Facebook 'Protect' software installs spyware on iOS

  • Facebook 'Protect' software installs spyware on iOS

Facebook 'Protect' software installs spyware on iOS

The app, Onavo Protect, provides users with a virtual private network, or VPN.

Facebook already captures a massive amount of data about what we like, where we go, who we're with and how we feel. Over time, this helps the tool work better for you and others.

According to the Journal, Facebook uses the data it gathers from Onavo Protect to know which apps its users open, when they do so, and where they do so, in order to gain an edge on its competitors.

Earlier this week, TechCrunch reported that Facebook was using its main app to push users to download Onavo, by tapping on a banner labeled "Protect".

Onavo itself isn't new; Facebook acquired it in 2013, and has nudged users to it through the Protect prompt on Android since 2016. This is because our online activity is valuable data for companies who are looking to better understand the habits of consumers so as to create better advertising campaigns, or to spot trends before they even happen. The report notes that Facebook has already leveraged data from Onavo Protect "in a number of ways, most notably in its battle with Snapchat". The option, which comes under the title "Protect", redirects users directly to the Onavo Protect app's listing on the App Store.

There's also an argument that neither Onavo or Facebook make it clear as to what data is being collected and how exactly it's being used.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

'The app may collect your mobile data traffic to help us recognise tactics that bad actors use. Instead, this app tracks data transmitted from other applications on the users' device.

Facebook's Protect iOS feature effectively installs spyware on iPhones and iPads
Facebook pushing trojan horse VPN that spies on users

Here's what Onavo actually does - and why people are upset that Facebook is pushing it. But the problem lies in Onavo Protect's VPN feature. We have a full rundown on what VPNs do here, but put simply: a VPN encrypts all your internet traffic and routes it through a server somewhere else. And many users likely wouldn't realize that other VPNs approach privacy differently, and offer much more extensive protections.

Onavo promises to do all of this, and for free.

IRONY IN TECH is such a tasty dish, with the latest serving arriving in the form of Facebook's "Protect" security tool that effectively installing spyware on iPhones and iPads.

There are several advantages of using a VPN, but the most important of them all might be the ability to give someone a degree of anonymity.

Why does this have people anxious?

The Onavo Protect - VPN Security app is now only available on iOS.

'As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. And while the initial excuse for this is to optimise the VPN service, the company also says it'll be using the information to "improve Facebook products".

Onavo does clearly state Protect is owned by Facebook, and that it shares information with the company but, per Apple App Store's design, the information is found under the expanded "description" tab.