Over the last few years, Opera VPN has slowly been gaining popularity, and the VPN has been the topic of discussion on websites like Reddit for some time. Many people may be familiar with the Opera web browser, which was made by the same company. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) should provide you with peace of mind and security but to be sure, we did some testing to see whether or not Opera VPN is genuinely safe.
Security: What Are the Security Tools Included?
Opera VPN is similar to the majority of other VPNs out there in that it makes use of a 256-bit AES encryption protocol. AES, which is an acronym for Advanced Encryption Standard, is used by both government and military organizations to protect their most sensitive data.
Many other VPNs make use of AES encryption, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. It is one of the safest encryption protocols out there, so you can rest assured that Opera VPN can keep your data at least somewhat secure.
Most VPNs also make use of a kill switch, and Opera VPN is no exception. Essentially, a kill switch will terminate your connection to the internet if your VPN service ever falters, or you experience a dip in connection.
This helps to safeguard your identifiable information from the prying eyes of cybercriminals. Again, this is another standard feature, so thus far, Opera VPN is not doing anything special.
IP and DNS Leak Protection
Opera VPN uses IPv4 and IPv6, as well as DNS leak protection, to ensure that any of your identifiable data remains safe and secured. This is important since cybercriminals are developing new ways to track down this sensitive information.
While VPNs are designed and marketed to keep your data safe when browsing online, some VPNs store the information they collect from your internet traffic and sell it to third parties, such as advertising companies. Is Opera VPN one such a VPN?
Opera was quite clever in the wording of their privacy statement like most corporations are, and websites like Reddit debated over the reliability of this statement. Opera claims that they do not have any feasible ways to identify their users.
But, certain categories of data that they collect when one uses their services and applications may be considered ‘personal data’ by the law. Opera acts as a ‘data collector’ when they collect personal data.
Different Opera services and applications collect various pieces of information, and the reasons for doing so vary across the services and applications. Opera only processes certain information when it is submitted to them from a user, which they call ‘user-submitted data.’
When you install an Opera application (i.e the browser), Opera generates a random installation ID. They are then able to collect this ID, as well as your operating system and environment configuration, your device ID and hardware specification, and feature usage data.
The company claims to use this information for certain legitimate business purposes, such as to personalize its applications and services, to detect and solve crashes, to prevent security abuse and breaches, etc.
Such ads are provided by Opera’s monetization partners. Sadly, this means that Opera likely sells your information to third-party advertisers. They can then use it to create targeted advertisements based on your personal info.
Big VPN companies like NordVPN and ExpressVPN have a much larger user base. And they do not store and distribute any of your information. Opera under-performs in this regard.
External Audit: Is Opera VPN Safe?
While Opera has not received an external audit, the company’s Independent Director Appointee is Lori Wheeler Naes. Naes has been a board member since 2018. Before she joined Opera, she served as a director of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ technical department.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is a global, auditing service provider. While it is great that Opera has a former auditor on its team, it does not mean that it has been audited externally.
External audits are important, as it is essentially another pair of eyes on a company. External auditors make sure that VPNs live up to their commitment and service promise. A VPN is trustworthy and safe if it has passed an external audit. Sadly, Opera VPN has not done this.
Scandals the Company Has Faced in the Past
In January of 2022, Opera expanded into money-lending services in India, Kenya, and Nigeria. Google claimed that this violates its rules against short-term loans.
Before this expansion, Google banned short-term loan Android apps from its Play Store. The company claimed that this decision was to protect people from personal loan terms bordering on extortion.
Under these rules, borrowers are required to provide at least 60 days for their loans to be repaid. And they must clearly disclose interest rates and a representative example of the total loan cost.
Opera continued to defend its products and claimed that it provided more than the necessary 60 days of repayment options. Opera does not deny the fact that it lends money via its apps. The company defends the ‘microlending’ business as helpful and practical in places where credit cards are rare.
The lending apps that Opera runs coaxes prospective customers with bargain loan rates. Once borrowers enter their personal information, the apps grant short-term loans with extremely high rates or deny borrowers altogether.
Annual percentage rates were 730% if borrowers made late repayments on some of the apps, and 365% for repayments that were on time.
Conclusion: Opera VPN Can’t Be Trusted
While at surface-level, Opera VPN may seem like a useful free VPN, there are a lot of cons that potential users should be aware of. The lack of security features and external audits make this VPN unreliable overall.
We highly recommend that you check out some top quality VPN option. Our favorite is ExpressVPN. It has all the protocols and features that a great VPN should have. Find out more about it below:
Thalia has been working in the online tech industry for over two years, after studying computer sciences at University. Her focus is primarily on VPNs, privacy, and online security.