In 2016, Opera’s synchronization service was hacked. More than 1.7 million users had sensitive information such as passwords and login details exposed during the incident.
More recently, a number of users have complained that their real IP addresses are being leaked while using Opera VPN.
The rest of this guide will take a more detailed look at the safety, privacy, and security of using Opera VPN. Alternatively, if you just want to find a free VPN that’ll reliably hide your IP address and keep you safe online, check out our recommendations for the best free VPNs in 2020.
Strong AES-256 Encryption but No VPN Protocol
Opera VPN uses the ultra-secure AES-256 encryption cipher to protect all of the data sent through the browser. However, it doesn’t feature a tunneling protocol like OpenVPN or IKEv2, which you would expect from a VPN. Instead, it just uses the standard TLS encryption protocol, which is also used on HTTPS websites.
While the encryption ciphers used are secure, Opera VPN provides no additional security over a free plugin like HTTPS Everywhere. Also, because it is a browser-based service, it will not encrypt any traffic from outside of the Opera Browser, such as a separate email application.
EXPERT TIP: For this reason, Opera VPN is not safe for torrenting or P2P activity. It’s important to keep your IP addresses hidden when torrenting, but Opera VPN only protects traffic from within the Opera browser. Since downloading torrents files takes place in external applications such as uTorrent or BitTorrent, Opera VPN will leave you exposed.
No Data Leaks but Very Few Security Features
There is very little information given about Opera’s security features, probably because they are practically non-existent.
Not only does Opera VPN lack VPN protocols, it also doesn’t support Perfect Forward Secrecy or use a VPN kill switch to safeguard your privacy when the connection drops. Opera VPN also appears to provide little-to-no protection against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.
Despite this, our latest round of testing showed absolutely no data leaks while using Opera VPN. This is a good start, but we’d like to see Opera introduce a range of additional security features to make sure it remains leak-free.
Opera’s Invasive Logging Policy
Opera makes money by selling your data onto third parties.
This isn’t unusual, since many free online services make money by selling user information to third-party advertisers. However, using a VPN service is all about protecting your privacy, so Opera’s logging policy conflicts with that completely.
This would be encouraging if true, but we would like to see the service undergo an independent audit before we can trust such a claim. Other VPN providers, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, have submitted to these third-party audits – it’s an excellent way to build trust within the VPN community.
Based In a ‘Nine-Eyes’ Jurisdiction
For maximum privacy and safety, a VPN’s jurisdiction is also worth considering. Depending on where the service provider is located, it could be subject to extreme surveillance or data retention laws.
Opera Software is based in Norway, which is a member of the Nine Eyes intelligence sharing agreement. This means its jurisdiction is less than ideal when it comes to preserving internet privacy and anonymity.
That said, given Opera’s intrusive logging policy and minimal array of security features, its jurisdiction is somewhat of a moot point anyway. There are plenty of safer alternatives to Opera VPN which are still based in non-privacy-friendly jurisdictions, such as Private Internet Access and IPVanish.
You Can Sign Up for Opera VPN Anonymously
One privacy advantage Opera VPN does offer is that you do not need to sign up to use the service. This means there is no need to provide your email address, payment information, or any other personally identifiable information before you start using it.
This is better than the vast majority of VPNs, where you need to create an account or register payment information in order to use the product.
Opera VPN Pros & Cons
- Anonymous sign-up process
- AES-256 encryption
- No data leaks
- Unblocks Netflix US
- Very easy to use
- Intrusive logging policy
- Small server network
- Only secures browser-based traffic
- No VPN protocol
- Doesn’t use a kill switch
- Dangerous jurisdiction (Nine Eyes)