HMA was created in 2005 in Norfolk, England by Jack Cator. At the time, Cator was sixteen years-old. He created HMA in order to circumvent restrictions his school had on accessing games or music from their network. According to Cator, the first HMA service was created in just a few hours using open-source code. The first product was a free proxy website where users typed in a URL and it delivered the website in the user’s browser.
Cator promoted the tool in online forums and it was featured on the front page of Digg. After attracting more than one thousand users, Cator incorporated ads. HMA did not take any venture capital funding. It generated about $1,000 – $2,000 per month while the founder went to college to pursue a degree in computer science. In 2009, Cator dropped out of college to focus on HMA and added a paid VPN service. Most early HMA employees were freelancers found on oDesk.com. In 2012, one of the freelancers set-up a competing business. HMA responded by hiring its contractors as full-time employees and establishing physical offices in London.
In 2013, HMA added software to anonymize internet traffic from mobile devices was first added in 2013. In 2014, the company introduced HideMyPhone! service, which allowed mobile phone users to make their calls appear to come from a different location.
By 2014, the service had 10 million users and 215,000 paying subscribers of its VPN service. It made £11 million in revenue that year. HMA had 100 staff and established international offices in Belgrade and Kiev.
By 2015, HMA became one of the largest VPN providers. In May 2015, it was acquired by AVG Technologies for $40 million, and became part of Avast after its 2016 acquisition of AVG Technologies.
In 2017, a security vulnerability was discovered that allowed hackers with access to a user’s laptop to obtain elevated privileges on the device.
In 2019, it was reported that HMA received a directive from Russian authorities to join a state sponsored registry of banned websites, which would prevent Russian HMA users from circumventing Russian state censorship. HMA was reportedly given one month to comply, or face blocking by Russian authorities.
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