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Beware! Facebook’s VPN Onavo Protect Tracks You Even When Switched Off


(Last Updated On: March 7, 2018 2:09 pm)

Privacy has become sparse these days as every app and website tracks their users continuously. Facebook’s Onavo Protect VPN, which is available on both iOS and Android platforms, tracks your activity even when switched off.

When people started getting increasingly concerned about privacy, top companies started releasing their own VPN services. Facebook didn’t miss the opportunity as it came up with Onavo Protect which is gaining traction among users.

Advantages of Using a VPN

A VPN service developed by any company should provide you utmost privacy. People use it to bypass firewalls created by the government and access websites that are blocked in their home country. It can also be used to stop search engines like Google and social media websites from monitoring your browsing activities.

Security Researcher Discovers Onavo is Not Reliable

A security researcher named Will Strafach had the opportunity to take a look at Onavo Protect. The fact that a particular service is designed and developed by Facebook made him curious. After all, when a gargantuan social media website like Facebook relies solely on collated user data, why would it want to keep your activities private?

When things got suspicious, he looked into the codes used in Onavo. The VPN goes by the name Onavo in Apple’s App Store for iOS devices. The same service is known as Protect Free VPN + Data Manager in Google’s Play Store.

What Kind of Information Facebook’s Onavo Protect Collects?

The security expert identified that the virtual private network uses a Packet Tunnel app extension which allows it to keep sending user statistics to the servers even when switched off. After spending hours, he confirmed that the app collects data on how long your mobile phone display is switched off and the hours you spend with the display on.

The statistics sent to the servers also include total WiFi data usage per day and the total number of bytes downloaded using a cellular signal. The Onavo Protect VPN also lets the developers know how long you keep their VPN service ON to browse the web anonymously and the time period during which you switch it OFF.

In short, Facebook’s new VPN service is completely unreliable and doesn’t do a good task of keeping your internet habits private as it is meant to be. The issue may prevail with some other VPN services as well but the researcher suggests that a paid, dedicated service can be more secure. Free services often tend to sell user data to make revenue in the guise of offering you anonymous connectivity.

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