Be Aware of a New Online Scam – Fake VPN Providers
Updated on July 13, 2021: From now on, traffic filtering, malware protection, and suspicious DNS activity blocking are available as a part of the separate DNS Firewall app.
VPN is one of the easiest and most convenient tools to protect yourself from spying malware and secure your online privacy. However, scammers are ever-shifting and it doesn’t take them much time to develop new ways to cash in on you. The latest trend and the newest threat in this area – fake VPN’s. Be not afraid though, as in this piece you’ll find everything you need to know to spot a fraudulent VPN on the fly.
Why VPN scams are the new black
It’s no big news that internet users all over the world are raising their concerns about internet privacy and data safety. This topic has been hot for years, but it got especially spicy lately with numerous governments removing regulations preventing ISP’s from selling your browser information to third parties. Some are even altogether motivating them to do so!
For this reason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of non-geek users are concerned with finding a way to secure their personal information. Many set their eyes on VPN services as a simple and apprehensible tool. Unfortunately, most of newcomers are completely green. They don’t have any technical knowledge about the VPN technology and networks, nor do they wish to spend their time and dig into the topic. No wonder such users fall an easy prey to numerous scams that have flooded the VPN market.
As an example, you might have already heard about MySafeVPN. A group of hackers used a breach in the Plex media company’s web code to steal their users’ emails. They then started an email campaign, pretending to be a Plex’s sales team, “announcing” the release of a new VPN by the company and providing a download link to a fake website. After Plex had provided an official rebuttal, impostors disappeared with all the data they had collected from users, and have probably already sold it to some interested parties.
Key alerts to determine a fake VPN
Sadly, some scammers are quite well versed in mimicking genuine VPN providers, so most of the time there is no single way to recognize them. But we will give you a checklist of alarming signs, and in case a VPN passes on all counts, be sure to stay a mile away from it.
A particular VPN service is likely to be the fake one if:
- There is no way to check the reputation of the VPN provider in question. It doesn’t have any proven time in business. There are either no reviews or, in some cases, there is an opposite – numerous fake positive reviews created in a small period of time, with negative reviews getting deleted.
- It’s free. If you’re not paying, you are the product. Sure, this might not be exactly true, as there are some profits to be made with advertising. The difference about this sphere of business, though, is that it takes a lot of investment to keep services top-notch and updated while fighting competitors at the same time. That’s why most of the existing free VPN’s are either really low-budget solutions, sometimes boiling down to mere proxy servers, or have an additional source of income, like selling your data to advertisers.
- Superlative claims. This is all about marketing, and sometimes even legit providers claim their products to be “super-fast” or “the most secure”. But a real deal will have at least some points to prove this, such as technical comparisons or professional evaluations.
- Weak customer service and little to no social media presence. Check what kind of customer support a particular VPN service has. If it’s online – see how much time it takes to solve your question; if it’s by phone – check if the agent is professional and polite. Also, pay attention to the connection quality (like, do they answer your call from an office or while driving a car?). As for social media, check how long the company has been present there, how many subscribers does it have, and what is the level of their involvement.
- It’s on VPN warning lists. A 99% hit. Such lists are created by users or specialists to warn others of frauds and overall weak products. While some might argue that a company may fall to the list as a mistake, there’s rarely smoke without fire.
Additionally, there are certain technical ways to manually check if the VPN works as intended, for example with Wireshark – a packet analyzer. Such methods require specific knowledge of the topic. However, you can easily find necessary information as they are widely explained in numerous articles and forums throughout the internet. For now, this checklist should be sufficient for you to be able to separate apples from oranges and not fall for a scam.
We at Keepsolid are proud that our security product, VPN Unlimited, lets users browse the web without having to worry about scammers. You may check publications about us in specialized resources, such as PCMag. And of course, Download VPN Unlimited and try how easy it is to keep web surfing open and protected for yourself with a 7 day trial period.