Google offers a VPN service to some of its users, and it’s even free: here’s how it works, how to get it, and how safe it is. Like all VPNs, Google has a particular purpose: to protect the privacy and indirectly the security of the users who use it. Google’s VPN cannot be purchased as a separate service: it is included for free in the plans of at least 2 TB of Google One, the Big G cloud storage service which, in this cut, costs 9.99 euros per month or 99.99 euro per year.
The significant limitation of this new Google service is that it can only be used to protect smartphone browsing and web browsers. However, once activated, Google’s VPN also protects browsing and data that passes through other apps, such as social networks, and the service can be shared with up to 5 users with a single subscription. Therefore, Google VPN is a somewhat particular service, which must be known thoroughly to make the most of it.
How The Google One VPN Works
Google’s VPN is a free service for plans of at least 2 TB, but optional: it is the user who chooses if and when to activate it within the Google One app. Once activated, however, all data entering and exiting the smartphone passes through an encrypted channel. The service offered by Google is a fully-fledged VPN, but it has some peculiar characteristics that we don’t find in other similar services. For example, and this is an advantage, the data relating to the authentication and identification of the user travels on a separate channel from the one through which all the other navigation data pass
Google explains this choice as follows: ” Traditional VPNs can sometimes compromise a user’s identity or online activity by linking their service usage to the action they perform via a session ID. This ID could allow VPN operators or attackers who compromise their infrastructure to intercept and identify users and their activity “. Put: even if a hacker were to breach a connection protected by Google VPN, he would still have no way of knowing who the user who made that connection is because the customer’s identification data travels over another encrypted connection.
So to know “who is doing what” online, the hacker would need to be able to crack two secure connections, not one, and have the information necessary to link the two channels. Google also promises a high browsing speed even when the VPN is active. Poor browsing speed is one of the Achilles’ heels of many VPN services. Still, it is normal: to anonymize the user’s IP address.
It is necessary to sort the traffic on servers that are sometimes far from the user, while to encrypt all data navigation, it is required to wait for the calculation times of the encryption algorithms. However, Google claims that you can reach 300 Mbps without problems with its VPN, a value that is difficult to verify. When the connection slows down, there is rarely a single reason, a single issue that is easy to spot. But rather a concatenation of adverse events.
The Limits Of Google’s Free VPN
A reasonable, secure and fast paid VPN service costs between 30 and 50 euros a year, and as a result, Google’s free VPN is very attractive to customers who already need to use a lot of storage space in the cloud. Customers who often already pay for a similar service offered by another provider. However, there are a few things to consider before activating the Mountain View giant’s free VPN. Paradoxically, given that we are talking about a service that protects privacy, the first doubt concerns privacy. By activating Google’s free VPN, all our browsing data is managed by Google.
According to what was officially communicated by Google, of the connections protected by the free VPN, the data relating to:
- Network traffic, including DNS
- The IP address of the user using the VPN
- The amount of data band used by each of the five potential users
- Date and time of connections
On the other hand, other data is recorded anonymously to ensure the efficiency of the service, such as the aggregate speed of traffic, the number of lost data packets and connection errors, the loads on the CPU and RAM of the servers that manage the secure connection.