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This company was just exposed for secretly harvesting user data through VPN and ad-blocking apps

Is anybody NOT harvesting data at this point?

Luna vpn harvesting data
Image: KnowTechie

An investigation by BuzzFeed News has found that a popular analytics platform, Sensor Tower, has been harvesting data from millions of people via shady VPN apps on both Android and iOS. Yikes.

I mean, if you install a VPN app or one saying it’s for ad blocking, you’d be forgiven if you assumed your data is now safer. If you installed one of the 20 or so apps owned by Sensor Tower, your data was siphoned off, seemingly to power Sensor Tower’s app intelligence platform. The apps also don’t mention anything about Sensor Tower, obfuscating where your data is going.

BuzzFeed did talk to one of Sensor Tower’s management team, who tried to spin the situation, saying, “The vast majority of these apps listed are now defunct (inactive) and a few are in the process of sunsetting.” The thing is, most of the apps aren’t available because they were removed from the app stores for policy violations. Not quite the picture Sensor Tower is trying to paint.

VPN and ad-blocking apps bypass store policies by making the user download a root certificate from an external website, and not through the app

Both Google and Apple restrict root certificate privileges because installing them bypasses any user protections that the manufacturer built-in.

Sensor Tower’s head of mobile insight also said that their apps “do not track, request, or store any sensitive user data such as passwords, usernames, etc., from users or other apps on a user’s device, including web browsers,” but what he’s not saying here is that everything else on your device is being tracked.

Thanks for uncovering this BuzzFeed News, and if you have any of the following apps on your device – uninstall them immediately: Free and Unlimited VPN, Luna VPN, Mobile Data, and Adblock Focus.

What do you think? Surprised to hear this news regarding Sensor Tower? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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