Is Opera’s Virtual Private Network a Lie?

On April 20th in Opera’s blog they announced or claimed that they are

the first major browser maker to integrate an unlimited free VPN.” — Opera Blog

Well, not only is that not true, but does it even matter. A VPN, for the layman, is a Virtual Private Network, and it is a very secure way of encrypting internet traffic to and from a computer. A VPN could be used by an employee who is working from home and needs to access the company's network. All off that users traffic would be encrypted before being sent over the internet ensuring a secure connection.

VPN technology is also used by individual Internet users to secure their wireless transactions, to circumvent geo-restrictions and censorship, and to connect to proxy servers for the purpose of protecting personal identity and location. — Wikipedia

This announcement from Opera last week picked up a lot excitement from tech and security enthusiasts. So, what is the problem with Opera’s announcement you ask? The fact is that Opera does not offer a VPN at all. Leading security researcher Steve Gibson says that “maybe we should call it a browser super proxy service” because it is obvious that “they have overstated what they have done.

The problem is that a VPN would take the entirety of the traffic coming from a computer, encrypt it, and send it through the VPN. This could protect you from an intruder while you are on a public wifi network that could very easily sniff all of your traffic. However, the Opera “VPN” does not even encrypt all of the data that comes from your browser and browser plugins. This means that the rest of your computer some browser functions and plugins are not encrypted or sent over the VPN.

Why would you use this? If you are someone who might need slightly more security, and would like to add a layer of security to your web page traffic to be a little more secure. Also, this does still accomplish the functions of a proxy, and can be used to bypass blocked content in certain countries, schools, and workplaces.

Listen to the discussion on this topic during SECURITY NOW with Leo Laporte

Opera’s Blog Post

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