VPN Protocols and Its Introduction in Detail

Virtual Private Network (VPN) technologies make use of tunneling protocols to establish a connection, and encryption protocols to make it private, enabling remote users to gain access to a VPN server on their company network securely, and by this way, to other computers on the corporate LAN. In case of VPNs that are internet-based, the VPN protocols packets get encapsulated in IP (Internet Protocol) packets that basically hide the fundamental switching and routing internet infrastructure both from the senders and receivers. In addition, VPN protocols also support encryption and authentication to secure the tunnels. There are two different types of tunneling supported by VPNs: Compulsory tunneling and Voluntary tunneling. In the case of voluntary tunneling, the connection setup for the VPN will be managed by the client. This will be performed as follows: the client will first establish a connection with a carrier network provider, which will be an Internet Service provider (ISP) for internet-based VPNs. The client application of the VPN will then use this live network connection to establish the tunnel that will reach the VPN server. When it comes to compulsory tunneling, the connection setup will be managed completely by the network provider. When the client tries to establish a connection with the network, the network provider will immediately establish a VPN connection among a VPN server and the client. VPN Tunneling Protocols Many VPN tunneling protocols are being used to provide users with security when they use the internet. Hence, most of you would probably be confused or wondering about which VPN technology to rely on for your online security, privacy and anonymity needs. Currently, there are four types of VPN protocols that are being used, and each of these types carries their own benefits and downfalls. These VPN protocols are:

  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
  • Layer-2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
  • IP Security (IPSec)
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

For an internet user to perform any sort of brief transaction on a website, SSL protocol will be usually used. However, if you wish to perform indefinite and secure transactions online, then you should probably make use of PPTP, L2TP, and IPSec, as they create secure tunnels for you to perform your transactions. All of these VPN protocols give prominence to encryption and authentication: encryption technique hides the user’s sensitive or valuable data from third parties and authentication technique enables VPN servers and clients to accurately identify people using the network. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol The point-to-point tunneling protocol was originally developed by Microsoft in association with various other companies, like ECI Telematics, Ascend, 3COM, and US Robotics, and due to this fact, PPTP happens to be the most supported of all VPN protocols, with Windows, and is the only protocol that is designed to work on Windows operating systems NT and 9x. This protocol type is known to support both 128 and 40 bit encryptions. It is also an expansion of the standard internet-based Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), a data link protocol which is generally used to attain a direct link among two different nodes. The most commonly used type of PPTP VPN is the internet remote access VPN that is based on PPTP protocol. Following is the two step process through which VPN tunnels are established:

  1. PPP dial-up connection, usually Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) or conventional modem, will be used by the PPTP client to obtain a connection with their ISP.
  2. A Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection will be created by the PPTP protocol among the VPN servers to create a tunnel by way of the network device.

VPN connection through LAN is also supported by PPTP. Since there will be no need to create ISP connections in this case, VPN tunnels can be established directly, as mentioned in step 2. An important fact to note is that PPTP protocol just creates the VPN tunnel but does not encrypt the network. However, it can be used along with the MPPE (Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption) protocol to make your VPN connection secure. Layer-2 Tunneling Protocol This protocol was developed together by IETF, Microsoft and Cisco, and is an integration of PPTP’s and Cisco’s very own Layer 2 Forwarding (L2F) protocol’s features. Unlike the PPTP VPN Protocol, L2TP can be used even on non-IP networks like frame relay, ATM, etc. Digital certificates have to be used in the case of L2TP VPN protocols. In addition to allowing for user encryption through the same PPP technique implemented in PPTP, L2TP also enables computer authentication, which provides an additional layer of security. The benefits of L2TP over PPTP protocol are many: while you can obtain data confidentiality by using PPTP, with L2TP you can also obtain data integrity, which typically means that your data will remain protected from being modified as it is transferred from a sender to a receiver; reply protection, which prevents a third party from capturing the data that is transferred, and then replaying the same to deceit the server; and verification of origin, confirming that the data has been sent by the original user. In addition, only a single tunnel per user will be supported by PPTP, while L2TP has the capacity to support multiple tunnels simultaneously for every single user. However, a single downfall with the L2TP protocol is that, offering such additional security features involves overhead, which slows down its performance slightly when compared to PPTP. Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) IPSec protocol was designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and is basically a set of encryption and authentication protocols used to provide security for networks based on IP. This protocol can be used in two ways: either as an encryption program with PPTP or L2TP, or as a comprehensive VPN protocol mechanism. IPSec VPN protocol is bound to evolve into the veritable VPN solution, specifically for site-to-site, otherwise known as gateway-to-gateway, VPNs connecting two different LANs. When in tunnel mode, IPSec protocol secures those packets that are transferred either among a gateway and a client or among two gateways. This protocol can be used only on applications and networks that are based on IP, thus enabling the most advanced level of communications by way of an online platform that allows organizations to share voice, data, and other details to their employees or business group present in a different region, the way they would otherwise share on their private and confidential communication network. IPSec VPN protocol will be very much helpful for modernized businesses today that usually require prompt exchange of information all through the day without much cost. Similar to the previous VPN protocols, IPSec also requires you to install client software on your computer. Windows 2000, XP and 2003 operating systems support IPSec protocol. The IKE (Internet Key Exchange) protocol with a pre-shared key or a digital certificate (considered to be the most secure technique) is used to perform authentication. Also, IPSec VPN protocol helps you in being protected from some of the most widely recognized attacks, such as man-in-the-middle attacks, replay, and DOS (denial of service). If you are in an IP environment, then IPSec VPN protocol will be the best VPN solution for you, as it has in place extremely strong security methods, such as key management, authentication, and encryption, as standards. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is one of the VPN protocols that have been gaining much popularity recently. The prime benefit of this protocol type is that you do not have to install any type of client software on your computer in order to use this VPN solution, as it makes use of a web browser. This is why these VPNs are generally referred to as clientless. With SSL VPNs, remote employees or business groups can easily gain access to their company’s resources without being confined to possess devices that are installed with certain VPN client software, which is usually the case with other VPN protocols. You can simply access your corporate resources with the help of any device you possess, such as a tablet, laptop, or personal computer, by just logging in with your username and password. But make sure that you have a proper internet connection and do not reveal your credentials to others.

Best VPN Services

If you are looking for the best VPN service providers that can offer you the best of all VPN protocols, then the following list can be of help:

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