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VPN Protocols: Understanding the Different Options for Secure Connections

VPN Server

Starting with the basics, a VPN, short for a virtual private network, establishes a secure tunnel between multiple devices. Utilizing a VPN connects the user to the internet via a mediator server operated by the VPN. The security of the connection is determined by the VPN protocol, a set of instructions specifying how the device communicates with the VPN server.

VPN Server

Basic VPN Protocols for Secure Connections

#1 SSTP

The Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) stands out as a popular VPN protocol due to its full integration with every Microsoft operating system since Windows Vista Service Pack 1. This means that users can utilize SSTP with Winlogon or, for added security, a smart chip. Moreover, numerous VPN providers offer dedicated Windows SSTP instructions on their websites, making it easily accessible to users.

SSTP utilizes 2048-bit SSL/TLS certificates for authentication and 256-bit SSL keys for encryption. In general, SSTP is regarded as a highly secure protocol. Being a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, SSTP does not allow a complete audit of its underlying code. Despite this, it is still widely perceived as secure. Moreover, SSTP offers native compatibility with Windows, Linux, and BSD systems, while Android, macOS, and iOS systems can access it through third-party clients.

#2 OpenVPN

OpenVPN is recognized as a significant VPN protocol due to its open-source nature and high level of security. As an open-source protocol, users have the ability to analyze its source code for any vulnerabilities and even incorporate it into their own projects. OpenVPN provides robust data protection through the utilization of AES-256-bit key encryption (amongst other encryption methods), 2048-bit RSA authentication, and a 160-bit SHA1 hash algorithm. This makes OpenVPN highly secure, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of users’ data.

In addition to providing robust encryption, OpenVPN is available on a wide range of platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers, and more. It can even be utilized on Windows Phone and Blackberry devices, allowing users to set up a VPN across all their devices. OpenVPN is widely adopted by popular and user-friendly VPN services.

Looking at the options for secure connections, you may come across information that the OpenVPN protocol is slow. This is not entirely true, as the latest generation of VPN apps has managed to get around this problem. You can download VeePN to try it out. Now advanced VPN for Edge with OpenVPN protocol can boast not only good speed but also a powerful security and privacy system.

#3 L2TP/IPSec

Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol is a widely-used VPN protocol. It serves as the successor to the deprecated PPTP (for further information, refer to the PPTP section below), which was developed by Microsoft, and L2F, developed by Cisco. However, L2TP itself does not offer any encryption or privacy.

Consequently, services that utilize L2TP are often combined with the security protocol IPsec. When L2TP/IPSec is implemented, it becomes one of the most secure VPN connections available. It employs AES-256-bit encryption and is not known to have any vulnerabilities (although it has been claimed that IPSec has been compromised by the NSA).

#4 PPTP

The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is regarded as one of the oldest VPN protocols still in use in certain areas. However, a majority of services have transitioned to faster and more secure protocols. Introduced in 1995, PPTP was primarily designed to function with dial-up connections and was even integrated with Windows 95, bringing about significant convenience at that time.

Despite its initial usefulness, the security of PPTP has become obsolete over time. It is no longer considered secure, as both governments and criminals have successfully cracked its encryption, rendering any data transmitted through this protocol insecure.

PPTP Image

#5 IKEv2

Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is a VPN protocol developed by Microsoft and Cisco. It serves as a tunneling protocol, facilitating a secure key exchange session. Similar to its predecessor, IKEv2 is often combined with IPSec for encryption and authentication.

Although not as widely recognized as other VPN protocols, IKEv2 is prominently featured in numerous mobile VPN solutions. It excels at automatically reconnecting during temporary internet connection loss and network switches (such as transitioning from Wi-Fi to mobile data).

#6 Wireguard

WireGuard stands out as the latest VPN protocol. It boasts an open-source nature and a simplified codebase compared to other prominent VPNs. Moreover, WireGuard VPN services offer easier setup than OpenVPN, along with support for a wider range of encryption types and primitives.

Combining various encryption types and primitives with its smaller codebase, WireGuard emerges as one of the fastest VPN protocols available. Additionally, WireGuard represents an optimal choice for portable devices, catering to both small embedded devices like smartphones and fully equipped backbone routers.

Conclusion

Overall, the VPN protocols present a wide range of security and privacy options. Users will need to determine their particular needs before selecting an appropriate protocol. Grounded in this understanding, users can then make an informed decision on which protocol is best suited for their specific demands. Moreover, they should research each individual service to ensure that all available protocols meet their criteria of security and speed.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.