should watch out for.

The Stats:

  • CSIRO analyzed 283 mobile VPNs on the Google Play store
  • 18% of VPNs did not encrypt traffic at all
  • 84% didn’t use the most recent version of internet protocol
  • 75% used third-party data-tracking libraries
  • 82% asked for permission to access additional phone data such as text messages

The two important strategies for choosing the right mobile VPN:

1. It’s a matter of trust. When you use a VPN app, it will have full visibility of your internet traffic. You need to carefully read through the privacy policy of the provider you’re interested in. Will they use the best encryption? Do they store your data? What do they do with it? Are they transparent with their practices? Private Tunnel posts our Privacy Policy in depth on our site. We are built upon the de facto standard for encryption, our award-winning open-source VPN protocol.

2. Free is a dangerous price to pay. In app stores, many users search for free apps. However, there’s always a trade off. Your “free” Facebook app has a lot of information and data about you. A “free” mobile game may stream ads to you as you play. What about a “free” VPN? The cost of VPN apps is actually an important quality indicator. If an app isn’t built around a service plan that costs you money, their business model requires making money somewhere else. Usually, that will mean collecting and selling your user data. We have low cost plans available and all of them include a 7-day free trial. Try us out today!

It really is possible to find the perfect match. You simply need a well-known app, developed by a reputable company, that is transparent about how they handle your data and advocates for real privacy.

Better Safe Than Sorry