A new article in Computer World magazine may change the way you think about VPN apps from Apple’s App Store. One researcher claims that privacy flaws and other issues make these popular VPN apps a poor choice for those who want to improve their online privacy. The same flaws can also be found in VPN apps from Google Play.
The Problem with VPN Apps
Simon Migliano is a researcher who studies VPN platforms to assess their overall effectiveness at increasing online security. His recent work has targeted VPN apps that are available in the App Store for iOS devices. These apps can also be downloaded for Android phones and tablets from Google Play. Users often turn to these apps because they have misconceptions about VPN.
Some users believe that they must have an app to use VPN on their phone. In almost all cases this is untrue. Phones and tablets have a built-in VPN client that only needs to be configured with details supplied by a VPN provider. You receive these details when you purchase a VPN subscription.
Migliano found three specific areas of concern surrounding VPN apps:
- About 60% of the VPN apps available are owned by Chinese companies.
- Up to 77% of the VPN apps available had multiple privacy flaws.
- As many as 80% of VPN apps are sharing your browsing data with third parties.
The first problem is somewhat amusing given the stance of China toward VPNs in general. VPN providers have been banned from selling the service inside China. It seems that developers have chosen to leverage other ways of selling their VPN service, specifically through apps.
Migliano contends that it is the third issue which should cause the most concern for users of VPN apps. A VPN by its very nature routes traffic through its own servers. This can make it much harder for third parties to snoop or monitor browsing data and link it to a specific IP address. Even if they managed to do that the IP in question would belong to the VPN server and not to your computer.
The Danger of Having Your Data Sold to Third Parties
VPN apps may be selling user data to third parties. The problem is that the app developers are not very discretionary about who they sell the data to. It could be given to data clearinghouses and aggregators or it could even be sold to hackers. There is even the possibility that the data could be sold to cyber criminals.
The reason that individuals like Migliano have concerns about this is that there is a presumption about VPN users. It is logical to assume that a large number of VPN users choose to use a VPN because they do not want their browsing preferences revealed. Yes, some use VPNs to unblock restricted websites. But in the main there are individuals who do not want someone to know what websites they visit, what dating sites they frequent, or what gambling games they play.
There is another category of VPN user, however, that may be at even more risk. Some people use a VPN to help protect trade secrets or important confidential data. For these people the selling of their browsing data and other information could be a complete disaster.
Here’s the deal. Your VPN provider can have a very good idea of what you do online if they choose to do so. The message here is that you should take care to only use trusted VPN providers who will not sell the data to third parties. You also want a provider that does not retain logs of browsing activity.
Google and Apple Don’t Care About Trusted VPNs
One of the telling things about the research conducted by Migliano is that Google and Apple don’t care about whether or not the VPN apps on their platforms are trusted. A detailed list of the VPN apps that are posing a problem was given to Apple and Google with a request that they address the problem. So far the companies have taken few, if any, measures to remove such VPN apps from the App Store or Google Play.
There is still a way for you to get a trusted VPN to use on your mobile device. You can purchase a VPN from VPNAccounts.com. We do not share your data with third parties nor do we keep logs of browsing data. Our services are affordable and reliable, with a large number of servers to choose from. See what we have to offer and you’ll find out why we are preferred by VPN users all over the world.