Google has a quixotic plan to make it easier to choose a safe and reliable VPN

Google VPN audit

If you're in the market for a VPN, you're not short of choice. In fact the sheer number of VPN apps out there can be quite overwhelming, and it's a situation that is hardly improved by the existence of a seemingly endless number of fake tools.

So Google has come up with something of a solution -- albeit one that is only going to be of help to Android users. The company is looking to make Google Play a safer place to inhabit, and as part of this it is going to be highlighting VPN apps that have been independently audited so users know they can be trusted. The likes of NordVPN, Express VPN and Google's own Google One are among the first to get the seal of approval.

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In short, Google will be slapping an "Independent security review" badge in the listings for VPNs that have been checked and found to meet minimum security and data protection standards. The labelling system comes as part of Google's partnership with App Defense Alliance (ADA) which introduced its own introduced MASA (Mobile App Security Assessment).

By Google's own admission, "certification to baseline security standards does not imply that a product is free of vulnerabilities", but that does not render it worthless. "The badge associated with these validated apps helps users see at-a-glance that a developer has prioritized security and privacy practices and committed to user safety".

VPN labelling is just the start of Google's plans to improve app security. The company explains:

To help give users a simplified view of which apps have undergone an independent security validation, we’re introducing a new Google Play store banner for specific app types, starting with VPN apps. We’ve launched this banner beginning with VPN apps due to the sensitive and significant amount of user data these apps handle. When a user searches for VPN apps, they will now see a banner at the top of Google Play that educates them about the "Independent security review" badge in the Data Safety Section. Users also have the ability to "Learn More", which redirects them to the App Validation Directory, a centralized place to view all VPN apps that have been independently security reviewed. Users can also discover additional technical assessment details in the App Validation Directory, helping them to make more informed decisions about what VPN apps to download, use, and trust with their data.

Google invites interested VPN developers to find out more by filling in this form.

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