Choose the right VPN for you by understanding VPN protocols

Understanding the best VPN for you or for your business may feel daunting because there are so many VPNs available with so many different setups. When choosing the right one, you may not be aware of the different security protocols used by the myriad VPNs. We’re here to help! Below is an explanation of protocols you can find with their varying levels of security and features.

OpenVPN: OpenVPN is open source and built on a custom security protocol using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). It can create secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections. It uses digital certificates to authenticate data. This is the protocol used by PrivateTunnelSpeed: Fast. Security: Highest.

Internet Protocol Security or IPSec: IPSec encrypts data sent between IP networks, such as your home or business network. It secures the data in two ways: it encrypts the data within the packet; and it encrypts the entire data packet. Because it encapsulates the data twice, this means excellent security, but a slow connection speed. Speed: Slower. Security: Highest.

Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP): SSTP uses a TCP connection, which utilizes SSL on top of the established connection for validation. It was developed by Microsoft, which means it has become a common protocol, but others would argue against its use because they cannot audit it to guarantee any “back door” access. Speed: Good. Security: High

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP): On its own, L2TP has very little security, but it is typically combined with another protocol (like IPSec) to create a very secure connection. It creates a tunnel between two L2TP connection points but does not encrypt the data between the points, thus, why it would be combined with IPSec. Speed: Slower. Security: Low (until combined with another such as IPSec).

Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP): is a speedy protocol, has many known security issues, and is very popular on Windows computers (it was developed, in part, by Microsoft). The user launches a PPTP client, which connects to their internet provider and creates a TCP control connection between the client and server using GRE. Speed: Fast. Security: Basic.

Now that you have a high-level understanding of many of the protocol options for VPN, you can use that to match it to your needs. When you’ve made the decision to find the best VPN, you’re clearly looking to protect your valuable privacy. If you choose a provider that doesn’t place the same value on privacy that you do, you’re not going to improve your security.

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