While reading content after content, you must be wondering, OK I know what a VPN is, but what is a VPN tunnel!? Is this just another VPN? Why should I even be concerned? Is it a necessity? And some similar sorts of questions might come in your mind. This article will describe VPN tunnel, why you want it, and how can you set it up.
What Is A VPN Tunnel?
A “tunnel” is a passageway connecting two end points. For example, a tunnel that goes under mountains as a passageway for trains to pass through, nobody can see in the dark what is inside the train, only the people inside the train knows. The same analogy applies to a VPN tunnel.
The two end points are a computer (client) and a VPN server (host). The passageway is the tunnel, the mountain is the internet, and the train is your data packets. But, there is more to it.
In technical terms, consider a branch (client) and main office (host) scenario. The branch has a regular internet to connect to one of the main office’s servers. However, the data is sensitive and the branch is concerned about its privacy and encryption so that no one can see the sensitive information. This is where a VPN tunnel comes into practice.
Why You Need A VPN Tunnel?
There are many reasons that you might need a VPN tunnel. Some people might need it to encrypt their TCP/IP connection in an application-to-server scenario. Application based on client/server protocol, need to access database server for data transfer. Using a VPN tunnel not only makes it easier for end users to connect, but also to encrypt communications.
Other people, might need it to encrypt all of their internet traffic. A VPN tunnel can be setup easily using a VPN service, to encrypt the internet data.
Types of VPN Tunneling
There are mainly two types of VPN tunneling.
Voluntary VPN Tunneling
Compulsory VPN Tunneling
Voluntary VPN Tunneling
VPN client (a software application) manages the connection setup. The client first has to make a connection with network provider (an ISP in the case of Internet VPN) in order to make a live connection with a VPN server. Usually, voluntary VPN tunnel is used in normal situations.
Compulsory VPN Tunneling
In Compulsory VPN Tunneling, the network provider acts as an intermediary between the client and the VPN server. What that mean is that the network provider handles the VPN connection. The client makes an ordinary connection with the network provider, and the network provider, in turn, connects to a VPN server and acts as an intermediary between data transfers.
Compulsory VPN tunneling authorizes, monitors, and associate them with a particular VPN server using its logical mechanism built into its broker device. These broker devices are sometimes referred to as Network Access Server (NAS), VPN Front End Processor (FEP) or Point of Presence Server (POS).
The network hides the details of VPN server from the client and has full control over the tunnel.
What Are VPN Tunnel Protocols?
The encryption on VPN tunnel is achieved by using encryption protocols. Most common protocols are listed here.
Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
It is a weak encrypting protocol and widely used before latest protocol were introduced. It allowed low encryption key power at first, about 40-bit. But, later it increased up to sophisticated 128-bit encryption. Since has low encrypting power and takes a little time for encryption, therefore, it is considered as the fastest protocol if encryption is not your concern. It is also considered good for streaming videos and online gaming. However, the encrypted data can be intercepted and exposed.
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
It is not an encrypting protocol, but a tunneling protocol. It is used in VPN in conjunction with another encrypting protocol IPsec to offer encryption feature. IPsec, developed by Cisco, usually encrypts your data with 256-bit encryption. L2TP offers more security as compared to PPTP. It is the best choice if you want a balance of speed and privacy on your internet connection.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
It is a VPN which is accessible via HTTPS over internet web-browsers. Its advantage is that it does not require any client installation because it uses the web browser as a client application. However, it will restrict you to encrypt internet traffic that is passing through that web-browser and left all other internet traffic that is sent by other applications exposed.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
SSTP is a tunneling protocol which uses HTTPs over TCP port. It is an innovation of Microsoft and is used only by its platforms. It can bypass firewall restrictions that L2TP and PPTP unable to do so. It offers more security than L2TP and PPTP.
Internet Key Exchange – IKEv2
(IKE or IKEv2) – The Internet Key Exchange – is a new and advanced technology which adapts to changing network connections such as Wi-Fi and 3G/LTE. It detects the IP address change when users are on the move and disconnects all the internet traffic and re-establishes a VPN connection with changes. However, the drawback is that it is not supported by many VPN services yet.
OpenVPN is an open-source protocol that keeps on updating by experts. It’s a very stable and private protocol. It includes SSL security protocol that is used for online purchases, banking activities and transferring of sensitive data. It is the most secure VPN protocol that is used nowadays, if speed is not your concern then choose this VPN for complete encryption.
If you are still want to know more about technicalities of VPN tunnel protocol you can visit Microsoft Tunnel Protocol explanation page.
What’s Your Choice?
If you just want to unblock websites, without the concern of security or privacy then you can choose PPTP.
On the other hand, if you want VPN for extra layer of security and privacy rather than speed, then choose L2TP or SSTP for protection against hackers, snoopers, and government agencies. While, it gives you strong encryption features but it might not stream at full speed.
If you want cutting edge technology with security and privacy features, then choose IKEv2. Although, it is not supported by many VPN services yet.
If you want everything speed, stability, and protection all at once, then choose OpenVPN.
How To Setup A VPN Tunnel?
Setting up a VPN tunnel on client application is extremely simple.
Make your purchase, and follow their instruction and install the client application.
Select a VPN protocol and select a preferred server location.
Click Connect, and you are invisible online in instant.
Peter Kendrick is a writer with emphasis on security and other interests. Contributing Author at Most Secure VPN. He is passionate about latest security issues, technology, traveling and blogging. You can reach Peter Kendrick on Twitter @peterkendrickk