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CYBER INSIGHTS: DATA BREACH - Free VPN Data Breach Exposed 360 Million

By: Jeremiah Fowler - Cybersecurity Researcher

Published on 24th May 2023

Free VPN Data Breach Exposed 360 Million Records Online - Why Using the Right VPN Matters!

Cybersecurity security researcher Jeremiah Fowler discovered and reported to vpnMentor a non-password protected database containing over 360 million records related to a VPN data breach. The publicly exposed records contained email addresses, device information, and even references to sites that the user visited.

Nearly all of the records in the database mentioned references to SuperVPN, an application that advertises a free to download VPN service. There are two (2) apps named SuperVPN available officially on both the Apple and Google application stores. According to the Google app store page, they have a combined 100 million downloads worldwide.

After reviewing a limited sample of records, I sent a responsible disclosure about the exposure to all available email addresses associated with both apps. The database was subsequently closed although I never received any reply. This incident serves as a wake-up call for anyone who uses a VPN to understand why choosing a trustworthy and reputable service is important for your privacy in more ways than just your internet activities.

I observed many refund requests and paid-account details in the records, which makes sense since the Super VPN we assume was leaking offered paid subscription after a free trial. Notably, the two apps named SuperVPN are listed under separate developers on both Google Play and Apple’s app store. SuperVPN for iOS, iPad, and macOS are credited to developers Qingdao Leyou Hudong Network Technology Co., whereas the second app of the same name is developed by SuperSoft Tech. I also found references to a company named Changsha Leyou Baichuan Network Technology Co. within the database and mentions of Qingdao Leyou Hudong Network Technology Co.. All appear to have connections to China, and notes inside the database were in the Chinese language.

All indications point to Qingdao Leyou Hudong Network Technology Co. as the owner of the database and we cannot confirm if there is a connection to SuperSoft despite the many similarities. The logos of both companies are very similar, particularly the logos of SuperVPN for Mac and SuperVPN for other iOS devices. I reached out to both companies for further confirmation to determine if they are connected or share the same developer. However, I never received a reply or comment on my discovery. Neither company provides much information about their ownership or location on their websites, which has raised concerns about the transparency and security of these free VPN services.

What the leak exposed:
  • 360,308,817 total records exposed with a size of 133 GB.
  • The records contained sensitive information, including user email addresses, original IP addresses, geolocation, and records of servers used. Additionally, the records also contained what appeared to be secret keys, Unique App User ID numbers and UUID Numbers (a Universally Unique Identifier is a 36-character alphanumeric string that can be used to identify further information).
  • Additional information in the records included phone or device model, operating system, internet connection type, and VPN application version.
  • Refund requests from users who either purchased the product or were charged.
  • Links to websites that the app users visited could identify their activity and be a privacy threat to the users who expect a reasonable degree of security.

The same Super VPN’s customer support emails were also linked to Storm VPN, Luna VPN, Radar VPN, Rocket VPN and Ghost VPN (not to be confused with CyberGhost VPN). In addition, references to these VPN provider names were found inside the database. At this point, it is not possible to determine if these VPNs are owned by the same company, yet we can assume they are somehow related. According to the customer support page of the app developed by Qingdao Leyou Hudong Network Technology Co.: “SuperVPN keeps no logs which enable interference with your IP address, the moment or content of your data traffic. We make express reference to the fact that we do not record in logs communication contents or data regarding the accessed websites or the IP addresses”. However, this data exposure appears to contradict this privacy guarantee. It should be noted that the application permissions allow the VPN to access the device’s files, images, and other device information. Learn More /...

About Jeremiah Fowler - Cybersecurity researcher
Cybersecurity researcher at vpnMentor and Co-Founder of Security Discovery.

Jeremiah finds and reports data breaches and vulnerabilities. He identifies real world examples of how exposed data can be a much bigger risk to personal privacy. Together with the vpnMentor team he has helped secure the personal data of millions of people from all over the world.

Jeremiah has over 10 years of experience in cyber security and has found some of the largest data breaches recorded in yearly summaries. After the company he was working for had a data breach of their own customers he became inspired to find out how data exposures happen. What started as digital treasure hunting quickly became more than a hobby. He quickly became a well known security researcher and thought leader frequently appearing in the news.

He has been a keynote speaker at multiple security conferences and has given lectures and webinars to startups and Fortune 100 companies on the topics of cyber security, privacy, and data protection. Jeremiah lives by the saying "Do what you love, and you will always love what you do" Learn More /...

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