New Pakistan Bill and Hola VPN Threaten Privacy

There are two new looming privacy threats that we think people should be aware of. The first is a new anti-privacy bill and the second is a questionable free VPN service. Pakistan is pushing for the new Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act bill which will make it mandatory for all Internet service providers in the country to spy on their subscribers, making it easier for the government to criminally charge those who dare to stand up to their government. This is a huge privacy threat, and many will be turning to VPNs to secure their browsing sessions. But users beware, because most VPNs are not to be trusted. We have always warned VPN users to stick to the best to steer clear of shady companies who offer online anonymity but offer no real privacy. One example is the free Hola VPN service which in reality is a botnet vulnerable to hacker manipulation, and sells their users’ bandwidth.

Pakistan’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act

The new bill that has already come through Pakistan’s National Assembly, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, is going to be heard in Parliament soon. This bill’s thrust is to force Internet service providers to spy on their subscribers in an effort to stop online crime. The problem is that Pakistan is already becoming as well known for its web censorship practices as China, Russia and North Korea are. Many fear that this bill is just another way for the government to clamp down on freedom of expression and access to information. This new bill would put Pakistan in the running for a top place among these notorious leaders in draconian Internet censorship.

There are no clear guidelines for how the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act will be implemented, or by what agency, and what regulations are in place to provide oversight. This new Act will replace the 2009 Electronic Crimes Ordinance, which did not call for such strict measures. Among these strict measures is the criminalization of several online activities that are often quite innocent. For example, people sometimes have social media accounts using another name for privacy purposes. Another measure is an obvious crackdown on free speech. Many people protest government actions that they feel harm them in some way. We know that Pakistan has dealt harshly in the past with any comments that show disregard for or disagreement with government policies. Now these people can be charged with sharing “fake” information which can earn them a maximum jail term of three years and a near 10,000 dollar fine – three times the rough equivalent of the average yearly salary in the country. Finally, ISPs in Pakistan are going to have to monitor their subscribers, record their metadata, and report to the government on any illegal activity concerning pornography, blasphemy and anti-government content.

Hola VPN Steals Bandwidth and Opens Users to Hackers

Have you heard of or tried the free Hola VPN service? People love free, but when you go with these types of services, you are bound to pay one way or another, This is what we are always warning people about, and here now is yet another proof of why you need to trust only the verified VPNs. A huge security issue and a grave injustice has just recently been discovered regarding the Hola service. So if you are planning on using a VPN to get around the strict Pakistan laws, choose carefully.

A thorough read of the new Hola terms of service, updated after Brennan publicized his findings, shows that the company uses what they call their users’ idle resources to operate the VPN. They have no servers of their own, and instead reroute user traffic to various VPN endpoints which are other users. Users therefore “borrow” each others’ IP addresses and bandwidth. Those who use the Luminati service can also buy bulk traffic plans, including hackers and other malcontents who use the plans to run DoS attacks. In effect, Hola is running botnets and selling user bandwidth. Frederick Brennan, who uncovered and publicized this scam, is an 8chan forum moderator. 8chan has been the victim of DoS attacks coming from the Hola/Luminati network. And Vectra Networks, a cybersecurity company, says that this was not likely the first time that this has happened. The company reported finding five different types of malware that used the Hola protocol.

Hola currently has a pool of about nine million users with unique IP addresses and they have wasted no time in exploiting these for profit. Luminati is the front for this scheme, through which the company sells access to the botnet that they have created from these unknowing users. If you are a Hola user and you are against botnets that are used to harm legitimate sites and services, you might want to get rid of your Firefox Hola Unblocker addon and your Chrome Hola Better Internet plugin right now. Vectra says that Luminati has innate features that are similar to platforms that were designed for performing targeted cyber attacks. They also point out that Hola can install software on users’ devices without permission

Ofer Vilenski, the founder of the Israel-based VPN service, wrote to Hola users assuring them that they were not put in danger on purpose. Vilenski said that the company was working on fixing the issues fast, and is (finally) hiring a security officer. The Hola FAQ page was also updated to clarify their use of users as endpoints. The online document now says that only idle devices are recruited for their IP addresses and processing power.

Still, Brennan calls Hola the most unscrupulous service he has ever encountered. This may be justified since reports are still coming in that despite Vilenski’s assurances that the two security holes were fixed within hours of their discovery, the Hola network is still vulnerable to exploits. Researchers claim that Hola is grossly negligent. The network actually has six vulnerabilities, they clarified, and instead of fixing them Hola cracked their assessment tool. Hola is downplaying the security nightmare, saying that every company has vulnerabilities. The bottom line, however, is that Hola is a security tool and it is doing the opposite of what people depend on it to do.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
New Pakistan Bill and Hola VPN Threaten Privacy, 4.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Filed in: News

Get Updates

Share This Post

Recent Posts

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment

© Get Best VPN Service in Europe. All rights reserved.