Opera GX, the “gaming browser,” is a web browser made by Opera and based on Chromium. It looks good and works well but is Opera GX safe?
Opera GX is a fork of Opera web browser that comes with a slew of gamer-centric features such as GX Corner – a feature incorporating stuff like video game release calendar, gaming news, and game deals – and GX Control – a set of tools that can limit the amount of resources used by the browser. This could be useful to streamers (and their CPUs) who always have a ton of tabs open in their browser. Opera GX is Chromium-based and run by Opera Ltd. Opera itself is one of the oldest browsers around, dating back to 1994.
Opera Ltd. – the company behind all versions of the Opera browser, including Opera GX – went public in 2018. The company made the move sometime after Golden Brick, a consortium of Chinese companies, bought Opera Ltd for $1.2 billion in 2016. Opera GX launched in 2019. Ever since Golden Brick has taken the majority share in the company, many users have wondered whether Opera is still safe as before. And the same question can be asked about Opera GX. Today we will try to answer the lingering question – is Opera GX safe?
Opera GX safety vs. other popular browsers
When it comes to online safety, we can say that Opera GX is very safe. The browser is Chromium-based. And Chromium itself is a highly secure online platform. Many popular browsers, such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave, are also based on Chromium. Opera GX incorporates many security-centric features found in Chromium. Some of the vital security features found on Opera GX include:
Google Safe Browsing – This is an immense online database kept and updated by Google that includes numerous deceptive sites as well as a ton of files marked as dangerous. If you stumble upon such a site or file, the browser will warn you about the potential dangers of visiting such a site or downloading hazardous files. Symptoms of visiting such a site could be constant 100 percent CPU usage as well as CPU overheating. If you notice something like that happening even while your PC is idling, better do something about it.
Private Browsing – a feature that allows you to perform secure and anonymous browsing sessions that do not keep track of sites you visit. After you close the Incognito browsing session, the browser will automatically delete any cache files generated during the said session. Do note that your service provider can see which sites you visit unless you’re using a VPN.
Built-in adblocker – Opera GX comes with a built-in ad blocker that works quite well. During our time with the browser, we’ve noticed that it provides about the same level of protection from online ads as Ublock Origin. This means that you’ll see zero ads on websites you visit unless you manually turn off the blocker for a specific site. The built-in ad-blocker also blocks ad trackers. There were some reported issues with Opera and Opera GX regarding YouTube ads and, while your mileage may vary, we didn’t see any ads when watching YouTube videos. However, we did notice that, on occasions, the YouTube home page has included an ad in the upper left corner instead of a recommended video. What’s interesting is that this issue would come and go. Sometimes we would see an ad, while at other times, it wouldn’t be present.
Built-in VPN – while not a proper VPN – it’s better to call it proxy since it doesn’t cover your whole internet traffic, just the browser session – Opera GX’s built-in VPN is an okay first aid for those who want to hide their online tracks. That said, you shouldn’t use it if you even slightly care about your online privacy.
While decently secure, the VPN doesn’t, in fact, use tunneling protocol. This means that while the Opera VPN uses extremely secure AES-256 encryption, it doesn’t protect your privacy like a full-fledged VPN service would do. The level of security when using Opera GX VPN is the same as when visiting a secure HTTPS website. On top of these issues, the Opera GX VPN isn’t great when it comes to privacy. More on that below.
Secure connection notification – this feature shows a security badge for any site you visit (found left of the address bar), notifying you whether the connection is secure. It also offers other important details like whether you allow the site to show notifications, the state of the site’s online certifications, and more.
On top of the built-in security features, Opera GX scores rather well on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Cover Your Tracks test. This test shows whether your browser is blocking ads and trackers and whether it has a unique fingerprint. While Opera GX keeps a unique fingerprint, that issue is present on most popular browsers and has to do more with privacy than online security. You can remedy this by using a VPN, although we don’t recommend the built-in one.
Opera Ltd. also has an easy-to-read and understand Privacy Statement. The statement does hint that the company collects your data and uses it for different purposes. But overall, it corroborates claims that Opera GX is safe when it comes to online security. Further, you don’t have to use certain features, like the Opera account – one of the ways through which Opera collects, and possibly sells, private data.
While Opera GX is an extremely safe browser when it comes to online security, it does have its fair share of issues regarding online privacy. We’ve already mentioned that, while quite transparent, Opera’s Privacy Statement hints at data collection and third-party data sharing. The company (Opera Ltd.) has a contract with Google and Yandex that put Google and Yandex Search as default search providers in most of the world (Google) and Russia (Yandex). This means that, unless you manually change your search provider, you’ll be using either Google or Yandex Search. And, as you probably know, both of these companies are known for collecting and using a ton of user data.
Opera also shares data with other third-party services and companies such as Facebook, various online analytics companies, Google ads, Yandex Mobile ads, etc. This means that while the user data collected by Opera themselves is mostly anonymized, third-party platforms and services will collect your data if you use or access them.
Next, while handy to have them, some features found in Opera GX aren’t privacy-friendly. Let’s start with the GX Corner, a “gaming” oriented feature found in Opera GX’s sidebar. GX Corner includes stuff such as a video game release calendar and gaming news. The latter is nice to have if you want easy access to the most popular gaming news. However, Opera will track which news you click on so that it can serve you news tailored to your preferences. In other words, the browser tracks your news-reading habits. Not terrible, and we’re talking about anonymous data here, but not very privacy-friendly.
Opera GX also allows users to integrate various messaging services they use inside the browser. This means logging in to said services. You probably know where this is going. If you log in to, let’s say, Messenger, do not think for a second that Meta won’t collect your data while using Messenger. On top of that, we don’t like the fact that our login credentials and private conversations are easy to access inside the browser. Luckily, this feature is optional to use. We can say the same about the Player feature that offers Spotify integration.
Opera’s built-in VPN is another weak point when it comes to online privacy. For instance, your browsing information is collected and used by Opera, even when the VPN in turned on. That’s the price you pay when using a free VPN solution. This data is permanently tied to your browser. At least you don’t have to create an account to use the service.
And then there’s the issue of country laws, obfuscated ownership structure, and Norway’s membership in the Nine Eyes Alliance. First of all, Opera Ltd. is based in Norway and operates under Norwegian laws. That’s great and all, but it also means that if any of the Nine Eyes Alliance members states requests private data of Opera users, including users of Opera GX, the company has to hand them over.
Next, while Opera Ltd. is based in Norway, Opera’s Terms and Service document – which works for all Opera browsers, Opera GX included – mentions Opera Unite Pte. Ltd. Now, if you type that name in Google Search, you’ll find out that the Opera Unite Pte. Ltd. is based in Singapore. This certainly doesn’t help users who value their privacy and want to know which country’s laws Opera as a company is required to follow.
To summarize our findings. Our quest to find out whether Opera GX is safe has undoubtedly been an interesting one. First of all, when it comes to online security features and practices, Opera GX is a highly secure browser. If all you care about is being safe while browsing the web, Opera GX is an excellent choice. The browser’s based on Chromium, an extremely secure platform, and it incorporates lots of features that increase online security. Further, Opera GX comes with certain extra features, like the built-in adblocker, that push the level of security above and beyond browsers such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.
However, when it comes to privacy, things are far from being perfect. If you’re a user who cares about their privacy, we advise against using Opera GX (or any Opera browser in general) as your daily driver. Opera, as a company, relies on third-party services that collect user data. It’s strongly suggested that the company also sells your private data. Next, Opera GX comes with some features, such as GX Corner, that further invade your online privacy. The company shares user data with third parties and comes with optional features, such as Opera account, that will collect more data if you decide to use them. Opera GX comes with a built-in VPN that presents another weak point when it comes to user privacy. Overall, while Opera GX is an extremely secure browser, it doesn’t protect your privacy.