Facebook’s “Protect” App Not so Great

Skip this One for Privacy’s Sake

We live in an era of digital crime.  Most of us don’t have to worry about our homes being broken into, or our vehicles stolen, or being mugged at gunpoint.  But almost all of us take some sort of measure to prevent our data from being stolen.  We put passwords on our phones, we make sure that our WiFi is secure, and we don’t give out our details via email.  So added security is a good thing, right?

Protect App not offering privacy

That’s the marketing pitch behind Onavo Protect – VPN Security.  They add a layer of protection so that “hackers” can’t steal your information and you can have the peace of mind when visiting websites on your phone.  But there’s a bit more than meets the eye.


What’s a VPN and How Does it Work?

VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, is a method of encrypting data that is sent over the internet.  Most businesses that transfer private information will use one (especially those dealing with finances) to thwart attacks.

On the very basic level, the VPN “bounces” your information through different servers so that anyone that’s trying to steal it can’t track exactly where it is.  Think of it sort of like an armored vehicle.  5 armored vehicles leave the bank, but only one is carrying the gold.

They are a legitimate method of securing your data, especially if you’re using a public WiFi.


What’s Wrong with Onavo Protect App?

Protect AppIn 2013 Facebook bought out the tech company Onavo.  Their app helps to detect malicious sites and provide a warning before loading the page, it helps secure your personal information, and all around does what a VPN should do.  With one addition.

Onavo Protect harvests your data.

It has been referred to as spyware that you install and activate willingly.  While it is fully disclosed on description in the app store, it’s at the end where most people aren’t going to read it.  They straight up tell you that they’re collecting your data.

“To provide this layer of protection, Onavo uses a VPN to establish a secure connection to direct all of your network communications through Onavo’s servers. As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.”

So you have to make a choice.  Do you use a free VPN that legitimately does what it’s supposed to do, in exchange for letting Facebook know what you’re doing online at all times?  Or do you pay for a VPN that isn’t going to collect your data?  If all you’re doing is watching cat videos and looking up recipes on what to cook for dinner, then it might not be a bad thing.  If you would rather keep your privacy, then it’s probably best to avoid this thinly disguised spyware.


iDoctor Does Technology

Here at iDoctor we want you to get the most out of your technology.  So we want to provide you with information that helps you use it best.  This VPN app is probably one to skip so that you’re not giving up information, as innocuous as it may be.

Of course if you’ve broken your iPhone, need your computer repaired, or you’re looking to upgrade your device but not pay the outrageous costs of something new, come see us at either of our Billings, MT locations.