- IPsec / L2TP, Layer Two Tunneling Protocol: These two protocols together ensure a secure connection. IPsec takes care of the encryption, L2TP creates the tunnel between the client (i.e. the user) and the server. IPsec always uses UDP port 500, which in practice means that it is easy for network administrators, for example, to block this connection. In practice, this means that if you log in to a public WiFi network where port 500 is closed, you cannot use this VPN protocol.
- PPTP, Point to Point Tunneling Protocol: This protocol is used less and less often, as it turned out to contain more and more security holes over time. The problem is that PPTP only sets up the tunnel between server and client, but hardly encrypts the data. We therefore do not recommend this protocol.
- OpenVPN: This is an open source solution. Open-source means that the source code of the software is freely (and free) available, and therefore many people contribute to improve it. Open VPN, like Open SSL, uses certificates. This ensures that the server and the client know how the data is encrypted and how to decrypt it again. OpenVPN is one of the safest solutions for a VPN connection.
- Softether: This relatively new protocol is open source, just like OpenVPN. So, it has the same benefits (free, and many people are working on improving it) but it hasn’t been around for very long. That does not mean that it is unsafe, just that it simply does not have such a long track record as OpenVPN, for example.
- WireGuard: The latest protocol, faster and with higher performance than its predecessors. Not all experts were convinced that the security problems of this protocol would be solved, but VPN provider NordVPN has now adopted this protocol. NordLynx is the name NordVPN gave to this protocol, which WireGuard is the basis of.
A VPN establishes a separate, encrypted connection between your device and the internet page or service you want to use. This means that others cannot see your sent and received data. It is also not possible for anyone to trace where you are. It’s as if a private tunnel that only you use, is being built every time you use it. To do this, your device first connects to the server of the VPN service, which then functions as a gateway. This server ensures that your connection cannot be traced, and hides your IP address (your “telephone number” on the internet). An additional advantage is that the server can also adjust the country code of the IP address as desired, so that it appears to the server as if your requests come from another country. This way you can also bypass geo-blockades. Because if the American Netflix server thinks that your request comes from America, you get access to all content that is only available to Americans. VPN Protocols There are various protocols to establish a VPN connection. A protocol means: a number of technical agreements about how the devices communicate. Compare it with file formats: you need the right program to open a particular file. For an MP3 music file, you need a program that can play MP3. Different protocols have different advantages and disadvantages. Some emphasize encryption, while others are merely an agreement on how the connection is established. The most common are: