Hong Kong VPN companies accused of exposing personal user info

Tech expert Trevor Long said internet users should avoid free VPN services

"The vpnMentor research team, led by Noam Rotem, uncovered the server and found Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data for potentially over 20 million VPN users, according to claims of user numbers made by the VPNs". Most of these VPNs had over 10 million downloads on the Google Play Store and iOS App Store.

Comparitech published a report earlier this week saying 'UFO VPN, ' a service based in Hong Kong, had an exposed database with 894GB of data.

The report claimed that the leaked data included records of the websites visited by the users, plain-text passwords, PayPal payment information, email addresses, device specifications, and more.

"Hong Kong-based VPN provider UFO VPN exposed a database of user logs and API access records on the web without a password or any other authentication required to access it".

When you use a VPN service, you're trusting it with the same data that your internet service provider would typically collect. The UFO VPN team also stated that the VPN service keeps anonymized data logs to monitor traffic.

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Others, such as Proton VPN, recommend enabling extra security (in Proton's case, the Secure Core feature) which routes your connection through multiple servers.This increases your privacy and makes it virtually impossible for authorities to match up your activity with your identity. Not only is that not true (ISPs, for example, have a universe of ways to track you anyway), many VPN providers are even less ethical than privacy-scandal-plagued companies or ISPs.

Apparently, all of these 7 VPNs were connected to a common app developer and white labeled for other companies were found to be doing the same. Comparitech reportedly alerted the VPN provider and the company took action and fixed the issue after almost two weeks' time. It is all too simple for some organizations to rebrand providers without having getting held to account for their claims. If you're involved about the privacy of your facts, it may perhaps be improved to stick to big brand names.

It is also specially perilous for Hong Kong. Critics of the government use VPNs precisely to avoid China's surveillance and censorship.

Data leaks of such nature may hamper this. The total amount of data was 1.2 terabytes.

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