Malicious VPN Apps: Data Protection Strategies
October 1, 2022

Malicious VPN Apps: Data Protection Strategies

Customers use virtual private networks (VPNs) for a variety of purposes, including avoiding censorship restrictions, streaming TV content, and downloading music.

Their main presumption is that everything they do takes place on a network that protects their online surfing and private information.

This may not always be the case, however. Recent study by VPNPro raises concerns about the widespread usage of harmful programmes, including VPN software, in large part because Google Play has not issued any warnings or put any restrictions on download access in its store. (Read on to find out more: “Employing a Free VPN? Really not. You’re Using a Data Farm Likely “)

Not So Super or Private: SuperVPN

With over 100 million downloads, this is one of the most downloaded free VPN applications in the Google Play market. Every install, however, represents an uninformed user whose data may be at danger or has already been hacked.

Using a VPN will protect your online activity from prying eyes and keep it secret. It is intended to be so secure that even if a hacker were to get data from the network, it would take them infinitely long to even start to decode it. For other VPN software, though, this could be more of a lofty ideal than a reality.

The study exposes serious flaws in the SuperVPN software that leave it open to deadly man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, which let criminals eavesdrop on every conversation between a user and a VPN provider, thereby negating the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.

What Consequences Follow?

According to this study, over 105 million individuals may be at danger of having their credit card information stolen, their personal information exposed online, or their private images and videos leaked or sold. They could be using risky programmes like SuperVPN to browse harmful websites that hackers have set up. (Read Frequently Used Techniques Hackers Use To Crack Your Cellular Phone.)

But problems don’t simply exist with SuperVPN.

Ten free VPN applications, out of the top VPN apps examined by VPNpro, seem to have serious flaws:

A free VPN client is SuperVPN (100 million installs)

TapVPN is a free VPN (10 million installs)

The Fastest Secure Unlimited VPN is the Best Overall VPN (5 million installs)

Korea VPN – an OpenVPN add-on (1 million installs)

With Wuma VPN-PRO (1 million installs)

VPN Unblocker is the finest, free, anonymous, and safe option (1 million installs)

VPN Download: Best, Fast & Blocked Sites (500,00 installs)

Super VPN 2019 USA — Unblock Proxy VPN, Free VPN (50,000 installs)

It’s not apparent if the flaws found in these applications were introduced accidentally or as a consequence of careless app development. One thing is certain: if you have any of these VPN applications installed, you need to remove them right now.

What is Google Play doing to address this?

More than three years ago, SuperVPN was categorised as malware by several sites. It had barely accumulated 10,000 installations at the time. It has amassed more than 100 million installations as a result of being let to stay on the Google Play store. Find and remove camera malware by reading this article.

Since the app was first reported, 99,990,000 more users are now at danger of having their data exposed. As of the date of writing, it is still accessible for download, therefore this figure is growing.

In addition, VPNpro’s prior investigation revealed that the software may have been able to manipulate Google Play in order to rank well and promote additional installations, which only served to exacerbate the situation.

These problems hint to a far more serious and worrying one: Google performs a lousy job of screening the applications that are approved for the Google Play store.

Apps with issues available in the Google Play Store

It makes sense to believe that all of the applications in the official Google Play store have been examined, verified, and declared to be secure. But it is evident that this is not the case. And there are more dangerous apps in the Google Play market besides VPN applications.

The Weather Forecast app, which was infested with malware, collected the data of millions of users and transferred it to a server in China. It created covert browser windows so that users could click on advertisements from certain web sites and subscribed them to premium phone lines, resulting in exorbitant phone bill expenses.

As Virus Cleaner was later determined to contain spyware or other malware, the Indian government issued a warning to its army and paramilitary personnel in 2017.

Shenzhen HAWK-developed Alcatel default applications were changed in 2018 with adware-filled apps, which irritated customers with intrusive adverts.

There are a tonne more applications that might be harmful. All of these impacted applications were downloaded from Google Play up until recently. Based on VPNpro’s exhaustive investigation, Google made the extraordinary decision to ban all Shenzhen HAWK applications from the Play store.

Evil Intention — Or Something Else?

Google is a huge organisation. It’s very reasonable to believe that the Google system operates a little more slowly due to its complexity.

One explanation for Google’s inaction and response delay is that the company wanted to communicate with the app developer directly, confirm or deny allegations, and work on remedies. It’s also conceivable that unsafe applications with low install rates (i.e., little income) get taken down more swiftly by Google than risky apps with high install rates since Google cares about its bottom line.

The reality likely lies somewhere in the centre, as it does with the majority of other things.

How to Prevent Being Harmed by Malicious Apps

Customers must take things into their own hands since Google hasn’t actually been successful in eliminating all harmful applications from the Play store in order to safeguard its customers.

When you see noticeable performance changes, you can typically detect whether malware or adware has infected your device. For extra information if you’re not sure, see this thread.

Here are a few precautions you may take before being attacked:

Examine the applications you have installed on your phone or other devices to see whether you really need them or even use them often.

Consider removing them entirely if they provide no genuine advantage.

Delete an app if you don’t trust it or can’t figure out what information they’re gathering and why.

Before installing a new app, read app reviews.

Run more malware scanners from third parties on top of what Google currently offers.

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