Privacy Tool or Snake Oil? - Assessing User Perceptions of Consumer VPNs


Supervision: Konstantin Fischer

Start date: As soon as possible

More details:


Consumer VPNs in the likes of NordVPN, ExpressVPN, PIA have seen a huge surge in (paying) user numbers over the past few years. One of the reasons might be aggressive and sometimes questionable marketing. Are end-users aware of what they are paying for?

The first aim of this thesis is to give an overview of:

  1. Recent publications on end-user adoption of Consumer VPNs.
  2. The actual security benefits of using Consumer VPNs, by constructing possible real world attack scenarios and accompanying threat models.
  3. The promises commercial Consumer VPN companies make and the threats they communicate to convert potential customers.

Based on this, the second aim is to develop and test a questionnaire for assessing user perceptions of Consumer VPNs.


Caution: Testing a questionnaire involves qualitative research, i.e. talking to non-computer people and being nice to them.