VPNs, also known as virtual private networks, provide security when browsing the internet. HolaVPN is one such piece of software from Israel based Hola Networks Ltd. However, rather than provide security, it may actually constitute a threat to security according to cyber experts.

IP Addresses Exposed And Web Traffic Unencrypted

HolaVPN is advertised as being one of the first peer-to-peer VPN powered by the community. However, the Japanese security and antivirus research company Trend Micro reached the conclusion that HolaVPN is not secure and this poses a huge threat to anyone who uses it.

Trend Micro discovered that people using HolaVPN have had their IP addresses exposed. This is a major concern when the whole point of using a VPN is to hide your real IP address. The research company also found that the web traffic from the computers of users of HolaVPN was not encrypted. Even more disturbing is that Trend Micro found out that Hola shares web traffic with Luminati, a sister service.

Hola Share Users Data With Luminati

Hola Networks is certainly not the only free VPN software company thought to be selling or using the data of their users but Trend Micro warned they did stand out. Over 175 million people around the globe use HolaVPN, according to Hola Networks.

Luminati is a global peer-to-peer proxy network. Its sole aim for those who use the software is to gather data from the internet. Luminati is advertised as being software to use for only legitimate reasons. This includes sales intelligence or retail pricing comparisons. However, it seems that this is a long way from the truth. Trend Micro pointed out that Luminati sells the bandwidth of their user’s computers onto third parties.

HolaVPN Could Allow Hackers To Bypass Firewalls

It may be tempting to go for a free VPN rather than pay out monthly for a paid service, but it can be risky, as Trend Micro has warned. It seems that when the a user downloads and installs the free VPN software, their computer becomes an exit node for Luminati. This essentially means that HolaVPN could allow hackers to bypass firewalls and delve into the private networks.

In the case of the computer being in a corporate network, it could be devastating. Hackers could enslave computers, while criminals could gain access to systems and undertake illegal activities.

Hola Logs Everything That Users Do

One of the main benefits of using a VPN is to keep whatever you are doing online away from prying eyes but it seems that Hola logs everything that its millions of users do.

Trend Micro disclosed that they had been able to analyze traffic that had gone through Luminati over a period of three months. The dataset contained more than 100 million URLs, all of which had come from the computers of Luminati users.

HolaVPN And Luminati Linked With Scraping Online Content

Trend Micro has highlighted the latest cause for concern about HolaVPN and the link with Luminati revealing they found substantial evidence of scraping online content.

In some jurisdictions, this is an illegal practice, while at the very least the practices undertaken are in violation of terms and conditions of the targeted websites. The company also uncovered hackers had broken into Luminati’s system.

User data scraped and collected included the contact details of attorneys and physicians, inmates, U.S court documents, scientific magazine subscriptions, credit information and even the most wanted list of Interpol.

Luminati Linked With Fraud

Trend Micro drew the conclusion that almost all of the traffic from Luminati more than likely has a relationship to fraud. Of course, protecting against fraud is among the main reasons why people use a virtual private network in the first place.

Trend Micro is not the only cyber security company to criticize HolaVPN. In June of 2018, awareness of the company’s data logging policies came under the spotlight.

Review website TheBestVPN reported the logging saying that HolaVPN is the least secure VPN option. Not only this, the software leaves users vulnerable to new threats. Even back in 2015, there was concern over HolaVPN when a spam attack was linked with traffic exit nodes of Luminati.

By now you should have come to the same conclusion as Trend Micro and TheBestVPN. HolaVPN simply cannot be trusted, is not safe to use and is not among the ethical VPN providers, so steer clear.