February 07, 2019

Wyden, Rubio ask Homeland Security to Investigate National Security Risks of Foreign VPN Apps

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., today requested the Department of Homeland Security conduct a threat assessment of the national security risks stemming from foreign virtual private network (VPN) apps. 

VPN providers route web traffic through their own servers, usually to provide extra privacy or security for users, or to save on data use. In a letter to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs, Wyden and Rubio requested an investigation of possible risks stemming from VPN apps based in unfriendly foreign nations.

“Millions of consumers have downloaded these apps, some of which are made by foreign companies in countries that do not share American interests or values. Because these foreign apps transmit users’ web-browsing data to servers located in, or controlled by countries that have an interest in targeting U.S. government employees, their use raises the risk that user data will be surveilled by foreign governments. The compromise of that data could harm U.S. national security,” the senators wrote.

If DHS determines federal workers face security risks from foreign VPN apps, Wyden and Rubio requested the agency issue a Binding Operational Directive banning their use on federal phones and computers.

Read the full letter here.