Betternet is a popular free VPN service that hides your public IP address and encrypts your Internet traffic. But, is Betternet safe for regular usage? Is your data secure while using Betternet? Let’s find out.
What is Betternet VPN?
Betternet is a relatively new free VPN service founded in 2015. Betternet offers VPN functionality without any costs involved.
Although there is a paid version available on iOS and Android, the free version will run on Firefox, Chrome, Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.
How is Betternet free?
Betternet is totally free and, as registration is not required, you don’t have to give a name or even an email address.
Although this sounds good, VPN providers have to generate revenue in some way, and this is not always done scrupulously.
For several years, Betternet made money by relying on affiliate videos and apps served through the app.
At one point, Betternet was acquired by AnchorFree, another VPN provider – the parent company of Hotspot Shield, and started to switch from an ad-based to a freemium business model.
Betternet introduced a Premium version of its app late in 2017. This version allows users to access dedicated servers, a bigger IP selection and location options, and support. There is a free 7-day trial available that will enable users to try out the features without having to pay first.
Betternet main features
Betternet masks users’ real IP addresses by using one of their own IP addresses. Servers are located in Asia, Europe, and the US, and users can connect to these and appear as an Internet user from Germany or Hong Kong. This prevents anyone from knowing what you do online.
Data and personal information are not safeguarded by the masking of an IP address. Betternet provides state of the art encryption for reliable protection of any info shared online. The IPSec protocol protects data with strong 128-bit AES-CBC encryption. Betternet also uses the OpenVPN protocol with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption.
OpenVPN is seen as the best VPN protocol, and it is exceptionally adaptable and can work on any port.
Betternet also uses its own Hexa protocol, which is almost impossible to break. To use the Hexa protocol, you need to use the HexaTech app, by downloading it from Play Store or iTunes.
Additional Security Features
To use Betternet, no personal information is required for downloading or activation as it is free. This keeps you safe even before actually activating the app.
For extra safety, Betternet has a strict no-logs policy, which means it doesn’t save any of your activity logs, ports, or personal information. This is very important because if the authorities ask for any information, there is no information to give.
Betternet works on most major platforms. It’s compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. Computers, tablets, smartphones, and iPads can be protected and used safely whenever needed. Proxy extensions for Firefox and Chrome are also available to protect browsers separately.
Betternet VPN cons
Although popular, Betternet may not be secure as advertised. An academic study of VPN apps conducted in 2017 revealed that the Betternet Android app embedded 14 tracking libraries.
Further, the study shows that the Betternet app was seen as dangerous for users by anti-viruses solutions.
Although there seemed to be no evidence that Betternet injects malware or does anything else disreputable in this study, the mere fact that they have been identified as being suspicious is worrying.
With any free service or product, ads are inevitable. If you use Betternet’s free version, you will have to accept seeing ads.
There are, however, many reasonably priced VPNs available that don’t show ads, making it difficult to tolerate them in an app that is free.
Although it is unrealistic to expect much from free VPNs, the download speed achieved is sometimes quite low.
This means that Betternet is not suitable for torrenting. Betternet IPs are also blocked by Netflix, so even if the speed was fast enough, users wouldn’t be able to use it for this service.
Betternet is just about only useful for P2P file-sharing, but downloading anything but tiny files would have you waiting for a long time.
Conclusion – Is Betternet safe for use?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question has to be NO. It is not safe to use Betternet. This opinion is based on the following findings:
- Betternet was hacked in 2017, and Chrome extensions were used to spread malware.
- Betternet apps have been found to contain tracking libraries.
- Betternet apps are seen as suspicious by anti-virus solutions.
To sum up, you are using the Betternet free VPN on your own risk.