The Complete Guide to VPN Encryption

The Complete Guide to VPN Encryption
article by Amber H. author
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are private networks allowing users to mask their location and identity, to remain anonymous online and browse securely. A crucial feature of a VPN is security, and different VPN services using various VPN encryption types to ensure confidentiality and safety.

Intro

VPN encryption is fundamental, as VPN users rely on a VPN provider to guarantee their safety and security online. Top VPN services will ensure that their product meets the very highest VPN encryption standards for this reason.  VPN encryption ensures that the VPN is safe, and no unauthorized party can gain access to the data being transferred between the user’s private network and the VPN’s public network. Due to the nature of VPNs and their relationship to private, protected browsing, encryption and VPN have become synonymous with each other.

How does VPN Encryption Work?

Encryption is essentially a process which encodes all data or information using encryption algorithms. Once the data has been encoded, only an authorized party can access it. The algorithm generates a code which is automatically decoded when an authorized party receives the information, known as ‘plaintext’. If an interceptor tries to read the encrypted data, all they would see is unintelligible content, known as ‘ciphertext’.

VPNs use a variety of encryption techniques to ensure that only the VPN public network and the user can access the data which is being shared. This prevents third-parties such as government agencies and e-commerce companies from tracking the VPN user’s internet activity. It also provides protection from would-be hackers and cyber criminals from intercepting sensitive and confidential information.

Why You Need VPN Encryption

VPN Encryption is essential because it allows VPNs to secure user’s data, information and web traffic, and prevent any unauthorized party from gaining access. The very notion of a VPN is to provide a private and secure network which guarantees anonymity, so without an encryption, the network becomes exposed to cyber criminals, web trackers, and other undesirables. In short, encryption and VPN should go together: encryption implemented by a VPN ensures you remain anonymous online and no one can see your web activities or your real identity.

Encryption Strength

There are a number of different encryption techniques and methods which vary in strength and security.  A common method is VPN end to end encryption (E2EE) which is typically used to secure transfer of information whereby the data only needs to be decrypted at the end of the connection, in this case the VPN server. The downside of VPN end to end encryption is that the information is still vulnerable to hackers if it’s intercepted at the source, i.e. the user’s computer, before it’s encrypted and transferred.

Another method is link encryption, which differs slightly from end to end encryption as it encrypts and decrypts the information at every point along the communication path. The most common forms of link encryption are Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Another, and perhaps the strongest, VPN encryption is known as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This method of encryption uses something called a “symmetric block cipher” to encode the data. There are 3 types of AES encryption, namely AES-128, AES-192, and AES-256. The strongest is AES-256, which uses cryptographic keys of 256-bits to fully encode all information, rendering it invulnerable to hackers and digital thieves.

When searching for a VPN provider you should definitely look for on which uses a VPN 256-bit encryption as this provides the greatest degree of security.

VPN Protocols

VPNs are sometimes referred to as tunnels, and the encryption used to secure the network may be called a VPN tunnel encryption. However, what dictates the security of your connection is the VPN protocol, which is a set of instructions which defines the nature of the encryption between two devices. Different protocols use different encryption and authentication methods which affect the levels of speed and security. Here are some of the common types of VPN protocols:

PPTP

A PPTP VPN encryption works by creating a tunnel which uses a Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP encryption VPN) to encrypt the data being transferred through it. A PPTP VPN encryption is the most widely used VPN protocol due to its simplicity and fast speed.

L2TP/IPSec

L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is another type tunneling protocol which combines with a VPN security protocol known as IPSec to create a highly secure VPN connection. The L2TP creates the connection points and the IPSec encrypts the data being communicated between them.

SSTP

An SSTP protocol works the same way as the above protocols, except it uses an SSL encryption rather than PPTP or IPSec. This type of encryption is extremely secure…but it’s not supported by many VPN services.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is used both as a VPN service and method of secure communication between peers. It uses OpenSSL type encryption to secure and authenticate all data being transferred through its channels. It’s considered to be one of the most secure methods of VPN encryption as it uses a VPN 256 bit encryption.

How Secure is VPN Encryption?

Although VPN encryption is infinitely more secure than a regular public or private network, it’s still penetrable, at least in principle. The higher the level of security, the less chance you have of your data being compromised. This is why it’s crucial to invest in VPN services which use the best VPN encryption algorithms, such as high-end encryption or double encryption VPN.