Shellfire VPN: Free and secure Internet?

Shellfire wants to allow its users unlimited surfing and protect them from hackers & Co. How does the German VPN provider compare to its competitors?

Shellfire offers decent security. But that’s the least you can expect from a VPN service. Otherwise there are few arguments for the service: The speed is below average and Netflix or Apple TV do not work, check out this site for a working smart dns provider. Other providers simply offer more – and sometimes for less money.

Pro

  • Ordinary security
  • No logs
  • free copy

Contra

  • Slow
  • Unmodern Windows Client
  • No Netflix access
  • Cannot be used on several devices at the same time

See blocked content and surf safely, no matter where you are: This is what VPN services offer. They establish an encrypted connection between the user’s own server and computer, which prevents other Internet users or the provider from knowing which pages the customer is calling and which data is flowing.

“Because a free and secure Internet is our fundamental right”: With this strong slogan Shellfire praises its VPN service. The company promises to unblock blocked websites and protect users from hackers and spies so that users surf anonymously. Well, that’s what hundreds of other VPN services are committed to. We tried out how well Shellfire performs compared to other VPN providers in an extensive practical test.

Shellfire: How secure is the provider?

How Shellfire VPN protects its users, the service’s website provides few answers. One thing is clear: The proven OpenVPN protocol including AES-256 encryption (AES = Advanced Encryption Standard) is used under Windows, and is becoming more and more established among VPN services. Thanks to the open source concept, security vulnerabilities are in principle ruled out and not yet known. And there are no significant weaknesses in AES; virtually all reputable cryptologists rely on it.

Interesting: Shellfire uses the AES CBC mode (CBC = Cipher Block Chaining). This method has deficits that have already led to successful attacks. The corresponding vulnerabilities have been closed, but the encryption variant AES-GCM (GCM = Galois/Counter Mode) is considered more secure. However, it is also more expensive, which is why not all VPN providers rely on it for cost reasons. Further security features are missing with Shellfire – for example to connect several VPN servers in series, as with Surfshark, or to disguise that the user uses a VPN, as with VyprVPN.

Shellfire does not allow two opinions on the topic of storing user data. The service promises: “We don’t log any connection data. So you surf absolutely safe and anonymous! You can believe this: If VPNs from the EU say that they don’t record logs, they don’t – because if they break their promise, they pay severe penalties.

But a closer look at the privacy statement raises questions. We are talking here about “session cookies”, “Google Analytics”, “Facebook marketing services” and “Facebook social plug-ins”. With the help of such software, individual persons can be identified, at least when visiting the website. The security of VPN connections is not directly influenced by the trackers, but such a policy for a VPN service does not inspire confidence. True anonymity looks different. To top it all off, the Shellfire site lacks information on the use of trackers; in this respect, it violates the Basic Data Protection Ordinance (DSGVO).

Shellfire: Speed

How’s the tempo? Relatively slow – the Shellfire servers don’t seem to be the fastest. In the best case, with VPN enabled, one sixth of the speed was left in normal operation. And that only if users have manually selected the fastest server (here Germany, Server 19, PremiumPlus). With automatic server selection, the measurements on the Speedtest website showed significantly less. This is lame even for a VPN service. Competitors such as NordVPN or Hide.Me showed considerably more speed in the tests.

Does Shellfire work with Netflix and Geoblocking?

Only a few VPN services, such as ProtonVPN, allow access to the library of US streaming giant Netflix. For series fans who always want to see the latest productions, this is an elementary point. To make a long story short: It doesn’t work with Shellfire. Even the German Netflix offshoot remains black. Under the item “Streams from the USA”, offers like abc.com or fox.com are listed – probably only a few need them. For Netflix fans Shellfire is therefore not a good choice. After all, it was not an issue to access local streaming services such as the Arte media library or the Joyn video service via German servers.

In the test, the Windows VPN client looked like a piece of software from the last millennium: pixelated, confusing – and the functionality left much to be desired. We have already mentioned that it does not automatically connect users to the fastest server. Moreover, it did not display the encryption route as promised; the corresponding box was simply inactive. Not even the server list could be sorted, for example by speed. After all: The client is easy to use, at least nothing worth mentioning could be configured. It looks better with mobile applications: On the iPhone, the Shellfire app made a much more successful impression.

How trustworthy is Shellfire?

Another point about security: Like ZenMate, Shellfire is located in Germany. And Germany belongs to the so-called “14 Eyes”. This alliance poses a risk to privacy, because: German VPN providers have to leave the data of their users to the government if it wants to do so. The information may then end up in other countries that belong to the alliance. A difficult topic. If you want to be on the safe side, choose a VPN service that is outside the “14 Eyes” network.

What does Shellfire cost?

Shellfire has only recently introduced a paid tariff. That is a little confusing, finally in the Client beside ?Free? in addition Premium and PremiumPlusservers appear. This is the legacy of the previous tariff structure, paying customers now have access to all servers. Users can choose from three price models.

The costs are quite high compared to the competition. Other services like Windscribe or Seed4.me are much cheaper. However Shellfire can be tried out free of charge for two weeks. In addition to standard payment methods such as credit card, PayPal, Giropay, instant or bank transfer, you can pay your bill anonymously by Bitcoin. In addition, there is a choice of payment methods such as Pay-per-Phone and HiPay, which are rather unknown in Germany.

Shellfire VPN under test: Conclusion

The VPN service offers solid security. In principle, however, this is the only thing that speaks for it. In terms of speed, geoblocking and operation, good providers such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN are simply ahead – and in some cases for less money.