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Facebook Privacy Security The Almighty Buck

Facebook is Pushing Its Data-tracking Onavo VPN Within Its Main Mobile App (techcrunch.com) 40

TechCrunch reports: Onavo Protect, the VPN client from the data-security app maker acquired by Facebook back in 2013, has now popped up in the Facebook app itself, under the banner "Protect" in the navigation menu. Clicking through on "Protect" will redirect Facebook users to the "Onavo Protect -- VPN Security" app's listing on the App Store. We're currently seeing this option on iOS only, which may indicate it's more of a test than a full rollout here in the U.S. Marketing Onavo within Facebook itself could lead to a boost in users for the VPN app, which promises to warn users of malicious websites and keep information secure as you browse. But Facebook didn't buy Onavo for its security protections. Instead, Onavo's VPN allow Facebook to monitor user activity across apps, giving Facebook a big advantage in terms of spotting new trends across the larger mobile ecosystem. For example, Facebook gets an early heads up about apps that are becoming breakout hits; it can tell which are seeing slowing user growth; it sees which apps' new features appear to be resonating with their users, and much more. Further reading: Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Download Onavo, Facebook's Vampiric VPN Service (Gizmodo).

Facebook is Pushing Its Data-tracking Onavo VPN Within Its Main Mobile App

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  • by Bobrick ( 5220289 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @04:37PM (#56118387)
    In other news, the NSA will now be offering software to keep your data hidden from the NSA.
  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As a non-user of Facebook, I felt left out of the privacy invasion party. Now I can be like all the cool kids and have my most intimate personal information hoarded by a corporation!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't trust Facebook with anything. We will keep you secure from others but not from ourselves.

  • Secure VPN! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @04:51PM (#56118505)

    Facebook wants to make sure your information stays secure, by redirecting all traffic from your mobile device through their servers to be analysed.

  • by Pyramid ( 57001 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @05:13PM (#56118605)

    You'd have to be absolutely mental to VPN all your traffic through Facebook's servers. They have direct access to all your traffic as it leaves their VPN concentrator. Their wet dream.

    People really need to educate themselves about how VPNs work, what they are and aren't good for.

    Secure, encrypted traffic between two endpoints? GOOD!
    Secure, encrypted traffic between yourself and an actor with unknown motives who by default has to decrypt it before sending it on it's way to the Internet? DOUBLE PLUS UNGOOD!

    • No, it's just ungood, not double plus ungood.
      HTTPS within the VPN tunnel will still prevent the VPN operator from reading your traffic. They'll see where you're going and when, of course, but not what you're doing.

      • by Pyramid ( 57001 )

        Yes, of course they won't be able to peer into HTTPS/TLS data streams, but they'll get *everything else*. All non-encrypted traffic, all DNS lookups, all app traffic, etc.

        It's still a goldmine for them. And should be a resounding, "HELL NO" for the consumer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by green1 ( 322787 )

      And remember, unless the endpoint of the VPN is your own, it's ALWAYS an actor with unknown motives. I don't see why you'd trust any of the "VPN Providers" out there. You have no idea what they are doing with your information, and no line on their website about not logging means a thing as several have already been shown to be lying through their teeth about it.

  • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @05:14PM (#56118609) Homepage Journal

    I am shocked, shocked that a megacorp (not to mention that it just happens to be one that was already primarily known for being a piece-of-shit) offers a trojan horse VPN service.

    Who could have predicted that Facebook would want to spy on people?! No, I wouldn't have guessed it to be untrustworthy, and you wouldn't have guessed either! Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to using something safe: my Google VPN (unless someone tells me that the FBI's VPN service is better).

  • Better than no VPN? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @05:20PM (#56118635)

    I don't know what would be worse. No VPN, or a "free" VPN from a place doing heavy package analyzing. On one hand, I've seen Wi-Fi machinations, be it HTTP intercepts, attempts to get the device to accept an untrusted key as a trusted root CA, and other stuff, so any VPN would be useful to deter that. On the other hand, FB isn't someone whom I would trust to be a privacy provider.

    Personally, I'll stick with with my Digital Ocean droplet for my VPN needs. There are fewer parties that can have access to snarfing my network logs... just the DO admins and me.

  • All the way from social media brand to the user, back from the user to social media brand.
    A nice secure pathway from the approved ads.
    A VPN by an ad company for "free"....
  • If you're that concerned about privacy and security, you can spin up a BSD or Linux VM, install OpenVPN, and go to town. It will only really be beneficial if you're using insecure public hotspots, because at some point, your data has to exit the VPN and go out to the internet at large.
    • Re:Roll Your Own (Score:5, Insightful)

      by green1 ( 322787 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @09:41PM (#56119871)

      The question really becomes, which do you distrust more, your local ISP, or the ISP of the location you're hosting your VPN. If you trust neither, then there's no point bothering.

      VPN is useful for 2 things:
      1) creating a secure link between 2 separate locations over the public internet where you can't afford dedicated transport (e.g. My home, and my office)
      2) shifting your traffic from an ISP that's a known bad actor, to one that's only a suspected bad actor (because be honest, are there really any ISPs that are "known good"?)

      Number 2 is still relevant for many people, but VPNs are far too commonly used by people who don't understand the technology to try to simply make everything safe, when all it really does in most cases is add complication, cost, and latency.

  • Remember, if the service is free, YOU are the product.

  • Dedicated apps for Facebook or other popular sites have more cons than pros [both puns intended]

The solution of problems is the most characteristic and peculiar sort of voluntary thinking. -- William James

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