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An Empirical Analysis of the Commercial VPN Ecosystem

Khan, Mohammad Taha and de Blasio, Joe and Voelker, Geoffrey M. and Snoeren, Alex C. and Kanich, Chris and Vallina-Rodriguez, Narseo (2018) An Empirical Analysis of the Commercial VPN Ecosystem. In: The 18th ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC 2018), 31 October - 2 November 2018, Boston, MA, USA.

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Abstract

Global Internet users increasingly rely on virtual private network (VPN) services to preserve their privacy, circumvent censorship, and access geo-filtered content. Due to their own lack of technical sophistication and the opaque nature of VPN clients, however, the vast majority of users have limited means to verify a given VPN service’s claims along any of these dimensions. We design an active measurement system to test various infrastructural and privacy aspects of VPN services and evaluate 62 commercial providers. Our results suggest that while commercial VPN services seem, on the whole, less likely to intercept or tamper with user traffic than other, previously studied forms of traffic proxying, many VPNs do leak user traffic—perhaps inadvertently—through a variety of means. We also find that a non-trivial fraction of VPN providers transparently proxy traffic, and many misrepresent the physical location of their vantage points: 5–30% of the vantage points, associated with 10% of the providers we study, appear to be hosted on servers located in countries other than those advertised to users.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Papers (Paper)
Additional Information: https://doi.org/10.1145/3278532.3278570
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Narseo Vallina
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2018 13:48
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2018 13:48
URI: http://eprints.networks.imdea.org/id/eprint/1886

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