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February 19th, 2021

UltraGeoPoint Now Identifies Private VPNs

Neustar has added a new data field to UltraGeoPoint, the authoritative source of IP geolocation decisioning data. Now, when a user or customer connects to your website or network using a private VPN service, UltraGeoPoint IP data will identify the service by name.

You might be wondering if that’s really a big deal. After all, it’s just one more data point among more than 40 insights that UltraGeoPoint already provides for virtually all routable IPv4 and IPv6 addresses worldwide, including:

  • Geographic location, from continent down to city and even postal code (where available), along with latitude and longitude, time zone, and Designated Market Area (DMA)
  • Details on how the device is connecting to the Internet
  • Information about the organization that registered the IP address
  • Details about the proxy connection, if one is in use

However, enabling your security and fraud teams to learn which VPN services visitors use to connect to your digital assets could help them stop a threat or prevent a data breach – while at the same time improving the customer experience.

And that is a big deal.

Why VPNs matter. One of the reasons this data is an important addition is that so many more people are using VPN services to connect to the Internet.

One noted source reports VPN use increased 23% during 2020. And in a recent security survey, 36% of respondents reported they used a VPN. Ten years ago only 1.5% of Americans used VPN services – a 24-fold increase.

Elsewhere in the world, usage is even higher. For example, in Indonesia 61% of Internet users connect through a VPN. In India, it’s 45%.

By using a VPN, all these people are obscuring their device IP – in effect going dark. It makes it next to impossible to independently identify the location of their IP address.

They’re hiding things. The question is why.

For most, the reasons are completely benign. A user may be concerned about privacy. Or they may simply want to prevent marketers from bombarding them with ads that reflect their browsing history.

But some VPN users are hiding something not so benign. If your business or content involves geographic regulation or licensing, for example, a VPN user in a non-eligible location may be trying to bypass your geofencing to gain access to restricted material – or to access a location-restricted online gambling site.

They could also have downright destructive designs that could threaten your business assets, through new account or credit card fraud, or your network assets, through malware or ransomware.

The odds are against users having these kinds of malevolent motives. But the stakes are high enough that any information your organization can gain to better understand and predict the behavior of VPN users is immensely valuable.

That’s where VPN service names in UltraGeoPoint help. They enable your fraud and security teams to uncover insights into your VPN users that will help them better manage potential threats.

UltraGeoPoint already includes data that identifies anonymizing connections as either public or private. Private anonymizers are further classified by type, one of which is VPN service (Tor Browser and CGI proxy are others).

Now, when a connection is identified as a private VPN service, the new data field provides the name of the service – the key to gaining a more granular understanding of the potential threats that VPN users pose:

  1. Security and fraud teams can now track the digital activities of visitors who use different VPN services and analyze them by service
  2. Their activities over time can then be compared to data for other users, including those who don’t use anonymizing connections, revealing potentially significant insights into behavioral differences that can be associated with different VPN services
  3. These insights can be incorporated into the decisioning model that governs the experience of arriving visitors

For example, your data may show that users of the most popular commercial VPNs represent no greater threat than non-VPN users. This determination would enable those users to be whitelisted for unimpeded access in your decisioning model, improving the customer experience and, if they had previously been blocked, helping grow your online business.

On the other hand, your security team may discover that users of some less well-known (not to say sketchy) VPNs do represent a threat that is statistically higher than other visitors. Users arriving at your network via those VPNs may then be blocked and/or routed through a secondary authentication process that asks for additional information.

Similarly, the new VPN service name data can support more nuanced research and findings from forensic investigations and other modeling and research applications.

VPN insights you can rely on. For these modeling techniques to work as intended, the data on service names has to be accurate. But linking an IP addresses to a specific VPN service is not a trivial job. There is no definitive public catalog of them, nor a single tool or technique to identify them easily and quickly.

Fortunately, Neustar has invested close to a decade establishing a track record of data, knowledge and expertise on anonymizing proxy connections, including VPN services. The effort has been led by a team of dedicated Network Geography Analysts.

To identify IPs in use by specific VPN services, we use both automated and manual data collection methods that tap a variety of sources. These findings are confirmed by an extensive testing program – again utilizing both manual processes and automated tools – to ensure that our VPN data is accurate and current.

This concerted effort to deliver robust data is the fundamental reason so many organizations around the world rely on UltraGeoPoint for their IP decisioning insights. Our authoritative data helps them reduce fraud and ensure regulatory and licensing compliance while delivering a better and more personalized customer experience.

Now it provides new and important insights for VPN service users. And that is a pretty big deal.

To learn more about how you can incorporate the important, independent insights available through UltraGeoPoint IP decisioning data, contact us or give us a call at 1-855-898-0036 in the US or +44 1784 448444 in the UK.

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