#StupidOrScam? I was just sent a link about the @hola_org VPN; the @torproject people will waste ages explaining what’s wrong with it

…so I might as well make a start to save them some bother.

http://hola.org/faq.html – some snippets:

Hola is building an overlay network which will change the way the Internet works – for the first time in 40 years. Our ultimate goal is to make the Internet 10x faster!

By slowing it down with a weak anonymising proxy mashed up with an unmanaged P2P CDN?

Hola accelerates HTTP using a combination of patented technologies – caching, multiple sources, compression, P2P protocols and other technologies. Hola also creates a special local cache with the Hola client (your Android phone or Windows PC) so when you reload content (like a YouTube movie) it doesn’t come from the web again, but from the local Hola cache.

“Patented”, yes, of course all the good stuff on the internet is patented – compression and caching for instance! Plus you are happy to propose breaking cache-control directives which your browser would probably be obeying, because of course you know better? If you’re not breaking the cache-control directives (http://hola.org/faq.html#securitycaching) then what is wrong with the in-browser caching that you claim to be improving?

For initial Hola users, the Internet will be fast, but as more people install Hola, the web will get even faster. Faster browsing. Faster Video. Clearer voice and video chat — While the load on the core network will decrease.

So there’s a Core network? You’re not P2P then?

Another nice side effect of the Hola technology is that it provides various levels of anonymity, that ultimately will enable you to view any content from anywhere. This means that you will not be censored by your ISP, your government, your corporation or a web site. Currently Hola does this for a limited set of sites (see the Hola Unblocker for more information).

Anonymous? Sure, except that you only ship HTTP not HTTPS (below) and mention nothing about anonymising / stripping identity out of sessions, so someone’s session cookies could be going anywhere.

Hola is FREE, and we hope to always keep it that way.

Hope?

Does Hola accelerate all web pages?

No. For security reasons, Hola won’t speed up HTTPS pages (such as bank pages). Also, while Hola is still in Beta it does not speed up all HTTP pages – this depends on the number of Hola users in the region, and other factors. Expect improvement in the acceleration as the Beta progresses.

Not HTTPS? Bzzt, wrong answer. Plus: HTTPS pages should be everything, not just “bank pages”.

What is Hola’s goal?

Our goal is to make the Internet much better for you — faster, easier to connect to, more reliable, more available. Your Beta copy is our first step to make this happen. We plan to do this while keeping the product free for our users.

So it’s an app. Where’s the source code? Not available? Is it patented?

How is Hola free?

Hola is the only service of its type that is free

Have you not heard of Tor? Or I2P? Freenet? Any of a bunch of other VPNs?

because Hola’s technology does not require us to have actual servers — as more people join the network, they pool their resources to help each other to make a better Internet for all, and thus we have no additional costs per user.

So there’s a P2P network not a Core… no, wait, not that’s not what you said above?

And that cost savings is translated in to a free product.

Sorry, cost saving? To whom? What? Where? How does that work?

We plan to make our money from premium services we will offer in the future.

Ah, of course. And what would those be?

How is Hola Unblocker free while the other VPN solutions cost money?

Hola is the only service of its type that is free because Hola’s Better Internet technology does not require us to have actual servers.

Hold the phone, isn’t this just the same answer repeated with slightly different words?

As more people join the Hola network, they pool their resources to help each other to make a better Internet for everyone, and so Hola has no additional cost per user. That cost savings is translated into a free product (free for us means no advertising either).

Yes, yes of course it is. I imagine the network is managed by unicorns and narwhal spirit guides?

Most VPN solutions slow down my surfing – how come Hola’s doesn’t?

Hola sends only the traffic to the blocked site through other servers. The rest of your traffic flows to the websites you are visiting without going through a proxy.

Network anonymity doesn’t work like that. As my friend Glyn puts it: anonymity is hard, if you get it wrong then people could die; and this does not smell right to me.

For instance say that you are watching a video through Hola, how do you ensure that other page content attributable to you does not travel by non-Hola means thereby breaking anonymity?  And this is one of the fundamental issues…

If you have the Hola software installed on your computer or phone, your web browsing will actually be faster than without Hola.

Somehow I doubt it.

HT @geoffarnold

2 Replies to “#StupidOrScam? I was just sent a link about the @hola_org VPN; the @torproject people will waste ages explaining what’s wrong with it”

  1. Linkedin:

    About hola!

    Hola is developing a free software client to make your Internet faster — Faster web browsing, faster downloads, and videos that play without getting stuck.

    We’re still in Beta, and need your help to make Hola better!
    Install the beta now from http://www.hola.org and send your feedback to help@hola.org

    Specialties
    Internet

    Headquarters
    7 Giborei Israel St Netanya, Netanya 42507 Israel

    Website
    http://www.hola.org
    Industry
    Internet

    Type
    Privately Held

    Company Size
    11-50 employees

    Founded
    2008

  2. So it is both faster and slower than the raw internet:

    Does Hola make me anonymous on the web?

    Hola Unblocker does not provide the highest level of anonymity as opposed to traditional VPN services, since with Hola Unblocker only part of the traffics goes via a proxy, and part does not, to increase the speed. If anonymity is the most important issue for you, use a traditional VPN service: it will slow your Internet surfing speed by a magnitude and will mostly likely cost a fee, but will provide you with high anonymity.

    It’s a choice between speed vs complete anonymity.

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