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Opera VPN behind the curtains is just a proxy, here's how it works

2023 update

ℹ️ Please note this research is from 2016 when Opera has first added their browser "VPN", even before the "Chinese deal" was closed. They have since introduced some real VPN apps but this below is not about them.

🕵️ Some folks also like to use this article to show a proof that the Opera browser is a spyware or that Opera sells all your data to 3rd parties or something like that. This article here doesn't say anything like that.


When setting up (that's immediately when user enables it in settings) Opera VPN sends few API requests to https://api.surfeasy.com to obtain credentials and proxy IPs, see below, also see The Oprah Proxy.

The browser then talks to a proxy de0.opera-proxy.net (when VPN location is set to Germany), it's IP address can only be resolved from within Opera when VPN is on, it's 185.108.219.42 (or similar, see below). It's an HTTP/S proxy which requires auth.

When loading a page with Opera VPN enabled, the browser sends a lot of requests to de0.opera-proxy.net with Proxy-Authorization request header.

The Proxy-Authorization header decoded: CC68FE24C34B5B2414FB1DC116342EADA7D5C46B:9B9BE3FAE674A33D1820315F4CC94372926C8210B6AEC0B662EC7CAD611D86A3 (that's sha1(device_id):device_password, where device_id and device_password come from the POST /v2/register_device API call, please note that this decoded header is from another Opera installation and thus contains different device_id and device_password than what is shown below)

These creds can be used with the de0.opera-proxy.net even when connecting from a different machine, it's just an HTTP proxy anyway.

When you use the proxy on a different machine (with no Opera installed), you'll get the same IP as when using Opera's VPN, of course.

This Opera "VPN" is just a preconfigured HTTP/S proxy protecting just the traffic between Opera and the proxy, nothing else. It's not a VPN.

They even call it Secure proxy (besides calling it VPN, sure) in Opera settings.

The API calls are:

  1. https://api.surfeasy.com/v2/register_subscriber
  2. https://api.surfeasy.com/v2/register_device
  3. https://api.surfeasy.com/v2/geo_list
  4. https://api.surfeasy.com/v2/discover

"Everybody gets a proxy" logo

I have automated the API calls and have built The Oprah Proxy, a simple Python script which will fetch the credentials for you. It will also list available locations and proxies.

POST /v2/register_subscriber HTTP/1.1
Host: api.surfeasy.com
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 114
Accept: application/json
SE-Client-Type: se0304
SE-Client-API-Key: 3690AC1CE5B39E6DC67D9C2B46D3C79923C43F05527D4FFADCC860740E9E2B25
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2687.0 Safari/537.36 OPR/38.0.2205.0 (Edition developer)
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, lzma
email=9CDFC88A-F4C7-42F2-90EC-8CFC90C11387%40se0304.surfeasy.vpn&password=90C72B97B498ED2377D107611640726F6165610C
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx/1.8.0
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2016 01:02:06 GMT
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Status: 200 OK
X-UA-Compatible: IE=Edge,chrome=1
ETag: "43f3d56b6d9f5a5f571592b807546469"
Cache-Control: max-age=0, private, must-revalidate
Set-Cookie: subscriber_credentials=635d20f66976263af72af312f690a55e796d184f6589871ffafcd173b28fcab472e5f9082dc3e1972d8177fc71451fb6275b8c84af46a3c6b0d7bb6ebe6c3d57%3A%3A; domain=.surfeasy.com; path=/; secure; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: api_session=BAhJIgGvZXlKcFpDSTZNVEkyT0RFeE5qQXNJbTltSWpvM056YzJNREF3TENKMGF5STZJalkxWkRZeFlXVmpOV1ppCk5UTmhOVFZpTURObU5tSmpORFZrT1dGa05ESTBPV0V6TWpoaE9HRTBOVEptTXpVME16TmpaRGN5WXpNdwpZakl5TVRNM05Ea2lMQ0owYlNJNklqSXdNVFl0TURjdE1qTlVNREU2TURJNk1EWmFJbjA9CgY6BkVG--11e3897571b24700b24190f1a89bce317cfdc6bf; domain=.surfeasy.com; path=/; expires=Sat, 23-Jul-2016 01:02:06 GMT; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: _proxy_manager_session31=BAh7B0kiD3Nlc3Npb25faWQGOgZFVEkiJWZlOThjYjUzNTU2ODk4NTUzMzFjZjM4NWFjNjE0YWY0BjsAVEkiG3N1YnNjcmliZXJfY3JlZGVudGlhbHMGOwBGSSIBgDYzNWQyMGY2Njk3NjI2M2FmNzJhZjMxMmY2OTBhNTVlNzk2ZDE4NGY2NTg5ODcxZmZhZmNkMTczYjI4ZmNhYjQ3MmU1ZjkwODJkYzNlMTk3MmQ4MTc3ZmM3MTQ1MWZiNjI3NWI4Yzg0YWY0NmEzYzZiMGQ3YmI2ZWJlNmMzZDU3BjsAVA%3D%3D--217a0409bf7bd1c348c06378c41c9369e0cf99bb; domain=.surfeasy.com; path=/; secure; HttpOnly
X-Request-Id: 136be2daeba044ee3ad2241ccaa4e28c
X-Runtime: 0.482677
X-Rack-Cache: invalidate, pass
{
"return_code" : {
"0" : "OK"
},
"data" : {}
}
POST /v2/register_device HTTP/1.1
Host: api.surfeasy.com
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 104
Accept: application/json
SE-Client-Type: se0304
SE-Client-API-Key: 3690AC1CE5B39E6DC67D9C2B46D3C79923C43F05527D4FFADCC860740E9E2B25
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2687.0 Safari/537.36 OPR/38.0.2205.0 (Edition developer)
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, lzma
Cookie: subscriber_credentials=635d20f66976263af72af312f690a55e796d184f6589871ffafcd173b28fcab472e5f9082dc3e1972d8177fc71451fb6275b8c84af46a3c6b0d7bb6ebe6c3d57%3A%3A; api_session=BAhJIgGvZXlKcFpDSTZNVEkyT0RFeE5qQXNJbTltSWpvM056YzJNREF3TENKMGF5STZJalkxWkRZeFlXVmpOV1ppCk5UTmhOVFZpTURObU5tSmpORFZrT1dGa05ESTBPV0V6TWpoaE9HRTBOVEptTXpVME16TmpaRGN5WXpNdwpZakl5TVRNM05Ea2lMQ0owYlNJNklqSXdNVFl0TURjdE1qTlVNREU2TURJNk1EWmFJbjA9CgY6BkVG--11e3897571b24700b24190f1a89bce317cfdc6bf; _proxy_manager_session31=BAh7B0kiD3Nlc3Npb25faWQGOgZFVEkiJWZlOThjYjUzNTU2ODk4NTUzMzFjZjM4NWFjNjE0YWY0BjsAVEkiG3N1YnNjcmliZXJfY3JlZGVudGlhbHMGOwBGSSIBgDYzNWQyMGY2Njk3NjI2M2FmNzJhZjMxMmY2OTBhNTVlNzk2ZDE4NGY2NTg5ODcxZmZhZmNkMTczYjI4ZmNhYjQ3MmU1ZjkwODJkYzNlMTk3MmQ4MTc3ZmM3MTQ1MWZiNjI3NWI4Yzg0YWY0NmEzYzZiMGQ3YmI2ZWJlNmMzZDU3BjsAVA%3D%3D--217a0409bf7bd1c348c06378c41c9369e0cf99bb
client_type=se0304&device_hash=4BE7D6F1BD040DE45A371FD831167BC108554111&device_name=Opera-Browser-Client
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx/1.8.0
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2016 01:02:06 GMT
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Status: 200 OK
X-UA-Compatible: IE=Edge,chrome=1
ETag: "41d8e81a485d8c28d98a5a62b08aff2e"
Cache-Control: max-age=0, private, must-revalidate
Set-Cookie: api_session=BAhJIgGvZXlKcFpDSTZNVEkyT0RFeE5qQXNJbTltSWpvM056YzJNREF3TENKMGF5STZJalkxWkRZeFlXVmpOV1ppCk5UTmhOVFZpTURObU5tSmpORFZrT1dGa05ESTBPV0V6TWpoaE9HRTBOVEptTXpVME16TmpaRGN5WXpNdwpZakl5TVRNM05Ea2lMQ0owYlNJNklqSXdNVFl0TURjdE1qTlVNREU2TURJNk1EWmFJbjA9CgY6BkVG--11e3897571b24700b24190f1a89bce317cfdc6bf; domain=.surfeasy.com; path=/; expires=Sat, 23-Jul-2016 01:02:06 GMT; HttpOnly
X-Request-Id: dfa01c93650d7bd47c2e6b64b7b46222
X-Runtime: 0.293166
X-Rack-Cache: invalidate, pass
{
"return_code" : {
"0" : "OK"
},
"data" : {
"device_id" : "se0304-b7327fdf8ba42c3d5f698e1",
"device_password" : "7A64DDCDBDDA78B0FE2B556445E9FBD9CDD96DC01F384013175B0BD172923938",
"client_type" : "se0304"
}
}
POST /v2/geo_list HTTP/1.1
Host: api.surfeasy.com
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 50
Accept: application/json
SE-Client-Type: se0304
SE-Client-API-Key: 3690AC1CE5B39E6DC67D9C2B46D3C79923C43F05527D4FFADCC860740E9E2B25
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2687.0 Safari/537.36 OPR/38.0.2205.0 (Edition developer)
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, lzma
Cookie: subscriber_credentials=635d20f66976263af72af312f690a55e796d184f6589871ffafcd173b28fcab472e5f9082dc3e1972d8177fc71451fb6275b8c84af46a3c6b0d7bb6ebe6c3d57%3A%3A; _proxy_manager_session31=BAh7B0kiD3Nlc3Npb25faWQGOgZFVEkiJWZlOThjYjUzNTU2ODk4NTUzMzFjZjM4NWFjNjE0YWY0BjsAVEkiG3N1YnNjcmliZXJfY3JlZGVudGlhbHMGOwBGSSIBgDYzNWQyMGY2Njk3NjI2M2FmNzJhZjMxMmY2OTBhNTVlNzk2ZDE4NGY2NTg5ODcxZmZhZmNkMTczYjI4ZmNhYjQ3MmU1ZjkwODJkYzNlMTk3MmQ4MTc3ZmM3MTQ1MWZiNjI3NWI4Yzg0YWY0NmEzYzZiMGQ3YmI2ZWJlNmMzZDU3BjsAVA%3D%3D--217a0409bf7bd1c348c06378c41c9369e0cf99bb; api_session=BAhJIgGvZXlKcFpDSTZNVEkyT0RFeE5qQXNJbTltSWpvM056YzJNREF3TENKMGF5STZJalkxWkRZeFlXVmpOV1ppCk5UTmhOVFZpTURObU5tSmpORFZrT1dGa05ESTBPV0V6TWpoaE9HRTBOVEptTXpVME16TmpaRGN5WXpNdwpZakl5TVRNM05Ea2lMQ0owYlNJNklqSXdNVFl0TURjdE1qTlVNREU2TURJNk1EWmFJbjA9CgY6BkVG--11e3897571b24700b24190f1a89bce317cfdc6bf
device_id=6033E218A93734258100C090BE247C416DAD03B6
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx/1.8.1
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2016 01:02:06 GMT
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Status: 200 OK
X-UA-Compatible: IE=Edge,chrome=1
ETag: "238ae61eb6ad5f2c85642ef254d7790c"
Cache-Control: max-age=0, private, must-revalidate
X-Request-Id: eb9fde2ffd6714263b96d987e369bf66
X-Runtime: 0.057996
X-Rack-Cache: invalidate, pass
{
"data" : {
"locale" : "en",
"geos" : [
{
"country_code" : "CA",
"country" : "Canada",
"lat" : 43.6667,
"lng" : -79.4167
},
{
"lng" : 8.682,
"lat" : 50.11,
"country_code" : "DE",
"country" : "Germany"
},
{
"country_code" : "US",
"country" : "United States",
"lng" : -74.006,
"lat" : 40.7145
}
]
},
"return_code" : {
"0" : "OK"
}
}
POST /v2/discover HTTP/1.1
Host: api.surfeasy.com
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 50
Accept: application/json
SE-Client-Type: se0304
SE-Client-API-Key: 3690AC1CE5B39E6DC67D9C2B46D3C79923C43F05527D4FFADCC860740E9E2B25
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2687.0 Safari/537.36 OPR/38.0.2205.0 (Edition developer)
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, lzma
Cookie: subscriber_credentials=635d20f66976263af72af312f690a55e796d184f6589871ffafcd173b28fcab472e5f9082dc3e1972d8177fc71451fb6275b8c84af46a3c6b0d7bb6ebe6c3d57%3A%3A; _proxy_manager_session31=BAh7B0kiD3Nlc3Npb25faWQGOgZFVEkiJWZlOThjYjUzNTU2ODk4NTUzMzFjZjM4NWFjNjE0YWY0BjsAVEkiG3N1YnNjcmliZXJfY3JlZGVudGlhbHMGOwBGSSIBgDYzNWQyMGY2Njk3NjI2M2FmNzJhZjMxMmY2OTBhNTVlNzk2ZDE4NGY2NTg5ODcxZmZhZmNkMTczYjI4ZmNhYjQ3MmU1ZjkwODJkYzNlMTk3MmQ4MTc3ZmM3MTQ1MWZiNjI3NWI4Yzg0YWY0NmEzYzZiMGQ3YmI2ZWJlNmMzZDU3BjsAVA%3D%3D--217a0409bf7bd1c348c06378c41c9369e0cf99bb; api_session=BAhJIgGvZXlKcFpDSTZNVEkyT0RFeE5qQXNJbTltSWpvM056YzJNREF3TENKMGF5STZJalkxWkRZeFlXVmpOV1ppCk5UTmhOVFZpTURObU5tSmpORFZrT1dGa05ESTBPV0V6TWpoaE9HRTBOVEptTXpVME16TmpaRGN5WXpNdwpZakl5TVRNM05Ea2lMQ0owYlNJNklqSXdNVFl0TURjdE1qTlVNREU2TURJNk1EWmFJbjA9CgY6BkVG--11e3897571b24700b24190f1a89bce317cfdc6bf
serial_no=6033E218A93734258100C090BE247C416DAD03B6&requested_geo=%22DE%22
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx/1.8.0
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2016 01:02:07 GMT
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Status: 200 OK
X-UA-Compatible: IE=Edge,chrome=1
ETag: "7ee0cb88bd334f002fdac08ca1879451"
Cache-Control: max-age=0, private, must-revalidate
X-Request-Id: cd83f3a8974e8997cdcfb265085d3d05
X-Runtime: 0.843848
X-Rack-Cache: invalidate, pass
{
"return_code" : {
"0" : "OK"
},
"data" : {
"current_time" : 1461459727,
"ips" : [
{
"ports" : [
443
],
"ip" : "85.195.94.82",
"geo" : {
"country_code" : "DE",
"state_code" : "5"
},
"expiry_time" : 1462669327
},
{
"expiry_time" : 1462669327,
"ip" : "185.108.219.5",
"geo" : {
"country_code" : "DE",
"state_code" : "2"
},
"ports" : [
80
]
},
{
"ip" : "85.195.110.36",
"geo" : {
"country_code" : "DE",
"state_code" : "5"
},
"ports" : [
8181
],
"expiry_time" : 1462669327
},
{
"expiry_time" : 1462669327,
"ports" : [
22
],
"ip" : "185.108.219.44",
"geo" : {
"country_code" : "DE",
"state_code" : "2"
}
},
{
"expiry_time" : 1462669327,
"ip" : "185.108.219.10",
"geo" : {
"country_code" : "DE",
"state_code" : "2"
},
"ports" : [
443
]
},
{
"ip" : "85.195.110.35",
"geo" : {
"state_code" : "5",
"country_code" : "DE"
},
"ports" : [
80
],
"expiry_time" : 1462669327
},
{
"expiry_time" : 1462669327,
"geo" : {
"state_code" : "2",
"country_code" : "DE"
},
"ip" : "185.108.219.12",
"ports" : [
8181
]
},
{
"expiry_time" : 1462669327,
"ports" : [
22
],
"geo" : {
"state_code" : "5",
"country_code" : "DE"
},
"ip" : "139.59.136.236"
},
{
"expiry_time" : 1462669327,
"ports" : [
443
],
"ip" : "185.108.219.45",
"geo" : {
"country_code" : "DE",
"state_code" : "2"
}
}
],
"requester_geo" : {
"country_code" : "CZ",
"state_code" : "87"
}
}
}
@brunospino
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Hello,

does anyone know if it is possible to set up a specific country instead of a generic different one? I mean, a friend of mine with very limited knowledge is trying to use his Eurosport subscription in Costarica, but he needs to present itself as "Italian". I've noticed Opera got some Italian proxy, and it uses it by default if you flag the first option (it sounds like "best location" translated from Italian) and you really are in Italy. So I wonder if it possible to force the server choice. By choosing EU as location it seems there is a random forward mostly to France and Germany.

Thank you

@johncrisostomo
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Is this still accurate? I thought Opera parted ways with SurfEasy, hence their mobile "VPN" service was shut down earlier this year. Also, does this mean that SurfEasy's service is not a VPN in the truest sense? Or do they offer both true VPN and proxy services?

@xaosnox
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xaosnox commented Oct 5, 2018

I have been using Opera's secure proxy server since they introduced it. It is a bit flaky. Sometimes I have to restart Opera to get it to connect, but have been very pleased with it overall. I never expected it to be anything more than what it is—a secure proxy server connection for the browser. But now, I'm experiencing a different issue that is very disturbing. I can connect to Opera's server fine, and running diagnostics shows that the connection to the internet and the ISP is fine. However, any time I have the proxy service enabled, I get a "No Internet" page. Pages that I have open, such as webmail, say they aren't connecting. I'm hoping this is just a temporary glitch with Opera's server, but I suspect it's something much more troubling. I think the ISP is blocking secure proxy servers. I'm going to do some experimenting, but Im wondering if anyone else has started seeing this same issue. It was working fine as of this morning. My carrier is Xfinity/Comcast.

If what I suspect is true, the battle for a secure and private internet has just escalated to a whole new level! Can anyone help me find out if this is just me, Opera, or an ISP issue?

@xaosnox
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xaosnox commented Oct 5, 2018

Seems to be working now. Guess it was just a problem with the Opera servers. The way things are going, you can't blame me for being a little paranoid! Things are getting pretty draconian.

@spaze
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Author

spaze commented Jun 5, 2019

@johncrisostomo None of the "VPN" browser extensions are real VPNs, they all use a proxy, mostly secure proxies but some extensions, like SaferVPN, don't even encrypt the traffic.

Opera was continuously updating their client since this was published, so this was not accurate even before SurfEasy was acquired by Symantec. Opera has made it harder to get the API key (good!), changed API versions, and then probably changed the endpoint and provider too. I tried following the changes in The Oprah Proxy project but eventually archived the project because some people have abused it and wanted me to support their shady businesses, for free.

@mokhtarabadi
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I used this fork for getting proxies but now work anymore, anyone have idea how to use new opera api?
https://github.com/nampud/oprah-proxy

@Argimko
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Argimko commented Oct 4, 2023

I used this fork for getting proxies but now work anymore, anyone have idea how to use new opera api? https://github.com/nampud/oprah-proxy

https://github.com/Snawoot/opera-proxy/

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