A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that creates a secure, private connection over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more. Depending on the features and protocols they offer, there are several types of VPN. This is exactly what we’re going to explore so that you know what factors to take into account when deciding on your online protection.
There are a lot of different types of VPNs depending on the underlying criteria for classification. What follows are the most popular general ones.
With this type of VPN, the user connects to a private network. To use it, they need to install software on their device, followed by the configuration of their operating system. Given this complexity, this VPN variety is recommended for connecting to a company network, for instance, or any private network from a remote location or home.
Personal VPN services where people connect to the internet through a third-party server are best for when you need to protect your data and go around geo-restrictions. These VPN examples come up most often in articles and reviews of top VPNs for streaming, gaming, etc. For this type of VPN, users still need to install some software on their devices.
This type of network offers the ability to have a consistent connection to a private network if you have an unstable internet connection. As is the case with remote access VPNs, you would still need to install software and possibly configure settings on your operation system.
With this type of VPN, a network connects to another network and there is no need to install software on your device to make that happen. This is used when there is a need for two or more networks to be combined into a single one.
Apart from the type of connection, types of VPN can be based on encryption. Let’s see the most common ones.
This public-key encryption algorithm is used to secure connections between clients and servers. It has been the foundation of internet security for about two decades.
This is a cryptographic hash function used to authenticate data and SSL/TLS connections. In this process, a unique fingerprint is created to validate the TLS certificate — that is, to check you’re connecting to the server you’re supposed to be. The output of SHA is known as a “digest”, and it is typically expressed as a hexadecimal number. The digest length for SHA-1, the most common variant of SHA, is 160 bits.
The security of SHA comes from the fact that it is very difficult to produce the same digest for two different inputs (known as a “collision”), and even more difficult to find two different inputs that produce the same digest. This makes SHA a very effective way of authenticating data.
Protocols are another essential criterion for differentiating VPN types. Their function is to form the VPN tunnel that hides your activity.
Internet Protocol Security is used to secure Internet communication across an IP network. IPSec employs a number of security mechanisms, including session verification and data packet encryption, to ensure that data is not intercepted or tampered with during transmission.
The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is often used in conjunction with another VPN security protocol, such as IPSec. With these two types of VPN connections, L2TP creates a tunnel between two L2TP connection points, while the IPSec protocol encrypts the data and maintains secure communication between the tunnel. L2TP is often used to establish a highly secure VPN connection. When used in combination with IPSec, L2TP provides a high degree of security by encrypting the data and ensuring that it is not tampered with in transit. In addition, L2TP can be used to create a VPN over the public internet.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol uses a point-to-point connection, or tunnel, to encrypt data packets and route them through a public network. PPTP is one of the most widely used VPN protocols and has been in use since the early release of Microsoft Windows.
PPTP is also used on Apple Macintosh and Linux-based computers, in addition to Windows, meaning, it’s usually found in the best VPN providers for Linux. PPTP is typically used for telecommuting and online gaming. When combined with IPSec, PPTP can be used to create a secure, encrypted connection between two computers.
Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security are VPN types protocols that generate a connection where the web browser acts as the client. User access is prohibited to specific applications instead of the entire network. Online shopping websites commonly use SSL and TLS protocols. It is easy to switch to SSL by web browsers and with almost no action required from the user since web browsers come integrated with SSL and TLS. SSL VPN protocol types have “HTTPS” in the initial part of the URL instead of “HTTP”.
OpenVPN is one of the most popular VPN protocol types used today. It’s open-source software that is commonly used for creating point-to-point or site-to-site connections. OpenVPN uses a traditional security protocol based on SSL and TLS. The main advantage of OpenVPN is that it’s highly configurable and supports a wide range of encryption methods. Another benefit of OpenVPN is that it’s relatively easy to set up and use.
WireGuard is a new VPN protocol that promises better performance and speeds than its older counterparts, which is why it’s becoming a fixture in the top VPN services as well. One of its main advantages is its simplified setup process, which is much easier for users looking to manually configure their VPN connection. In addition, the sleek codebase makes it much easier for researchers to find and solve potential bugs. WireGuard also uses more modern ciphers than traditional VPN connection types, which helps to improve security and privacy. However, one downside of WireGuard is that it is not yet compatible with all devices and operating systems.
Now that you know the different types of VPNs, you will be more confident if you need to make a choice. Whether you need a business VPN for secure remote access or to protect your company’s data, or military-grade encryption so you can be sure your information is always safe there is one that will suit you. Whichever you decide on out of the many types of VPN, make sure to do your research and read the reviews. With the right VPN in place, you can rest assured that your privacy and security are protected online, no matter what.