You entrust your privacy to a security company that protects your privacy. But what happens when the company that’s supposed to protect you is the very one that’s violating your privacy? One of the trending security news this week is about accusations against Hotspot Shield which is a well-known VPN provider. These alleged accusations have put Hotspot Shield on a hot seat since they were involved in engaging in deceptive practices. Because of this, the Federal Trade Commission or FTC is conducting an investigation.
In an interview with ZDNet last year, the Hotspot Shield higher up David Gorodynasky said that even though many users are using the ad-supported version of the program, it does not gather or store any information about the users and claimed to use the “zero knowledge” approach. Apparently that isn’t the case now since this company is being grilled due to the accusation of their VPN monitoring their users for their own personal gain.
However, the Center for Democracy & Technology that is based in Washington DC tells a different kind of story regarding this. According to them, the Hotspot Shield’s VPN program has been redirecting users browsing activities to third party advertisers they are associated with. And while they tell their subscribers that they still are able to browse anonymously, it is found that they allegedly track their subscriber’s activities and attempted to match their preferences with advertisers to generate profit. To put it simply, if these claims are indeed true, then Hotspot Shield is definitely monitoring its users for the company’s benefits. This raises the possibility that it can monitor or track whatever you’re doing in your device and can even keep track of your SMS, call logs, as well as the apps installed on your device.
This sensitive information was discovered in partnership with the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that has reverse engineered the source code. And as per the researchers, the VPN “uses more than five different third-party tracing libraries, contradicting statements that Hotspot Shield ensures anonymous and private browsing.” As you can see, this does not help the company’s case at all.
Some users are using the IPVanish VPN service. Even though their services aren’t cheap, however, it’s really worth the price since their policies are solid not to mention that they don’t keep any logs. This VPN service’s usual rates are $10 for a month, $27 for three months and $78 for over a year.
So if you’re going with your favorite VPN or an alternative one, as pointed out, never forget to read the fine print thoroughly to avoid Virtual Monitoring and Tracking Networks.
Take note that the Hotspot Shield is still CURRENTLY under investigation against the accusations thrown at them and that there is no official ruling released yet. This incident serves as an important reminder that due diligence must be practiced especially when it involves your privacy.
If a VPN company like Hotspot Shield could monitor you, there is also an app that could do the same thing and more. This app is called SMS Tracker Android. However unlike Hotspot Shield, Sms tracker can actually benefit its users since it could help you track and monitor users’ activities on their devices such as the SMS they sent and received, who they called or who called them. Aside from that it also allows you to monitor their apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, etc. This software-tracking app suits parents and employers who want to track their children’s or employee’s devices. That way, parents will be able to keep their kids safe from online predators. And as for employers, it can help them make sure that their employees are being productive and do not misuse their devices.