VPN encryption – You might have heard this term a couple of times but have you ever thought about its actual meaning or function. Isn’t that the reason why you are reading this blog, trying to learn more about the term encryption and its role in virtual private networks?
Basically, encryption is a process that strengthens the security of your data as well as its privacy. In today’s era, encryption has become more critical than it ever was. In fact, you need encryption to protect your data against the increasing hacking attempts being made every 39 seconds.
Moreover, you need to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands as seen in some of largest cyberattacks that resulted in the data breach of over 140 million users.
So, are you now more curious to find about VPN encryption? Read on…
First of all, it is important to clarify here that VPN and encryption are two separate things, in that the former is a tool while the latter is a process that the tool employs.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a tool that uses different encryption algorithms and deploys different protocols to ensure the secrecy and privacy of users’ data against any type of cyber threats including hacking, snooping and spying to name a few.
Apart from data privacy and security, z VPN is also used for accessing online content restricted or censored in certain regions. The VPN services use anonymous IPs of other countries to help users mask their actual location and thus access the blocked content pretty easily.
What is VPN Encryption and How Does VPN Encryption Work?
Now that we know about VPN, let’s learn about how VPN encryption actually works.
Basically, VPN encryption is a method through which all the data that transmits through a VPN tunnel is converted into indecipherable format. When a user connects to a VPN, the data request is sent from the user’s computer to the VPN server in an encrypted format.
After reaching the VPN server, the data requests are decrypted through a key-exchange or any other encryption algorithm (depending on the type of protocol being used.) As soon as the decryption is completed, the user is able to browse his desired website, download, stream, or do any other thing they want to do.
Throughout the whole encryption and decryption process carried out by the VPN client and server, all the users’ sensitive details such as credit card details, login credentials, etc., remain completely encrypted or secured.
Most Used Encryption Algorithms
As said earlier, a VPN uses different types of encryption algorithms to ensure the security and integrity of the data. Currently, there are three types of algorithms that are widely used as a standard by most VPN service providers. Let’s check out the three commonly used VPN encryption algorithms.
RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman) is an encryption algorithm developed in 1978 and named after the initials of the three cryptographers who created it. The RSA algorithm uses the asymmetric encryption system in which the encryption and decryption is carried out using public key at the encryption level and a private key at the decryption level. Unlike the asymmetric encryption, the symmetric encryption requires the same cryptographic key for the encryption and decryption process.
The RSA encryption algorithm is usually used by the OpenVPN protocol along with the SSTP VPN protocol, along with some other protocols. Apart from that the RSA-1024 uses the key length of 1024-bits, whereas the RSA-2048 has the key length of 2048-bits.
It is imperative for you to know that although the RSA-1024 sounds good for encryption, security, and privacy, it is a well-established that the RSA-1024 algorithm is less secure since it can be easily cracked by intelligence agencies.
Designed by Cisco, the Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) is a data authentication algorithm considered highly secure and reliable, except for the SHA-1. The algorithm uses a distinct pattern of a valid TLS certificate to authenticate requests. The validation is carried out by any OpenVPN client, and it is so efficient that it can detect even a slight alteration in the certificate.
AES is perhaps the most commonly and widely used encryption algorithm in the VPN industry, implemented by almost every major VPN service. Certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) uses both the 128-bit as well as 256-bit block sizes. Although some experts suggest that the 128-bit AES encryption is more secure than the 256-bit, the universal agreement is that the 256-bit is still the most secure form of encryption.
The Common Types of VPN Encryption Protocols
Encryption is not all just public/private keys or authentication messages. In fact, encryption also involves protocols. In the VPN industry, you will commonly find the 4 common VPN protocols namely PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2 and OpenVPN. Let’s take a quick look at these common protocols.
Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is one of the most widely used protocols in the VPN industry. The protocol uses 40-bit to 128-bit AES encryption and it is supported by almost every major device and Operating System. It is an ideal VPN protocol when it comes to a good-level of security and optimal speed.
The Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is a proprietary protocol owned by Microsoft and is thus available for Windows only. Although it offers a high-end encryption security, but due to its highest encryption, it is not ideal when the user is looking for more speed than security.
The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is usually used with Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) to ensure the highest level of security. The L2TP/IPSec VPN protocol is slower than the PPTP protocol because it validates the request twice for data integrity.
Some users wrongly assume that the IKEv2 is an evolved version of its predecessor protocol, the IKEv1. On the contrary, the IKEv2 is completely unlike its predecessor. In terms of security as well as speed, it is the ideal protocol.
The OpenVPN protocol was developed on open-source technology that needs third-party tools to create a secure VPN tunnel. By far, it is the most commonly used and reliable VPN protocol because of its strong encryption and excellent speed. The protocol although works best on UDP port but it can also be used on TCP and other ports.
How Secure is PureVPN Encryption?
PureVPN uses the universally accepted AES 256-bit encryption to ensure the security as well as data integrity of its users. It is the same encryption technology that is not only used by other VPN services in the industry but also the US military and the US government.
Moreover, PureVPN supports all the major VPN protocols, allowing users to set the protocol as per their liking or needs and enjoy the best VPN experience.
- Cybint Solutions
“12 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats”, by Cybint Solutions, on March 16, 2018.
- Equifax Security 2017
“2017 Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information”, by Equifax Security 2017.
- Crypto Stackexchange
“Should I use RSA encryption since RSA is said to be broken by NSA”, by Yehuda Lindell, on January 2016.