VPN services are becoming increasingly popular, as more and more home and business users alike understand the benefits of making their browsing private. This has meant that there is a huge number of VPN providers available and trying to find a secure one can be a challenging proposition. Betternet is one such tool – it promises to deliver a full VPN service without charging you a cent. This is an attractive offer, but is this a decent quality VPN service, and is Betternet safe?

Kill switch

Before we go any further with this review of Betternet, we need to look at two key issues. Firstly, the kill switch is the rather dramatic sounding name for one of the most important security features built into VPN systems. Kill switches are designed to ensure that your identity doesn’t leak if your VPN connection drops.

This is why kill switches are important, as they cut Internet connections immediately when VPN fails, ensuring that nothing untoward can happen without the user’s knowledge. Unfortunately, while many conscientious VPN providers deliver a kill switch system, Betternet fails to do so. Perhaps this is due to the free nature of the VPN, but it’s certainly a bad start in addressing the question of safety.

DNS Leaks

Another area where Betternet really falls down are DNS leaks. These occur when ISPs are able to track Internet movements, regardless of the fact that you’re using a VPN service. All DNS requests should be routed through the VPN tunnel, rather than using your ISP, but Windows sometimes uses the default settings regardless of your VPN connection unless the VPN has tools against this.

Unfortunately, Betternet scores very poorly in this area, leaking not just DNS queries, but also your IPv4/IPv6. Is Betternet safe? Not on this evidence!

Malware Issues

Okay, so that’s a very bad start for Betternet. So while we’re at it, we’d better go over some of the other problems associated with this system. Firstly, some of the applications associated with the software have been found to contain malware. This is not uncommon for freeware programs, and unfortunately it seems that Betternet wishes to claw back some of its earnings via unfair software add-ons.

Additionally, other applications associated with Betternet have been noted to contain third-party tracking libraries, meaning that the privacy associated with this system is even poorer than we might already have imagined. Betternet also enables third parties to access certain aspects of user data, meaning that your information is never 100% safe. By now you’re probably wondering why anyone signs up for the Betternet system at all!

But that’s not the end of your problems. Betternet claims to keep no logs of user records, but in fact does log certain user data. This is particularly damning considering that third parties can also gain access to this data, compromising the security and privacy of users. The speed of access delivered by Betternet is poorer than with subscription systems, and we found the reliability of Betternet to be particularly poor, with frequent dropped connections.

Privacy Policy

We’ve already outlined many of the privacy problems associated with Betternet, but the encryption used could also be a significant issue. The privacy policy of the company makes no indication that 256-bit encryption is used, which is generally considered to be the industry standard. 128-bit encryption is instead referred to in the privacy policy, whereas elsewhere a blog post on the company’s website claims that they offer AES-256 encryption.

So this inconsistency again doesn’t exactly give the impression of a reliable company. In terms of VPN protocols, Betternet offers OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec, which is a decent selection, but it is perhaps a bit of a disappointment that the likes of IKEv2 and SSTP are not on offer.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is unfortunately impossible for us to recommend Betternet VPN. There are simply too many security loopholes and oversights, while the mixed messaging that the company has delivered regarding its encryption is also worrying.

The speed of the service is extremely poor and this would be particularly worrying when using Betternet for torrenting or with a streaming service.

This ultimately feels like the free system that it is, and while premium Betternet may deliver a better service, the company needs to up its game if it has any pretensions of seriously competing with the market leaders.

Is Betternet safe? Absolutely not.

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Betternet review