Connect with us

Security

Many free mobile VPN apps are based in China or have Chinese ownership

Published

on

Roughly 60 percent of the top free mobile VPN apps returned by Google Play Store and Apple Play Store searches are from developers based in China or with Chinese ownership, raising serious concerns about data privacy, a study published today has revealed.

“Our investigation uncovered that over half of the top free VPN apps either had Chinese ownership or were actually based in China, which has aggressively clamped down on VPN services over the past year and maintains an iron grip on the internet within its borders,” said Simon Migliano, Head of Research at Metric Labs, a company that runs the Top10VPN portal.

The researcher says he analyzed the top 20 free VPN apps that appear in searches for VPN apps on the Google and Apple mobile app stores, for both the US and UK locales.

He says that 17 of the 30 apps he analyzed (10 apps appeared on both stores) had formal links to China, either being a legally registered Chinese entity or by having Chinese ownership, based on business registration and shareholder information Migliano shared with ZDNet.

“Furthermore, we found the majority of free VPN apps had little-to-no formal privacy protections and non-existent user support,” Migliano said.

The expert says that 86 percent of the apps he analyzed had “unacceptable privacy policies.” For example, some apps didn’t say if they logged traffic, some apps appeared to use generic privacy policies that didn’t even mention the term VPN, while some apps didn’t feature a privacy policy at all. On top of this, other apps admitted in their policies to sharing data with third-parties, tracking users, and sending and sharing data with Chinese third-parties.

Almost half of the free VPN apps also appeared to take the privacy policy as a joke, with some hosting the policy as a plain text file on Pastebin, AWS servers, or raw IP addresses, with no domain name.

In addition, 64 percent of the apps also didn’t bother setting up a dedicated website for their VPN service, operating strictly from the Play Store.

The results of this study should worry VPN users, from both a privacy standpoint, but also from a technical and professional point of view.

The study’s results are also worrisome especially for businesses that use these apps internally or have employees who use the apps without prior approval.

Data exchanged via these VPNs, some of which may be company trade secrets, may end up being logged, and in the worst case scenario logged on Chinese servers, where it may be at the disposal of Chinese authorities, which have a long and well-documented history of hacking, favoring, and helping local businesses at the expense of foreign competitors.

In addition, China has also enacted strict regulation in the past two years that has clamped down on VPN services and has forced local VPN providers to register with state authorities in order to obtain a license to operate in the country.

This regulation has resulted in several arrests, and some VPN operators being sentenced to heavy prison sentences.

Due to its lack of legal boundaries and heavy-handed authoritarian mode of operation, the Chinese state has now a firm grasp on any VPN providers located inside its borders.

According to Migliano, users and companies should rethink their approach of using some of the above-listed apps, on both the grounds of the operator being under the possible influence of the Chinese authoritarian regime, but also due to some of these VPN provider’s poor to privacy policies, a sign that they don’t really value customer privacy as well.

Migliano’s report, available here, lists all the problems he discovered with each of the 30 VPN apps in finer detail.

More security news:

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Security

Work from Home Security

Published

on

Spin Master is a leading global children’s entertainment company that invents toys and games, produces dozens of television and studio series that are distributed in 160 countries, and creates a variety of digital games played by more than 30 million children. What was once a small private company founded by childhood friends is now a public global supply chain with over 1,500 employees and 28 offices around the world.

Like most organizations in 2020, Spin Master had to adapt quickly to the new normal of remote work, shifting most of its production from cubicles in regional and head offices to hundreds of employees working from home and other remote locations.

This dramatic shift created potential security risks, as most employees were no longer behind the firewall on the corporate network. Without the implementation of hardened endpoint security, the door would be open for bad actors to infiltrate the organization, acquire intellectual property, and ransom customer information. Additionally, the potential downtime caused by a security breach could harm the global supply chain. With that in mind, Spin Master created a self-imposed 30-day deadline to extend its network protection capabilities to the edge.

Key Findings:

  • Think Long Term: The initial goal of establishing a stop-gap work-from-home (WFH) and work-from-anywhere (WFA) strategy has since morphed into a permanent strategy, requiring long-term solutions.
  • Gather Skills: The real urgency posed by the global pandemic made forging partnerships with providers that could fill all the required skill sets a top priority.
  • Build Momentum: The compressed timeline left no room for delay or error. The Board of Directors threw its support behind the implementation team and gave it broad budget authority to ensure rapid action, while providing active guidance to align strategy with action.
  • Deliver Value: The team established two key requirements that the selected partner must deliver: implementation support and establishing an ongoing managed security operations center (SOC).
Continue Reading

Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Privileged Access Management

Published

on

Privileged Access Management (PAM) enables administrative access to critical IT systems while minimizing the chances of security compromises through monitoring, policy enforcement, and credential management.

A key operating principle of all PAM systems is the separation of user credentials for individual staff members from the system administration credentials they are permitted to use. PAM solutions store and manage all of the privileged credentials, providing system access without requiring users to remember, or even know, the privileged password. Of course, all staff have their own unique user ID and password that they use to complete everyday tasks such as accessing email and writing documents. Users who are permitted to handle system administration tasks that require privileged credentials log into the PAM solution, which provides and controls such access according to predefined security policies. These policies control who is allowed to use which privileged credentials when, where, and for what tasks. An organization’s policy may also require logging and recording of the actions undertaken with the privileged credentials.

Once implemented, PAM will improve your security posture in several ways. The first is by segregating day-to-day duties from duties that require elevated access, reducing the risk of accidental privileged actions. Secondly, automated password management reduces the possibility that credentials will be shared while also lowering the risk if credentials are accidentally exposed. Finally, extensive logging and activity recording in PAM solutions aids audits of critical system access for both preventative and forensic security.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

Continue Reading

Security

Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure

Published

on

Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

Continue Reading

Trending