Research instrumentation to enable crowdsourced investigations into commercial VPNs​.


The use of VPNs has been growing rapidly among Internet users due to increasing consumer awareness of the security and privacy risks born of high-profile incidents, massive data breaches, adversarial networks, geographic restrictions for streaming media, and widespread reports of ISPs selling data about their users. This rapid growth of the VPN ecosystem has attracted an influx of new VPN providers with varying levels of popularity.


However, not all VPNs actually provide better privacy and security. Furthermore, the popularity of many VPN services may stem from mistaken consumer assumptions or even deliberate false advertising by the providers. These problems are compounded by a lack of convenient technical tools for evaluating and investigating key facets of the VPN ecosystem.

Our Approach

We built VPNalyzer to conduct a systematic, crowdsourced investigation into the VPN ecosystem. We want to advance the public interest in the VPN ecosystem, inform practical regulations and standards, and enforce accountability and transparency. To that end, VPNalyzer consists of three parallel efforts:


  1. Large-scale quantitative and qualitative user studies

  2. Qualitative studies surveying VPN providers

  3. A cross-platform desktop tool for users to test the security and privacy features of their VPN connection 


Upcoming Work

  • We plan to release the VPNalyzer Tool to the public in the coming months and publish aggregated statistics to shed light on the VPN ecosystem using empirical data. 
  • We are in the process of conducting our qualitative study of VPN providers.
  • We plan to analyze the VPN user study data and write a research paper to publish our findings.

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