Is ZenMate Safe and Trustworthy? ZenMate VPN Review

SECURITY Updated on: 28 November 2018

The short answer would be no. ZenMate VPN is most definitely a low-end online security provider that you should only use when out of options, literally.

Even then, you might as well limit your internet activities until you are able to enlist the aid of a better VPN, rather than going with ZenMate.

We’ll see exactly why this VPN has issues that could potentially impact your privacy on a wider level, and why you shouldn’t put your trust in their services that easily.

1. What is ZenMate VPN?

It’s an online security provider established in Berlin, Germany. It has a free service as well as a premium one, with the former being worse off than the vast majority of other free VPNs.

Initially, ZenMate VPN was an extension for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Later on, they repurposed it and created a client for Windows, iOS, Android, and Mac OS X.

The extension could not ensure the security encryption of your devices, but the client can do that at a first glance. However, you have to get the premium version in order to benefit the service, as you’ll only get access to a 7-day trial period.

The official website states that their VPN is Fast. Secure. Easy. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen.

Pros:

  • Free basic plan
  • User-friendly
  • 7-day free trial
  • 14-day money-back guarantee
  • Various encryption options and security protocols

Cons:

  • Excruciatingly slow speeds at times
  • Very bad customer support

2. Features

ZenMate has a lot of services but it all depends on the type of plan you’re getting.

Free plan

  • Unlimited data
  • Chrome & Firefox extensions
  • L2TP and IPSec encryption protocols
  • 4 server options in Germany, Romania, the US, and Hong Kong

Premium plan

  • Everything that the Free plan offers
  • In-built ad-blocker
  • Unlimited P2P traffic
  • More than 3000 shared IP addresses
  • High speeds or so they say at least
  • Tracking protection & Malware blocking
  • 30 servers spread across the world
  • A maximum of 5 simultaneous connections

It’s important to remember that the free plan is nowhere near as efficient or expansive as the premium package. In fact, I would go even further and say that the free services are pretty much worthless.

3. Privacy and the no-logging policy

This is where the crux of the problem lies, the single most important aspect of a VPN that can either make it or break it.

ZenMate seems to be heading like a lunatic towards the latter and it will gladly take you on board for this 5th-class ride.

The security protocols are rather good, which is what’s to be expected from a premium VPN. The standard TLS 1.2 protocol implemented via VPN is currently the best way of protecting data.

They also have the Perfect Forward Secrecy added in, alongside 256-bit-AES encryption and HMAC SHA384 authentication for the data and control channels.

These are more than acceptable standards of security, frankly speaking. However, keep in mind that you don’t have access to them when using the browser extensions.
To keep it short, you’re using a proxy connection rather than a VPN through these extensions.

Moreover, Zenmate’s mother company is based in Germany who, while known for having very acceptable principles on internet privacy, has been known to collaborate with NSA and other surveillance agencies.

I’ve even read the logging policy, so you won’t have to, and I have to say I’m not entirely on their train yet. On the surface, they’re saying they don’t keep any logs.

However, upon further analysis, this statement goes down the drain right away. The official claim is that “Your personal data will be collected or utilized only to the extent necessary to perform our services or if you have given your consent beforehand.”

And then it goes to tell that even when you connect to one of their servers, your personal data is collected. The same happens when you contact the support team or when you post in forums or other comment functions.

What ZenMate is referring to is the connection timestamp. This data is usually stored alongside the IP address and the subscriber’s personal info and credentials. In turn, this means that anyone could initiate an e2e time correlation attack on the user.

Even more, the privacy policy is extremely vague and unclear as to what exactly those collected connection logs are. In the spirit of vigilance and awareness, we should presume that they are stored with the IP addresses.

Either way, the fact remains that they’re untrustworthy in this regard. While they’re coming forward with the no-logging rhetoric, the truth is they do keep connection logs.

Some users have even had their data stolen when using ZenMates free plan, the proxy network. In other words, the browser extensions allowed third-parties to access their connection and steal their credentials.

Moreover, Germany is among the 14 Eyes countries, and this worries many Reddit users.

4. Almost non-existent customer support

First off, you have no live chat to use if you want to speak to a member of the staff. And this wouldn’t be such a big problem if they had an easy-to-use and intuitive support system.

This would mean easy access to articles, to support tickets and anything that could help with your issues. However, ZenMate leaps from fuck-up to fuck-up, with nothing of value in-between.

When you submit a ticket, you will receive an automatic email saying that you should receive a response in 1-5 days at the very most. Shortly after that, you will receive yet another email telling you to try solving the problem yourself with the help of FAQ articles and the information on the website.

In order to open the ticket, you have to reply personal support to the second mail. Then, the waiting game beings. Across the forums, I’ve read that some users have waited well over a week before getting a response.

You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that waiting for this long in order to get a reply from a VPN’s customer support team is unacceptable and sub-par when compared to other online security providers.

You just can’t trust them at all because they don’t give you a reason to do so. This is but one of the many lies that ZenMate is throwing at you constantly, so their trustworthiness goes down the drain faster than a burst of diarrhea after a one-night KFC party.

5. Preposterous prices

When compared to other, vastly superior VPN providers on the market, ZenMate has the audacity to sell its mediocre services with prices that only serve to show their lack of integrity and seriousness.

The plans are as follows:

  • 1-month subscription – $9.99 per month
  • 6-month subscription – 59.94 per 6 months
  • 1-year subscription – $119.88 annually

The payment methods you can use include:

  • UnionPay
  • PayPal
  • All the major credit cards
  • Qiwi Wallet

More than that, you get a 14-day money-back guarantee should you change your mind, and you will after seeing what they’re really all about.

6. Conclusion

After all that’s said and done, ZenMate has proven that it cannot be trusted to provide even the basic security required to protect your identity on the internet, let alone more complicated tasks.

Its no-logging policy leaves everything to be desired, and, if you think about it since they’re collecting connection logs, we don’t even have a no-logging policy to speak about.

Sure, it has a good-looking client interface, and it’s compatible with the all the popular platforms, but does that really compensate for the ludicrously slow server speeds, the shitty customer support, and the security chinks?

I think not.

You would get infinitely better services if you’d put your trust in NordVPN or ExpressVPN. These online security providers have been on the market for years, and they’ve updated their services constantly.

Everything is accounted for, and what they offer is excellence itself. Security, customer support, privacy, ease of use, affordable prices, all of these can be said to be on a whole other level than what ZenMate provides.

Make an educated decision and go for the test-and-tried choices rather than the shabby, suspicious, and evidently ill-intended tricksters on the market.