Encryption and security are fundamental to VPNs. They assure safety of online data so that you can protect against hacking, snooping, stalking and theft online.
In VPNs, data encryption takes place in secure virtual tunnels called VPN protocols, or simply protocols.
Because of challenges in data security and encryption, VPN protocols have evolved at a rapid pace. Depending on the security needs, you can choose from one of the five protocols.
- PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol
- L2TP IPSec or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with Internet Protocol Security
- SSTP or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol
- IKEv2 or Internet Key Exchange Version 2
- SSH or simply The Secure Shell Protocol
From this long basket of protocols, PPTP, SSTP, L2TP and IKEV2 have built-in compatibility for Windows 7 and above. Four of the above-listed protocols have powerful software clients from Microsoft.
These include PPTP, SSTP, L2TP and IKEv2. Because the use of VPN has largely been an essential feature in business settings, Microsoft was quick enough to develop adaptive clients for these protocols.
Beginning from PPTP, security and encryption goes up to IKEv2. However, most VPN users will do good with a mediocre choice due to get the best of security and speed.
The PPTP, being the first and the oldest, has already turned obsolete. Its cryptography is considered broken and we don’t recommend it as a safe mode of encryption.
In other words, serious security vulnerabilities make PPTP an untrustworthy choice for us, and if security is anything you are looking for in your VPN, don’t go for it.
Here is a list of Top 10 PPTP VPN Services
Needless to mention, the PPTP tunneling structure makes use of TCP port 1723, which, since its inception in 1999, has been Microsoft’s favorite tunneling technique for dial-up networking.
It makes used of 128-bit encryption, and it can combine with any authentication scheme that are PPP-compatible.
L2TP was built over PPTP and Cisco’s Layer 2 Forwarding Protocol (L2F). It seldom carries out any encryption method or vouches for data confidentially on its own but is dependent on IPSEC, the encryption protocol to execute such a cause.
Hence, it is rightly named as L2TP/IPSec.
Here is a list of Top 10 L2TP/IPSec VPN Services.
It uses 256-bit encryption, which is the highest level of encryption you can have without compromising your internet speed.
Moreover, L2TP is compatible with most operating systems and devices, including Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.
It consolidates the functionality of the PPTP standard and the Layer 2 Forwarding (L2F) protocol to act as a suitable alternative to PPTP. The IP security protocol gives its functionality, the additional strength.
SSTP or secure socket tunneling protocol was launched along Microsoft Vista. All later versions of Windows accompany upgrades for the SSTP protocol.
In the long decade for which SSTP has existed, it has had its Linux, SEIL and RouterOS versions introduced, and there is some chance that Apple products are getting SSTP versions from the encryption community.
Here is a list of Top 10 SSTP VPN Services
The SSL V3 using SSTP routes traffic via TCP port 443. In addition it also applies resolves for NAT firewall issues so that it can easily bypass almost all of the web’s DNS filters.
SSTP supports Windows devices including tablets and Lumia phones. However, compatibility for iPhone, Xbox, Android or any non-Windows gadget is still a ‘coming soon’.
The SSH tunnel makes use of a program called SOCKS5 Proxy. This program is a backed by a system of secure encryption technologies making it bypass even the toughest of censorship or restriction filters.
More recently, SSH has been upgraded to the SSH2 protocol, which allows the exchange of duly secured and encrypted data from source to destination servers in an improved manner.
SSH usually have bit encryption of 256, which is at par with L2TP and above PPTP. Therefore, SSH protocols are a decent choice for VPN users, especially for tough censorship locations like Iran, Syria and China.
Even though SSH protocol is best applied to Unix-like operating systems, a few VPN providers have developed clients to get it up for Windows as well.
OpenVPN protocol takes similar encryption mechanism as that of SSH, except that can adjust data encryption levels from 160-bit to 256-bit. Due to this feature, OpenVPN is a preferable choice for both encryption and fast downloading.
A wide range of devices and operating systems are supported by OpenVPN. IN particular, OpenVPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android and works fine on PC, mobile, tablet and desktop PCs.
However, OpenVPN can sometimes be difficult to configure, especially when your VPN provider does not have an automated software.
Here is a list of Top 10 OpenVPN Services
OpenVPN, due to its open-source nature, comes with updatable cryptographic algorithms including 3DES, Blowfish, AES, Camellia and CAST-128.
How fast OpenVPN protocol will run with your VPN depends entirely on the mix of algorithms used. Nevertheless, it is faster than L2TP or IPSec.
The most important security feature of OpenVPN is that it encrypts the data with digital certificates, making it extremely safe against hackers and malware.
OpenVPN has proved to be a concrete filter bypassing tool against cyber control. OpenVPN can work even in traditionally high censorship locations, like Iran and China.
And more recently, the newly introduced SSH2 protocol has played an eminent role in allowing the exchange of duly secured and encrypted data from source to destination servers.
The Internet Key Exchange Version, or IKEv2, uses a variety of tunneling protocol to give you the best of encryption and security.
It makes use of Internet Protocol Security Tunnel Mode, Internet Protoco9l Security Key Negotiation, Encapsulating Security Payload, Mobility Manager and Mobility and Multi-Homing Protocol.
IKEv2 is the latest addition in the family of protocols built-in in the Microsoft’s suite. It came along Windows 7.
IKEv2 encrypts data in 256-bit, but it can also support encryption to the tune of 1024-bits.
IKEv2 is compatible with most operating systems, including Windows. However, due to its advanced encryption techniques, this protocol is not recommended for most VPN users.
Four of the VPN protocols – PPTP, SSTP, L2TP and IKEv2 have built-in settings for Windows and so can be said to be recommended by Microsoft.
However, due to increasing incidence of NSA’s eavesdropping on tech companies, most VPN users will find SSH or OpenVPN protocols as safe choices.
Both SSH and OpenVPN serve as flexible options for encryption, with users having the ability to switch the bit-encryption if according to needs of security.
But at the end of the day, it all depends on what security-speed mix you are looking for. Keeping this in view, PPTP would not be a bad option if VPN is something really new to you.
Once you done with what it takes to encrypt your communications, you can go for higher-order protocols.
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