VIOLATED: Facebook’s very own VPN app under “Onavo Protect” keeps tracking 
users even when turned off


Wednesday, April 04, 2018 by: 
David Williams
browsing guidelines,
device information,
invasion of privacy,
network analytics,
onavo protect,
online privacy,
Social media,
web browsing


Image: VIOLATED: Facebook’s very own VPN app under “Onavo Protect” keeps 
tracking users even when turned off 
figure end


(Natural News)
The internet used to be a relatively safe place. As long as you followed 
certain browsing guidelines, you could be fairly sure that your personal info
was safe, and that you didn’t need to worry about shady individuals who were 
looking to steal it for their own personal gain.


And in case your own efforts to keep your data safe aren’t enough, there are 
specialized tools that you can use to help protect yourself online. But when
the tools themselves are the ones doing the spying on you…well, that’s a 
different matter entirely. And a much more dangerous one, at that.


It may sound like a pretty scary yet unlikely scenario, but it seems like 
that’s the exactly the kind of thing that has happened with Facebook’s own VPN,
the mobile app called Onavo Protect. This app was first acquired by the social 
media giant a few years back, but until now it has stayed pretty much under
the radar. After 
a thorough investigation
 by one security researcher, the truth about it has finally been revealed.


According to Will Strafach, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sudo Security 
Group, he made the conscious decision to investigate the code used in the
version of the app available for iPhones and iPads in order to determine “
what types of data is collected
 in addition to the alleged per-app-MAU (monthly active users) tracking that 
happens” on the server side. He found that it uses certain app elements that
allow it to run in the background and keep collecting data about users, 
particularly about their actions on their phones, even when the app itself has
supposedly been turned off.


In revealing the details of his investigation, Strafach said that Onavo Protect 
periodically sends “the following data to Facebook (
as the user goes about their day:”


list of 4 items
• When user’s mobile device screen is turned on and turned off;
• Total daily Wi-Fi data usage in bytes (even when VPN is turned off);
• Total daily cellular data usage in bytes (even when VPN is turned off); and
• Periodic beacon containing an “uptime” to indicate how long the VPN has been 
list end


Strafach does a good job of summarizing the short history of Onavo Protect, 
from its early days as an independent third-party security app in 2011, to
its multi-million dollar acquisition deal with Facebook where it became an 
add-on feature to the official Facebook app. “Onavo Protect collects device
information, network analytics, and ‘fact of’ certain events occurring,” he 
explained, referring to details of the data collection it performs. It isn’t
clear how exactly Facebook uses all this seemingly random and inconsequential 
data, but it’s being collected and sent to Facebook services, for sure.


Facebook is no stranger to doing morally questionable stuff within the confines 
of its sites and other properties. In 2016, it was discovered that it 
deliberately censors content
 on a number of topics, including immigration and vaccines. The mere fact that 
the service, as well as the company itself, has stayed up after all these
years is indicative of a bigger problem.


Recently, Facebook found itself in hot water yet again when an investigative 
report showed how it was used to manipulate millions of Americans across the
country, and even more people in other countries across the world. At this 
point, it’s quite clear that it could only be a matter of time before it gets
taken down for good. If it keeps up all these shady and morally questionable 
practices, that will probably happen sooner rather than later. For now, your
best move to avoid any problems that might happen because of Facebook is to 
simply stop using it.


Follow the latest updates on Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg at


Sources include:


article end
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