Today, Opera announced that it acquired SurfEasy, a Toronto-based company that offers an "easy to use" VPN solution. Through this move, Opera is showing that it cares about its users' privacy and security. It also joins a growing trend of companies that are adopting new modern security solutions to protect their users from hacks or spying.
A VPN is not the ultimate solution to online security and privacy, but it provides an extra layer between users and the attackers targeting them. VPNs are especially useful when connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots you don't trust and to websites that don't encrypt their traffic. The VPN encrypts that traffic for you, so a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot can't extract your sensitive information.
"Over the past few years the dialogue and awareness around online privacy issues has increased dramatically. We are all now very aware just how vulnerable our data is to hacking, monitoring and censorship, regardless of the network or device you're using to access the web," said Chris Houston, founder and CEO, SurfEasy. “By teaming up with Opera, a global Internet company with over 350 million users, we are able to accelerate our vision to give users access to simple applications that let them take back control of their online privacy and freedom," he continued.
According to the TRUSTe Index, 86 percent of American Internet users have taken steps to protect their privacy in 2015.
"Privacy and security has always been top of mind for Opera's users, making the acquisition of SurfEasy a seamless fit," said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. "Opera has evolved beyond our browser roots and this step will add a critical building block towards a broader portfolio of applications.""Privacy and security has always been top of mind for Opera's users, making the acquisition of SurfEasy a seamless fit. Opera has evolved beyond our browser roots and this step will add a critical building block towards a broader portfolio of applications."
SurfEasy is an app that currently works on Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows, and presumably Opera will want to integrate it into its browser, which also works on all of these platforms and more.
SurfEasy doesn't keep any logs of users' activity, and it's one of the few VPN services to do that. Hopefully, Opera intends to keep that aspect of the service once it's integrated into the browser. To truly keep people's information private, a zero knowledge policy is also necessary.
Currently, SurfEasy has servers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Brazil and Germany, and Opera might expand that list of countries soon. When you select one of those countries for your IP address, that's how the websites to which you're connecting believe you're from that country. This protects the privacy of the user and can even allow access to sites that otherwise would be blocked.
Right now, a SurfEasy user can only get 500 MB of traffic for free per month, which limits how much you can use the service. However, Opera could either increase that limit to make it possible for most people to use the VPN continuously, or even make it free for all users, once the service integration with its browser is complete.