New Android app security features give ExpressVPN users even more control

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In our efforts to give our users the most secure internet experience, we’ve recently made several improvements to our app for Android.

Disabling in-app screenshots on ExpressVPN

A VPN app is designed to protect your privacy. But there might be times when your sensitive information is displayed on your screen while you use our app. 

On the Android app, we have a feature that displays your IP address and lets you know at a glance whether your real IP is masked and what location you appear to be in. Your login details of various online accounts might also be visible while you use Keys, our built-in password manager (currently being rolled out to users), if you choose to unhide a password. A screenshot could capture the information quickly.

Sensitive information could also be visible on your screen when you’re using Android’s “multitasking” pane, which displays all your open apps. For example, you might be showing someone your phone and switch to the multitasking pane, inadvertently exposing a password or your IP address.

How we help

To prevent anyone from stealing information displayed on your ExpressVPN app, we have added a feature on Android that lets you disable in-app screenshots. It does the following:

  • Prevents taking screenshots of the ExpressVPN app
  • Prevents the ExpressVPN app content from being visible in the multitasking pane
  • Prevents apps with special permissions from seeing certain content of your app screen when viewing the ExpressVPN app

To use this feature, open the ExpressVPN Android app and select OptionsSettingsOther SettingsApp Screenshots. Toggle off Allow taking app screenshots. You might be prompted to relaunch the app.

A similar feature is coming to the ExpressVPN app for iOS.

Warning on using jailbroken or rooted devices

Jailbroken or rooted devices—on which a user has unlocked the operating system in order to make otherwise unavailable modifications—can pose security risks. Rooting a device could intentionally or unintentionally result in disabling essential security features, making the device more vulnerable to attacks. 

ExpressVPN’s ability to protect your privacy and security could also be hampered if you use our apps on rooted or jailbroken devices. Those using such devices might not be aware of the security risks.

How we help

If ExpressVPN detects that you are launching our app on a rooted or jailbroken device, we will now show you a warning that informs you ExpressVPN’s ability to protect your privacy might be affected. You may dismiss the warning and continue to use ExpressVPN.

We are rolling out this warning message to Android users over several weeks. It will also be introduced on the app for iOS in the near future.

To keep your device secure, we recommend you do the following:

  • Android: Disable root in the root manager app you used. If this is not possible, restore the original firmware of your device.
  • iOS: Restore the original firmware of your device.

Note: Restoring your device’s original firmware might erase data.

Warning on using an old operating system

It is advisable to use the latest version of any operating system, to benefit from the latest security and feature updates. However, it may not always be immediately apparent whether you are using an older version, and in fact many older devices cannot be updated to the latest operating systems. 

Using an old operating system carries risks. Android 6 and below no longer receive updates, which means users are more vulnerable to attacks. Several security issues have not been addressed on these older Android versions, which may impact ExpressVPN’s ability to protect your privacy and security. For example:

  • Android may be unable to warn you if the app you are trying to use has been tampered with, which can cause harm to your device and your personal information.
  • Your device may be compromised by simply visiting some websites or running some apps.

How we help

ExpressVPN on Android has started to display a warning when you launch ExpressVPN while using Android 6 or below. It informs the user that they are currently running an older version of Android that no longer receives updates, that their device is more vulnerable to security threats, and that ExpressVPN’s ability to protect their privacy could be affected. You may dismiss the warning and continue to use ExpressVPN.

To receive regular security updates and keep your device secure, we recommend that you update to a newer version of Android (7 or above). If you are unable to do so on your device, you may need to upgrade your device.

Note that the risk of using ExpressVPN on an old operating system does not apply to iOS, as our app only works on newer iOS versions (12 and above) that still get updates from Apple.

Covering all bases to safeguard your privacy

Security is a process of mitigating as many risks as possible, from all angles. Part of that mitigation is informing our users of ways to protect themselves even better, as well as offering more privacy-focused features in our apps. 

Learn more about our approach to cybersecurity at ExpressVPN.

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ExpressVPN is dedicated to your online security and privacy. Posts from this account will focus on company news or significant privacy and security stories.