Is NordVPN Safe? 2 Examples That Would Answer That
Example 1 – Reported Data Breach
NordVPN announced that it had experienced a data hack on one of it's rented servers from a data center in Finland in March 2018. But NordVPN isn't the only provider to be affected. Both Avast and TorGuard have also been impacted by the breach.
Avast addressed a breach that occurred between May and October 2019, where users of its CCleaner application were targeted. Like NordVPN, TorGuard's encryption keys were also stolen and shared with unauthorized users. All three shared the same data center.
However, despite the reported data breach, NordVPN continues to provide a highly secure service to its users. The breach has only confirmed what we already know about NordVPN: it's super safe and nothing will be leaked.
Only one out of NordVPN's 5,384 servers was affected. When the hacker connected to the server, they could only view what an Internet Service Provider (ISP) would see, but this was not personalized to a single user in any way.
They were not able to access any activity logs, user identities, usernames, or passwords, as NordVPN's applications do not send these credentials for authentication.
NordVPN immediately ceased its relationship with the data center and shredded the server. This means all users were completely unaffected, as was NordVPN's code, applications, and VPN encryption tunnel.
The majority of users of NordVPN and TorGuard remain unconcerned, as most use their VPN to stream geoblocked content or bypass digital censorship, rather than for security reasons.
For those that are security conscious, it's clear that even in the rare event a hacker manages to intercept one of NordVPN's servers, users are completely shielded and remain protected, as no leaks actually occurred.
It may be tempting to users to switch to another provider, especially after a reported data breach. But there is the risk of changing to another service where logs may be retained and data may actually be leaked.
Despite a hacker, NordVPN remains highly secure. If anything, it provides users with certainty that their data is safe even with a hacker in the picture.
Example 2 – Who Is Behind NordVPN?
Lately, rumors and accusations are being thrown at NordVPN. The short version is that NordVPN is owned by the Lithuania-based, Tesonet. The official brand name is "NordVPN", but the difference in names is a business common practice (just like few people know the company "Procter & Gamble", but many people know "Pampers", "Oral-B" and "Gillette").
We were worried when we first heard this story, since our users regularly recommend NordVPN for being a highly secure and dependable provider. It’s extremely important for us to make sure that we’re recommending a proper VPN – and since honesty and transparency is our motto, we’re never afraid to advise our readers to avoid shady VPN services, no matter how popular they may be. However, this time, this isn’t the case.
When you hear such serious allegations, the first thing that naturally comes to mind is; how can I trust a data mining company to run a VPN service? How can I trust a company with my online information, when they’re making a profit from selling user data?
To answer these questions, we need to get a clear understanding of the situation. Who is Tesonet? How are Tesonet and NordVPN related? How does this affect us as VPN users? Read on as we answer below.
What is Tesonet?
Tesonet is a large company that specializes in business solutions. It provides its partner companies with advisory support in different fields, including performance-based marketing, sales, technical support, recruitment, cybersecurity, machine learning, and business hosting. We investigated further into Tesonet and looked at the company's profile on Linkedin. Founded in 2008, Tesonet is headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania, and has around 500 employees. Tesonet also has partners all over the world - mostly companies specializing in technological or online fields, such as NordVPN.
What is NordVPN?
NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN provider that has been offering online security solutions to millions of users all over the world since 2012. Popular among users, NordVPN has grown to become one of the leading names in the VPN industry. This is particularly due to its high security and privacy standards, especially their strict zero-logging policy. Unlike other popular VPNs, NordVPN has never been caught sharing data with the authorities or leaking users' data.
How Are NordVPN and Tesonet Related?
NordVPN is one of Tesonet’s many partners. In the past, Tesonet has provided advisory services to NordVPN in the fields of online sales and performance-based marketing. This was when NordVPN was just starting out, in order to help it grow into the big name it is today. It seems that due to the need to protect their users' privacy, they registered the company in Panama, where the authorities couldn't demand data. We can see clear evidence of this: according to LinkedIn, NordVPN's employees are in Panama (as shown below) while Tesonet's are in Lithuania. But a big business such as NordVPN couldn't possibly be run by six individuals alone.
How Does This Impact NordVPN Users?
The relationship between NordVPN and Tesonet doesn’t affect NordVPN’s users in any way, and it does not pose a concern.
This isn’t the first time a large company has chosen to register in a different country. Take Google, for example: they operate most of their employees in the US, but are registered in Ireland to save on taxes. As for NordVPN, it’s safe to assume that the reason they don’t have a big team in Panama – a privacy-friendly location, definitely not one of the Five Eyes countries – is so they can avoid having to give information to the US (or Lithuanian) government.
This is a positive thing, as it protects users' privacy. The whole point of starting a company in a pro-privacy location like Panama is to help protect internet users’ privacy, not the other way around – especially when NordVPN keeps no logging data at all, as previously mentioned.
Hola VPN vs NordVPN and Other Allegations
You can find ruthless competition in any field of business. Sometimes, this can take a slightly unethical turn, when companies attack their competitors by spreading false rumors about their integrity in an attempt to shatter the trust between the company and its users. This is exactly what’s happening with NordVPN.
The Reddit community is currently pointing fingers at Private Internet Access as the one behind these allegations (we didn't find evidence for that).
However, Hola VPN, another competitor of NordVPN’s, after going through a business feud with Tesonet, decided to try hit Tesonet back by tarnishing NordVPN. VPN companies can be an easy target, as they’re in the business of handling internet privacy – which, of course, requires a high level of trust between the company and its customers. Hence, when Hola decided to throw a hardball at Tesonet, it aimed it straight at NordVPN – in attempt to hit where it hurts.
The funny thing is that when Hola wasn’t working with Google services, and users who found they couldn’t even use Google Search while connected to Hola started uninstalling Hola’s apps, Hola made a point of recommending alternative VPN services. Guess who was first on that list? That’s right: NordVPN.
The Bottom Line
As honesty is the name of our game, if a VPN is caught with its pants down, we never hesitate to lower its ranking. However, after thoroughly investigating this recent “scandal”, we still feel confident that NordVPN is still one of the safest VPNs around. It’s quite possible that its rapid growth and increasing popularity are part of the reason it’s being attacked by other VPN providers. However, if you’d prefer to try something else, we recommend ExpressVPN. It has an excellent track record and matches NordVPN when it comes to security, performance, and speed.
In any case, we will continue to carefully monitor their service. We will never recommend a VPN if we’re not absolutely sure it’s safe for you to use.
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