VPNs Can Put Privacy And Security At Risk

When working remotely, it’s important to have a virtual private network (VPN) which enables you to link to your workplace and pass information back and to over a secure network. 

However, experts have warned that not all VPNs are as safe and secure as we’d like to think, with some applications exposing their users to surveillance and cyber attacks. 

Many free and mobile VPNs that are available on the market to be downloaded and used, use unsafe protocols and log user activity. Factor in that good VPNs can’t always guarantee to protect users from the prying eyes of a jealous Government or intelligence agencies. 

Learning how to use, configure and run a VPN to its full potential is vital if you want to keep your connection secure and keep cyber criminals out. 

Normally, VPNs are very useful and dependable tools, with 30% of all internet users employing a VPN at least once a month.  

Yaniv Balmas, the Head of Cyber Research at Check Point, said:  

“Generally speaking, a modern online VPN is a service that is designed to encrypt your entire computer’s traffic and at the same time hide your identity by routing your (now encrypted) traffic through one or more anonymous routers. 

“Assuming that the VPN provider uses up-to-date encryption methods and frequently changes its routing points, this service should provide a secure and robust service.” 

However, Balmas adds that “the devil lies in the details,” with poorly implemented VPNs causing “more harm than good for its users.”  

Delving a little deeper into the issue, it was discovered that in many cases VPNs, especially the free and /or mobile ones, don’t work as advertised, leaving users open to viruses and privacy violations. 

Callum Tennent, a VPN expert and site editor at Top10VPN.com, said:  

“We tested the top 150 free VPN Android apps and found that many had serious security flaws and performance issues.  

Referring to a study his website conducted in February – based on both Android and Apple apps –  Tennent alarmingly reveals that 18% of the tested VPNs contained potential malware or viruses, 85% featured excessive permissions or functions that could put a user’s privacy at risk, and 25% exposed a user’s traffic to domain name system (DNS) leaks and other leaks. 

Jonathan LemonnierSenior Product Manager at Avast, said:  

“Fake VPN services, especially the free ones, can also be set up as honeypots to collect all of a user’s data, to deliver malware, and to spy on people.  

“Remember a VPN, in many cases is just an internet service provider (ISP) you choose. They now have access to all of your online data.” 

How can I ensure my VPN is working correctly? 

Callum Tennent advises:  

Configuring your VPN properly is the first step in making it more secure. 

“Use the best protocol on offer, enable the kill-switch (which protects your IP address if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops), and use all leak protections available. It’s also wise to regularly tests for leaks yourself.” 

Do you have a VPN? Have you checked to see if it’s configured correctly and is providing the best service possible?