Your VPN Might Be Leaking Data
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are becoming more and more popular with everyday internet users. These networks allow users to access region-locked content like videos and music files. They work by encrypting your internet connection when visiting certain sites, making it seem as though you are visiting from a completely different country or region. Due to copyright issues and other problems with regard to content, certain sites have to restrict access to their content and VPNs help users to overcome these restrictions. However, a new study has shown that the use of VPNs may not be as safe as originally believe and your VPN could actually be leaking your private data.
The study was undertaken by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and has revealed a potentially problematic vulnerability in certain VPN systems. Many users install VPNs in order to protect their personal data from cyber-attacks and surveillance. However, this newly-discovered vulnerability is present in the majority of top VPN providers and could be putting a countless number of users’ personal data at risk. The vulnerability is known as IPv6 leakage and it could lead to plenty of problems for VPN users around the world.
QMUL And Two Of The Most Popular Techniques
As part of their study, the research teams at QMUL actually emulated two of the most popular techniques utilized by hackers in order to access a typical user’s private data. These two methods are known as passive monitoring and DNS hijacking. The former essentially involves unprotected data being gathered as it travels across an access point, while the latter is a more direct method that forces data to travel via a hacker’s own web server, where any private information or personal details can be easily obtained. These two methods have proven to be very effective over the years.
For the study, these methods were used with surprising results as researchers were able to obtain a lot of leaked data. The data included the names of the sites a user would visit and also the actions they would take on these sites; for instance, researchers were able to view messages posted by a user on a website’s forum. Certain sites, like the ones which make use of HTTPS encryption, were completely safe and data was not leaked from communications with these sites. However, the ease with which these researchers were able to obtain private data must be a major concern for users and websites.
Researchers concluded that the leakage is due to the introduction of a new internet protocol called IPv6, which is arriving to replace IPv4. Unfortunately, the majority of VPNs are tailored to work with IPv4 systems and have not yet been sufficiently updated to deal with IPv6, making them vulnerable to attacks. The study also took a look at mobile devices, finding that similar results occurred on tablets and smartphones but that iOS was better protected than Android. With VPNs being used more commonly, users will need to take extra precautions to avoid their data being stolen.