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Which Is The Best VPN Protocol

Privacy is one of the most important aspects of a person’s life. We all are very conscious about it, with having our phones secured with screen locks to having the password of our account protected. But ever wondered what happens to your privacy while you are online?

Most of you just simply assume that having the phone, email accounts and social media IDs password protected is all the protection you need over the internet. However, only some of you realize that there is more to the picture then you make it out to be.

With my work as a cybersecurity analyst, I have come across massive data breaches and malware attacks. What’s more is that the number of these attacks keeps on increasing at an alarming rate! There is a multitude of hackers and cyber criminals out there waiting to exploit you once you go online.

Concerned yet? Well done you worry! The answer to your concerns is a VPN network. Now those of you who are aware of VPNs might be aware of the fact that their work is based on their protocols.

Now for those who are still in the dark about it all and needs enlightenment, this article gives you a nosedive on:

  • What is a VPN connection
  • What are VPN protocols
  • Major VPN protocols.

To start off, let’s throw some limelight on the very basics!

What is a VPN?

A VPN or a virtual private network is a method to add up security and privacy to a system. It helps you in establishing a safe and secure connection over the internet or the less secure networks.

It is known to provide the utmost privacy and security to its users. It does so by using encrypted tunneling method and various other security features.

With a VPN intact a user is allowed to remain anonymous over the internet which provides privacy. Furthermore, it offers ultimate protection against hackers and other cyber issues that may cause harm.

A VPN can help achieve the following things:

  • Bypass geographical restrictions
  • Protect from hackers and data snoopers
  • Allows to remain anonymous online
  • Easily stream Netflix

Apart from these things the VPNs can help hide your web browsing data. It does so by changing your IP address and providing you a pseudo one as well as by encrypting your data. However, most of the VPN function depends upon the protocols it uses.

Each VPN comes up with several protocol services that help in different web activities. I have taken up the liberty to explain VPN protocols further below.

Role of VPN Protocols

VPNs are best known to provide ultimate privacy and security to their users. They do so by following two methods of technology; encryption and encapsulation.

The information that is on the internet is in the form of data packets. With a VPN intact these data packets are wrapped up into another type of package. This ensures privacy as the information regarding the data packet, such as the content and the destination is hidden.

Furthermore, a VPN network encrypts the information present within the data packet. In encryption, the information is turned in a code that is decrypted by the decryption key only. This way even if the data packet gets intercepted it would be useless without the decryption key.

Now, encryption and encapsulation are the most generic methods used by a VPN. However, these technologies depend upon the type of VPN protocols a provider uses. These VPN protocols basically play an active part in the encryption and encapsulation process.

VPN Protocols- Explained

As mentioned above VPN protocols play a significant role in working of a VPN.  A VPN protocol has a hand in how your VPN will secure data transfer.  This is why there are several options available while choosing protocols. This is primarily based on:

  • Operating systems
  • Platform
  • Performance

Apart from these, there is a multitude of other things on which a VPN protocol depends upon. Let’s dive in deep regarding these protocols.

1. PPTP

PPTP also is known as a point-to-point tunneling protocol is the oldest VPN protocol which is intact till today. It was formed in 1995 by Microsoft as a standard VPN protocol at a time when the internet connection occurred through dial-ups.

As it has been around for a long time by now, it comes integrated with almost every device and platform. Its popularity apart from age is also fueled by the fact that it is relatively easy to set up and is efficient.

Furthermore, its users don’t have to go through with the hassle of getting additional software to run it with. It functions in the understandable old fashion way with a username, password, and a server address.

This protocol, if viewed from a security perspective is relatively proper. Its encryption has been upgraded to 128-bit key encryption since it was first released.  However, it does not really provide optimum security.

Even though it old it is compatible with old windows users and for domestic use where sensitive information isn’t shared over the web. Apart from that, it can serve another fairly essential purpose such as bypassing geo restrictions or for streaming Netflix.

 This low level of encryption, however, comes handy in making it the fastest VPN protocols. However one downside to this is that is has been known to be easily infiltrated by hackers, NASA and other intelligence agencies.

The good side to PPTP

  • It is relatively fast
  • This protocol comes integrated with several platforms.
  • It is user-friendly and gives no hassle in setting up

 The bad side to PPTP

  • Doesn’t provide optimum security
  • Has been infiltrated on multiple occasions.
  • It can’t bypass firewalls

2. L2TP/IPsec

L2TP itself is a tunneling protocol just like PPTP, that is it does not really provide any encryption protection. It is due to this it has to be paired with IPsec which is a VPN protocol which provides encryption.

L2TP/ IPsec come with only two encryption standards. The most popular standard is AES which uses the 256-bit AES encryption key. The other standard offered here is 3DES. This is not very much in use now due to its known vulnerabilities.

Although L2TP is almost as old as PPTP, It is still quite popular. This is mainly because just like PPTP it comes integrated with several platforms. Also, it is reasonably simple and easy to use and set up.

Apart from that, this protocol has not been much of a victim of infiltrations and hacks mainly because it is paired up with IPsec. However, this pairing may be a significant aspect to security, but it sure lags in connection and speed.

As L2TP protocol is usually paired with another protocol, it offers double encapsulation. One downside here is that here the traffic must first be converted into L2TP form. With this, although there is an extra protective layer, the connection becomes slow.

 The good side to L2TP/IPsec

  • It is compatible with nearly every device and is user-friendly
  • Can be taken as a reasonably good security measure
  • It allows multi threading upon the need for improved performance.

The bad side to L2TP/IPsec

  • Firewalls can block it
  • There are rumors of NSA weakening the protocol and making it less secure
  • It has speed issues due to double encapsulation.

3.  IKEv2/ IPsec

Just like L2TP this protocol is also a tunneling protocol and requires pairing up with IPsec for protection. It was developed as a combined project of Microsoft and Cisco. Though it is not really a VPN protocol, it sure behaves like one.

This protocol is relatively new and comes integrated with Windows 7 and the generations after that. It is also supported on various other platforms such as Blackberry and Linux.

The IKEv2/IPsec protocol is best used for mobile security. It works aptly on Blackberry and also has support on less esoteric platforms such as iOS.

If you are looking for a consistent VPN connection, IKEv2/IPsec is a good option. It remains intact even if the internet connection drops. It is known to be stable, secure and has a high-performance reputation.

One empowering feature possessed by this protocol is its speed. It is often considered as one of the fastest VPN protocols. However, one major drawback is that it isn’t nearly compatible with most of the platforms.

 The good side to IKEv2/IPsec

  • It is reasonably secure and offers excellent protection and privacy
  • It provides good stability
  • Considered as one of the fastest VPN protocols that are relatively easy to use.

 The bad side to IKEv2/IPsec

  • Limited platform compatibility is offered
  • It can be blocked by firewalls

4. Open VPN

This is the most popular VPN protocol up until now. Its popularity is fed by its flexibility and the security it offers. It is due to these facts it is the top recommendation of leading VPN providers today.

This protocol relies on open source technologies like the OpenSSL encryption library and SSL V3/TLS V1 protocols for functioning. This reliance on the open source nature of OpenVPN enables this protocol to be maintained, updated and inspected by a community of supporters.

Furthermore, this protocol is equipped with the best privacy and security feature. The traffic passing through it can’t be identified as HTTPS or SSL connection.  This makes it prone to hackers as well as blocking from firewalls.

Moreover, it is designed to run on any available port, using both UDP and TCP protocols. This gives it the ability to go around firewalls.  This protocol is, however, most compatible with UDP port, with which it provides the best speed.

Unlike some of the major VPN protocols such as PPTP and SSTP, OpenVPN is not fed by any specific parent operating system. By this, OpenVPN can be used as a third-party VPN client by any user.

While looking at the security aspects, it is designed to be compatible with several other methods and protocols such as OpenSLL and HMAC authentication and shared keys. This protocol has the reputation of being aloof from NSA hacks, which other protocols have been a victim of.

It commonly uses the AES encryption algorithm with 128- bit, which is the most secure form but also supports the functioning of various other algorithms such as:

  • 3DES
  • AES
  • Camellia
  • Blowfish
  • CAST-128

Concerning its entire glory, there is slight drawback faced by OpenVPN users is its requirements to install third-party applications to function.  Setting it up for use is a reasonably tricky task, but this also depends upon your VPN providers. Most of the VPN clients offer a customized setup that takes away the trickiness.

Furthermore, it is not entirely compatible with most platforms, but most third party software providers such as Android and iOS are supported. It also comes compatible with mobile Apple iOS, thus giving rise to private and secures mobile connections

The good side to OpenVPN

  • It can overlook most of the firewalls
  • Promises high levels of security.
  • Provides multiple methods of encryption through various cryptic algorithms
  • It is highly customizable.

The good side to OpenVPN

  • It can overlook most of the firewalls
  • It has high levels of security.
  • Provides multiple methods of encryption through various cryptic algorithms
  • It is highly customizable.

5. SSTP

This is once again a Microsoft produced protocol that was released alongside its Windows Vista. It comes integrated with the Windows versions and is labeled as the “Windows” only protocol.

In spite of its labeling, this protocol is fully functional o various other platforms such as Linux, SEIL and RouterOS. However, this compatibility isn’t ubiquitous.

In light of security, its reputation is considered excellent. It comes with the very well secured AES encryption and also uses the SSL v3 connection. Using this connection allows it to bypass NAT firewalls and any other blocking which is considerably handy.

Apart from that, it uses the 2048-bit SSL/TLS certificates in authentication and the 256-bit SSL keys for encryption. Both of these technologies aid decently in it being secure.

However, despite its security measures, its association with Microsoft rings many alarm bells. This is because of the rumors of its cooperation with the NSA. Most people consider it insecure with the thought of it having a backdoor for the NSA.

While overlooking this fact, this protocol is all in all considered to be reasonably good.

The Good side to SSTP

  • Can bypass most firewalls and blocking
  • Provides good security measures
  • Comes fully integrated with Windows and other Microsoft platforms
  • It commonly uses AES encryption but supports a wide range of different cryptic algorithms too.

The bad side to SSTP

  • It may have backdoor to NSA
  • Its maximum compatibility is with the windows only.
  • No third-party has audited it yet

Bidding Farewells

Still concerned? After this insight I sincerely doubt it! For those who were having anxiety attacks regarding VPN and how to choose the best of them, I hope this clears the air for you. So how about you go ahead and upgrade your privacy stems?

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