Opera makes its VPN service totally free on its desktop browser

Once the darling of mobile browsing, back when our mobile phones were still far from being smart, Opera seems to be making up for lost time and market and hitting both the web browser and mobile markets in new ways. Just last month, the company announced the arrival of its free VPN app on Android and now it's making a slightly similar move on the desktop. No, it's not announcing a VPN app per se. Instead, it is building VPN functionality right into the heart of its Opera desktop browsers and, better yet, making it completely free to use.

While any browser makers sing about their commitment to privacy, implementing features like incognito or private browsing modes, Opera is taking that commitment a step further by baking VPN functionality right into the browser itself instead of as an external software. In a nutshell, VPNs encrypt, mask, and re-route Internet traffic, shielding your activities from the eyes of hackers and spies.

But while VPN is actually a common and favorite tool among privacy-conscious and tech-savvy users, it remains out of reach of regular consumers who might need or even want it just as much. The hoops they have to go through to connect to VPN services serve as a strong deterrent to their widespread use.

That is the value proposition that Opera is making with this new announcement. At the flick of a (virtual) switch, users instantly turn on, or off, browsing via VPN. While it won't cover all Internet use cases, considering that most users live on the Internet through web browsers, that will most likely suffice for the general case.

In addition to the basic features, which includes military-grade AES-256 encryption, Opera's VPN service can automatically select the best VPN servers to route traffic through, depending on factors like network congestion, speed, latency, and server capacity.

Of course, VPNs aren't a bulletproof solution and neither is Opera. Just recently the company did admit that their sync servers were hacked. Though completely unrelated to their VPN service, offering it so freely and easily paints an even larger target on its back.

Download: Opera (desktop)