The world has become heavily reliant on Internet connectivity to get through most activities in the day. This ubiquitous connectivity has also opened doors for hackers to thrive by stealing sensitive information from others on the internet. If you are done mucking around in public networks, constantly risking your online activities, you should try using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Public networks are a cesspool of any unlawful activities that anyone wants to get into online. However, when dealing with sensitive information, you need a more secured network.
VPNs are often used by companies that need to share sensitive data through company private servers and working remotely. Using Wi-Fi hotspots makes it easier for hackers to access the information that could be crucial to your business operations. Using the Virtual Private Networks, users can access private information securely and even remotely share data to public networks. VPNs are technically Wide Area Networks (WAN) since they maintain the same front-end functionality, security and appearance as the WAN. However, VPNS act like firewalls that protect your computer while browsing online.
We will discuss the basics of each type of encryption here plus give you our best VPN service recommendation that use each type of encryption. But see our more in-depth look at Encryption protocols article here.
Encryption refers to how data is coded so only computers that have the right decoders are able to access it and use it. Security encryption is often used to protect files on computers or emails using and encryption key. This key tells the computer the correct computations to encrypt or decrypt the data. There are two main types of encryption that are quite common. Symmetric Key Encryption allows the computers to share the same key for encrypting or decrypting a message. Public key encryption on the other hand allows each computer to have a public-private key pair. This allows one computer to encrypt the message while the other computer with a corresponding public key to decrypt it.
Security Encryption Methods in VPNs
The industry standard for Private Internet Access is the OpenVPN, which provides a secure VPN tunnel. OpenVPN has various options for security encryption that you can choose for your VPN sessions. You can even choose a reasonable default and stick with it. The different security protocols that have developed as VPNs include various security features such as:
IP Security (IPSec)
IP security used to secure internet communication can operate in one of two modes; a transport mode that only encrypts the data packet message (Encapsulated Security Payload) and a tunnel mode that encrypts the whole data packet (Authentication Header). The IP security protocol is often used with other protocols that increase the combined level of security in VPNs. The IPSec mainly secures traffic in IP networks. The encryption of data can occur between desktops and servers, routers, firewalls and routers or desktops and routers. In the Encapsulated Security Payload, the data being transported is encrypted with a symmetric key. The authentication header uses a hashing operation to hide packet information until it gets to its destination. ESP and AH often work together in VPNs that use IPSec.
Recommended Provider for IPSEC:
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) & IPSEC
This is a combination of two different components working together creating an extremely secure VPN client. L2TP and IPSec can combine their best features to ensure a completely safe private network. L2PT is not capable of encryption, but it generates a tunnel while IPSec handles the data encryption, data integrity and channel security. The IPSec ensures all the data packet arrives without the channel being compromised. It performs all the data checks while the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol holds up the tunnel.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS)
This level of security encryption is often used by online retailers and service providers where a lot of private and financial information is shared. SSL and TLS operate using a handshake method. When you use a URL starting with https instead of http, you initiate a HTTP-based SSL connection. The handshake occurs at the beginning of the SSL session as it produced cryptographic parameters for the session. These digital certificates allow the SSL and TLS to exchange encryption keys, authenticating the session and creating the secure connection.
Point-to-Point-Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
This is one of the oldest VPN protocols that have been around since the 90s. PPTP is the veteran of security encryption on private networks. It can be installed on such a wide variety of operating systems. PPTP is a lot like L2TP. It does not do security encryption but tunnels and encapsulated data packets being exchanged between various devices. PPTP also requires a secondary protocol to handle the data encryption for better security. PPTP security has seemingly been overrun by newer methods; however, there is a good reason why PPTP has stuck it out for all those years. It might not be the most secure but it is a strong one.
Secure Shell (SSH)
SSH is a rather independent protocol compared to the kind of features that the others have to offer. SSH creates the VPN tunnel and the encryption to protect it. While using this security protocol, you can transfer information by routing the traffic from remote file servers through an encrypted channel. SSH does not encrypt the data itself but the channel that it goes through. The SSH connections are initiated by the SSH client. This results in data transfer from a local port to the remote server and the data is transferred through this specific ports between the two ends of the tunnel.
We have looked at the majority of VPN encryptions and the protocols they use. There are new and better technologies coming up to use in networks. These often serve to improve the features that already exist in VPNs. Most VPN security protocols have not changed much over the years because VPN already does such a great job in keeping businesses connected securely. Unless there is a very impressive innovation that will come up and take over, VPN-specific technologies such as Tunneling with probably remain for the next couple of years, with a few improvements here and there to handle new security threats.