Have you ever heard of OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP? So what does it all mean? Below is an explanation of the commonly used types of VPN protocols so that you can choose the one that best suits your privacy needs.
Although everyone recommends using a VPN, not many people take the time to explain some of the basic VPN technologies. In this article, we’ll explain what a VPN protocol is, its differences, and what you should pay attention to.
Read also: 10 Best and Fastest Free VPN for Your Computer
What is a VPN?
Basically, a VPN allows you to access the public internet using a private connection. When you click on a link on the internet, your request is redirected to the correct server, usually returning the correct content. Your data runs essentially seamlessly from A to B, and websites or services can see your IP address, among other identifying details.
When you use a VPN, all your requests will be routed through a private server owned by the VPN provider. Your requests range from A to C to B. You can still access all data that was previously available to you (and more in some cases). But the site or service has only data from the VPN provider: their IP address and so on.
There are many uses for a VPN, including data and identity protection, avoiding repressive censorship, and encrypting communications.
What is a VPN protocol?
The VPN protocol determines exactly how your data is routed between your computer and the VPN server. The protocols have different specifications, offering benefits to users in a variety of circumstances. For example, some put speed first, while others focus on privacy and security. Let’s take a look at the most commonly used VPN protocols.
OpenVPN is an open source VPN protocol. This means that users can examine the source code for vulnerabilities or use it in other projects. OpenVPN has become one of the most important VPN protocols.
In addition to being open source, OpenVPN is also one of the most secure protocols. OpenVPN allows users to protect their data using an essentially indestructible AES-256-bit encryption key (among others) with 2048-bit RSA authentication and a 160-bit SHA1 hash algorithm.
In addition to providing strong encryption, OpenVPN is available for almost all platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers and more. Even Windows Phone and Blackberry can take advantage of it, which means you can set up a VPN on all your devices. It’s also the protocol of choice among popular and easy-to-use VPN services.
The OpenVPN protocol has been criticized in the past for its low speed. However, recent implementations have resulted in some improvements, and the emphasis on security and privacy is worth considering.
2. L2TP / IPSec
Layer tunnel protocol 2 is a very popular VPN protocol. L2TP is the depreciated successor to PPTP, which was developed by Microsoft, and L2F, which was developed by Cisco. However, L2TP does not actually provide any encryption or privacy per se.
Therefore, services that use L2TP are often bundled with the IPsec security protocol. Once implemented, L2TP / IPSec becomes one of the most secure VPN connections available. It uses AES-256 bit encryption and has no known vulnerabilities (although the NSA is believed to have broken IPSec).
Although L2TP / IPSec has no known vulnerabilities, it does have some disadvantages. For example, the default protocol uses UDP on port 500. This makes traffic easier to identify and block.
Secure socket tunneling protocol is another popular VPN protocol. SSTP comes with an important advantage, namely that it is fully integrated with every Microsoft operating system in Windows Vista Service Pack 1. This means that you can use SSTP with Winlogon or, for added security, a smart chip. In addition, many VPN providers have certain built-in Windows SSTP instructions available. You can find it on your VPN provider’s website.
SSTP uses a 2048-bit SSL / TLS certificate for authentication and a 256-bit SSL key for encryption. In general, SSTP is quite secure.
SSTP is basically a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft. This means that no one can audit the basic code. However, most believe that SSTP is safe.
Finally, SSTP has native support for Windows, Linux, and BSD. Android, macOS and iOS are supported by third-party clients.
Internet key exchange version 2 is another VPN protocol developed by Microsoft and Cisco. IKEv2 itself is just a tunnel protocol that provides a secure key exchange session. Because of this (and like its predecessors), IKEv2 is often associated with IPSec for encryption and authentication.
Although IKEv2 is not as popular as other VPN protocols, it is a feature of many mobile VPN solutions. This is because it is capable of reconnecting during times when the internet connection is down, as well as during network switching (from Wi-Fi to cellular data, for example).
IKEv2 is a proprietary protocol with native support for Windows, iOS, and Blackberry devices. An open source implementation is available for Linux, and Android support is available through third-party applications.
Unfortunately, while IKEv2 is great for cellular connections, there is strong evidence that the NSA is actively exploiting IKE defects to alter IPSec traffic. Therefore, the use of an open-source implementation is very important for security.
Point-to-point tunnel protocol is one of the oldest VPN protocols. It is still used in some places, but most VPN services are depreciated.
PPTP was introduced in 1995. In fact, it was integrated with Windows 95, designed to work with dial-up connections. At the time, it was very useful.
But VPN technology has evolved, and PPTP is no longer secure. The criminals have long since broken the PPTP encryption, making any data sent using the protocol unsafe.
However, he is not yet completely dead. You see, some people think that PPTP offers the best connection speed, precisely because of the lack of security features (compared to modern protocols). For this reason, it’s still used by users who just want to watch Netflix from a different location.
6. Wire guard
Wireguard is the latest VPN protocol. It is open source and uses a much simpler code base compared to other major VPNs. In addition, the Wireguard VPN service is easier to set up than OpenVPN and includes support for a wider range of encryption types and primitives.
The combination of encryption and primitive types and a smaller code base, along with other enhancements, make Wireguard one of the fastest VPN protocols. In addition, Wireguard is a better choice for portable devices, “suitable for small embedded devices such as smartphones and fully charged backbone routers.”
The ChaCha20 encryption algorithm, which Wireguard also uses with mobile devices, offers higher speeds than AES and fewer resources.
This means that when you use the Wireguard VPN protocol, your battery will last longer than other VPN protocols. Wireguard is “embedded right in the Linux kernel”, which should also provide increased speed and security, especially for Internet of Things devices (many of which use built-in Linux-based systems).
Wireguard is available for all major operating systems, although interestingly, it last appeared on Windows.
Read also: 10 Ways to Speed Up Slow VPN Connections
Now you look at some of the commonly used types of VPNs.
- OpenVPN: Open source, offers the strongest encryption, suitable for all activities, if sometimes a little slow
- L2TP / IPSec: Widely used protocol, good speed, but easy to block because it is based on a single port
- SSTP: Good security, hard to block and detect
- IKEv2: Fast, mobile-friendly, with multiple open source implementations (potentially modified by NSA)
- PPTP: Fast, widely accepted, but full of security flaws, used only for streaming and regular web browsing
- Wireguard: Fast, open source, with growing support among VPN providers
For strong security, choose a VPN provider that offers a range of secure protocols.
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