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Jan 26, 2017 10:51 AM EST

Android VPN: Beware Of Shady Apps; How To Protect Your Device


A research found out that some Android VPN apps may be placing your device and all its contents in danger. Here's what you need to know, Android users.

According to Lifehacker, a recent study by researchers from Data61/CSIRO, UC Berkeley, UNSW Sydney, and UCSI found out that there are various popular VPN services on Android open up a variety of security holes. This includes introucing JavaScript for ads, as well as tracking services, and traffic redirection to commerce sites, among others.

These Android VPN apps are useful for encrypting web traffic or getting around regional restrictions. Most of these services require a subscription but many are also offering free options.

Android VPN apps: how are you at risk as a user?

Researchers were able to test 283 Android VPN apps and what they found out was not good: 18 percent do not encrypt traffic, 84 percent leak user data, 38 percent reveal malware, and 80 percent request access to sensitive data like user accounts or text messages.

Unfortunately, the study did not go through a full ranking of all apps tested. In addition, it did not classify the best or most secure services. Although it goes through the worst, which are shown in the table below, using a VirusTotal ranking system.

One of the major concerns to look into is, in most cases, the researchers found that most VPN providers did not usually admit to their shady practices. When researchers reached out to them, many did not respond, while others simply confirmed that their free version injected code to show their own ads.

It's a good thing that many of the worst offenders have been removed from Google Play. It’s no secret that VPNs are shady and finding a good one requires real effort, but this is a nice reminder that you should always do some research before using any type of security software. One thing to note is that there's no reason to assume that this issue is restricted to Android VPN apps. iOS and desktop VPN apps likely have similar problems.

Android VPN apps: top 10 list of offenders

According toABC News, here are the top shady Android VPN apps:

App Name AV-Rank Google Play rating (out of 5) Downloads (approx.) Availability
OkVpn 24 4.2 1,000 DELETED
EasyVpn 22 4 50,000 DELETED
SuperVPN 13 3.9 10,000 DELETED
Betternet 13 4.3 5 million ACTIVE
CrossVpn 11 4.2 100,000 ACTIVE
Archie VPN 10 4.3 10,000 ACTIVE
HatVPN 10 4 5,000 DELETED
sFly Network Booster 10 4.3 1,000 DELETED
One Click 6 4.3 1 million ACTIVE
Fast Secure Payment 5 4.1 5,000 ACTIVE

Were you able to encounter these Android VPN apps?

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