Facebook’s new app triggers mobile security concerns!

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Facebook, a leader in social networking is offering a new app to its users which provides a Virtual Private Network, or VPN that masks user identity while they use various online services. Currently, the app, Onavo Protect, is being offered to some users who use public Wi-Fi networks and in future may be passed onto to all the users who intend to use online services in a secure way.

Onavo Protect, which was acquired by Facebook in 2013, is now showcasing the software in a tab of its mobile app marked “Protect”. The application will prove helpful in keeping a track of what data users do online even when they are not on Facebook.
Means, the app is crafted in such a way that it passes on all the info related to a Facebook user’s online history- a clear violation of privacy.

When a user goes to the website of the Israeli based firm Onavo and clicks on the description tab, then when he/she will learn that the company is now owned by Facebook and shares data with its parent company on a weekly roll.

Initially, Onavo Protect argued that it only keeps a track of the data being used by other applications on a device. But researchers from Kaspersky Labs have found that the app also keeps a track of the usage statistics of the applications and the websites which a user access or visits.

Note 1- As the application is only being witnessed by some iOS users; it clearly indicates that it is more of a test than a full roll out.

Note 2- It’s obvious that marketing Onavo Protect within Facebook itself will lead to a boost in users for the VPN app. But at the same time, it can trigger privacy concerns as the app accesses user private data than intended.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cyber Security Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security