VPNs the next big browser feature?

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 30, 2015

While there are hundreds of web browsers, there are only a handful of engines all of these browsers run on, especially on the desktop.

Chromium alone is the building block for more than a dozen different browsers from Google's own Chrome browser over Opera and Vivaldi to Comodo Dragon, Yandex browser and SRWare Iron.

While there are certain advantages to that, compatibility comes to mind for instance, disadvantages such as visual limitations or similarity when it comes to features come to mind as well.

Even browsers that "do their own thing" such as Vivaldi are limited in what they can bring to the table without modifying core code of the browser.

But even across browser engines, similarities exist and it has become difficult to distinguish a browser from its competition.

There are still unique features like Firefox's customization options or the control it gives users over its feature set and interface.

One feature could rise to prominence in the near future: virtual private networks. Since privacy is a big topic on today's Internet, a VPN integration in a browser would not only improve user privacy but also be a feature that others don't offer.

Opera Software acquired the VPN provider SurfEasy recently for an undisclosed sum. While Opera Software has yet to announce any new services to come out of that acquisition, it would make sense to somehow tie the service to the web browser or at least its private browsing mode.

Private browsing is currently limited to reducing the local footprint when the mode is enabled. The addition of a VPN service would reduce the remote footprint of the user significantly as well.

Opera Software is not the only company developing a browser that could one day integrate VPN services in the browser. Recent rumors suggested that Mozilla might integrate the anonymity software Tor natively into its Firefox web browser as well but plans to do so were declined later on by Mozilla.

It should be noted though that the Tor browser uses a custom version of Firefox's most recent ESR (Extended Support Release) version.

Free basic integration of a VPN would certainly be appreciated by part of a browser's user base especially if it is offered as a free service. Opera could combine that with an offer to upgrade to the full VPN which would not only protect the browser but the complete system.

It remains to be seen if Opera, or any other company developing web browsers, will go down that route.

Now You: What's your take on this? If you don't think VPNs will be integrated into browsers soon, what is your take on the next big feature then?

Article Name
VPNs the next big browser feature?
Can virtual private networks (VPNs) be the next big browser feature?

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Valrobex said on April 19, 2015 at 12:26 am

    As usual, Martin is way ahead of the curve in asking this question.

    I’ve been using Epic Privacy Browser now for a number of months which has a built in VPN that can be switched on or off. It has become my favorite browser by far. (However, ever since Martin’s Feb notice re: “Ghacks is dying” post, I use the portable version of Firefox when on Ghacks so as not to limit the ads.) The only drawback to Epic is its lack of customizing, but that is not a big issue for me.

    Not only does Epic provide a built in VPN it is extremely fast when compared to Firefox and Internet Explorer.

  2. Steve said on April 10, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    It could lead to a good source of income for these companies to provide it as a subscription. If its provided by a browser resolution of pages should be handled well.

  3. CHEF-KOCH said on April 10, 2015 at 2:08 am

    If there are such leakage introduced with WebRTC, than the whole VPN stuff is useless if they got our real local IP anyway. It would be better to maximum secure the browser that there is only one Fingerprint (like with the Tor Browser bundle), that would mean it’s a lot of harder to indicate the IP/and other unique stuff.

  4. Jay said on March 31, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Does the Zenmate chrome extension work like a proxy? Does it forward your DNS requests over the proxy?

  5. point said on March 31, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Opera Software’s big revenue comes from a bunch of advertising companies aquired (AdMarvel in 2010, AdColony in 2014) forming Opera MediaWorks, thus their intent is highly suspicious by trying to provide on one hand privacy via VPN and on the other monetize the user’s personal information with ads…

  6. Dwight Stegall said on March 31, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Chrome has several good free VPN extensions. I’m using Zenmate now. My IP number is London, England. I use it to watch iPlayer and Aljazeera English here in the USA.

  7. XenoSilvano said on March 31, 2015 at 6:03 am

    I am still hoping that Mozilla integrates TOR into the private browsing function of Firefox, what worries me about this feature is the potential prospect of some if not most add-ons having to be turned off to safeguard your ‘security’.

    Also looking forward to e10, now if only the whole browser could be sand-boxed to put a wall between your browser and the rest of the computer, (I want a browser that is armed to the teeth in security).

    I would also like browsers to end our dependency on plug-ins (I have already uninstalled Java and Flash and I am doing alright).

    Another feature that I am looking forward to is the slow add-on notifier, I hope that Mozilla will continue to keep an eye on the good functionality of one of its most appealing attributes, as useful as add-ons are, their incompatibility with new browser updates can ‘severely’ cripple the browsing experience.

    A 64-bit stable version of Firefox would be nice too.

  8. R said on March 31, 2015 at 5:08 am

    What is your take on Torch and what they are doing?

  9. Boris said on March 30, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Interesting. I tried few VPNs before. But Firefox would not display pages properly through VPNs. Maybe if one is build-in thing may change.

    1. CJ Earner said on March 30, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      I often use Firefox via OpenVPN based VPNs and they’ve all worked like a charm for me. I don’t have much experience with free-to-use VPN solutions. Were you using one of those?

      I use multiple browsers and other software. That makes a browser with built-in VPN unattractive for me. However I do see the appeal for people with less stringent needs to have an easy solution.

      1. Boris said on March 31, 2015 at 6:16 am

        Yes, those were free-to-use VPN solutions.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.