Hola VPN is a free virtual private network that advertises itself as the first community-powered peer-to-peer VPN service on the market. It claims to provide ad-free access to blocked content without disclosing your identity and internet activity.

To verify this claim and see what Hola VPN offers, we put it to a series of tests and share our findings here. We started by analyzing a VPN’s privacy policy and how it handles your data and web activities. We also tested its unblocking capabilities and did DNS leak tests to see if it is safe to use.

Overview: Our Major Findings

Hola VPN was launched in 2012 and quickly gained attention in the VPN space. From a modest start of 80 downloads per day, that number soon rose to 40,000 downloads per day by January 2013. According to the official website, Hola VPN is now used by over 242 million people worldwide.

Hola VPN offers both a free and paid VPN service; However, we will focus on the free Hola VPN Chrome extension. Cybersecurity experts have been critical of VPNs, and they have plenty of reasons for it. Here is an overview of our findings.

Does Hola VPN Chrome Extension Still Work?

Hola VPN is one of the Chrome extensions that we have advised against installing. Sure enough, on 14 September 2021, Google blocked the Hola Chrome extension over allegations of containing malware. This means that the extension is now removed from Chrome, and new users can no longer download it.

The extension will also not work for users who have already installed it on their Chrome browser. It still shows up under the “Manage Extensions” tab, but users can’t actually use it. Hola denied Chrome’s allegations and hopes to settle the matter soon.

Contrary to what Hola claims on its website, we could not find the extension in the Firefox add-ons store. It was probably removed at the same time as Google blocked the extension from the Chrome Web Store. Although Microsoft Edge and Opera browsers still support the Hola VPN extension, privacy concerns make it highly undesirable.

Why should you avoid Hola VPN?

Google Chrome removing the extension is not the only thing related. Hola VPN uses a P2P system, which allows users to share their IP and bandwidth with each other. This not only slows down your connection but also leaves your IP address open for other people to use in illegal online activities.

Hola VPN doesn’t have a kill switch or DNS leak protection, so anyone with a little technical knowledge can intercept your online communications. Hola also has a track record of putting its users at risk on several occasions. In 2018, MyEtherWallet, a popular service for creating crypto wallets, claimed that users accessing the service using Hola VPN were at risk of cybersecurity hacks.

There are many other controversies surrounding Hola VPN, and many experts advise against using the service.

Security: Lack of key features for security

When using Hola VPN, users’ web traffic is routed through other nodes (devices) to get around geo-blocks. This means that other users can use your IP address and perform online activities as they wish.

The Hola VPN extension does not have a kill switch, which means that your IP address will be exposed if you suddenly lose your VPN connection. It lacks encryption and offers incredible IP leak protection. I tested it several times for IP leaks and got mixed results.

Privacy Policy: Highly Aggressive Logging Policy

Hola VPN is based in Israel, which is not a member of the Five, Nine or 14-Eyes Alliance countries. However, the VPN itself gives little consideration to the privacy of the users. It openly admits to collecting information about users using its free VPN version.

There are several reasons we recommend that you avoid VPNs that log your activities; Hola VPN has one of the most privacy-friendly policies I’ve come across and logs data, viz.

Hola VPN probably shares this information with third parties for a fee to maintain the free service. This is one of the main reasons why we recommend our readers to avoid this service.

Streaming and Torrenting: Incredible

Since the Chrome VPN extension is blocked, we could not test whether it could unblock the streaming platform. We tried to access US Netflix library using Opera add-on and succeeded after few unsuccessful attempts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *