Welcome to the ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab

About

Our goal at ExpressVPN is to help build a safe, private, and open internet that empowers people around the globe.

One of the tools we employ in pursuit of this goal is high-quality research. Before we can successfully approach a problem or threat, it is vital to have an in-depth understanding of it. This is where the Digital Security Lab fits in.

With a clearer perception of cyber challenges and a more diverse body of knowledge, we can all better prepare for, mitigate, and solve issues that threaten global digital rights. At the Digital Security Lab, we focus on real-world problems with a broad impact in the areas of:

  • Digital privacy

  • Cybersecurity

  • Access to knowledge

  • Information flows

Ultimately, we want to answer a basic but crucial question: How can we protect and expand our rights, including to privacy and security, in an increasingly connected world?

Mission

The ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab aims to empower consumers with useful information about their privacy, security, and rights online. We do that by:

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Advancing public understanding of the online landscape.

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Investigating privacy harms, producing actionable reports about security issues, and providing the guidance consumers need to better safeguard their digital lives.

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Expanding the reach of research and breaking down complex technical problems into results that are accessible to everyone.

Sean O'Brien - Principal Researcher at ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab.

Meet our Principal Researcher

Sean O’Brien is Principal Researcher at the Digital Security Lab, an initiative by leading privacy and security company ExpressVPN. As leader of the ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab, he tackles real-world threats to online privacy, security, and information access through the application of focused, original research.

Sean founded and leads Yale Privacy Lab, an initiative of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, and is a Visiting Fellow at Yale University, where he has been a leading voice on digital rights for the past seven years. He was previously a Lecturer for Cybersecurity, the first course on the topic at Yale. Sean is also the Head Tutor of Oxford Cyber Security for Business Leaders, a program of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.

His work has been featured by the Associated Press, The Guardian, Wired, Fast Company, Vice, and many more.

Research

Opioid addiction treatment and recovery apps

Digital Security Lab studied privacy and security risks associated with ten apps used for opioid addiction treatment and recovery. One finding was consistent access to unique identifiers, which was particularly alarming given the sensitivity surrounding health and substance use issues, and the fast rise of telehealth products. Read the research report.

Location surveillance research

The ExpressVPN Digital Security Lab conducted extensive research on a pervasive privacy problem: Location tracking of consumers via smartphone apps. Our research identified location tracker SDKs in 450 apps, which have been cumulatively downloaded at least 1.7 billion times. Read the research findings.

Leak testing tools

Rigorous, regular testing is key to ensuring a VPN service protects against leaks. As part of our investment into user privacy and security, ExpressVPN has developed an extensible suite of leak testing tools designed for both manual and automated regression testing. Learn more about these tools.

Ongoing research

These are some of the research topics we are currently pursuing:

  • Mobile app privacy

  • IoT security issues

  • Proximity tracking and location surveillance

  • Censorship, internet filtering, and connectivity

Get in touch

We welcome researchers, academics, developers, and others to join us in our effort to improve online privacy and security. Please drop us a line at [email protected] if you’d like to collaborate or speak to our research team. You can also send us tips anonymously via OnionShare.