Android users are being urged to delete certain apps after allegations that they may be used to hack into personal data.
The apps in question are called VPNs or Virtual Private Networks and they help people access websites and streaming services that may not be available in their home country.
VPNs are also used by activists, journalists, and politicians in countries where restrictions on internet access and privacy are tight.
However, researchers from the VPN Pro app have found serious safety issues in 10 apps which are readily available on Google Play Store, including one that has been downloaded over 100 million times called ‘SuperVPN Free VPN Client’.
10 apps researchers suggest you delete
The 10 apps, as identified by VPNPro researchers are:
SuperVPN Free VPN Client
TapVPN Free VPN
Best Ultimate VPN – Fastest Secure Unilimited VPN
Korea VPN – Plugin for OpenVPN
Wuma VPN-PRO (Fast & Unlimited & Security)
VPN Unblocker Free unlimited Best Anonymous Secure
VPN Download: Top, Quick & Unblock Sites
Super VPN 2019 USA – Free VPN, Unblock Proxy VPN
Secure VPN-Fast VPN Free & Unlimited VPN
Power VPN Free VPN
What are these apps doing?
Jan Youngren, a cyber-security expert and researcher at VPNPro, posted on the company blog that the company’s “analysis shows that this app has critical vulnerabilities that opens it up to dangerous attacks known as man-in-the-middle (MITM) hacks.
“These vulnerabilities will allow hackers to easily intercept all the communications between the user and the VPN provider, letting the hackers see everything the user is doing.”
The apps in question are ridden with critical privacy and security flaws. A VPN masks someones online location and are marketed to protect browsing history for anonymous internet use.
But these apps allow MITM attacks, where someone can intercept the information being concealed by the VPN. This means your full internet use and browser history can be accessed by a hacker, company, or agency, that you don’t know.
The data they can access includes your texts, phone calls, photographs, videos, and emails – basically anything you do on your phone or laptop, including private banking information.
In 2016, a University of California paper identified SuperVPN as one of the most dangerous free VPN apps available on android.
Google has been approached by VPN Pro researchers and are awaiting a response to the cyber-security threat.