Made in Germany and recently acquired by Kape Technologies, ZenMate is one of Europe’s leading Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). This VPN is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It claims to have 45 million users across the world.
With such a huge user base, they must be doing something right. And indeed they are – the ZenMate interface is simple and easy to use, it has an excellent reputation for its ability to unblock Netflix, compatibility with multiple devices, and a wide range of servers. But what about security? This review will seek to answer the all-important question – “Is ZenMate VPN safe?” and hopefully help you decide whether it’s the right VPN to choose.
Are ZenMate’s basic security features up to standard?
When assessing the question of “is ZenMate safe?”, one key thing to answer is whether ZenMate offers industry-leading secure tunneling protocols like the most dependable VPNs. ZenMate’s free version comes with IPSec, IKEv2, and L2TP tunneling protocols. However, OpenVPN-based tunnels are available with the Premium ZenMate subscription. The most secure VPNs also tend to use 256-bit AES encryption, which ZenMate does offer.
Security advantages of using the ZenMate VPN
Also on the plus side, ZenMate does offer a kill switch as a standard feature. This ensures that your internet connection will get blocked if the VPN stops operating properly for some reason.
Additionally, ZenMate offers comprehensive DNS leakage protection. This means that with the ZenMate VPN running, users won’t be leaking information about the sites they visit. This makes it much, much harder for ISPs or cyber-criminals to track your movements – a prerequisite of any decent VPN.
And there’s another positive aspect to ZenMate’s DNS features. Unlike some VPNs, ZenMate have their own DNS servers. These servers interface directly with websites like Google, who will only see a connection emanating from the ZenMate network.
In ZenMate’s case, the company is very open about its data collection policies, which fall in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
In general, the VPN claims to have a very tight focus on ensuring privacy, and it seeks to “ensure the most complete protection of personal data processed through” their servers. However, they also admit that they analyze “anonymously collected data and information statistically, with the aim of increasing the data protection and data security of our enterprise.”
So, when you log onto the ZenMate browser extension, the company collects anonymized information about your browser type, OS, referring website, dates and times of access, IP address, and “any other similar data and information that may be used in the event of attacks on our information technology systems.”
Much of that is pretty harmless information, and ZenMate only collects data at the login stage. So there’s no logging while you use their app to surf the web.
Be aware of potential IP issues when using ZenMate
Having said that, customers can request any personal information about themselves that is held by ZenMate on their servers. Much of this information can also be erased upon request. But only insofar as “statutory storage obligations” allow – and that’s the problem.
Germany is part of the so-called 14 eyes network of nations, which also includes the United States and the UK. Countries within that network have an agreement to share information and pursue prosecution of suspects, including for web-based offenses.
What about logging? Does ZenMate track users’ online activity?
We’ve seen that ZenMate may well identify your IP address to government agencies if this is required by law. But what about tracking your everyday activity? Many VPNs use techniques like cookies to collect user data, often with the aim of delivering ads or selling data to marketers.
Officially, this isn’t the case with ZenMate. On their website, they [url=https://zenmate.com/ultimate/]promise[/url] a “100% no logs policy”. Technically, this can square with their data collection policy, which applies to initial logins, not web usage while connected to ZenMate, and it applies to their Free, Ultimate and Premium plan alike.
Users of ZenMate VPN should benefit from anonymous browsing. That’s great, but it’s much less impressive when set alongside the collection policies outlined earlier.
Payment options offered by ZenMate
Finally, payment is another area to think about when assessing the safety of a VPN. ZenMate could do better here as well. The VPN allows payments via Visa, Mastercard, American Express and PayPal, but does not offer the option to pay using cryptocurrencies or gift cards.
The best VPNs (at least as far as privacy is concerned) accommodate private payments, but payments to ZenMate will be much easier to trace. When you put that next to IP logging, it’s another black mark against their privacy practices.
Conclusion: Is ZenMate safe to use?
If you want an easy to use VPN for unblocking Netflix, go ahead. But if you are serious about privacy, there may well be better options to try.