Report: 40% of all free VPNs on Android are leaking data

Research from ProPrivacy reveals more than 40% of free VPN apps in the Google Play Store are leaking personally identifiable information

Report Highlights

  • 40% of all free VPNs in the Google Play Store leak personally identifiable information
  • 81.4 million downloads of defective apps
  • Users in Hong Kong, Belarus and other regions of political unrest could be at risk
  • Developers creating multiple versions of defective apps all using same substandard infrastructure
  • Consumer VPNs have been downloaded more than 1.25 billion times on the Google Play Store alone. Collectively, that’s more than Twitter, Snapchat, Skype & Microsoft Word
  • ProPrivacy has launched a free & fully automated leak testing tool to help combat the rise in poor quality services

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Investigation: Free VPNs are putting users at risk

After analyzing all the free VPN apps in the Google Play Store, ProPrivacy discovered that more than 40% failed to adequately protect users’ privacy. Collectively, these apps, which falsely profess to protect privacy, represent some 81.4 million downloads.

In fact, consumer VPNs have been downloaded more than 1.25 billion times on the Google Play Store alone. Collectively, that’s more than Twitter, Snapchat, Skype and Microsoft Word.

VPNs have become big business and everyone wants a piece of the pie. As is so often the case with high growth markets, there are also opportunists willing to take advantage of burgeoning consumer demand.

The rise of IPv6 and the impact on VPNs

Many ISPs, websites and services still do not support IPv6. This is why many VPN service providers have neglected to address how IPv6 connections should be handled. However, IPv6 connectivity is on the rise. Data provided by Google suggests that between 25 and 30 percent of all its traffic is now IPv6.

Almost all (87 percent) of the leaks were related to IPv6, suggesting that Android developers are not mitigating against the growth of IPv6.

In total, we estimate that as many as 39 million users have potentially leaked personal information as a result of either IPv6 or WebRTC leaks.

About ProPrivacy.com

ProPrivacy is the leading resource for digital freedom. Founded in 2013, the site’s mission is to help users around the world reclaim their right to privacy through research, reviews, knowledge-sharing, investigations and direct action.

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Written by: Sean McGrath

Sean McGrath is Editor of ProPrivacy.com. An experienced investigative journalist, writer and editor, he has worked for some of the world's best-known IT publications including the ComputerWeekly, PCPro, TechWeekEurope & InformationWeek. He regularly comments on industry matters for the likes of Forbes, Silicon, iTWire, Cyber Defense Magazine & Android Headlines.

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