Simple VPN steps include downloading the app, selecting a location, and clicking the connect button. However, if we delve further, there is more to tinker with VPN protocols. However, what exactly are they?
Most likely, you’ve heard of or seen the terms OpenVPN or WireGuard, or have seen something about their speed or other characteristics. These explanations are frequently very technical and difficult to grasp if you don’t have the necessary technical skills.
But don’t worry; in this post, we’ll explain VPN protocols and how they function.
What is a VPN protocol?
Data flow over a VPN is governed by protocols, which contain detailed rules. Data transfer speed may be given priority by some protocols over data and traffic security, and vice versa. A VPN protocol typically excels at either prioritizing speed or security—but not frequently.
Additionally, several VPN protocols may be more or less mobile-friendly for personal VPN use.
In general, commercial use cases benefit more from VPN protocols that place a high priority on security, like concealing the IP location. For individual or personal use cases, VPN protocols that prioritize speed (particularly streaming performance) may be a superior choice.
How does a VPN protocol work?
The two fundamental tasks often carried out by VPN protocols are encryption and authentication. In addition to making the connection itself unreadable to outsiders, authentication ensures that your device is in communication with a reliable VPN server.
Speed and security for VPN users can vary depending on the encryption standards and authentication procedures used. Different VPN protocols also have different guidelines for handling possible problems, which impacts stability and dependability.
Types of VPN protocols
In more depth, the most popular VPN protocols are listed below:
IKEv2, also known as Internet Key Exchange version 2, is widely used in VPN mobile apps. The rationale is that you will immediately reconnect if your connection to a VPN server is lost. This enables almost seamless switching between mobile data and Wi-Fi.
Furthermore, the protocol enables sophisticated cipher functions. It supports 3DES and AES encryption, the latter being the most secure option.
A very customizable open-source protocol is OpenVPN. It is widely used by consumer VPN services and is freely accessible on all platforms. It is also highly regarded by the community.
OpenVPN can be set up to appear as regular internet traffic, making it easier for filters and firewalls to miss it. It is suitable for deployment even in sensitive areas because it has undergone extensive auditing by reliable, independent researchers.
The security checkboxes are all checked for OpenVPN. It is not owned (and controlled by) powerful corporations, thanks to its open-source methodology. Instead, it is always being improved, and flaws are fixed by a community of programmers. Like encrypted HTTPS sites, it uses a proprietary security protocol that mainly depends on the OpenSSL library.
- Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
PPTP has a long and illustrious history as one of the first protocols to appear. It has been there since Windows 95, but because it uses the old-fashioned MS-CHAP v2 authentication suite, it is simple to break.
Despite its inherent weakness, PPTP is the quickest VPN protocol since it lacks encryption and authentication mechanisms. This also implies that your ISP, your Wi-Fi provider, and governmental spy agencies like the NSA are able to view the contents of your connection.
Jason A. Donenfeld created the open-source WireGuard® VPN technology, which Edge Security LLC is actively working to improve. In the past several years, several VPN providers have started to use it since it has demonstrated potential as a current VPN protocol in terms of speed and its lighter codebase.
- Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
For Microsoft users, Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) might be the greatest VPN protocol—or at the very least, the most user-friendly. All Microsoft operating systems are fully connected (since Windows Vista).
There are a few repercussions from SSTP being a proprietary Microsoft protocol. On the one hand, it is not an open-source protocol that allows anyone to see the source code behind the scenes. Still, most users claim that it is a relatively safe VPN protocol.
The successor of PPTP is Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP). Layer 2 Forwarding Protocol, developed by Cisco, is combined with PPTP in this system. L2TP is a relatively well-liked protocol among users and VPN service providers. In addition to offering users more functionality, it is more secure than the earlier PPTP.
L2TP does not provide data encryption or authentication on its own, similar to IKEv2. It frequently works in conjunction with IPSec, which offers this feature. The fact that IPSec secures and encrypts data to military standards is a useful point to keep in mind. Users who are worried about their data’s privacy might find this to be particularly appealing.
Your use case should guide your choice of VPN protocol. Not every VPN service provider will offer every VPN protocol. Realistically, you should assess your options in light of your operating system and other constraints. OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard are the current VPN protocols that are the most dependable.