Using VPN and APK files is prevalent among internet and mobile users. We use VPN to keep our online activities private whereas we use APK files generally to install new android applications on an Android operating system. Their use could be different but the effect of using it carelessly is more or less the same i.e., data breach or security breach.
Having a VPN connection helps shield you from dangers posed by hackers, other unscrupulous parties, and parties interested in tracking your internet behavior. VPNs are incredibly effective at stopping hackers from snooping on your network traffic and collecting your personal data.
The package file format used by the Android Operating System for distributing and installing programs is called an APK, or Android Application Package. They are equivalent to the.exe files that Windows uses when installing programs. As a result, installing any program on an Android device requires the APK file format.
There are various other ways that could cause data breach in using VPN and APK files that is being explained below in detail.
While using APK files
Even while it’s simple to install APK files, they might not always be beneficial or secure. Users must exercise caution while downloading APK files since they may include pirated or unlawful software.
On the internet, there are numerous APK services that let consumers download illegal apps right from their websites. Users should stay away from this, as it is prohibited. To avoid any potential legal issues in the future, thorough and sufficient investigation should be done before downloading any third-party APK file.
- When APK files are downloaded from unauthenticated online sources:
There are numerous online platforms where you may download APK files. Some APK files contain malicious software that intentionally infects the user’s device, therefore not all of these should be trusted. This may undermine the security of phones and result in data theft.
- When cybercriminals use APK files as weapons:
Moreover, there have been cases when hackers have manipulated APK files to add additional program permissions. Users who utilize them without thinking about it could negligently give sensitive personal information to cybercriminals.
There are a number of cases of cybercrimes related to APK files. The recent trend is: let’s say, the victim saw the ad of scammers on Facebook disguised as a genuine cleaning service site and clicked on the link provided there to start a chat with a scammer. Scammers would then request the victim’s address, date, and time of cleaning and offer an additional discount to attract the victim. Then gradually they request the victim to download an app that is available on their page in the form of an APK file which will in return install malware on the victim’s device and extract relevant information. Victims are then inclined to allow the app to send and view messages and in this way, they also get access to the OTP for initiating any transaction. Further, victims are directed to one fake payment gateway created by the scammers only, where the banking credentials of victims could be used by the scammers to extract all the money from the victim’s bank account.
While using VPN
The majority of VPN companies claim that they don’t store any data. They are aware that their customers do not want to go from being tracked by their ISP to being tracked by a VPN provider.
- When VPN providers keep a log of the activities:
A log-free VPN service would be ideal. But in actuality, VPN providers do retain some records. In the worst instance, your VPN might record the websites you visit. However, the majority of VPNs record how frequently customers connect to the VPN and how much bandwidth they consume.
A VPN provider may feel the need to retain records of your online activities for a variety of reasons. They must keep track of how much bandwidth you use if they provide a certain amount every month. Others could maintain track of this data because their business strategy necessitates gathering more such information. For instance, your VPN service provider might profit from banner ads displayed on popular websites.
- When private connection suddenly drops:
By using a secret IP address with your VPN connection, you can conceal your regular connection. When you browse websites, they display your private IP address to them. There is almost little possibility that your real IP address will be discovered while your secure connection is active. However, if your VPN connection stops, it’s possible that your actual IP address will accidentally be exposed. This is due to the fact that any website you visit will immediately switch to your standard network connection.
- When the organization depends upon VPN to ensure secure access to the employees working remotely:
Usually, private networks or normal networks are denied by the internet service provider if we want to access the organization’s internal resources but if we create a secure network or traffic by using VPN, internal resources of the organization easily get secure accessibility by the user or employees working remotely.
According to zscaler VPN risk report, 2022 95% of the organisations surveyed are using VPN services for secure access networks. However, 44% of the organisation have witnessed an increase in cybercriminals targeting their VPN since remote working has become prevalent.
Users may gain from using APKs from reliable sources. However, even though they appear trustworthy, certain websites may store dangerous APK files. This means that users should read some user comments or reviews before downloading an APK file.
And people using cheap or free VPN services is one of the main causes of data leaks. Your privacy will not be protected by cheap or free VPN services. In fact, they might deliberately spy on you before selling your information to whoever will pay the most.
And therefore awareness among netizens or users of these services is of utmost importance. So as to prevent them from being the victim of data breaches.
Author: Mr. Ishan Kumar Rai, Intern, CyberPeace Foundation