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Google Play introduces badges to let users know how safe an Android VPN app is

The Google Play Store has introduced a badging system to let Android users know which VPNs are trustworthy. Google’s badge highlights whether a VPN service has been independently audited by a security firm. 

Google launched the App Defense Alliance (ADA) in 2019 to protect Android and Google Play Store users from harmful apps. Recently, the ADA introduced the Mobile App Security Assessment (MASA), which tests apps against a set of security standards. Now, in the Google Play Store, VPN apps that have been audited using (MASA) guidelines will present a badge that says ‘Independent Security Review’ in the data safety section to let users know the app has been verified by Google. These badges also link to an app directory, where users can view other verified Google VPN apps. 

In a recent blog post, Google announced that NordVPN, GoogleOne and ExpressVPN have already undergone independent security testing and have publicly declared their badges. Google also said it encourages other VPN providers to undergo testing to provide transparency to users.   

Google has said it is committed to providing transparency when it comes to Android user’s security and privacy. MASA tests VPN apps against security standards set by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). The security tests assess key elements of a VPN, such as sensitive data logging. Though these security tests are useful for users, it’s important to note they’re not exhaustive. Though apps are listed as verified, this does not mean they come without vulnerabilities or flaws. This is where a VPN’s own undertaking of security audits by a third party can fill a gap, as such audits will highlight any such vulnerabilities.

How do the security badges help VPN users?

A VPN service is a digital tool to protect your online identity. It adds a layer of security by concealing your real IP address and encrypts your data keeping it safe from potential hackers and ensuring your online activity is untraceable. The VPN market is highly competitive, and with so many available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store it can be difficult to know which ones will truly live up to their security claims.

Google says it has taken the necessary steps to empower Android users to make well-informed security decisions. It’s important that any apps – be it VPNs or not – are easy for Android users to use. It’s common practice to use a VPN on both mobile and desktop devices. The need for digital privacy and protecting our sensitive data is crucial to avoiding cyber crimes. However, not all VPN services are safe – and users should be especially wary of free VPNs because they sometimes come with fewer security features. 

But even with paid-for VPN providers, there are a number of features that should be included before you can assume it will increase your security. Most importantly, any VPN service should have a no-logs policy; this means the VPN claims not to store or log any of your internet activity. To prove these claims to be true, the best VPN providers will have their no-logs policy independently audited by one of the big four security firms.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.