Owned by Nokia’s chairman – corporation privacy concerns
F-Secure Freedome VPN is an excellent no-log VPN. Although you might recognize “F-Secure” due to their anti-virus products, Freedome has become one of the top VPN services in the global cybersecurity market.
F-Secure is a seemingly highly secure VPN. It comes with rock-solid AES 256-bit encryption, DNS leakage-free VPN tunnel, and a nice extra perk – a kill-switch.
Yet not everything is as good as it looks.
Lack of security essentials like double-hop, acceptance of cryptocurrencies, unusually small number of server locations, and the annoying fact that F-Secure is a mammoth traded in Nasdaq stock exchange. Just how private can a public company be?
Read the F-secure review below to find out.
F-Secure Freedome VPN synopsis
|Parent company:||F-Secure Corporation (Data Fellows)|
|Locations:||23+ countries/20+ servers|
|Overall test result:||SAFE|
|Torrenting:||PASSED (P2P torrent allowed)|
|Netflix:||PASSED (Unblocks Netflix 2/3)|
|Support:||E-mail response ~7 h/Live Chat (24/7)|
☑ The history and face of the company
F-Secure was founded in 1988. It was first introduced as Data Fellows and launched its’ first software for Windows in 1994. 5 Years later the name was changed to F-Secure.
The company is based in Finland. The founder and former CEO Risto Kalevi Siilasmaa is the biggest shareholder owning around 40% of the organization. Have you ever heard about Nokia? Mr. Siilasmaa is the chairman of Nokia’s board since 2012. The guy is probably the most prominent person associated with VPNs.
F-Secure is one of the few public VPN companies. You can buy or sell their stock in the Nasdaq Nordic stock exchange. Let’s see how they are doing:
Here are their financials from 2016 to 2018:
The organization is growing rapidly and so does their VPN.
☑ Strong AES 256-Bit encryption
Encryption is a process of using algorithms to convert information into unreadable code. This code is only meant for authorized pairs of eyes. Encrypted data can be decrypted with a unique key: either symmetric or asymmetric.
Freedome uses Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit. This encryption standard became effective as a federal government standard in 2002, so it’s pretty good!
☒ Rather a small choice of protocols
Protocols are guidelines for communication data. They are based on specific rules and crafted to be efficient in terms of security, reliability, speed, ports, tunneling methods and the systems they work with.
In terms of protocols, Freedome is very basic and won’t allow much customization. For Windows and Android devices, their built-in protocol is OpenVPN and for iOS, you have to use IPsec.
- Open-Source Virtual Private Network (OpenVPN) uses socket layer/transport layer security (SSL/TLS). It’s the most widely used protocol among VPNs, and the best one as well.
- IPsec – Internet Protocol Security. It involves two security services: Authentication Header (AH) and Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP). AH authenticates the sender and finds changes during transmission, ESP, however, also encrypts the information. It’s a slower solution and not our first preference for security.
☑ No-log policy and location outside 14 eyes
Not logging user data is vital for a VPN. There have been cases when VPN companies are attacked by hackers (PureVPN 2013) and some of the user data has been leaked. Some VPNs even sell their users data to advertisers (Hola VPN).
Freedome claims not to log your data:
Their jurisdiction is located in Finland, which is outside of 14 Eyes jurisdictions. Yet unlike some premium services in the Caribbean, Freedome will comply with the feds in case they have a relevant warrant or court order.
Such type of cases only includes serious crimes and illegal activities.
This isn’t a surprise. In 2016, Preston Alexander McWaters made a hoax bomb threat and the IP address he used was traced back to Private Internet Access VPN. FBI ordered PIA to hand over logs and that is what they did.
Even though it’s incredibly sad that people use VPNs for such a horrific purpose, this incident shows that services are usually fairly cooperative with government officials.
☑ No backdoors or DNS leaks found
Backdoors are encryption bypassing methods. They are usually secretly hidden inside a software when the developer needs further access to your device. Sometimes it’s even used to provide the manufacturer a way to restore user passwords.
Does Freedome contain one?
Let’s test the setup file and find out.
Their software is clean like the air quality in Finland.
a DNS is Domain Name System. According to Palo Alto Networks, “DNS translates user-friendly domains to the associated IP addresses, which identifies locates corresponding resources.” DNS leak is when your DNS is being transmitted outside of a secure VPN tunnel.
So How bulletproof is the Freedome VPN tunnel?
Let’s connect to their server and use web tools like Browserleaks, Doileak, IPx.ac, IPleak.net and Perfect-Privacy. Here are Doileak test results:
As every other tool showed the same result, we can quite confidently say: Freedome doesn’t leak your DNS.
☑ Setup process took approximately 7 minutes
“The hardest thing about getting started is getting started” – Guy Kawasaki.
Registering an account, downloading and installing the software into a device is easy. The product comes with a 5-day free trial, which is long enough to stop thinking and start being their customer right now.
It took approximately 7 min from account registration to being connected to their server. Yet there were two larger stones on the way – incompatible Avast antivirus had to be removed and after the installation, Freedome demanded a system restart.
Overall, the process wasn’t bad at all!
Did you know?
- Mikko Hermanni Hyppönen, the chief resource officer at F-Secure founded “The Malware Museum“
- F-Secure was the first company that developed an anti-rootkit technology called Blacklight
- The founder of F-Secure is currently the chairman of Nokia
☒ Only 20+ servers in 23 countries
A large number of servers make VPN safer. Unfortunately, the current count of their servers is one of the lowest in the market.
- 16 Servers in Europe
- 3 in Asia
- 3 in Central and North America
In comparison, some of the leading VPNs like ExpressVPN has servers 94 different countries.
☑ 7 simultaneous connections
A maximum number of simultaneous connections is the number of devices that can be used with one account at the same time. This tends to be useful if you want to go budget and share one account with friends or family members. With Freedom, you can use 7 devices at the same time.
So what devices are supported?
Let’s have a peek into their download page:
You can use it on desktop devices with Windows or Mac OS. For mobile, both Android and iOS are supported as well.
They don’t allow the use of gaming consoles like Xbox or PlayStation.
..And why should they? Rovio developed Angry Birds for smartphones 😛
☑ Streaming Netflix and sharing files with P2P
Netflix is an American media giant offering subscription-based online streaming service. If you are into watching online TV series and movies you have probably heard about it, maybe even own an account?
The main problem for users is the geographic barriers Netflix sets for its’ customer. Each country sees the content meant for their region. As an example, an American cannot watch certain Japenese anime movies, and the Japanese may not see ‘The Office’.
One reason why Netflix users like VPNs, is the fact that it can be made possible.
However, as Netflix sometimes block certain IP addresses, not all VPN providers service work. This needs further investigation and testing..
Let’s try how Freedome performs while using Netflix:
Two random servers matched with Netflix, the third one didn’t..
Torrenting is another habit for many. It’s a peer to peer technology in which two or more parties share a file through a distributed system. It’s a good way to share and download uncopyrighted files.
Freedome works with torrenting fairly well.
☒ F-Secure abroad
Tourism is growing rapidly and you probably want to stay safe from hackers all the time – especially when you may need to use public Wi-Fi in places like airports, bus stations, and cafeterias. Yet not every country allows the use of VPNs.
Some countries like North-Korea, Russia, and Belarus have banned the use of VPNs completely, don’t even try.. Yet the most populous country like China only allows government-approved services. As there is no public list, let’s figure it out ourselves – is Freedome approved in China or not?
Here’s what happens when you access f-secure.com from China:
It works like magic. It’s surprising because only 12 out of all 51 reviewed services were accessible.
..But does the service function as usual?
☑ Pricing “police”
They say that you get what you pay for. If that’s the case, this product should be expensive, right?
The pricing is annoyingly complicated but here it is:
Freedome pricing packages start from $4.49 / month for 7 devices (if you pay for 2 years)
For 3 devices, you pay $7.39 (1 year) and 7 devices $6.89 per month (1 years)
It’s actually quite ok deal and definitely competitive. If you want to give it a try but end up not liking their service, there’s always an option to cancel and ask for a refund within 30-days.
☑ Customer opinions and service
Tony Hsieh, the Zappos founder once said: “Customer service should not be a department, it should be the entire company”. We agree.
Customer service can be measured by the competence, response time and communication tools served. F-Secure offers 3 ways to ask for help: FAQ instructional articles, phone support service in over 18 different languages, e-mail and live chat service.
We took a shot and sent them an e-mail with a few service-related questions.
The reply arrived within 7 hours (exactly 424 minutes). It was accurate, friendly and written professionally.
In a hurry?
Their live chat and phone call centers work like advertised. You can expect an answer within a minute.
☑ Fast server speeds
Freedome has only a small number of 20+ servers… Can they provide a competitive service speed for every continent? After all, according to NCTA, 28% of Americans are not satisfied with their home wired internet video and show streaming capabilities.
Using a VPN might change your internet speeds depending on your location and the server you use. To get a broader view of how Freedome compares to others, we did a speed test using servers in 3 different continents – America, Europe, and Asia.
Keep your eyes on download speed, as it will influence your browsing experience and streaming speed the most.
Here’s our original server speed:
The United States server ping increases over 1285.00%, download speed falls by -38.21% and upload slightly increased by 3.47% (probably bandwidth throttling).
The United Kingdom is much less affected as during the speed test, we were located in central Europe.
- Ping +325.00%
- Download -6.79%
- Upload -12.52%
Asia (Hong Kong server) performed the worst, lifting ping over 1700.00%, cutting download by -39.44%, and upload by -41.04%.
Overall, Freedome speed ranks 18th out of 51 VPNs.
F-Secure Freedome is one of a kind. It’s fast, secure, and leak-proof. Their company is excluded from 14 eyes and their founder is a well-reputable figure in the cybersecurity community. You can expect a quick response to service issues and overall, everything seems to be quite right. Even though Freedome ranks as 13th best VPN in our research and we are proud to review them, it still isn’t great enough to fit inside the top 10 or even to compete with NordVPN (read review).
The organization might be slightly too public to be a VPN company. Yet suit yourself.
Speak up and share your experience with F-Secure Freedome VPN.