Published on April 15th, 2019 📆 | 2310 Views ⚑0
Mobile VPNs Promoted by ‘You Are Infected’ or ‘Hacked’ Ads
Mobile VPN affiliates are displaying scam ads that state your mobile device is infected, has been hacked, or is being tracked in order to scare visitors into purchasing a subscription.
VPN companies offer affiliate programs where web sites and online marketers can earn a commission by promoting their products. To do this, an affiliate will refer people to a VPN’s site or product page using a specially crafted link. If the referred user purchases a VPN subscription, the affiliate earns a commission.
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous affiliates who will promote products in any way that will earn them a commission. This includes scare tactics, outright lies, and scams that are displayed simply to convince a user to install a VPN app.
To promote these ads, affiliates purchase advertising campaigns on low quality ad networks that will redirect users to scam sites while they are browsing the web. Below you can see examples of one particular affiliate that BleepingComputer has seen pushing Mobile VPN apps on iPhone users.
As you can see, these ads attempt to scare or trick a user into installing a VPN app in order to resolve some sort of problem, whether that be to prevent a hacker from tracking them or to clean an infected device.
Ads revolve around hackers, tracking, and infections
When BleepingComputer searched for VPN ads that utilized aggressive marketing like this, it became apparent that they are usually falling under three categories. These are that your device is being hacked, it is infected, or businesses are tracking your activity.
For example, the text of the ads that state your iPhone is infected are shown below.
Your Apple iPhone Is Infected By (6) Viruses. Immediate action is required to prevent it from spreading and infecting sensitive data like your Facebook account, Whatsapp messages and private applications Download Innet VPN and follow instructions to clean your device. Clean Device
WARNING! Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged by (6) viruses! We have detected that your Browser is (45.4%) DAMAGED by BROWSER TROJAN VIRUSES picked up while surfing recent corrupted sites. Immediate action is required to prevent it from spreading and infecting sensitive data like your Facebook account, Whatsapp messages photos and private applications. Here is how you can solve this in just a few seconds (Step by Step) Step 1: Tap REMOVE VIRUS to install Innet VPN from the App Store. Step 2: Open the application to activate the latest update and remove any older (Infected) versions. Remove Virus
The hacker or corporate tracking ad examples are:
Hacker Is Tracking You! Your iPhone connections was hacked and someone is tracking you!. Do not close this page. If this problem is not resolved within two minutes, the hacker will reveal your identity and will send your browsing history and frontal camera photos to ALL OF YOUR CONTACTS! 01 minute 56 seconds How to protect your connection: 1: Click Install Shield VPN button below; 2: You will be redirected to App Store; 3: Install Shield VPN, open it and tap connect button.
Notice: Your iPhone May Be Tracked. Read Below To Disable. Some big corporations might track your search and browsing history to build a detailed profile of you. This sensitive information can be linked to you and used to spy on you and your family. We highly recommend you to follow this three steps to stop tracking: 1: Click "Install Innet VPN" button below; 2: You will be redirected to AppStore; 3: Install VPN, open it and tap shield button.
Someone May Be Watching What You Browse! Your Internet activity and your browsing history are been used to create a detailed profile of you. This sensitie information can be linked to you and used to spy on you and your family. Follow three easy steps to encrypt your web traffic and change your IP address: 1: Click "Install Innet VPN" button below; 2: You will be redirected to AppStore; 3: Install Innet VPN, open it and tap shield button.
These ads have been in circulation for quite some time, with reports going as far back as last summer so it is unknown if the promoted VPN apps are unaware of these ads or are simply turning a blind eye. BleepingComputer has contacted the three promoted VPN apps in these ads, but had not heard back by the time of ths publication.
It is important to remember that if you are suddenly redirected to a site that states that your device is infected or hacked, simply close the page. If you are unable to close the page, then close the browser.
Even more importantly, never install any apps that are suggested by scammy ads as you never know what you are getting into.