ProtonMail Launches a VPN Service

- June 20, 2017

ProtonMail, a provider of free encrypted e-mail service, today launched a VPN service called ProtonVPN. The service has a range of pricing options from free to about $320 a year for the highest tier.

The free version gives access to VPN servers in three countries, Iceland, Switzerland and Sweden, passing traffic through what the company calls “hardened data centers.” The paid tiers offer data centers in “all” serviced countries, faster speeds, and even a one-click Tor integration option.

“In the past year, we have seen more and more challenges against Internet freedom,” ProtonMail Co-Founder Dr. Andy Yen said in a press release. “Now more than ever, we need robust tools for defending privacy, security, and freedom online.”

ProtonMail cites the rolling back of Obama-era Internet privacy measures and the impending dismantling of Net Neutrality as motivators for building a VPN service. “When considering the scope of all that we do online, email is just a small piece of the online world. That’s why we have decided to build ProtonVPN, to better protect the activists, journalists, and individuals who are currently using ProtonMail to secure their online lives,” the company said in a blog post announcement.

The company’s website states that it is operating in 14 countries through 112 servers. It also offers the “highest strength encryption” by encrypting traffic with AES-256, key exchanges done with 2048-bit RSA, and HMAC with SHA256 is used for message authentication.

VPN usage has been growing since the early 2000s, but is now hitting an incredible rate. Fears of privacy invasions and censorship are spurring more individuals to implement a personal VPN service, accounting for 3o percent of Internet users globally, according to the GlobalWebindex, a digital consumer analytics firm. The number varies greatly per country, for instance in Turkey the number is above 50 percent of all Internet users.