A recently published report shows unexpected information concerning virtual private network (VPN service providers). According to this report, a large number of providers are owned by the same few companies. Namely, five companies own 19 companies including some of the bigger names in the industry.
The report which was conducted by The Best VPN and published initially on The Next Web lists the big VPN conglomerates as Avira, AnchorFree, StackPath, Gaditek and Kape Technologies. Most of them are also IT and cybersecurity software firms.
In an age of booming VPN options and growing recognition of VPNs as the best tool for online protection, finding out that many providers have fallen under the same umbrella was certainly an unexpected discovery.
AnchorFree Has The Most VPNs
AnchorFree, a Californian software company, is definitely the leader in the VPN parent company category. They currently hold seven VPN service providers under their belt. Some of the VPN providers are transparent about this. For example, Hotspot Shield is one of the more popular companies under AnchorFree and carries their logo. Others hide this connection in their legal text.
Apart from Hotspot Shield, AnhorFree currently owns JustVPN, VPN 360, Hexatech, and some better-known providers – Betternet and TouchVPN.
HideMyAss VPN Brought To You By Avast
You’ve probably heard of Avast, as it’s one of the biggest names when it comes to free antivirus software. This Czech cybersecurity company has three VPNs in its possession.
It’s easy to see that HideMyAss is very transparent about being part of the Avast family. The other two brands are ZenVPN and AVG Secure VPN. Avast got a hold of HideMyAss and AVG Secure VPN through their purchase of AVG Software a few years back, a deal which cost them over $1 billion.
IPVanish, Ivacy, CyberGhost, And PureVPN Are Owned
IPVanish, Ivacy, CyberGhost, and PureVPN are some of the largest names in the VPN industry right now. They are also run under umbrella corporations to everyone’s surprise.
StackPath, which is a large company in the cybersecurity department, is the owner of IPVanish, together with other several brands such as StrongVPN and Encrypt.me. The company also provides services that power other VPNs, such as VPNHub, a newer provider better known as Purnhub’s VPN.
Is This Something Users Should Be Worried About?
As a VPN user, there is nothing to worry about, even if you are currently using one of the mentioned services. It’s quite common for a large corporation to have ownership over smaller or even larger players on the market.
Unlike in other industries, not many VPN brands are absorbed by their parent corporation, and there's a positive side to this. According to Bitdefender Analyst Liviu Arsene, the fact that these VPN service providers have not folded into their owner’s brand leaves space for innovation. He also asserts that the more VPN providers there are on the market, the harder it will be for authorities to compromise them.
What you should be worried about is an issue that caught the attention of researcher Simon Migliano. In his research, Migliano found Chinese ownership of over half of the most popular free mobile VPN applications on Google Play Store or Apple's App Store. These apps are run by secretive companies that in some way are connected to the country with the strictest internet policies in the world and the most extensive ban on VPNs. His discovery highlights the fact that free VPNs cannot be trusted.
With this in mind, the fact that some respectable VPN services are run by other also respectable tech companies is not something that you should fear. In other words, as long as you are not using a shady VPN provider, but one that protects your safety and online privacy and is transparent about its features and policies, you will be fine.
Make sure you do a thorough research before purchasing a virtual private network, and remember, your online privacy should always be a priority. If you have any questions on the topic, feel free to post them in the comment section below.