An Overview of VPN Connection Encryption Protocols
A business nowadays is difficult to imagine without a virtual private network. This was already happening before the worldwide catastrophe brought on by the coronavirus began. The technology was already in use before the epidemic, for example, to safely connect distant branch offices. Which encryption standards are relevant in this case?
The idea of a virtual private network (VPN) was invented around 25 years ago to safeguard sensitive data sent over open networks like the internet. A VPN of this type encrypts all data before transmission and does not decode it until it has reached its destination. This “tunnel” shields it from adversaries who would otherwise be able to easily eavesdrop or tamper with data while it is being transmitted.
For encrypting communication through a VPN, several protocols have been developed over time. Some have had a lot of success establishing themselves in businesses, including IKE and its improved version IKEv2. Others, like PPTP, have lost prominence once security weaknesses were discovered in them. There has been continued progress in the creation of new encryption protocols. For instance, WireGuard is exploring an intriguing idea, but it is not yet prepared for implementation in businesses.
basic principles of network protocols
A network protocol controls how information is sent between various machines. The most popular ones are TCP/IP and UDP. Transport Control Protocol (TCP) or User Datagram Protocol (UDP) monitor data transmission, whereas Internet Protocol (IP) assures that a data packet really reaches its destination. These protocols have gained widespread acceptance, however they do have a number of security drawbacks, including:
Unencrypted data transmission is used
Both the sender and the destination cannot be verified, and each node the packet goes through can read and modify the information.
It is impossible to tell if data is transferred error-free or whether the receiver has actually received it.
Last but not least, IP spoofing makes it simple to fake the sender’s address.
Thus, these are known as plain text protocols. They provide an attacker the ability to view sensitive information like passwords or other secret data, or even make covert modifications. Therefore, encryption techniques were created to safeguard data while it was being transmitted. In-depth examinations of each are provided in the sections that follow.
The six principal VPN encryption techniques
VPN protocol types may be separated into two groups. One protocol is utilized in Category One for both data protection and tunneling through the tunnel. A distinct strategy is used by Category Two, which combines two protocols for both data security and transit.
One of the first VPN protocols was PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol). Microsoft and 3Com created it at first in the 1990s for dial-up networks. However, PPTP is currently virtually ever utilized because the protocol has several security flaws that have been discovered. A well-known security researcher named Bruce Schneier presented a study in 1998 that exposed various security holes.
2) L2TP/IPSec Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP) is typically used in conjunction with IPSec since it lacks the ability to provide encryption or authentication on its own. In this configuration, L2TP is regarded as being extremely secure. Data can be exchanged securely via public networks, for example, using the IPSec suite of protocols, which consists of several individual protocols rather than a single protocol. L2TP lacks the encryption and authentication that IPSec offers.
Free software called OpenVPN may be used to create VPN connections. It commonly connects to TLS or OpenSSL to encrypt the transferred data. Despite having several tested security features, OpenVPN is only utilized by a tiny percentage of businesses. However, the procedure is rather common in the private sector.
Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol, sometimes known as SSTP, is a protocol that was created by Microsoft and made its debut with Windows Vista. Its close integration with the Windows environment, however, is both a benefit and a problem. While it works nearly solely with Windows PCs and servers, on the one hand, its incorporation within Windows makes it reasonably simple to use.
5) Using IPSec and IKE or IKEv2
Particularly popular in businesses is the Internet Key Exchange encryption protocol, which is offered in versions 1 and 2. IKE and IPSec complement each other extremely well since IKE is built on IPSec. It is almost exclusively used in conjunction with IPSec, like L2TP. In addition to IPSec, HCD Consulting chooses IKE or IKEv2. They have complete support from Juniper Networks, Cisco, and Cisco Meraki VPN-compatible products.
IKE has the benefit of automatically reestablishing broken connections. As it also applies to the changeover from the WiFi to the mobile network, this makes it easier to manage endpoints linked to the central hub through VPN, for instance. Additionally, the protocol is simple to set up on the client side and is thought to be quicker than L2TP, SSTP, and even PPTP.
The server end of IKE Version 1 requires a fair amount of configuration. Even with minor configuration variations between the client and server, a connection cannot be made. This is a persistent problem with goods from many merchants as well. In these circumstances, IKEv2 is more forgiving. IKEv2 is not backwards compatible with IKEv1, it is crucial to remember this. In particular, Version 2 has made it easier, more adaptable, and less error-prone to set up new VPNs.
WireGuard is free software created under an open source license, much as OpenVPN. It is still going through a quick development cycle, though. Every day, new versions are released. The extremely compact codebase of WireGuard is one of the main advantages. Compared to OpenVPN, for example, this makes it considerably simpler to detect security-related flaws. WireGuard allows for a handover across different networks, just like IKEv2. This makes the protocol appealing for deployment when used in conjunction with mobile endpoints, as does its high level of energy economy.
To activate a VPN tunnel with WireGuard, customers formerly needed admin access on their machine. However, there are valid reasons why end-user administrative powers are not offered in the majority of businesses. It wasn’t until the end of 2020 that an update was published that this issue was fixed. On an endpoint without extended privileges, a VPN connection can now be established.
Users of VPNs have a wide variety of encryption techniques to choose from. While PPTP is no longer widely used in businesses, SSTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN are likewise only used in particular settings. Due to its popularity and high level of security, the usage of IKE or IKEv2 in conjunction with IPSec is a wise decision. Although the recently released program, WireGuard, has an intriguing concept, most businesses have not yet used it. We are pleased to answer any queries you may have about VPNs.