When the government blocked social media during election period last year, may Ugandans got to learn the acronym “VPN” for the first time. As we’ve seen before Virtual Private Networks (VPN) can be used for those who need extra privacy online or trying to access geo-blocked content like Netflix US, Hulu or HBO. When one downloads a VPN applications on their device they hope it will be able to protect them by encrypting internet traffic and routing it through different countries. This will mean the authorities/governments and also hackers will not be able to intercept your connection. And, can also fool HBO or Amazon into thinking you’re in a different country. But here is a downside, not all VPN apps are safe to use.
According to a new analysis done recently, which tested over 300 Android VPNs apps, discovered that 84 % of those apps reveled users’ web traffic to 3rd parties, 38 % had malware, and 18 % didn’t encrypt data at all, which is the sole purpose of a VPN. Some apps even allowed operators to read a users’ Gmail emails. In at least three cases, the developers claimed they intercepted traffic only in order to speed up the connections.
Below is a list of the top 10 worst offenders when it came to malware below and you should never install any of them at all costs.
The report also found other VPN apps like Neopard, DashVPN, and DashNet intercepted traffic. You can read the full report at the source link below. It was compiled by security researchers from a number of institutions including the University of California at Berkeley and CSIRO, a federal research agency in Australia.
The study focused on free VPN apps available on Android, and it was also discovered that even those who pay for premium VPN apps are not guaranteed of security nor the assurance that they won’t sell your data to 3rd parties or inserting adverts, but users are still trusting a company with their internet traffic.
So what can users do to use a VPN safely?
- You should pay for a VPN app, as it takes away an incentive for snooping.
- Use legendary VPN services
- Free VPN users should, avoid those which ask for too many permissions on your phone (like looking at your contacts) or that insert their own advertising