VPN from Google One is built into Google One, which is the tech giant's cloud service used for images, documents and other types of files. If you only know about Apple's ecosystem, Google One is more or less similar to iCloud.
An independent subscription cannot be subscribed to VPNthe service that comes "free" with Google One subscriptions with 2 TB or more.
So far (November 2020), only Americans with Android devices have access to Google One VPN. Over time, it will expand to more countries and the service will also be available on Windows, Mac and iOS (iPhone and iPad).
Since I do not have the opportunity to try it myself, this review is based on information provided by Google itself (primarily from theirs whitepaper) as well as various other sources from the web.
The white paper says about the encryption:
At launch time, the VPN protocol will be a Google proprietary protocol; however, to ensure a high throughput while minimizing battery consumption, we will soon adopt IPsec as the data tunnel protocol due
to its native support in Android.
Proprietary protocol means that it is an encryption protocol created by Google itself. When no more information is given, it can in principle mean anything.
According to the text, the plan is to switch to the IPsec protocol, which is built into Android. Remember that Google One VPN so far is reserved for Android devices.
There are reports that IPsec is not secure because, the protocol has been compromised by the NSA. For most people, it probably does not matter, but it would have been nice if open source encryption was used instead.
We may eventually use other protocols, such as Wireguard, as their native support improves or on platforms where no specific protocols have a specific advantage.
Google knows this well and it suggests that the plan ultimately is to use Wireguard, which is both open source, can be used on all platforms as well as uses a minimum of resources.
This is promising, but for now, Google's own and unspecified encryption protocol will suffice.
Anonymity (data logging)
Google is committed to protecting users' privacy:
Privacy is at the core of the products and services we build. With VPN by Google One, we will never use the VPN connection to track, log, or sell your online activity.
There is actually an entire section in the white paper that specifies what is logged and not logged:
In order to provide peace of mind for our users that their activity is private from the VPN operator and from potential attackers, VPN by Google One does not log user activity on the network or other information that could reveal personally identifiable information about them.
The following data is NOT logged by the VPN for a given user:
● Network traffic, including DNS
● IP addresses of the devices connecting to the VPN
● Bandwidth utilized by an individual user
● Connection timestamps by user
It's absolutely perfect. If they do not track or log the above data, it is to be considered anonymous. Then comes a little "but":
Some minimum logging is performed to ensure quality of service, but your network traffic or IP associated with the VPN is never logged.
Someone might want to raise an eyebrow, but a bit of logging for technical reasons is not a problem as long as the stored data cannot be used to identify users nor reveal what they have done online.
The list of things that are logged can be found in the white paper, but since it is, for example, total data traffic, number of errors, response speeds and the like, it is not data that can be identified from.
It is described in the same white paper that one is used blinding algorithm to hide user ID, making it harder to track customers using methods other than the IP address.
Third party audit
A third-party audit has not yet been made that refutes or confirms Google's own claims not to log sensitive data, etc. The white paper states several times that such a review is underway, but until then, we have to settle for the promises.
Open source software
So far, the source code for the Android client (app) is open source and is on GitHub. Programmers and other experts can follow the code in the seams and find security holes as well as reveal if Google does not have clean flour in the bag.
It is described in the white paper that in time the server software will also be open source.
It is wise of Google to play with open cards, for many will be very skeptical of the promises that users' use of VPNservice is not tracked and saved. With open source software, you do not have to trust that they now also do as they promise.
One can be absolutely sure the code will be reviewed meticulously. There are many security experts who would love to expose Google in not having real intentions.
It's hard to imagine a simpler interface. Under the “Home” tab in the US version of the Google One app, tap “Enable VPN" to "VPN by Google One ”submenu. Here is the only option to sow VPN to or from. The text below confirms that the connection is active and protected.
You cannot choose a server location with Google One VPN. The selection is made automatically and it says in the white paper:
Before the client initiates the data tunnel setup, it does a DNS query to resolve a pool of exit nodes topologically nearby in one of Google's Points of Presence (PoP) locations. The client asks to be associated with this pool during the data tunnel setup, ensuring a low-latency connection on a node with reasonable load.
Cf. the description, initially upon connection, a DNS query is automatically made that locates a pool of servers physically close to the user. Connecting to servers in this pool ensures a fast response time on a server that is not overloaded.
It simplifies the user experience that there is only one button to press. Conversely, it limits the usefulness of the service.
Immediately there is no hatred test by Google VPN, but they write themselves:
The VPN service does not limit the users throughput speed and will allow as much as the infrastructure is capable of delivering at any given time, often resulting in available user speeds above 300 Mbps.
Thus, there is no limitation on the speed of the connection, which potentially results in minimal reduction of speeds, which may otherwise often be associated with the use of VPN.
The speeds of over 300 Mb / s mentioned are standard with others VPNservices that can be described as being fast. Since there is no other reason, it is assumed that the response times are correspondingly low.
So in terms of speed lies Google VPN in the good category and will hardly be experienced slowly.
Obfuscation (hides use of VPN)
Google does not mention anything about obfuscation and since there are no other signs that it is being used, this is probably not the case. At present, it is probably not so relevant either, as the service is so far reserved for Americans who can legally use VPN.
One can well imagine obfuscation being added later so that people in China, Russia, Iran and other nations can use the product as well. In many countries with oppressive rule is VPN prohibited and being barred.
Obfuscation built into Google VPN would mean that residents of these countries would be able to use the network uncensored and without being monitored.
Killswitch is not mentioned anywhere and no settings have been found where it can be turned on or off. Conversely, it may just be standard.
Streaming (Netflix etc.).
There is no mention of streaming and no experience could be found anywhere else.
Since many use VPN to access Netflix United States, it is not relevant as long as Google VPN can only be used in the United States. Here you already have access to American Netflix...
If it will not be possible to choose a server location yourself in the future, but you are automatically connected to servers physically close by, it is doubtful whether the service can be used to access streaming services abroad.
This is actually a pretty smart move by Google, because that way they avoid becoming unpopular with streaming services etc. Incidentally, that does not seem to be the intention either VPN-The service.
P2P file sharing
Google does not mention whether P2P file sharing is blocked or not, but there is nothing about restrictions of any kind in the documentation.
File sharing with VPN is a gray area, because there is a lot of legal file sharing on e.g. BitTorrent network, but conversely, there are also many who use VPN to hide illegal downloads.
Since P2P file sharing is widely used for legitimate purposes, blocking it would reduce the usability of VPNservice. I therefore assume that P2P file sharing with Google is open VPN until proven otherwise.
Number of active connections (devices)
It is not explicitly mentioned how many devices can be connected to VPNservice at the same time.
The storage space on a Google One subscription can be shared with up to 5 family members, so if access to VPNthe service is also included, it may be 6 people who can access at the same time.
It is also possible that users can be connected to several devices at the same time if they are all logged in to Google One.
Googles VPN is, as previously described, part of Google One and is included in subscriptions with 2 TB of data or more.
The minimum price is therefore DKK 641 per year ($ 99.99), which is equivalent to DKK 53 per month ($ 8.33). If you pay for one month at a time, the price is DKK 64 ($ 9.99)
The minimum price is therefore $ 99.99 per year, which is equivalent to $ 8.33 per month. If you pay for one month at a time, the price is $ 9.99.
But it also includes everything else that comes with Google One.
Conclusion on VPN from Google One
Googles VPN is an excellent product that focuses on what VPN is intended for: To be able to use the web freely, securely and anonymously. Right now, the service is limited to Android users in the US, but there is little doubt it can be applied to most devices in most of the world.
For some, the product will hit next to the need and many will probably never be convinced that it is safe to route 100% of its internet connection through Google's servers. However, Google has met this by using open source encryption and software as far as possible - at least in the future.
There can be no doubt that the established VPNservices are shaking their pants over Google VPN. It's absolutely no joke for them when one of the world's biggest tech giants enters their market.
In 2019, there were over 2 billion active Android devices and as you know, Android is developed by Google. Too many will VPN built into something they already use, be very attractive.
The demand for VPN is growing strongly and there is already fierce competition in the market. It gets sharpened further when a mastodon of that caliber joins the fight.
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