It’s not often I write about new VPN services because to be honest, there are far too many.
Do we really need the 5,631st new VPN service and is it really going to offer anything different to the 5,630 that came before?
That is until I stumbled across SnowHaze VPN which appears to want to do things a little bit differently and is why you should possibly take note of this new Swiss-based VPN service.
SnowHaze is currently an iOS (see Apple iPhone and iPad) provider with aims to expand to Android later this year. In the future a MacOS client is also planned but as yet there are no plans to introduce a Windows client.
The service comes in two iterations. The first is a secure browser which is available free and protects against malware and trackers, forces HTTPS, self-destructs cookies, depersonalises URLs, randomises the user agent and a whole other list of features too numerous to mention here.
The other is a paid VPN service.
What makes SnowHaze VPN unique
What makes the SnowHaze subscription stand out from the crown is the authorisation.
Payment for the service is handled directly by the Apple Store which means SnowHaze themselves don’t handle customer details. This is beneficial for you as a customer because it means the payment and the service are handled by two separate entities.
Where it gets interesting is SnowHaze doesn’t store any client information. There are no unique logins tied to a customer and as they don’t hold customer details from the payment it means they’re unable to know who their customers really are.
OK, the caveat here is you need to hand over your payment details to Apple but as a company often considered more privacy-friendly it shouldn’t be an issue for most.
SnowHaze claims that each user has the same access token which means when connecting to their servers it’s impossible for them to link a user to a session. As they don’t store any payment details they can’t see who connected where and when. All users essentially become one.
They could, in theory, log your IP Address although they claim they won’t. However, if you coupled the service while accessing from a public network this would be of very little use to anyone.
The SnowHaze iOS app comes built in using Apple’s favoured IPSec protocol. Each day users are issued with 100 login credentials from which they can choose randomly. It is this authentication process that SnowHaze claims is unique and is one of the reasons why they are unable to identify individual users.
All users are one
An OpenVPN option is also available but as iOS doesn’t support OpenVPN natively users of the SnowHaze service will need to use the OpenVPN Connect app installed with SnowHaze configuration details.
In another unique twist, every user makes use of the same login credentials to access the service. There are no individual account details for specific users.
Essentially all users of the service are one. There should be no way for the owners of SnowHaze to pinpoint specific users.
I asked SnowHaze how they intended to stem users from signing up for one account and then sharing the details freely with friends or others for free.
SnowHaze told me that there is very little to stop this happening but they are relying mainly on user good-faith. Users simply sharing the default login credentials would eventually lead to a weakening of the quality of the service which would essentially damage your own access.
Additionally SnowHaze plans to change login credentials regularly to stop connection profiles from being released to the public freely.
Further security provisions
As with any good provider SnowHaze aims to back up their security credentials by storing no-logs of user activity. This is an area which has received wide coverage in recent months as some providers who claim “no-logs” have indeed been found to be storing logs.
To mitigate against this SnowHaze has chosen to base themselves in Switzerland which is known for strong privacy laws coupled with no requirement to store logs on users.
Switzerland is also outside the European Union which means they aren’t bound to follow regulations enforced by such a union.
SnowHaze is the brainchild of five students of computer sciences and mechanical engineering from the Swiss Institute of Technology ETH Zürich.
While user choice of VPN services has never been greater, SnowHaze appears on the surface to be one provider that you should keep your eye if nothing more than for their novel approach to user accounts and authentication.
Servers are currently available in 6 countries which include Switzerland, Germany, France, UK, USA and Canada. The SnowHaze service costs from £4.99 per month or £44.99 per year. Users interested can visit the SnowHaze website here.