Even though most people have a vague understanding of what is VPN services and how it is used. Virtual private networks were invented to more easily share data privately & securely.
You might be using private networks regularly, which has almost become necessary, especially when connecting to a public network such as public wifi.
Let’s look at how VPN works and how the tunneling process to make it clear for all those users interested in learning how tunneling works.
What is VPN tunneling?
A VPN tunnel is an encrypted internet connection between your device and a server. It is untraceable without a cryptographic key, so neither ISPs nor hackers could gain access to the data.
This protects users from cyberattacks and hides what they are doing online. VPN tunneling is a way of transferring data safely and securely over a public network.
The main purpose of a virtual private network is to offer security by encrypting your internet traffic so that it cannot be intercepted by anyone else.
How does VPN tunneling work?
Generally, VPN tunneling means using a virtual private network. Here is what a VPN tunnel does:
- Traffic encryption: Your data becomes protected from third parties.
- Masking your IP: The VPN tunnel funnels your internet traffic through a server, masking your IP address. Without the IP address, there is no way to tell your location.
- Securing wifi hotspots: You no longer need to worry about your safety when using public wifi.
To make VPN tunneling work, you need to get a virtual private network. Once you connect to the desired VPN server, a tunnel will be established.
Without it, your internet service provider sees everything you do online, but this is not possible after connecting to a VPN server. That’s all because of powerful encryption and hidden IP.
A lot of VPNs claim to have a strict no-logging policy, which means that they do not log and store any private information or internet activity data.
Your best stake is to use a reliable VPN that either has an independently-audited or no-logging policy.
So, let’s look at what will happen when you connect to any virtual private network.
1. Connecting to Your VPN Server
When you open your internet browser and type in the IP address of your VPN server, your PC will try to establish a connection with the VPN server.
Your VPN will first generate a random number called Session ID. Then it will send this Session ID to the server and some other data. Then the VPN server will create a new session based on the received data and assign it a unique identifier.
Then the identifier will remain consistent until you disconnect from the virtual private network. So whenever you need to reconnect to the same server, you have to give the server the same Session ID.
This is why they call it a single sign-on service. Once you have connected to the server successfully, you will not need to enter any credentials again.
You can set up multiple profiles for your servers. For example, you could have one profile for home Wifi and another for office Wifi.
2. Encrypting Data
Once your PC connects to the VPN server, it will start sending encrypted data packets to the server. All the data sent to the server will be encrypted.
To decrypt your data, the server needs to know the secret key. This key is generated randomly when you connect to a VPN server.
The server sends this key back to your device after receiving the encrypted data. Now the device has to decrypt the data using the secret key.
If everything goes perfectly, your device should receive the decoded data from the server.
3. Sending Data Back to You
After getting the decrypted data, your device will need to send the data back to the server.
As mentioned above, the VPN server generates a Session key, and it then sends this Session key to your device and the encrypted data.
Now your device will need to encrypt the data using the Session key. If all goes well, the server will get the encrypted data and will be able to decrypt it using its own Session key.
4. Receive Data From Other Devices
Once your device gets the decrypted data, it will need to send it back to the server. The VPN server will use the Session key to re-encrypt the data.
Once again, the VPN server will send the encrypted data back to your device.
Your device has to decrypt the newly encrypted information using its Session key and send it back to the server, which will decrypt the data and send it to the destination specified by you.
So how does the server know what to do with the data file? When you are connected to the server, the server will track your device’s IP.
Based on that information, it will decide whether or not to decrypt the data.
Types of VPN tunneling protocols
A VPN tunneling protocol is a software that lets safely send and receive data among two networks. Some may excel in speed but lack security and vice versa. IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec are the most popular tunneling protocols.
However, the most advanced WireGuard protocol is implemented in many reputable VPNs. Let’s have a look at the list of tunneling protocols.
- WireGuard: WireGuard is one of the advanced protocols that offers unprecedented security and speed, using top-notch encryption. This open-source protocol is easy to apply and audit due to its lightweight code, consisting of only 4300 lines. This protocol is free from the negative impact of network changes, making it a perfect choice for mobile users.
- OpenVPN: OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol that lets developers access its underlying code. This VPN protocol has grown in popularity due to its 256-bit encryption and a 160-bit hash algorithm.
- IKEv2/IPSec: The protocol combination rivals OpenVPN in terms of popularity, speed and security. IKEv2/ IPSec excels at maintaining your connection whenever you switch from one network to another.
Due to its native support, it is especially popular on iPad and iPhone devices.
- L2TP/IPSec: L2TP/IPSec is a replacement for the PPTP VPN protocol. This VPN protocol does not offer encryption and privacy out-of-the-box and is paired with IPSec security protocol.
Once implemented, L2TP is secure and has no known vulnerabilities.
- SSTP: SSTP is another popular protocol due to its full integration with Microsoft OS since Windows Vista. SSTP uses 2048-bit encryption for authentication.
The biggest disadvantage of SSTP is that it is a Microsoft-developed proprietary protocol, and developers do not have access to the code.
- PPTP: PPTP is the oldest VPN protocol in the market. But as technology improved, PPTP’s basic encryption was easily cracked, compromising its underlying security. However, it lacks the most security features in other modern protocols to deliver the best connection speeds for users who may not need powerful encryption.
But PPTP is still used in specific apps, and most VPN providers have since upgraded to faster, more reliable protocols.
Virtual private networks are helpful tools that help users stay anonymous online, and they also offer better security than a regular internet connection.
TechNinjaPro has explained the whole concept of a VPN tunnel and how it works.