How To Leverage Opera Build-In Free VPN and How It Works Underneath

Opera is often the neglected child among all the browser people use on a daily basis. Less than 2% of the viewer reading this blog uses Opera. Although it has low usage/adoption compare to other major browser vendors, there are some unique things we can take advantage from Opera. For one, unlike the other major browsers, it has built-in Ads blocker. With the latest stable release, Opera has rolled out free VPN to it’s latest stable release.

How To Turn On Opera VPN

Opera call’s it VPN, let’s see how it works first. Go to Settings > Privacy & security, find the section VPN and select “Enable VPN.”

2016-09-25_1651.pngThis will turn on the VPN mode, and you can see it in the address bar where a blue VPN icon shows up next to the address.

2016-09-26_2215.pngClicking on the VPN icon shows you the usage and your new IP address. Note that it states “You have unlimited VPN data” in the popup. Is it too good to be true? We will visit and find out this later.

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The VPN has a couple of options to choose from. The “Virtual location” is a section called “Optimal location” where lists a list of available countries like Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore and United States.

2016-09-26_2222.pngUsing service to check what’s your IP will show that you’re real IP are not detected by the website you are visiting.

How Opera’s VPN works Underneath

So is this too good to be true that Opera rolled out free unlimited VPN to all users? Usually, something sounded that good is not always that good to be true.

Not sure why Opera names it VPN, but it is just a proxy server that hides your real IP address. Back when the feature was first released in its beta channel, people has discovered what it’s doing behind the scene are requesting proxy from https://api.surfeasy.com

A detailed Technical documentation on Github that yields how it works behind the scene.

When setting up (that’s immediately when user enables it in settings) Opera VPN sends few API requests to https://api.surfeasy.com to obtain credentials and proxy IPs, see below, also see The Oprah Proxy.

The browser then talks to a proxy de0.opera-proxy.net (when VPN location is set to Germany), it’s IP address can only be resolved from within Opera when VPN is on, it’s 185.108.219.42 (or similar, see below). It’s an HTTP/S proxy which requires auth.

When loading a page with Opera VPN enabled, the browser sends a lot of requests to de0.opera-proxy.net with Proxy-Authorization request header.

That means if you are on a network, such as your corporate network, where your IT admin has blocked access to surfeasy.com then you probably won’t be able to use Opera’s VPN.

2016-09-27_0854.png

So, Opera “VPN” isn’t typically a VPN we generally talk about. Rather, it is just a pre-configured HTTP/S proxy built-in the browser to protect the traffic between Opera and the proxy, nothing else.

Jonathan Hu

Programming by day, Web Development, Canucks & Movies for spare time!
Co-founder of Next of Windows and a cool geek 🙂

Last updated: 09/27/2016

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