Find all our investigations into the dangers of free VPN apps in one place. We look at ownership issues, security risks and how operators ignore Apple's privacy rules.
VPN, Internet Rights & Security Research
Our VPN investigations aim to monitor and understand this rapidly-changing industry to understand how global VPN demand is changing. This research also aims to identify any potentially risky VPN applications that may pose a threat to your privacy and security online.
- Free VPNsThe Dangers of Free VPNs
- Free VPNsChinese VPN Ownership in Taiwan
We found that Taiwanese App Store users are unwittingly putting themselves at potential risk by downloading Chinese-owned VPN apps even as tensions escalate.
- Free VPNsInternet Shutdowns & Free VPNs: Are The Most Popular Apps Safe?
We are tracking the most popular VPNs during internet shutdowns around the world and testing them for privacy and security issues.
- Free VPNsInternet Shutdowns & Free VPNs: Who Owns The Most Popular Apps?
Many the most popular free VPN apps downloaded during internet shutdowns are run by opaque and untrustworthy businesses, potentially exposing citizens' digital footprint.
- Free VPNsFree VPN iOS App 'Request to Track' Compliance Investigation
We tested the most popular free VPN iOS apps in the U.S. and found that just three fully respect your choice to refuse permission for advertisers to track you
- Free VPNsApple Privacy Labels: Free VPN App Investigation
We analyzed the privacy labels displayed by the top 20 VPN apps in the US, UK, Australian and Canadian iOS App Stores and found that just 12% were completely accurate.
- Free VPNsFree VPN Chinese Ownership Investigation
At least 10 of the most popular free mobile VPN apps in the US have hidden Chinese ownership. As the pandemic drives up VPN demand, we investigated who is behind them.
- Free VPNsFree VPN Ownership & Security Investigations Update
We reviewed our free VPN investigations and found 75% of all the apps we looked at still pose a risk to consumers, yet Google and Apple continue to ignore the evidence.
- Free VPNsFree VPN iOS Apps Data Sharing Investigation
Apple has introduced strict new data-sharing rules for VPN apps but 80% of the most popular free VPN apps remain available in the App Store despite flouting them.
- Free VPNsFree VPN Risk Index
The Risk Index put the 150 most popular free VPN Android apps to the test and discovered a disturbing number of privacy flaws.
- Free VPNsFree VPN Ownership Investigation
Over half of the most popular free VPN apps are run by secretive companies with hidden Chinese ownership. Very few do enough to earn the trust of the privacy-conscious.
- StatisticsVPN Demand Surges Around the World
This live tracker documents VPN demand spikes around the world and provides context for these increases.
- StatisticsVPN Vulnerability Report 2023
VPN vulnerabilities are up 47% in 2023 compared to the past two years, with a 43% increase in confidentiality impact and a 40% rise in severity.
- VPN IndustryTech Giant J2 Global’s NetProtect Acquires SaferVPN
NetProtect also owns IPVanish, StrongVPN, and Encrypt.me.
- StatisticsRussian VPN Spending Since February 2022
Russian state officials and companies have allocated almost $10 million to spend on VPN technology since February 2022.
- StatisticsVPN Demand: Global Statistics in 2020
This report identifies the emerging trends in VPN demand following seismic changes to how we live and work due to the pandemic. It will be updated regularly.
- StatisticsGlobal VPN Usage Statistics in 2020
31% of internet users worldwide use a VPN, according to our new global VPN usage statistics report, which features rich insights into VPN user behavior.
- StatisticsGlobal Mobile VPN Report 2019
There were over 480 million mobile VPN apps downloaded around the world in the last 12 months, an increase of 54% compared to the year before.
Our Research Experts
Head of Research
Simon Migliano leads our research and testing into VPN applications, as well as wider investigations into internet privacy and security matters. Utilizing these findings, he produces in-depth VPN reviews and expert guidance on online safety.
His work examining dangerous free VPNs, identity theft, and internet censorship has been featured in over 1,000 publications worldwide including the BBC, CNET, Wired, and the Financial Times.
Digital Rights Lead
Samuel Woodhams leads our research on censorship, surveillance, and internet freedom to help defend internet freedoms around the world.
His research has been featured by the BBC, Washington Post, Financial Times, and The Guardian.