Facebook's Protect security feature is essentially Spyware

Is in fact a VPN service designed to route your web browsing through its servers to collect and analyse user data

Facebook web page

Facebook is rolling out a fresh security feature called Protect to its app that is essentially Spyware.

With a name that is likely to lure users into a false sense of security, the new Protect feature is touted as "an added layer of security", but it is in fact a VPN service designed to route your web browsing through its servers to collect and analyse user data.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The VPN service is powered by Onavo, an Israeli mobile analytics company now owned by Facebook. While the inclusion of Onavo's VPN tools within the Protect feature is stated by the social network in the product's terms of service as a means to "improve Facebook products and services", the company states the process collects users' mobile data traffic to "gain insights" into their online browsing behavior - which could also be interpreted as "Spyware".

Buried underneath the read more link on both the iOS App Store and the web, the Protect terms of service information reads:

"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 analysing 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."

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

According to TechCrunch, there are an estimated 33 million users who have Onavo Protect installed, with 38% being on iOS and the other 62% being on Android.

And while Onavo's app store description explains clearly in its Ts&Cs that it's "a part of Facebook" and used to "gain insights into the products and service people value, and build better experiences", the potential impact on privacy is not going to be very clear to the average Joe.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now


mobile security

Parachute's Superlock feature keeps your phone recording in an emergency

2 Jun 2020

K2View innovates in data management with new encryption patent

28 May 2020
video conferencing

Zoom 5.0 adds 256-bit encryption to address security concerns

23 Apr 2020

WhatsApp flaw leaves users open to 'shoulder surfing' attacks

21 Apr 2020

Most Popular


Apple confirms serious bugs in iOS 13.5

4 Jun 2020

The UK looks to Japan and South Korea for 5G equipment

4 Jun 2020
high-performance computing (HPC)

AMD virtual tour takes us inside Europe's Hawk supercomputer

4 Jun 2020