The world of VPNs is not quite as simple as one might think. On the most basic level, they all promise the same set of advantages and each one says that they can keep your information private and your online presence anonymous. The ways in which the different approaches attempt to achieve their goals are anything but equal, however, and it is important to know the differences so that you can choose the right tool for your needs.
VPNs boil down to methods, approaches and protocols used to route traffic into and out of specific servers. Three of the most popular protocols are L2TP/IPSec, IPSec IKEv2, and OpenVPN. Each of these is configured differently and are good for different tasks, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to know which one your favourite VPN service employs to keep your information safe from prying eyes.
This type of connection is very commonly used by VPN providers; however, it has more vulnerabilities than either of the other two that we will cover.
L2TP is used to create virtual private networks but it has no ability to encrypt any of the data that runs through it. IPSec comes in to create encrypted packages of data before it is sent which should be fine in theory, but many providers misuse the protocol by reusing public IP addresses. Anyone with knowledge of those addresses would be able to find a vulnerability so this is not considered to be the best when it comes to security.
If you are using your VPN service for sensitive data, it would be advisable to consider using a VPN provider that uses either an IPSec IKEv2 or an OpenVPN protocol.
This protocol is the previous one, all grown up. There are no vulnerabilities that are known with this setup and all traffic that runs through it is encrypted with very strong, 256-bit keys that have been proven nearly impossible to decrypt.
This style of connecting to a VPN server also provides the fastest and easiest way to get set up. There is hardly ever any software to install making this a good option for those who want the best security, fast speeds and the least amount of bloat on their systems.
OpenVPN is quickly becoming the gold standard in VPN protocols. Despite having to install software for the configuration files to work properly, OpenVPN is very secure, fast, and can be used on virtually every operating system. Security-wise, OpenVPN and IPSec IKEv2 are on equal terms. The biggest difference is that OpenVPN is the fastest option available and the most reliable.
When deciding on which VPN service to use, your choices should really boil down to IPSec IKEv2 and OpenVPN as they are both fast and fully encrypted. If you don’t mind having your VPN software popping up every time you turn on your machine, OpenVPN is the fasted option and the one that gets our recommendation. There is certainly nothing wrong with IPSec IKEv2 either, though.