Last update: 03.27.2019
The internet has become a scary place in the last few years. Large amounts of users are moving more toward things like proxies and VPN services to safeguard their online activity. Gone are the days of mindlessly downloading software with hasty abandon – the current privacy conditions surrounding the internet demand a little bit more.
The best option for most people is to go with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN will encrypt and tunnel your traffic through a system of servers, which allow the service to provide your connection with added security and privacy. One of the options out there is Opera VPN. But, is Opera VPN Safe?
Of course, not all VPN services are created equal. There are a lot of different features and qualities that go into a successful VPN, and every user’s needs will be different from the next. While we won’t be able always to guarantee that you’ll be safe while using a VPN, we can definitely give you the information you need to judge whether Opera VPN is safe or not for your purposes.
What is Opera VPN?
Opera VPN is not a VPN but a free proxy option from the developers of the popular Opera browser. The service was launched in 2016 and quickly expanded onto desktop and mobile platforms. The service has a few cool features that set it apart from other VPN services, the main points being that the service is free, and features no data caps.
However, there are a few things we will want to check to see if Opera VPN is safe or not.
So is OperaVPN safe?
VPN services protect your traffic by encrypting your data and sending it through special servers, typically designed to keep your traffic as anonymous and safeguarded as possible. The first question we should ask ourselves is – does Opera VPN have strong security features?
Well, Opera VPN is built into the Opera browser, and it doesn’t actually seem to employ any encryption whatsoever. The service is a proxy, not a VPN, in that it simply bounces your IP around to keep it hidden, rather than encrypting the data to protect it from prying eyes.
There also is no kill switch feature. A kill switch will stop your connection in case of VPN failure, which prevents your identity or activity from being revealed when your VPN stops. Without this functionality, an unexpected error in your VPN could potentially reveal your IP and other information, which is a major security concern.
One good thing we can say about Opera VPN is that it has no DNS or WebRTC leaks. Opera uses Google’s DNS servers, and the browser has an option to turn WebRTC off.
Is Opera VPN safe? Judging by the actual security features, probably not. It seems like it would be effective for accessing region-blocked content on YouTube and maybe Netflix, but anybody who is seriously concerned about privacy should probably look elsewhere.
That being said, there are other factors that can affect whether or not Opera VPN is safe. The main thing we’ll want to look at next is the jurisdiction, legal, and privacy details.
Is Opera VPN in a safe jurisdiction?
This question can actually get a bit complex. It’s unclear what jurisdiction the actual VPN service falls under. The Opera company is based in Norway, a 9 Eyes group member, which is not a particularly good jurisdiction for VPN services, due to extensive logging requirements and cybersecurity regulations. Any data collected within the jurisdiction may be shared with law enforcement and government agencies across the world.
Opera Software AS was recently purchased by a company in China, which should be another red flag for everyone. There is not one Chinese business that runs without the government’s approval. And knowing that Beijing is more than interested in mass surveillance, all data from Opera and its proxy might fall into their hand someday.
What kinds of data is logged by Opera VPN?
When you register an account with Opera, they collect some user-submitted information to keep track of your account, such as your username, password, and email address. They also store any information provided to them voluntarily for promotions and other things. This can be anything from your name to your street address, so be careful what you give them.
Reading onward in Opera’s Privacy Statement, we can see that they also collect “anonymous usage statistics.” This means that they track the activity and details of the machine you install and run Opera with, but they don’t tie that information to your identity or machine in any specific way. These are things like hardware and OS details and are typically not a big deal unless somebody is trying really hard to find you.
Opera claims to use this information to enhance the customer experience and make sure the service is working properly, but logs of this kind of data can be easily handed over to law enforcement, government agencies, or even the highest bidder. Even though Opera clearly states that they have no practical way of tying this data to you personally, it’s always a good idea to be super careful with these kinds of logging policies.
Other things to consider
Opera VPN has a lot of red flags, but there haven’t been any major scandals involving user data or unexpected logging. They do clearly state the data that they collect, and there is an option to opt-out of some of it, even if it is unclear which jurisdiction they operate from.
The verdict: is Opera VPN safe or not?
The fact of the matter here is that Opera has very few safety features and a whole lot of red flags surrounding their logging policies and jurisdiction. If you’re deeply concerned about keeping yourself safe while using a VPN, Opera VPN is probably not a good option for you.