What Is A VPN Protocol And Which One Should You Use?

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VPN protocols define how data is running between the VPN server and your computer or smartphone. Each VPN protocols has its own specification that provides advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) in a wide variety of circumstances depending on your goals. For example, some VPN protocols focus on download speed, while other protocols prioritize security and privacy. There are also protocols designed for stable connections.

Each modern VPN provider offers subscribers the ability to select between several VPN security protocols depending on each subscriber’s goals balancing the degree of privacy and download speed required in each particular situation.

Each protocol encrypts data in its own way. Each of them transfers data from one place to another also in its own way. Technical characteristics affect the security level and the speed of your connection.

Do you want to know which VPN protocol you need? Here is a brief overview of the available options.

PPTP

The first VPN protocol used to transfer digital information from one point to another is called PPTP. It is the most commonly used type of VPN protocol these days. PPTP allows you to transfer data from a computer or mobile device (and vice versa) through a VPN tunnel. Connected devices are automatically authenticated with a password, which creates additional convenience for the user because no additional hardware required. By itself, a PPTP connection does not provide data encryption or any additional security measures and can be easily blocked by an ISP. The main advantage of using PPTP is that this simple protocol provides stable performance and high speed and is convenient for installation and operation.

L2TP / IPsec

VPN Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) over Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) works the same way as PPTP but additionally ensures the privacy and integrity of your data, thanks to a multi-level authentication process. Like PPTP, L2TP over IPSEC can be configured easily on any Windows, Apple, or Android device. Due to the advanced security features contained in it, performance and Internet speed while using L2TP over IPSec may be slightly slower, but it only happens when transferring a large amount of information.

OpenVPN

As the name suggests, OpenVPN is an open source VPN protocol that uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to create an encrypted Internet connection with device authentication. Installing the OpenVPN protocol sometimes seems difficult for not so tech-savvy users, but most VN providers do their best to easily handle this difficulty. In general, the OpenVPN protocol offers one of the best combinations of performance and security and can be used to easily bypass firewalls and ISP restrictions.

HybridVPN

The most innovative VPN service providers offer HybridVPN to its customers. HybridVPN combines the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection to create an encrypted Internet connection with device authentication and the SmartDNS proxy server. The SmartDNS proxy allows the user to get free access to streaming services intended for other countries, for example, American Netflix or Hulu. As a result, users get the security, reliability, and privacy of a virtual private network, with all the benefits of SmartDNS. Connecting using HybridVPN guarantees the user high speed and reliability while watching streaming services or sending big files.

How to switch from one protocol to another?

Most VPN software allows users to quickly and easily switch from one protocol to another, it only takes a few minutes. The user interface allows doing it by clicking the appropriate button. Do you need to use an online bank or send a business email? Select OpenVPN or L2TP over IPSEC.  Do you want to watch the last episode of your favorite foreign TV show? Go and witch to HybridVPN.

VPN connection types

In this article, I also want to tell you about several most commonly used types of VPN connections. These are:

  • User-to-site connection
  • Remote access to the corporate network
  • Site-to-site connection

The user-to-site connection is one that is known and used by most home\private users. A VPN client is installed on each individual device. When users turn on the VPN, the client connects to the desired server. Each VPN provider decided on the specific default VPN rotocol, but again users may switch between protocols.

Remote access allows employees to connect to the corporate network via the Internet securely irrespective of access point type, be it a hotel Wi-Fi hotspot or anything else. This connection is very useful and often used when employees do not work in the office. To build this connection, a special tunnel is established between the VPN client on the user machine and the VPN server located on the company network. The server authenticates the device and provides access to the network. To build a protected connection, IPsec or SSL are often used. L2TP and PPTP protocols are also sometimes used.

Site-to-site VPN is used to unite different local networks. User device here works without a VPN client, the VPN server does all the work. This type of VPN connection is needed when there is a need to combine several remote offices into one single private network. And also when the organization has a business partner and wants to establish a network connection with it. This allows two or more different companies to work together in a secure environment. IPsec is often used to build site-to-site connections.

Finally, I would like to say that there are some other ways to use a virtual private network. They are:

  • Building a connection between servers in a data center.
  • Establishing a connection to the IaaS service provider.
  • Putting the VPN gateway server in the cloud.
David Balaban
david-balabanDavid Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 10 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs the www.Privacy-PC.com project which presents expert opinions on the contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy and white hat hacking. As part of his work at Privacy-PC, Mr. Balaban has interviewed such security celebrities as Dave Kennedy, Jay Jacobs and Robert David Steele to get firsthand perspectives on hot InfoSec issues. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.

David Balaban Web Site
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