Co-Optimus – Community Blog – What are the best VPN protocols?

Let’s face the facts; accessing and using a VPN is incredibly simple. To get started, all you need to do is find and download a vpn client for your pc or the chosen device, before confirming your location and pressing the “Connect” button!

However, virtual private networks are actually based on relatively complex technology, including “protocols” that establish a unique set of rules for how your data is aggregated and distributed.

But what exactly are protocols and what are the best options on the market? Here is a brief breakdown!

Getting started – What is a VPN protocol?

We have already established how VPN protocols establish a unique set of rules for packaging and transferring your data over a private network.

Specifically, the protocols have created “VPN tunnels,” through which encrypted data is routed safely, securely, and as quickly as possible.

This helps underscore the challenge facing VPN protocols, because while less encryption tends to translate to faster connections and delivery, it also translates to less secure web traffic. Conversely, increased encryption improves security while reducing server speed, making it difficult for customers to find the ideal balance.

To negate this, the best and most reputable VPN clients often combine different protocols as part of their offering. Because everyone can prioritize different aspects of the data exchange process, you can enjoy an optimized experience that doesn’t compromise functionality, security, or privacy.

So, when deciding which VPN to download for free on your PC, you should prioritize those that run multiple protocols simultaneously.

OK – But what are the best and most common VPN protocols?

Of course, even when identifying a VPN client that uses a number of protocols, it’s important that you take the time to familiarize yourself with each one and their exact functionality.

So here’s a guide to five of the most common VPN protocols, along with a breakdown of their potential pros and cons.

#1. IKEv2

We’ll start with IKEv2, or Internet Key Exchange version 2. This remains one of the most common VPN protocols among mobile users, thanks to its ability to automatically reset and reconnect after interrupting interaction with it. a remote server.

Therefore, you can seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi connections and mobile data connections when using your smartphone, without compromising productivity or accessibility.

This protocol is also remarkably fast and capable of supporting advanced encryption functions, improve user privacy and data security in the process.

But are there any downsides to this protocol? Well, the creators of IKEv2 (namely Microsoft and Cisco) show a perpetual interest in developing vulnerabilities around the protocol, which may be a bit too easy for experienced hackers to exploit.

As a result, VPN clients are often recommended to combine IKEv2 with the IPSec protocol, creating a more secure connection that is ultimately fit for purpose from the user’s perspective (more on IPSec later). in the room).

Besides the very latest versions of iOS, Mac OS and Windows, you will also notice that using IKEv2 in alternative operating systems can require tedious manual configurations.

Such setups can also create vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit, so keep that in mind when comparing the market.

#2. OpenVPN

Next is the more familiar VPN protocol, commonly known as OpenVPN. This accessible and easy-to-implement protocol is based on the OpenSSL cryptography library, which serves as a comprehensive index of secure cryptography algorithms that then secure your connection tunnels.

OpenVPN also uses TLS with SSL/TLS to create a private key exchange, borrowing further from existing blockchain technology to improve the security of all data sent between two servers over a VPN connection.

Also, OpenVPN works of them standard network protocols to provide users with much greater flexibility depending on their exact usage. These include:

  • User Data Protocol (UDP): Simply put, this network protocol requires minimal data verification, creating a fast connection that can be ideal for hobbies like streaming (or when your security is a slightly less important overall consideration ).

  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): If you’re a seasoned gamer or someone who regularly accesses public networks, you can choose to use OpenVPN’s TCP protocol instead. Although this requires multiple data verifications and significantly slows down the data exchange process, it creates a more secure, stable and reliable connection.

Despite its improved security and flexibility, there are some downsides to using the OpenVPN protocol.

More importantly, this protocol is not built directly into operating system platforms such as Windows or Mac OS, requiring a client program to route traffic through the OpenVPN tunnel and decrypt all data flowing through it. other way.

Additional manual configuration is also required, with this process often complex and filled with a large number of options that can be overwhelming for inexperienced users.

#3. WireGuard

Next up is the most recently released tunneling protocol, which is WireGuard. This contemporary option is best known for its speed and ability to deliver the fastest connection speeds on the market.

Despite this, it does not necessarily compromise your online security or privacy, largely thanks to its use of publicly available cryptographic packages such as Poly1305 and ChaCha20.

The former aids in data authentication, for example, while the latter aids in 256-bit encryption and ensures that your data is indecipherable to potential hackers or cyberthieves.

This protocol was also designed in part to directly address issues arising from OpenVPN and IPSec implementations, which, as we’ve already discussed, can include complex and time-consuming configurations. To that end, Wireguard has minimal lines of code, making it easy to install or patch as needed.

Another benefit of WireGuard is that it provides tools for developers to add their scripts and extensions to, which is part of why it’s been so widely adopted in a relatively short period of time.

Like all VPN protocols, of course, WireGuard has to make compromises in order to deliver its main selling points. One such issue is with the use of crypto like ChaCha20, which at present doesn’t have a lot of hardware or support systems.

Also, the protocol is not focused on deep packet inspection or so-called “obfuscation” (which in this case is making VPN traffic look like normal Internet traffic and masking any references to VPN protocols in data packets).

This can render the protocol ineffective when trying to stream geo-restricted content through platforms like Netflix, which use their own advanced technology to detect and block VPN usage.

#4. L2TP/IPSec

We have already discussed the IPSec protocol in relation to IKEv2, but it is also used in conjunction with the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) to provide strong encryption.

Currently L2TP has no encryption, so deploying IPSec and 256 AES variants helps create a secure tunnel and handle all authentication processes.

Interestingly, L2TP itself is an amalgamation of two different protocols, namely Layer 2 forwarding and point-to-point tunneling.

Due to its composition and the use of IPSec, this VPN protocol is considered highly secure and largely free of vulnerabilities. It’s also widely accessible and easy to configure, making it a popular choice in 2022.

However, the secure process of encapsulating data twice also creates much slower transmission and connection speeds.

Additionally, L2TP actually uses pre-shared keys which can be overtaken by a vendor-neutral websitecreating a scenario where hackers can gain access to your VPN servers and potentially launch malware attacks.

The essential

As we can see, each of these major protocols offers its own advantages and disadvantages, with the best and most reputable VPN clients combining two or more protocols as part of the service they provide.

If you look at market leaders such as Surfshark, for example, you will see that the client uses WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols to create flexibility and optimal use. This guarantees you a choice of protocols when connecting to the VPN server, depending on the precise activity you want to perform online.

This should definitely be a key factor when choosing a viable VPN client, as you will need to take advantage of protocols that will help you get the most out of your experience.

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