A COMPLETE GUIDE TO VPN PROTOCOL
The internet is almost a necessary part of life. More people use their phones more to go online than to make calls; more people use their computers to browse the web than use it for anything else. The amount of information, entertainment, answers, opportunities and much more provided with just a click of a few buttons makes the internet a top necessity for anyone. Also, the fact that it can be accessed from almost anywhere using any enabled device makes it very available and valuable to everyone. However, just like all great inventions, it has several flaws.
One of the biggest threats to users online is how vulnerable the internet can make them to parties who can take advantage of them. Hackers, the government and advertisers can take advantage of your connections and either send unwanted information or cause much more debilitating damage to your devices and more. A VPN attempts to solve all this by making connections safe and secure by making them more private.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is simply a service which makes an internet connection more secure, creates anonymity for the user and enables him/her to bypass censored websites and content. It does this by issuing the user a temporary IP address that supplants the real IP address. As such, the real IP is hidden from all websites it’s connected to. Even if these websites are region-restricted, VPNs can be used to bypass many restrictions.
What is a Protocol?
In computer language, a protocol is set of rules necessary to program computers to enable them to communicate with each other. These rules or protocols are used to transmit data between hardware devices. There are many of such protocols in existence. For instance, VOIP which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.
Types of VPN Protocols
- PPTP: As one of the most commonly used protocols, it has enjoyed usage by corporations and private users alike. One of its main selling points is how user-friendly its set-up and maintenance is, and no third-party software is needed to run it. PPTP is not very fast, but the speed it offers is decent enough.
Corporations mostly use it to keep their financial information secure or to enable employees based in other offices around the world to connect to the corporation’s network and gain access to documents or data. Its biggest flaw is how it has been tagged as “obsolete,” making it more vulnerable to hacking. More effective and modern protocols are in use today.
- Ease of maintenance and set-up.
- Decent speed.
- Has the necessary features and power to unblock geo-restricted websites.
- Because it is obsolete, it can be compromised without much difficulty.
- It can be blocked.
- It is barely secure
- L2TP/IPsec: L2TP is another protocol that is not secure, which is why pairing it with another protocol (IPsec) became necessary. This provides some manner of encryption, because even though IPsec is regarded as being safe, history has proven it can still be hacked. Edward Snowden leaked to the world that security agencies like NASA are well and truly capable of hacking IPsec data. So the biggest advantage of this protocol is the added security it provides from the pairing of two protocols.
- Ese of set-up
- Comes pre-installed on many operating systems e.g. Apple iOS.
- Security agencies can compromise and access data it protects.
- Infective and inefficient.
- IKEv2: This protocol is a development over the earlier ones. It is unique to Microsoft Windows, meaning other operating systems do not support it. It as fast, stable and secure, and is one of the few protocols which balances these three things. Another notable feature of this protocol is how it can seamlessly transit between connections without breaking them. It can switch from Wi-Fi to mobile network and back to Wi-Fi with ease.
- Great speed; faster than many other protocols
- Strong connection maintenance even when switching from one network to another.
- Very stable and secure.
- Difficult set-up.
- Has little VPN provider support.
- Has little support and compatibility with other operating systems.
- OpenVPN: This is another patronized and widely used VPN. Users have labeled it as secure, stable and flexible, thus making it quite difficult to block. One advantage it has is this: Since it is open source, the open source community can address any vulnerability in the protocol the moment they are discovered. Installation of third-party software is necessary for this protocol as it has no built-in support for any operating system.
- It is mostly fast, only being slowed down by stronger encryption.
- Difficulty in blocking it.
- Highly flexible
- Third-party software is needed.
- Difficulty in set-up
- Can be rendered insecure unless properly set-up.
- SSTP: This was intended to be a replacement for PPTP. This protocol functions in situations where almost all VPN connections would be blocked. For example, nations like Belize where VPN software and use are forbidden. It is regarded as the most secure of all VPN protocols. Its biggest disadvantage is the fact it supports the Windows platform only.
- Difficult to block.
- Excellent compatibility with Windows.
- Doesn’t support other operating systems
- Doesn’t support many protocols.
How to Choose a VPN Protocol?
It ultimately depends on the user:
- PPTP for speed and less security.
- IKEv2 for mobile security.
- L2TP for security above other options.
- OpenVPN for a balance between speed, security and stability.
Benefits of Using a VPN
- Online anonymity
- Cost-effective than other software.
- Ability to bypass restriction on websites
- More fluid and secure web browsing sessions
In the end, the price and availability of VPNs make purchasing them a very smart choice. For a small amount of money, you are ensured of a hassle-free browsing session anytime you log online. Some VPNs have been known to even stop malware. There are different types of them, and the variety makes it possible for each user to choose one that best suits his needs.