On the surface, it may seem that the VPN market is teeming with various companies competing for a piece of the growing consumer VPN pie.
However, when we began to look further into the products and the companies that own them, we noticed something interesting: many VPNs are owned by the same company. With our interests piqued, we decided to dig deeper to see just how many VPN products belong to which companies.
The number may surprise you:
At least 105 VPN services are owned or operated by only 24 companies.
This includes both cross-platform and mobile-only VPN products. It also includes direct subsidiaries, products or brands, as well as white label services. This represents a much bigger number than was previously reported in other research.
For our analysis, we only included parent companies that own or operate more than one VPN product. We also checked which VPN brands are owned by businesses based in jurisdictions that would compromise data safety, such as China, Russia, the US, etc. Read on to find out who owns ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and other popular services.
Why knowing about VPN ownership is important?
When it comes to the true ownership of various VPN products and brands, it’s crucial to know which company owns or operates the users’ data. There are two big possible issues to consider.
1. Data privacy
If the parent companies are actually located in Fourteen Eyes countries, which are typically high-surveillance countries, users’ data could be wide open to the governments.
Suppose they are in Russia, China, and other authoritarian or repressive regimes. Then, the governments force them to provide data on a default basis (we discussed this in our Chinese surveillance analysis). The parent company may also be willing to sell user data.
In 2019, US senators planned an investigation into the foreign servers used to redirect traffic when using a VPN. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted the following [pdf]:
“If US intelligence experts believe Beijing and Moscow are leveraging Chinese and Russian-made technology to surveil Americans, surely DHS should also be concerned about Americans sending their web browsing data directly to China and Russia.”
For ultimate safety, a VPN shouldn’t operate in any of the 5, 9, or 14 Eyes alliance countries. A privacy-friendly jurisdiction means there’s no push to collect your data or what you do while the VPN is turned on. As such, locations like Panama, Switzerland, The British Virgin Islands, Romania, and so on, are what you should look for. If you want the best VPN service tucked away from the clutches of the Eyes alliance, we recommend getting NordVPN, now 69% off.
2. Data security
If the owning company is untrustworthy, it could bring up many problems. We’re talking about parent companies with major vulnerabilities or even suspicious add-ons and possible phishing emails with malware. This could lead to stolen data user data or even hacked computers.
This is especially applicable if you’re entrusting yourself to free VPN brands. We understand the appeal, but, ultimately, they aren’t worth it since you’re paying for these services with your data instead. In fact, numerous costless VPN providers have been caught collecting various information about their users.
Let’s take Betternet. They promise utmost privacy and security, yet what’s actually happening behind the scenes couldn’t be further away from it. The company behind it was busted for logging and selling user data to third parties, as well as embedding third-party trackers into its VPN Android app.
Another example is Hola VPN. For them, stealing and reselling your bandwidth is fair game. And the VPN itself isn’t really a private virtual network, but rather a P2P network. Here, the user itself is the endpoint other people connect to, meaning strangers are cloaking themselves in your IP address. If they do something that’s illegal, you’re the one who’s going to get busted for it, not the actual perpetrators.
Key takeaways: who owns what in 2023
|Chinese nationals||A third of the popular mobile-only VPNs||They are run either by Chinese nationals or located in China. It means user data is likely open to Chinese authorities.|
|Kape Technologies||ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, Intego Privacy Protection||Kape changed its name from Crossrider in 2018. That’s because under the latter title, they’ve been accused of injecting users’ devices with adware and malware while collecting personal data.|
|Ziff Davis||9 VPNs||Former j3 Global, officially claims to hold 8 VPN services. But it also provides white-label services for FastVPN and may operate other VPN products undisclosed publically.|
|Aura (Pango group, AnchorFree)||14 VPNs||Officially own only Hotspot Shield, TouchVPN, and JustVPN products. However, it hid the fact it owns Betternet products.|
|Gaditek, the Karachi-based tech company||5 VPNs||Claims it owns just PureVPN, Ivacy VPN. We discovered two more VPN products, as well as the fact it runs such VPN review sites as vpnranks.com, bestvpnservice.com, bestvpn.co, and 2 others.|
|Nord Security||NordVPN, NordLayer, Atlas VPN, Surfshark||Owns 4 VPNs and has been pretty public about the acquisitions and ownership.|
|Innovative Technologies||16 VPNs||A popular mobile VPN developer, has 16 VPN products under its belt. We show that 2 of those VPN products are by its other company, Lemon Clove, and another 2 by Autumn Breeze, which it also owns.|
|Actmobile Networks||6 VPNs||Has 3 mobile apps and also runs Free VPN LLC, for a total of 6 products.|
|SuperSoftTech||5 VPNs||Officially has 4 VPNs, but silently owns LinkVPN by way of FuryWeb Tech on Google Play Store, another of Jinrong Zheng’s developer names|
These are the key takeaways when it comes to who owns what in the VPN industry. If you want more details about the nitty-gritty stuff happening behind the scenes in some VPN companies, then you’re in for a treat. The deep dive is quite interesting, to say the least.
1. Ziff Davis (former j2 Global) – 9 total VPN offerings
Ziff Davis (ex-j2 Global), which also owns the tech publication PCMag, acquired StackPath’s VPN products in 2019. StackPath now presents itself as a “cloud computing and services provider.” In an attempt to broaden its offerings, StackPath purchased Highwinds in 2017, and along with that came IPVanish, StrongVPN, and Encrypt.me (formerly Cloak).
In July 2019, j2 Global announced that it purchased the Israeli-based Safer Social Ltd., and in November 2019, Encrypt.me merged with Buffered VPN. Another product from Safer Social, namely SaferVPN, is merging with and gradually becoming StrongVPN. In fact, SaferVPN is still available to existing users, but the new ones are now redirected to the StrongVPN website. The only Safer Social VPN alive today stays Perimeter 81, currently working under its own name.
Through now VIPRE-owned WLVPN, which StackPath purchased in 2016, it offered white label VPN services for both seemingly dead VPNHub (Pornhub’s VPN) and Namecheap VPN. Reddit users discovered that NameCheap VPN (now FastVPN) used the WLVPN service and was later cought using IPVanish servers.
Adding more VPNs to the mix, Ziff Davis further owns the aforementioned VIPRE and Ookla. This already pumps the VPN numbers with 2 extra offerings: Internet Shield VPN by VIPRE and Ookla’s Speedtest VPN (an integrated VPN feature with the Speedtest application.). All are available on both Android and iOS devices.
Finally, StackPath-owned netDNA provides customized VPN services. This brings Ziff Davis’ total offerings to nine:
- Perimeter 81
- Internet Shield VPN by VIPRE
2. Aura (Pango group) – 14 total VPN products
For starters, a company named AnchorFree has been involved in the VPN industry since introducing its main product, Hotspot Shield, in 2008. In February 2015, AnchorFree acquired JustVPN and TouchVPN.
JustVPN has essentially just one VPN product – VPN high seed proxy – justvpn for Android and JustVPN for iOS (however, under a different name of 1133 Group Ltd.)
TouchVPN has two unique apps. One is for Android (Touch VPN), and two are for iOS (Touch VPN, VeePee VPN Proxy). Although TouchVPN first owned VPN 360 under its own name, it appears it’s now available in Pango’s store pages of both Google Play and Apple App Store.
In November 2016, AnchorFree acquired Betternet Technologies. Betternet creates the following mobile apps:
- VPN Betternet: Unlimited Proxy
- Ultra VPN Secure USA VPN Proxy (formerly HexaTech VPN)
- Best VPN Proxy WiFi Betternet
- Ultra VPN Secure Proxy (former HexaTech Unlimited VPN)
- VPN in Touch
In 2020, Pango, the creators of Hotspot Shield, was acquired by Aura, a digital security company. Next year, Pango merged with AnchorFree overtaking the latter’s offerings on Google Play under Pango GmbH.
At the moment, Pango Group has Hotspot Shield, Betternet, Ultra VPN, and VPN 360, among other cybersecurity products. Also, OVPN is being acquired by Pango further expanding its VPN portfolio. Moreover, Aura itself promotes its own Aura VPN (included in their all-around security app) along with FigLeaf security suite, which includes another VPN.
3. Gaditek – 7 total VPN products
Gaditek is a Pakistan-based company that owns PureVPN, Ivacy, and recently closed down Unblock VPN.
The interesting point is that this “New Age” company also has interesting marketing practices. The employees of Gaditek and PureVPN have links with the following VPN review sites:
- bestvpn.co (previously bestvpnprovider.com)
This is a profile from Humayoun Khan, who worked at Gaditek from 2014-2015 and wrote “unbiased VPN reviews” for vpnranks.com, netflixdown.com, and bestvpnprovider.com:
Additionally, Aazim Akhtar is listed as the Senior Editor for vpnranks.com, but on Zoominfo.com, he’s working at Gaditek as their Team Lead for Content Production:
Lastly, we have Syed Ameer Abbas Rizv, whose rozee.pk job profile shows that he worked for Gaditek from 2014-2018 and worked on bestvpnservice.com, bestvpnprovider.com, and kodivpn.co.
Out of these, vpnranks.com is the most successful, with roughly 2.5 million monthly website visitors, according to SimilarWeb.
Interesting points to consider
Along our research, we discovered some employees of PureVPN and Gaditek also worked for another VPN provider called OneVPN, which Unravel Technologies own.
Unravel is supposed to be based in Hong Kong, but like PureVPN, its base is actually in Karachi, Pakistan. Muhammad Fahad’s job profile shows him working at first Gaditek then Unravel, both in Karachi:
Then there’s Ashad Zaid’s LinkedIn profile that shows he only worked at Gaditek from 2015-2016, but not Unravel Technologies or OneVPN, but still lists OneVPN (along with Gaditek products PureVPN and Ivacy) as some of the projects he’s worked on:
A likely reason: the currently closed down OneVPN was yet another VPN product owned or operated by Gaditek.
Another interesting point: PureVPN, IvacyVPN, and vpnranks.com share the same registration address in Singapore. Innovative Connecting is another company on this list with the same address. They’re likely not connected directly but only using the same accounting company, TMF Group, registered at the same address.
Finally, there’s an interesting crumb trail found on Gaditek’s website raising more questions than it answers. In this case, you can find Gaditek owning the Disrupt.com Group, which also owns Secure.com company, which even further owns Atom.
What is so interesting about Atom then? As a matter of fact, Atom provides white-label VPN services. Even though the tracks go cold here, there could be a whole bunch of related VPNs running under Gaditek’s hood that nobody is aware of.
4. Kape Technologies – 4 total VPN products
Kape Technologies is a company with its location in the Isle of Man. In 2017, it acquired Romanian VPN provider CyberGhost VPN, in July 2018 bought Intego with its Intego Privacy Protection VPN, and in October 2018, it acquired the German-based VPN provider ZenMate, which merged with CyberGhost on March 16, 2023.
In November 2019, Kape Technologies purchased London Trust Media for $99.5 million, which owns Private Internet Access.
However, the biggest purchase for Kape and the VPN industry overall happened on September 13, 2021. On this day, Kape bought ExpressVPN for nearly $1 bn, doubling its userbase from 3 to 6 million.
The question of who owns ExpressVPN has been raised more than once before the Kape acquisition. There were unconfirmed claims on Reddit and cybersecurity forums that ExpressVPN is owned by China, but this remains a topic for further research.
What’s more, Kape owns two popular VPN review sites in vpnmentor.com and wizcase.com, which allows them to advertise their products in the Top 3. Together, these websites have over 6 million monthly visitors.
First interesting point to consider
Kape Technologies, up until March 2018, went by a different name: Crossrider. Why the change?
Because Crossrider is well-known for infecting users’ devices with malware and other adware. According to Symantec’s Security Center, the Crossrider program had adware with a high-risk impact. The program replaced ads in browsers with its own, collected personal data, and connected to the Crossrider domain.
Malwarebytes had similar information, warning users that the Crossrider program was involved in browser hijacking, malicious software bundlers, adware, and other monetizing methods.
In fact, Crossrider/Kape CEO Ido Erlichman admitted that changing their name was because of the “strong association of the past activities of the company.”
There are 3 more important points to consider:
1. CyberGhost’s March 2018 Terms and Conditions stated the following:
But the 2019 T&C replaces that with CyberGhost. One can argue that the change was made hectically, forgetting to capitalize the G letter.
Why doesn’t it mention Kape? Also, neither this nor the Crossrider name appears in PIA’s or ExpressVPN’s T&Cs.
2. Crossrider’s Founder and CEO (until March 2016) was Koby Menachemi, who was part of Unit 8200, Israel’s version of the NSA. Some link ad injection (like the Crossrider program) to intelligence agencies.
3. The main investor in Crossrider/Kape Technologies is Teddy Sagi. You can find his name in the Panama Papers leak.
Second interesting point to consider
When looking at this situation, and specifically at their changing T&Cs, there’s an interesting legal question to consider: which jurisdiction wins, the parent company’s or the subsidiary’s?
Suppose the authorities were to approach Kape Technologies, which is under British legislation as an Isle of Man-registered company. Could they force Romanian CyberGhost or American-based PIA to provide user logs or even put in place monitoring systems?
One interesting case that often comes up is when Highwinds (before being acquired by StackPath) was the parent company of IPVanish. Although both in the same jurisdiction, IPVanish claimed no logs but turned over logs it actually kept to Homeland Security.
According to case files, the federal agent issued a summons to IPVanish’s parent company, Highwinds Network Group, which gave clues to help the agent submit a more specific, detailed summons.
The agent then sent the second summons for “any data associated with IRC traffic using IP 126.96.36.199, port 6667.” Highwinds/IPVanish complied.
The question then: if the British authorities approached Kape Technologies and asked them for specific logs on a specific CyberGhost user, would CyberGhost/Kape be able to deny the request?
We asked their customer support, and they denied that possibility:
However, it’s a bit difficult to take anything VPN providers say at face value. After all, IPVanish wasn’t supposed to have any logs to give to the authorities until they approached them. So the question is – how safe the users of Kape-owned VPNs really are?
Third interesting point to consider:
Buying ExpressVPN in September 2021 was no joke. This deal had a significant impact not only on the VPN but on Kape as a company. According to Kape CEO Ido Erlichman, together, they are planning to “take the industry to another level.”
Here are the key points, discussed in detail below:
- Kape Technologies bought ExpressVPN for $936 million in cash
- Adding ExpressVPN doubled Kape’s VPN userbase to 6 million
- ExpressVPN is considered by many to be the top provider, known for security and privacy
$1 billion for a VPN?
The fact that Kape Technologies had such a huge sum at its disposal (leaving behind the fact that the owner Teddy Sagi is a billionaire) will make its competitors reassess this global player in the online security market. It’s hard to tell what was the main source of $122 million revenue in 2020, but it’s unlikely that CyberGhost, PIA, and ZenMate alone pulled this off.
That’s why we get back to the Crossrider times, where all that adware and malware paid off (or is still paying off) pretty well. Also, we don’t know if this was the first attempt to buy ExpressVPN. After all, Kape bought CyberGhost and Private Internet Access back in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
So if Kape Technologies had plenty of resources back then, why did they wait until 2021 to get ExpressVPN with a significantly bigger price tag? We guess this had to do with their new Lightway and TrustedServer technologies that will benefit other Kape projects beyond VPNs.
The majority of the userbase
Adding 3 million users is a big change for most companies, especially when the new clients now form the majority. Before the deal, Kape had about 2.5 million subscribers. Of course, this means more revenue that will help “pay off” the ExpressVPN price.
At the same time, it means that ExpressVPN is more like the “partners” and not just another acquisition like ZenMate was. After all, they have the technology and know-how that Kape covets, in addition to the $279 million revenue, which rose by 37%. And just like Kape, ExpressVPN is interested in moving beyond the VPN industry.
One question is whether Ligthway, TrustedServer, and anything else that ExpressVPN has upon its sleeve will be integrated into other Kape-owned VPNs, affecting their users and the prices they pay? Knowing that since 2019 CyberGhost and PIA didn’t make any “technology sharing,” such a scenario seems improbable.
No longer on the top?
This deal brings questions about ExpressVPN reputation. As of now, it was often the best VPN and always on the “best of” lists of all kinds. This provider avoided scandals and was known for excellent security and privacy, save for some unverified claims about Chinese ownership.
There aren’t many VPNs that have their no-logs policy proven in court and audited independently at the same time. And this is what helped ExpressVPN stay at the top despite its ever-increasing prices.
But what happens now when Kape’s poor reputation draws a permanent shadow over the newly bought service? For example, there was a deal with Nokia to preload some of their phones with ExpressVPN. Through this new deal, Nokia device owners are now given an option of a free 30-day ExpressVPN trial.
Soon after the purchase by Kape, worrying information about ExpressVPN’s CIO Daniel Gericke appeared. Turns out, he’s a former US military member who illegally worked as a mercenary hacker for UAE, helping create a hacking tool for spying named Karma. What’s more, he was fined $335,000 and agreed to cooperate with US Justice Department and FBI.
Let’s also not forget that Teddy Sagi, one of the Kape founders, worked for Israeli intelligence and was also convicted for inside trading. Both Israel and UAE are US allies.
5. NordVPN s.a. – 4 total VPN products
Up until November 15, 2020, Tefincom S.A. was the company that owned NordVPN, NordLayer, and other cybersecurity products. After structural changes in Nord Group, all of them were put under NordVPN s.a. entity, which is registered in Panama.
As you can see, mapping the ownership of these products is a bit complicated. It didn’t get much better after the October 15, 2021 deal that saw Peakstar technologies Inc. product Atlas VPN added into Nordsec Ltd. Soon after this, another merger followed.
Since February 2, 2022, Nord Security merged with Surfshark VPN. However, both companies continue to operate independently and retained their respective user bases. As the nordvpn.com blog post states, the goal of the merger is to “reveal technical knowledge-sharing opportunities and enable more focused market diversification.”
Nordsec Ltd. currently controls four VPN products:
- Atlas VPN
- Surfshark VPN
Overall, it looks like the beginning of the merger era. Back in September 2021, Kape Technologies bought ExpressVPN for a record sum, making it arguably the largest player in the VPN industry. Obviously, getting Atlas VPN wasn’t enough for Nordsec Ltd. to compete for the market share.
With the addition of Surfshark VPN, the company poses a substantially more serious threat to its biggest competitor. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Ziff Davis or Gaditek make the next move in this Game of VPN Thrones.
The mobile-only VPN market is a bit more straightforward: a lot of VPN developers are producing more than one VPN product. They’re mostly free VPNs, which means they’re selling ads to users or selling user data to third parties.
1. Innovative Connecting – 16 total VPN products
As of now, this developer directly controls 5 VPN apps for both Android and iOS platforms:
- Turbo VPN – Secure VPN Proxy (Android)
- Turbo VPN Lite – VPN Proxy (Android)
- VPN Monster – Fast VPN Proxy (Android)
- Turbo VPN Private Browser (iOS)
- Signal Secure VPN-Solo VPN (iPhone only)
Interesting points to consider
Innovative Connecting has connections with Lemon Clove as well (in addition to a third company, ALL Connected Co. Ltd). Lemon Clove makes 4 VPN apps:
- VPN Proxy Master – Safer VPN (Android)
- Secure VPN Proxy Master Lite (Android)
- Snap Master VPN: Super Vpn App (Android)
- VPN Proxy Master – Super VPN (iOS) (This one is pretty weird as the name, the developer and the platform changes frequently for no apparent reason)
Lemon Clove and Innovative Connecting both have the same secretary and key addresses.
ALL Connected was listed as the App developer on the App Store for TurboVPN and VPN Master, while Innovative appeared as the developer on the Play Store for the same apps (plus a back-and-forth chain of links between their websites and apps on the mobile app stores). Nowadays, Innovative Connecting has replaced All Connected in all app stores, with the latter retaking VPN Proxy Master on Apple App Store from time to time.
Lemon Clove has a common address with Innovative, and the Secretary for the board is the same (Loo Ping Yoo). The policies for both Turbo and Master VPN are hosted on similar Cloudfront domains, linking to Innovative. But the App Store policy for MasterVPN was hosted on ALL Connected’s domain. The SnapVPN policy is on the same CloudFront domain. All the policies share the same broken English and typos.
A long chain of extra connections
Now aforementioned Snap VPN (not to be mistaken with Snap Master VPN), starts a whole chain of really obscure trails. Autumn Breeze PTE Limited, the former developer of Innovative Connecting’s VPN Monster, now maintains Snap VPN on Google Play along with Innovative’s Signal Secure VPN. If you jump to Apple App Store, the same Snap VPN is now under Free Secure Connected Software Co., Ltd.
Now this company also owns Thunder VPN – Secure VPN Proxy, which, surprise surprise, on Google Play is under yet another company name – Signal Lab. Of course, Singal Lab develops one more VPN in this basket, named Secure VPN – Safer Internet.
Combining all of this, we can fairly confidently say Innovative Connecting owns 7 more products:
- Snap VPN: Super Fast VPN Proxy (Android)
- SuperNet VPN: fast VPN Proxy (Android)
- Signal SecureVPN – Robot VPN (Android)
- Snap VPN – VPN Private Browser (iOS)
- Thunder VPN – Secure VPN Proxy (iOS)
- Thunder VPN – Fast, Safe VPN (Android)
- Secure VPN – Safer Internet (Android)
More links in between
The Director of Innovative appears to be Danny Chen, who is the CEO of Linksure. He appears on a Singapore registry as Director of Innovative shareholding. Yoo Loo Ping is the secretary of both Lemon Clove and Innovative and is a Singapore citizen.
Then there’s the look of both of their websites – which are pretty much identical in design, wording, and everything else but the company’s name.
Here’s a snapshot of Innovative Connecting’s website which now redirects to TurboVPN homepage:
And here’s Lemon Clove’s website in 2019 that gives you VPN Proxy Master homepage today.
And even that’s not all. Heading to the official All Connected page, we found yet another instance of essentially the same webpage in 2023 offering “Network Security Tools”.
Beyond that, when looking at the registration information for turbovpn.co, we noticed the domain was registered with a Gmail address. When we looked at other domains registered by [email protected], we noticed that it also listed lemonclove.net, along with Lemon Clove’s vpnsnap.com and Innovative Connecting’s own turbovpn.co and vpnmaster.co:
Why would Lemon Clove hide being affiliated or owned by Innovative Connecting?
Final points to consider
When looking through the APK files for Innovative Connecting/Lemon Clove/All Connected, we discovered the following:
The bottom 5 are already known to us as being under Innovative Connecting:
- “free.vpn.unblock.proxy.vpnpro” – Snap VPN (Lemon Clove)
- “free.vpn.unblock.proxy.freenetvpn” – Freenet VPN (trademarked by All Connected/Innovative Connecting)
- “free.vpn.unblock.proxy.vpnmaster” – VPN Master (Innovative Connecting)
- “free.vpn.unblock.proxy.turbovpn” – TurboVPN (Innovative Connecting)
- “free.vpn.unblock.proxy.vpn.master.pro” – VPN Proxy Master (Innovative Connecting)
However, when we searched for the first one, we found it was the app “Unlimited Free VPN Monster – Fast Secure VPN Proxy” developed by a developer called Autumn Breeze 2018.
Digging further, we discovered a reference that this is actually an Innovative Connecting product:
2. SuperSoftTech – 5 total VPN products
This company develops the following apps:
- Luna VPN – AppVPN & VPN Proxy (iOS)
- SuperVPN – Secure VPN Proxy (iOS)
- Super VPN Fast VPN Client (Android)
- Super VPN Pro (Android)
- LinkVPN (by way of FuryWeb Tech on Google Play Store, another of Jinrong Zheng’s developer names)
Interesting points to consider
While the official owner is SuperSoftTech, based in Singapore, it actually belongs to the independent app publisher Jinrong Zheng – most likely a Chinese national based in Beijing.
The contact email address on the Play store ([email protected]) links to a Chinese address in Beijing. Jinrong Zheng has released several apps (mostly games) that almost all start with the prefix “Super.”
SuperVPN has been ranked the #3 most malware-rigged VPN app in a 2016 Australian research by Csiro [pdf]:
Interestingly, the Pango group’s (ex-AnchorFree) Betternet is at #4.
3. Act Mobile Networks – 6 total VPN products
As Act Mobile Networks, it develops the following apps:
- Dash Net Accelerated VPN (Android)
- VPN Dash: Fast VPN Proxy (Android)
- VPN Dash + Private Browser (iOS+Mac)
- Dash Office VPN (iOS)
This developer shares the same registration address in California with Free VPN LLC, which develops the following apps (iOS and Android):
- Free VPN by Free VPN .org™
- VPN Pro: Private Browser Proxy (iOS only)
But instead of there being a coincidence, or them using the same accountant or other reason, these companies are very much connected.
Not only do they share the same address, but they also are officers in each other companies:
Most likely, they’re the same company: Actmobile Networks, which is actually not based in California (that’s now inactive) but in Delaware.
Free mobile-only VPNs with Chinese origins
We discovered that Chinese companies or companies run by Chinese nationals own many free mobile-only VPNs.Why trusting businesses with origins in China is a bad idea should be pretty self-explanatory, but here’s a quick reminder just in case. The country is notorious for extensively collecting users’ private data for any reason they see fit. And you aren’t exempt from it just because you reside elsewhere.
These are some of the most high-profile Chinese-operated companies known to own multiple VPNs:
|Organization||Number of VPN apps||Details|
|Innovative Connecting||16||Director Danian “Danny” Chen is a Chinese national (Chen’s LinkSure is the sole shareholder and shares the same address as Innovative Connecting)|
|Hotspot VPN||5||Director Zhu Jianpeng has a residential address in Heibei Province in China.|
|SuperSoftTech||5||Officially owned by Singapore-based SuperSoftTech, it actually belongs to independent app publisher Jinrong Zheng, a Chinese national based in Beijing.|
|LEILEI||2||By the titles of the VPNs (all written in Chinese characters), it’s likely that this developer is Chinese or based in China.|
After the Shenzhen HAWK Internet scandal, some of the major industry players (owned by the said company) essentially turned into ashes. For instance, Hi Security with at least 3 VPNs under its belt, is nowhere to be found on any mobile app storefronts. Moreover, Singapore-based but Chinese-linked Newbreed Network Pte Ltd. with 6 VPN apps in their pockets, lately just vanished into thin air.
Most Chinese VPN free offerings may seem lucrative, but as the saying goes, “If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product”. We understand that your data is invaluable, so we have gathered risk-free VPNs with a money-back guarantee that you could use instead. If the free trial option is not for you, check this list of hand-picked and tested VPN services.
Free VPNs to protect your data online:
Alternative free VPN services for movies:
Tested and working VPNs for movies:
Check out the best VPNs:
Who owns popular VPNs: infographic
This is our original research about VPN ownership that we made back in 2019. While some information has changed over time, it still is a good visualization of all connections between the companies and the products.
The number of companies that own multiple VPNs has only increased since our original research in 2019. There are no signs of this process stopping as the big players like Kape Technologies or Nord Security seek to amass as many users as possible. At the same time, Chinese companies continue making free mobile-only VPNs of dubious quality.
With all this in mind, we highly recommend using only the top VPN services, such as NordVPN, now 69% off. Small companies and enterprises should also look for the best business VPNs in 2023 to assure their security and privacy. And as always, check the provider’s reputation first instead of risking yours.
Who owns NordVPN?
NordVPN is owned by the Nord Security brand, which in turn belongs to Nordsec Ltd. The company also has NordLayer, Atlas VPN, and Surfshark VPN among its products. It was started with the help of the Lithuanian business incubator Tesonet and is currently owned by Tom Okman.
Who owns Surfshark VPN?
In mid-2021, Surfshark began the process of merging with its competitor Nord Security, the parent company of the popular NordVPN. The merger was finalized in early 2022, with both brands continuing to operate independently.
Who owns ExpressVPN?
The owner of ExpressVPN is Kape Technologies. The company bought ExpressVPN on September 13, 2021. Kape Technologies also owns 3 other VPNs: CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and Intego VPN. Previously based in Hong Kong, ExpressVPN is now located in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands.
Who owns Atlas VPN?
Nordsec Ltd. acquired Atlas VPN on October 15, 2021. After the acquisition, Nord Security keeps Atlas VPN as a separate and more affordable product in its portfolio to expand its market reach in the lower market brackets.
Is ExpressVPN owned by China?
No, ExpressVPN is owned by UK-based Kape Technologies. While ExpressVPN itself is based in the British Virgin Islands, the parent company is located in the Isle of Man and its headquarters in the UK. At the moment, there are no tracks leading ExpressVPN or their owners to China or Chinese businesses.
Who owns IPVanish?
IPVanish is owned by Ziff Davis, formerly known as j2 Global. After StackPath’s purchase of Highwinds in 2017, Ziff Davis acquired the former and all of its products, including IPVanish, in 2019. Together with StackPath and their IT solutions, Ziff Davis also owns major publishing outlets, such as PCMag.
Is NordVPN owned by China?
No, NordVPN is owned by Nordsec Ltd., which is registered in Panama. Furthermore, there appear to be no visible links between neither NordVPN nor Nord Security (Nordsec Ltd.) to China or possible Chinese nationals.
We meticulously research our stories and endeavor to present an accurate picture for our readers. We’re also human, and if you believe we have made a factual error (as opposed to disagreeing with an opinion), please contact us so that we may investigate and either correct or confirm the facts. Please reach out to us by using our Contact Us page.