Top security software company warns users to be wary of services offering free VPN, as there is a high risk that they include cryptocurrency mining scripts.
Kaspersky Lab has unveiled that such services often tend to utilize the users’ device to for cryptocurrency mining. Due to the recent boom and skyrocketing prices of cryptocurrencies, more an more people are looking to join in on the trade and profit from it – including criminals.
In addition to trading cryptocurrencies, those looking to acquire it can mine them through solving mathematical problems. This will grant the person a small amount of the crypto. While in ideal situations people set up mining operations for themselves, it has become more and more widespread for malicious websites and VPN services to include mining scripts in their code. By using a large number of computers and devices, the persons behind the exploitative service are able to mine a considerable amount of the cryptocurrency.
Censorship opening the floodgates for exploits
With Iran and China being in the front seat of internet censorship, Turkey, Brazil, and Sri Lanka have also joined their company in suppressing their people’s usage of the web. This, combined with the relatively reduced wages of people in these countries, there has been a mass movement toward free VPN solutions, and people are inevitably exposed to exploits and malicious intent. This major uptick resulted in the government of Sri Lanka to release a statement on the dangers concerning free VPN software.
Kaspersky further notes that Ukrainian and Brazilian citizens are also at risk, due to a mobile application about football videos that also included crypto-mining scripts; this application has been downloaded over 100,000 times. A VPN app widely used (over 50,000 downloads) in Russia as well as in Ukraine was also host to crypto-mining tools.
Several drawbacks to free VPN
Such mal-intended software not only puts in danger the device’s security, but it can also make it perform slower, and increase the strain on the battery, and inevitably reducing their lifespans.
VPN services frequently come under scrutiny for privacy issues, the risk for security issues, and lack of transparency, and more recently for employing questionable methods to gain money. A frequent such method is to inject advertisements into the user’s browsing experience. In addition to that, we’re seeing an increase in the tendency to mine for the cryptocurrency. These scripts are often run without the knowledge of the user, and this is precisely the reason that Kaspersky is warning users. Such practices can make a VPN unreliable and untrustworthy, as it is not performing its intended task.