Dubai Police have started investigating app stores for suspicious virtual private networks (VPNs) to stop hackers from stealing personal data, according to a report.
The move comes after some VPN users were scammed by hackers when they downloaded bogus applications that appeared to be genuine, Colonel Salim bin Salmen, deputy director of Cyber-Crimes Department, told the 7Days website.
While the police have discouraged the use of VPNs, the act of using a VPN service is not illegal for either personal users or businesses. But if the VPN is used to access illegal material online then the use of the service becomes an offence.
“Many smart phone users download VPN applications for many reasons, like watching inappropriate sites or to make calls using blocked applications. But they need to be careful. Recently we’ve noticed many applications can hack to your system and steal your personal data like videos and pictures. Then that could be used to blackmail the person,” bin Salmen told the newspaper.
The modus operandi adopted by hackers begins with uploading applications onto stores using fake accounts and putting up lots of positive comments about the application to trick the user into thinking it is a secure application. Once downloaded, the app is used to hack the phone, steal data and get access to email account and bank details.
The names of the suspicious VPN services were not revealed.
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