A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO VPN PROTOCOLS
What is a VPN?
Virtual private network (VPN) is a private network that is isolated from the Internet completely. It extends to ensure its users who are connected to public networks have maximum security from online threats and it will appear as if they are directly connected to the private network. VPN benefits several organizations, individuals, businesses as well as the government.
Basically, VPN provides a safe connection for its users over a public network (Internet) which is highly insecure. The technology protects your privacy as well as provides the much-needed security for sensitive data.
This article will be a comprehensive guide to the most common VPN protocols and will definitely answer any questions you might have.
Types of VPN
There are two basic types of VPN which are; site to site VPN and remote access VPN. They are further explained below.
- Site to site VPN
Site to site VPN involves the use of top-notch cryptography to connect two or more networks together. This VPN connects a network in one geographic location to another in a different location. This encryption is so high class that even though the network is being shared in different geographic locations, hackers cannot gain access to sensitive data and therefore cannot alter it.
- Remote access VPN
This VPN gives its users access to a private secure network from any remote location. All this VPN requires is identification, which is necessary for authentication. For example, most staffs of different companies have remote access to their companies private VPN and can access it anywhere, on any device, anytime by just authenticating their identity.
What is a VPN protocol?
VPN protocols are several processes combined together by the VPN providers to ensure its users have high protection, privacy and security. These protocols ensure that the connection from the main server is fast and very secure. In layman's terms, VPN protocol is the way VPN users connect their various devices to the main VPN server.
There are various VPN protocols that exist, each of them well-equipped with abilities and advantages that are unique to them. With these unique strengths, they also have disadvantages. When selecting a VPN protocol, it is important to take note of their individual strengths and weaknesses.
- Open VPN
Open VPN makes use of technology that is open source; this invariably makes it an open source protocol. It is a very important VPN protocol as it is very secure and very configurable. Open VPN has need for third party software which is a setback. Although this protocol has the need for several authentication processes, it is one of the best protocols out there.
- Open VPN boasts of a very strong security.
- It ensures no data is lost when the main server goes down, thus making it a very safe protocol.
- Open VPN is very well supported worldwide as it is open source.
- The level of encryption involved in open VPN is very sophisticated.
- The process of setup is lengthy and can prove to be difficult for beginners.
- Not all proxy servers support open VPN
- There are high overheads involved in open source protocol processes.
Point to point tunneling protocol (PPTP) is a very popular protocol as it was formed since the inception of Windows95 by Microsoft. PPTP is mainly used in older mobile device models and operating system. There has been several security issues associated with PPTP as a result of hackers and government cracking the encryption. Although it has poor security, it isn't all bad. It can be used for low risk browsing such as streaming or downloading videos and music.
- The overhead involved in the use of PPTP is minimal.
- Third party softwares are not needed.
- PPTP is incredibly fast.
- PPTP can be used on most platforms.
- The setup of PPTP is quite easy.
- PPTP is not a very secure protocol.
- The encryption used in this protocol is very weak.
- PPTP can be blocked easily by firewalls.
Layer to layer protocol (L2TP) is a very popular step up from PPTP as it was developed by Microsoft and Cisco. Since L2TP does not offer any encryption on its own. It is then combined with IPsec to render the encryption properties. The combination of L2TP and IPsec makes this protocol one of the most secure VPN protocols.
- It is supported by all operating systems.
- The setup of L2TP/IPsec is very easy.
- This protocol is very stable and secure.
- It is relatively slower than other protocols.
- This protocol makes use of fixed points.
Secure socket tunneling protocol (SSTP) is a very popular windows only protocol. It supports Microsoft operating systems. SSTP is a very secure protocol and it can even be regarded as the most secure protocol. It can overcome nearly all Firewalls and proxy servers.
- It is a very secure protocol.
- It can bypass nearly all firewalls.
- It has risk of low performance.
- It is limited to only windows environment.
- IKEV2 /IPSEC
Internet key exchange version 2 is a protocol based on IPsec; it was developed jointly by Microsoft and Cisco. IKEV2 is combined with IPsec to provide encryption and authentication with makes the protocol very secure. This protocol is very popular because it has option for mobile devices.
- It is relatively fast
- It is very easy to set up as well as is very stable and secure
- It is not supported by all platforms
- It does not work on most devices
Benefits of VPN
- VPN is a very stable network
- VPN is a long term investment that will pay off in the long run.
- Security when using VPN is very high so the risk of exposure is reduced.
- Information can be accessed from any location using VPN thus, improving productivity.
- VPN can access websites that have been blocked.
- Privacy of its users online is protected.
- VPN protects all data of its users from hackers.
- VPN can alter your IP address to your liking.
- VPN can improve your Internet performance.
For Internet speed, IKEV2 /IPsec and PPTP are recommended. For optimum security, SSTP, open VPN and L2TP/IPsec are recommended. You should choose the right VPN protocol well equipped to meet your specific needs, so it is very important to understand the various VPN protocols as they have their individual unique qualities.