Surfing the Internet on a new, unfamiliar network can be risky. Microsoft and CloudFlare have teamed up to bring a built-in VPN to Edge to combat that risk and allow users to browse more securely.
Microsoft is calling the new feature Edge Secure Network. Activating it will be as simple as clicking the three-dot menu in Edge and then click the shield icon for Secure Network.
According to Microsoft, there are several reasons an Edge user might want to turn it on.
First, Edge Secure Network (like other VPNs) encrypts the connection between your device and the Internet. That’s an important layer of protection that is often missing from public Wi-Fi networks.
Networks in places like hotels and airports are often unsecured, which can allow hackers to eavesdrop on your activities. A VPN like Edge Secure Network provides protection against that sort of thing.
Microsoft also notes that your encrypted connection prevents additional tracking. The hotspot provider or ISP won’t be able to monitor your activity, though it’s worth noting the companies operating the VPN — Microsoft and CloudFlare — still can.
For its part, CloudFlare states that it automatically deletes “all diagnostic and support data” after 25 hours. Microsoft says it stores only “minimal support data and access tokens which are only retained for the duration of the required service window.”
Edge Secure Network also provides a bit of location privacy by replacing your actual IP address with one supplied by the VPN. That makes it a bit more difficult for online advertisers to profile you as you browse.
Privacy features like these often command a premium these days, and you might expect to have to pay to use Edge Secure Network. If your secure browsing requirements are fairly light, you may not have to pay anything for it, however.
Microsoft is offering Edge Secure Network users 1GB of data at no cost. The company’s support page doesn’t say whether you’ll be able to pay for more data.
It also doesn’t mention whether the 1GB of data is only offered for free right now while the feature is being previewed to testers. This post will be updated when that information becomes available.
Edge isn’t the first browser to offer a built-in VPN. The upstart Tenta mobile browser offered seamless VPN back in 2017. Two years later, Opera added one to its desktop browser. Mozilla brought a VPN to Firefox in 2020 — and it now encrypts data sent from the entire device, not just the browser.