Kaspersky launches information hungry VPN app for Android
Kaspersky Secure Connection: VPN service is a new application by Russian security company Kaspersky for the Android mobile operating system.
The application is available as a free and premium version. The free version of the application is good for 200 Megabytes of daily traffic, the premium version removes the restriction, can be used on up to five devices, and lifts geographic restrictions.
The VPN application promises to safeguard user privacy and data when they are online by encrypting connections, and by not logging what users do online.
The application requests access to the contacts, calls and location, and won't start if you deny the permissions. If you check the full list of permissions, you find others such as Identify (find accounts on device), Device & app history (read your web bookmarks and history), and reading of USB storage listed as well.
It is unclear why it requires these permissions, and the core reason for negative user reviews on Google Play.
Kaspersky Secure Connection: VPN service
Kaspersky Secure Connection: VPN service displays options to connect to a VPN server when you start if up (provided that you did not quit already when it asked for all these extra permissions). You may select servers in specific regions of the world, e.g. Germany, Denmark, France or Japan, or use the auto selection feature which picks a suitable server automatically.
Probably the most interesting option of the application is the ability to set up apps, websites and website categories that you want to secure by connecting to the VPN. This sets up rules basically to connect to the VPN network whenever you are about to open one of these applications or websites.
Kaspersky's application displays a prompt by default that gives you control over the connection to the VPN. You can allow or decline it, and also set it up so that it is handled automatically from that moment on.
The quota of 200 Megabytes per day is sufficient for light browsing and email checking, but don't expect the quota to last long if you start to stream media or open heavy sites in your browser of choice.
Another privacy related issue becomes apparent only if you allow the permissions. The application is powered by Hotspot Shield. The Center for Democracy and Technology has filed a complaint against Anchorfree, Inc, the company that products Hotspot Shield (PDF here)
The Center for Democracy & Technology asks the Federal Trade Commission (Commission) to investigate the data security and data sharing practices of Hotspot Shield Free Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, a product of AnchorFree, Inc. Hotspot Shield Free VPN promises secure, private, and anonymous access to the internet. As detailed below, this complaint concerns undisclosed and unclear data sharing and traffic redirection occurring in Hotspot Shield Free VPN that should be considered unfairÂ and deceptive trade practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
To put it nicely; there is a fair bit of uncertainty about this application that you may not want to expose yourself to. You can check out F-Secure Freedome VPN for instance for a solution that requires less permissions to run.
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