Bug In iOS Can Stop VPNs From Working as Expected

A VPN is a great way to protect your privacy and security online. However, a long-time bug in iOS can stop VPNs from working as expected and expose your data to potential hackers.IOS has been leaking traffic outside the VPN tunnel for years after it’s turned on, even when Lockdown mode is enabled. Now, researchers have confirmed that the issue persists in iOS 16.

iOS Can Stop VPNs From Working as Expected? And Expose Your Data

For years, Apple has known about a serious bug that could stop VPNs from working as expected and expose your data. But the company has been dragging its feet on fixing it.

The problem, which started being documented in 2020, is that iOS devices with VPN enabled aren’t entirely routing the network traffic through the tunnel. Instead, all the sessions and connections established before activating the VPN aren’t terminated – allowing data to escape outside the VPN.


This is a big deal because it defeats the whole purpose of using a VPN in the first place.

In the case of iOS, any third-party app can send data via a mobile network, bypassing the VPN completely. That’s because Apple designed iOS to allow any app to send data from any cellular connection to its servers.

iOS Can Stop Virtual Private Networks From Working as Expected? and Expose Your Data

The iOS operating system runs everything on your iPhone and iPad, from making phone calls and sending text messages to taking pictures and downloading apps. It also handles things like browsing the Internet, sorting out settings, and way more.

But iOS doesn’t always follow Virtual Private Network protocols, according to security researcher Michael Horowitz. He inspected data traffic flowing through an iPad connected to different VPNs and found that some leaked outside the tunnel.

This is especially the case for Apple services such as push notifications and app updates, which can bypass a VPN.

This is terrible news for anyone in countries with strict surveillance and civil rights abuses, and it’s a massive blow to iOS’s reputation as a privacy-conscious device. But it doesn’t mean iOS users should stop using VPNs altogether.

iOS Can Stop VPNs From Working as Expected? and Expose Your Data

A VPN (a virtual private network) is a great way to secure your data while traveling or accessing corporate resources from non-secure locations. But if your iOS device doesn’t correctly route your VPN traffic through a tunnel, it can expose your privacy.

Usually, when a user activates a Virtual Private Network, the operating system closes all existing internet connections and re-establishes them through the VPN tunnel, preventing any data from leaking. However, security researchers have found that sessions and connections established before the VPN is turned on are not terminated as expected. They can still send data outside the VPN tunnel while it’s active, potentially leaving your data unencrypted and exposed to ISPs and other parties.

This problem is a result of how iOS handles internet connections. It is a feature that Apple has introduced to protect users from state-sponsored spying, but third-party apps can also exploit it.

iOS Can Stop VPN From Working as Expected? and Expose Your Data

A security researcher has discovered that every VPN app on iOS leaks data outside the VPN tunnel. If you use a VPN on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, some data could be exposed to your internet service provider (ISP), carrier, or hotspot.

This is a severe issue because Virtual Private Networks are used by many people. Becuase to protect privacy on public Wi-Fi, secure their cellular connections, and evade censorship.

The problem is that the connections. And sessions established before you activate the VPN are not terminated. Which allows them to send data outside the VPN tunnel. This can be particularly problematic for apps like Apple Maps, Health, and Wallet. That require operations that start before the VPN is activated, such as downloads.

The good news is that a fix was announced at WWDC in 2019. To allow users to turn off this feature. However, it appears that this was disabled by default and may not be available for all apps.


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