Review of VPN app

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Many mobile device users would have heard by now about using VPN (Virtual Private Network) app to access contents.

Such as visiting NetFlix to access movies from geo-restricted locations.  Another example of using VPN app allows users who are in China to access websites or content bypassing the Great Firewall. 

Generally, VPN app allows users to carry out activities on the internet with better protection.  Security on data being transmitted over the internet, like encryption, is to guard against hijacking or eavesdropping.  Privacy is also an area which has been in the spotlight of late and VPN provides the cloak-and-dagger for ones’ identity.

However, this sense of security and peace-of-mind users trustingly bestowed to VPN app creators are being questioned. And many users may have been duped. Or misguided.

Users typically rely on good faith whether a software works as it is made out to be.  Software such as productivity apps which help users to create professional material can easily be tested to see if they really worked.

But VPN is different and could be difficult to test.  At least not by the general users.

Non-tech savvy users depend on high doses of trust when they select a VPN app for their needs.  Users can look at the number of ‘Stars’ in a feedback system to make an assessment if the app can be trusted.  The number of downloads indicated in reviews also provides a guide as to how well received the app is.

There are also comments by other users to help one decide. 

Branding of the VPN app can also create a perception of trustworthiness.  If the app is from a well-known and high profile company, users usually feel more assured.

Users should also be aware that reviews and comments are better taken with a pinch of salt.  And in the end, if risks are minimised, users could proceed ahead.

Lo and behold, many VPN apps may not live up to its reputation.  Some are reportedly to be full of security ‘holes’ or gaps. 

Typically, VPN protects the identity of users by masking or redacting information such as DNS and IP addresses.  But some VPN apps have intentional or otherwise, severe shortcomings. 

Below is a 4.8 star rated, VPN Melon app, I tested and some of the results do not seem good.

I conducted two basic tests; one without VPN to get an idea what information from my access is disclosed.  Another with VPN established.  Both tests were carried out on the same connection to the internet from my android phone.

These two screen shots below show connection without VPN.

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“These screen shots below show connection with VPN Melon.  This VPN app may be a massive risk.”

     “These screen shots below show connection with VPN Melon.  This VPN app may be a massive risk.”

 

“These screen shots below show connection with VPN Melon.  This VPN app may be a massive risk.”

I shortcut the list of 61 servers…

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Now what should you do if you are using such VPN app?  While the app might still serve you well to access block contents, you might want to reconsider using it.  Keep a look out for my second post which I would dive deeper into what you could look out for in a VPN app.

Gary Tan