Troy Hunt, the Australian cybersecurity expert who set up and still runs the compromised-password search website haveibeenpwned.com (opens in new tab), has joined one of the world's best VPN companies as an advisor.
In a press release, NordVPN said Hunt was the first security expert to join a new advisory team that “will share their expertise and provide guidance on the company’s security and commercial practices”.
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Tom Okman, co-founder of NordSec, said: “We are very excited to greet Troy Hunt as an advisor. Our product family is growing rapidly, and we have ambitious plans ahead.
“That’s why it’s important to have a team of professionals who can support us by providing their expert insights and strategic advice.”
NordVPN explained that the team will include experts from a range of backgrounds and expertise, including technology, digital privacy, cybersecurity and academia.
It went on to explain that the advisors will “provide strategic guidance and help shape the company’s future by sharing unique perspectives, insights, and trends.”
This isn’t the first time that the VPN company has looked to third-party experts to influence its product direction. It’s already conducted two independent reviews of its zero-logs policy and helped to launch the VPN Trust Initiative, an organisation setting guidelines and standards for the VPN industry.
“I’m impressed with NordVPN’s product and their desire to engage with independent experts to drive further innovation," Hunt said in the press release.
“Their openness and transparency with the way they run their services combined with their vision for the future is a big part of what attracted me to the organisation. I’m looking forward to partnering with NordVPN and helping them do more for digital privacy.”
Converting a skeptic
On his own blog, Hunt explained (opens in new tab) that the partnership came about during a discussion he had with Okman in which Hunt was skeptical about the consumer VPN industry in general.
"Why should people trust NordVPN?" Hunt asked. "The promise of 'no logs' in particular is a favourite of VPN providers yet evidently, the reality doesn't always meet the promise."
The most recent independent audit of NordVPN swayed Hunt on that point, but he wasn't done.
"There were also aspects of NordVPN I told Tom needed work, especially around their messaging in marketing material," he added. "Marketing people like to embellish but, in my view, there were occasions where that went beyond what you could reasonably expect a VPN to do."
Hunt didn't specify exactly what he was referring to. But, for example, some VPN companies might imply that using a VPN will protect you from malware infection when it really can't.
"So Tom asked me if I'd like to become an adviser to NordVPN and invest a bit more time than just a telephone call sharing these ideas," Hunt wrote.
Hunt said that although this partnership was "a commercial relationship," he was not becoming a NordVPN employee and would still "remain independent."