Home GoAndroid Research Finds Many Android VPN Apps Unsafe

Research Finds Many Android VPN Apps Unsafe

Jan 27, 2017

A new study has just been released which shows many of the VPN apps on Android are not safe. This new research from UCSI, UC Berkeley, CSIRO, Data61, and UNSW Sydney, shows that the VPNs most commonly used on Android devices have many different vulnerabilities and security flaws.

Android VPN Apps Pose Danger to User

The Android VPN apps that most people are using on their Android device, according to the research, contain many different security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities put the Android user at risk for things like malware or adware. Some of the security vulnerabilities open up the possibility that JavaScript could be used for tracking and advertisements. A few of the vulnerabilities also could end up redirecting to various commerce websites, which is a way to put traffic onto a website or get you to sign up for some scam offer that is not really available.

For the people out there who are conscious about their privacy, VPN apps have become a go-to because it encrypts your internet traffic and information. Some people use a VPN to get around restrictions that might be going on where they live since you can have a VPN show up in a completely different location from your real location. This is bad news for people because on open-sourced platforms like Android, there are already so many vulnerabilities from within the Android system itself. Now, users on Android have to also be mindful about the possible risk and vulnerabilities that using a VPN have as well. This of course just makes it more difficult for the Android user to know what is good or bad to download onto your Android device.

In this study, researchers looked at over 283 different VPN apps out there for Android, both those that require subscriptions and those that are free VPN Android apps. Out of all of those apps, researchers found that the VPN was injecting spyware, malware, adware, and Trojans. Of course, this information is not good for Android users. Even more so, 18 percent of these apps do not encrypt traffic, 80 percent want access to personal information like text messages, 84 percent end up leaking user data. The study also found that 38 percent of the VPN apps tested had malware or malware advertising associated with them.

The researchers did not rank all of the VPN apps it tested, but it did put out a top 10 list of VPN apps for Android that you should avoid. The worst of the worst is found above in the top 10 list, and some on there should not be a surprise because some have been talked about before as being bad VPN apps. This new research just proves you really need to do your homework before you download any app onto your Android device that offers VPN services. Whether it is a free VPN service or a subscription VPN, it does not matter when it comes to whether the app is good or bad. Both the free and the paid VPN apps often times have this adware and malware associated with it, so make sure you look into the apps thoroughly before you download them.

The good news though is that the biggest offenders, the first three in the chart, were removed from Google Play Store. The bad news is that most other VPN developers will not admit that they were injecting adware, malware or other bad things into the apps, and some will act shocked when confronted with the information. A couple of the good VPN apps out there are Tunnelbear, Hideman, Private Internet Access, and SlickVPN. These are the ones that have been really useful and reliable on Android through the years, so you can download these if you want a safe VPN app on your Android device.

This is also a good time to mention that you can get a lot of anti-virus programs and malware checker programs on Android these days. A lot of the big companies like Avast and Norton have specific programs developed for mobile devices, which run on both iOS and Android. You really should download an anti-virus and malware finder onto your Android device and run it occasionally because it can really be useful. A lot of viruses and malware is being targeted at the mobile audience because most people do not think to download the anti-virus software to their mobile device, and it was not until pretty recently that the companies developed programs to catch the viruses and malware on mobile.

This research shows more than anything else that it is up to you as the Android user to do your homework before you install a program onto your Android device. This is especially true when you know that the developer of the app is not going to tell you what they really might be up to by installing advertisements and malware onto the app itself.



  • Nick

    There is no such a thing as free lunch, of course. I think free VPNs should be avoided, since paid ones are way more secured and also affordable when it comes to protecting of online privacy. I would advice to look for providers that are not using any third-party services and Google analytic tools, like Traceless VPN is for instance.