Mozilla to Start Testing Firefox VPN Service

Credit: MozillaCredit: Mozilla

Mozilla this week announced a partnership with ProtonVPN, the virtual private network (VPN) service offered by the same company behind ProtonMail, the popular end-to-end encrypted email service.

What Is A VPN Service?

The company said that many of its users have consistently asked for a solution to protect their privacy on public networks such as those offered in cafes and airports.  A VPN is a secure tunnel through which your internet traffic passes. It’s most useful when the vites you visit don’t use HTTPS encryption.

Sometimes, even HTTPS encryption is not enough if an attacker can interpose themselves between you and the site you intend to visit as a “man-in-the-middle.” An HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) server policy can protect against that, but most websites don’t yet make use of it. A VPN obviates the need for either HTTPS or HSTS.

Mozilla will start offering the ProtonVPN service for $10 a month (the “Plus” version of the ProtonVPN service) starting with October 24. The majority of the revenue from the subscriptions will go to Mozilla, while the rest will go to ProtonVPN to pay for the operating costs of the service.

Mozilla to Offer ProtonVPN in Firefox

Mozilla said that over the next few months it will run an experiment in which it will offer the ProtonVPN service to a small group of Firefox users. These users would have to sign-up for a $10 per month ProtonVPN subscription and then download the application for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, or Android. The VPN software can be disabled and enabled at will and the subscription can also be cancelled at any time.

Offering a VPN service seems to be a synergistic move for Mozilla, in the sense that it both furthers the company’s privacy focus and it also provides it with an alternative revenue source. Mozilla makes it money primarily from search services - in other words, from Google, which is also Mozilla’s primary competitor in the browser space. It makes sense for Mozilla to diversify its revenue sources, especially if the new sources don’t depend on advertising and tracking users.

Why Mozilla Chose ProtonVPN

Mozilla said that its security team considered a “long list of market-leading VPN services. Our team looked closely at a wide variety of factors, ranging from the design and implementation of each VPN service and its accompanying software, to the security of the vendor’s own network and internal systems. We examined each vendors’ privacy and data retention policies to ensure they logged as little user data as possible." Mozilla also considered other factors, such as track record, transparency and quality of support, it said. 

At the end of this evaluation, Mozilla selected ProtonVPN, which is operated from Switzerland, a country with strong privacy laws, is operated by a well known privacy-focused company, and also has an easy-to-use interface.

    Your comment
  • pincher.lala.2014
  • eye4bear
    The Opera browser has included a free VPN service for the last couple of years. I personally pay for my own VPN service (Nord) and it is a lot cheaper than $120.00 a year. I am surprised that the article did not mention the high cost of this (not new or revolutionary ) service from Firefox.
  • tom10167
    I still don't get it. How is this different than getting a ProtonVPN subscription?