vpn

Is your VPN your friend?

December 2021 by Jamie W.

What you need to know about Private Internet Access and other recently acquired VPNs

We recently learned that a former malware distributor, Kape Technologies, acquired ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and Zenmate. We highly recommend you read the full story and research covered by Restore Privacy, but here’s what you should know and do immediately.

How to know if you're impacted

Are you using one of the VPNs listed above? stop/cancel/uninstall.Check to make sure your browser isn’t hijacked as a result of malware delivered by the VPN. The most obvious signs your browser has been hijacked are unexpected redirects, changed home pages, changed settings / toolbars, slow performance.If you notice anything strange, clear out add-ons / reset your browser. Here are useful guides for how to do that on firefox, chrome, and safariKape also acquired VPN review sites and manipulated reviews to recommend their VPNs over other legitimate solutions like Proton VPN or Mozilla VPN. So when you look for a new VPN, look for reviews on major platforms or publications. But still be skeptical and learn about who owns the VPN you’re using. For example, Private Internet Access is recommended on PC Magazine but these “reviews'' are likely just sponsored advertisements.

Why this matters

As the Restore Privacy team highlights in their research, most VPNs can access and control your computer or phone. The VPNs run by trusted companies do not access data or resources they shouldn't. But the ones run by bad actors could easily hijack your browser or get access to your sensitive information like email, social, healthcare, or banking accounts. Scrubbing data and restoring secure access to your accounts is an incredibly challenging process (we know, we deal with data deletion 24/7), so your best course of action is to be careful about which VPN you use and be aware if the technology you trust changes ownership.