Virtual Private Network technology is heavily influenced by tunneling, which is the process of creating and maintaining logical network connection or ‘tunnels’ with the help of public internet. Such a connection transmits data packets between client and server of the VPN and de-encapsulates them after they reach the receiver side.
However, before the transfer takes place, the packet is constructed in a VPN protocol and encapsulated in some other carrier protocol. Some of the most important tunneling protocols that are thus used to perform such transfer are mentioned below.
Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is one of the most commonly used tunneling protocols for VPN, thanks to its easy maintenance and simple configuration. It is an extension of the standard Point-to-Point protocol that was used for data transfer between two remote locations over the internet.
It was developed with the collaborative efforts of Microsoft and several other corporations and this is the reason why all the windows platforms consist of built-in support for this particular protocol. The earlier versions of PPTP were considered to be less secure; however, the current versions have removed such flaws with the help of EAP authentication. The protocol is also duly supported by a wide list of firewalls with Cisco PIX, ISA Server and Sonic wall to name a few.
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) came into existence with the joint efforts of Cisco and Microsoft. It includes the combined features of PPTP and Layer 2 Forwarding (L2F) protocol developed by Cisco. Similar to PPTP, L2TP also lies at the data link layer, which is the second layer of the OSI model and hence the name.
Alongside providing data confidentiality as in PPTP, L2TP also allows data integrity that is the protection of data against its customization between the time it takes to reach from sender to receiver. Origin authenticity and replay protection are among its other advantageous features. It requires a digital certificate or a shared key for its implementation and is available as built-in feature in Windows.
The IPSecurity (IPSec) protocol can either be used as a tunneling protocol itself or can work in sync with the L2TP to provide security during the L2TP data packets transfer. It is often considered to be the standard VPN solution for gateway-to-gateway VPNs connecting two networks and operates at the 3rd Layer of the OSI model, i.e. Security layer.
The protocol is specifically designed for IP traffic and can be quite time-consuming and costly. Most of the Windows versions including windows 2000, 2003, and XP support IPSec protocol.
Secured Socket Layer (SSL) holds this substantial edge over the other protocols that it does not require a VPN client software but a web browser (or http) to connect to the VPN client. It is for this reason that the VPN operating via SSL protocols are termed as “clientless”. As the name suggests, this protocol operates at a layer one level higher than the IPSec, i.e., the Session layer, and needs cryptographic keys or digital certificates for authentication. These are used at both the client as well as server’s end.
SSTP is Windows based SSL Protocol developed by Microsoft. Whereas, if a user requires SSL for Mac and other operating systems, they go for OpenVPN, another SSL based VPN protocol perfect for Mac and Linux. OpenVPN also works perfectly fine on Windows, but it is highly advised to use SSTP on Windows to have a better SSL Performance.
Some of the VPN client vendors have come up with the VPNs that are developed with the integration of different features of IPSec and SSL protocols, respectively along with several other protocols. These are known as Hybrid VPN protocols and are created to connect with varied VPN clients. Such types of protocols are more secure and flexible at both the client and server end. However, owing to their hybrid feature, they are expensive.
Another interesting protocol being offered is Double VPN, it is not a protocol in itself, rather it is an extension to what a single protocol has to offer. Double VPN, as the name suggest, provides you with double anonymity, that is almost impossible to break.
Double VPN, gives users two different IP addresses, that is the IP address at the time of input is different from the IP address at the time of output, contrary to same IP address at the time of input and output with normal VPN Connections.
Best VPN Protocol
We would say the Best VPN protocol for a VPN user would SSL based SSTP or OpenVPN, as they run HTTPS port, hence giving users maximum security, with better speeds and stability. In addition, the best aspect of SSL Based Protocols is that they are impossible to block. Blocking SSL would mean you are blocking the entire traffic that flows on HTTPS port, which means authorities will end up blocking all HTTPS websites and applications.
PPTP, L2TP and IPSec protocols are best for your Mobile devices, whereas, if you intend to use VPN on your Desktops and Laptops, SSL based VPN are preferred. Similarly, in highly internet censored countries like China, Iran and UAE, SSL VPN Services are best to go with.
Top 10 VPN Services and Protocols
To ease the buying process for our customers please find below the list of our Official Top 10 VPN Services and the protocols they offer.
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You can also see here the all time Top 10 VPN Providers list.
Wish you a Happy and Private Internet Life !!
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