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Hola VPN busted for selling its users as botnet for hire

by Jacob Kleinman | May 29, 2015May 29, 2015 9:00 am PST


When something seems too good to be true it usually is. It turns out that may be the case with Hola, a popular browser extension that promised free VPN service but apparently turned its users into a botnet army for hire.

Hola basically works by turning every free user into a VPN endpoint. So if you want to access a website that’s blocked in your country, you can easily do it by borrowing the IP address from someone else in another part of the world. The company does offer a paid tier at $5 per month, but millions of people opt for the free alternative.

That means the company has access to roughly 9 million computers, and starting last year it is reportedly started abusing that power. Hola apparently sold off its users as a botnet army that could be hired for denial of service attacks designed to shut down websites by overloading their servers.

Hola claims it made everything clear from the start on its FAQ page, though TorrentFreak says the company recently updated the page following these recent allegations. Either way, it may not be worth using the service, at least until the entire thing gets cleared up.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...