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Popular Chrome extension Hola sold your bandwidth for botnets

One of the most popular VPN extensions for Google Chrome, Hola, has been caught  out selling its users' “idle resources”, like your bandwidth, via a separate company for botnet use. This means that users of Hola likely had their bandwidth sold for DDOS attacks.

Hola was often used as a way for people outside of the US to access video on demand content, such as geo-blocked YouTube videos or Netflix. The brand used to sell off bandwidth is known as the Luminati VPN network. The problem was first discovered over on the 8Chan forum boards, as the site was the target of a DDOS attack, that seemingly came from Hola's network.

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8Chan made a little post about Hola, stating: “Hola ‘Better Internet' is an extremely popular free VPN. How it works is not very clear to all its users though, as I quickly became aware in the past week when 8chan was hit by multiple denial of service attacks from their network. When a user installs Hola, he becomes a VPN endpoint, and other users of the Hola network may exit through his internet connection and take on his IP. This is what makes it free: Hola does not pay for the bandwidth that its VPN uses at all, and there is no user opt out for this.”

“Hola was created by the Israeli corporation Hola Networks Limited at the end of 2012, and at first was just the VPN service. However, Hola has gotten greedy. They recently (late 2014) realized that they basically have a 9 million IP strong botnet on their hands, and they began selling access to this botnet. An attacker used the Luminati network to send thousands of legitimate-looking POST requests to 8chan's post.php in 30 seconds, representing a 100x spike over peak traffic and crashing PHP-FPM.”

Hola's founder, Ofer Vilenski, has claimed that the company has always been upfront about its business practices. However, the amount of outrage users have expressed tells a very different story. This Reddit thread for instance, is filled with people who had no idea what Hola was doing.

Discuss on our Facebook page, HERE.

KitGuru Says: It looks like Hola has been delving in to some questionable business practices. Have any of you used Hola before? Has this put you off?

Via: TorrentFreak

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9 comments

  1. Dieg Alex Lombard

    I switched over to ZenMate ages ago, now I’m glad i did

  2. I am using Hola, but I am not using Chrome so often(Firefox). I hope it’s not active while Chrome is not running. I might check Zenmate that in is mentioned in the comments.

  3. Demon Highwayman

    The very fact it is an Israeli made extension would be enough for me not to go anywhere near it. Other than that, I’ve never heard of it before and if i need a VPN I’d do a bit of research beforehand.

  4. Kevin Robinson

    Disclaimer: I work for a SmartDNS/VPN company called UnoTelly.

    As a person that uses the Internet, I value companies that keep my information secure. As an employee of a DNS and VPN service, I am proud to say that UnoTelly charges a nominal fee (~$5/month) so our customers can access quality and secure service. We value our users and would never sell their data.

  5. I’ve been using Hola for a year now (Netflix, used to pay for Unblock-US, but found that Hola worked fine..) – I’m switching to ZenMate now, thanks!

  6. Dieg Alex Lombard

    ZenMate hasn’t let me down so far, good service and hardly ever struggles to provide what it says

    Only issue is that while it’s free now, it may not be in the future (but we’ll cross that bridge when it happens) and sometimes leaving it on causes my chrome client to be slow in loading pages if I’ve closed it but simply toggling it off and then back on fixes it

  7. Dieg Alex Lombard

    You’re welcome Mark, here’s hoping that ZenMate works well for you like it has me

  8. >8Chan forum boards
    Imageboards*

  9. -> Start earning from comfort of your couch a­n­d get extra check each week… By doing simple computer-based work on your PC… I do this three hours /day, 5 day­s weekly a­­n­­d I earn an extra 1000 dollar each wee­k… <-