Is Vpn Safe To Use – VPN software establishes an encrypted virtual tunnel between your device and a remote VPN server. It establishes a secure connection between you and the public internet, hides your IP address, anonymizes your location, and protects your web activity from outside monitoring.
In this guide, we explain how VPN software can hide your public IP address and encrypt your Internet connection.
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If you’re more interested in what you can do with a VPN, read our guide on what a VPN can do.
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Following the above process, a VPN allows you to block your IP address from the websites you visit
Additionally, VPN software allows you to hide your online activities from ISPs, WiFi administrators, governments, or anyone else monitoring your connection.
A “VPN tunnel” is a common way of describing what happens when a VPN connection is established. In simple terms, it’s the encrypted communication between your device and the VPN server
This communication is called tunneling because your original traffic is encrypted and the unencrypted traffic is layered.
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It’s like taking an envelope with a letter inside and then putting another envelope with a new address inside your real information becomes completely hidden from the outside world – as if it were inside a tunnel
Learn more about tunneling protocols in the VPN encryption section below or in our specific VPN protocol guides.
When you browse the web without a VPN, your connection goes directly from your device to the server hosting the website or service you want.
In order to send you relevant content, this web server needs to know your IP address
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Your IP address is your passport to the Internet. It’s a unique identifier that tells other computers where to send information if they want to contact you.
Your IP address has a lot of personal information associated with it that reveals your geographic location and can be used to create an overall picture of your online activity.
When you browse the web with VPN turned on, your connection is always to the remote VPN server hosting the website or service you want, and then to the web server.
When a web server sends you information, it sends it to the VPN server and then sends it back to you. This means that the websites you visit never communicate with your real IP address
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The websites you visit will only see connection requests from the VPN server and they send the information to that VPN server
In short: VPN acts as an intermediary between your device and the Internet When you browse the Internet using a VPN, the websites you visit see the IP address of the VPN server you are connecting to, not your original public IP address.
Pro tip: Good VPN services have servers in many places You can trick websites into thinking you are in a different country by connecting to a VPN server there These people use VPNs to unblock “hidden” content on streaming services like Netflix .
Encryption is the process of converting ordinary plain text data into a cipher that only knows how to decrypt it.
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VPNs use encryption to hide details of your browsing activity as it travels between your device and the VPN server.
Using a VPN prevents ISPs, governments, WiFi administrators, hackers, and any third parties from monitoring your connection.
In the remainder of this section, we’ll focus on the various components and processes that make up VPN encryption, starting with encrypting passwords.
Example: A very simple password can be encrypted using the rule “swap each letter of the message with the previous letter in the alphabet”. so,
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Ciphers are usually tied to a specific key length Generally speaking, the longer the key length, the more secure the encryption For example, AES-256 is considered more secure than AES-128
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is one of the most secure ciphers available. It is the gold standard of online encryption protocols and is widely used in the VPN industry.
AES was established in 2001 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is sometimes referred to as the Riesendel algorithm. It is designed to handle larger files than other ciphers such as Blowfish because it increases the block size.
AES typically offers 128-bit and 256-bit key lengths. Although AES-128 is considered secure, we know that groups like the NSA have been trying to break the encryption standard. Therefore, AES-256 is preferred as it may provide greater security
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When you read about “military-grade” or “bank-grade” encryption on a VPN service’s website, it’s usually referring to the use of AES-256. The US government uses AES-256 encryption to protect its sensitive data, which is exactly what we looked for when testing and reviewing VPNs.
Blowfish is a cipher designed by American cryptographer Bruce Schneier in 1993. This is the default cipher used in most VPN connections, but has now been superseded by AES-256.
You’ll usually see blowfish using a 128-bit key length, although it can range from 32-bit to 448-bit.
Blowfish has some weaknesses The vulnerability in the cryptographic attack is called a “birthday attack” For this reason, Blowfish can only be used as a fallback to AES-256
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Published in 2008 by Daniel Bernstein, ChaCha20 is a fairly new VPN encryption cipher. Nonetheless, it is becoming more popular as it is the only cipher for the emerging Wireguard protocol.
Like AES, ChaCha20 uses a 256-bit key length, which is considered very secure. Reports also indicate that ChaCha20 is three times faster than AES
ChaCha20 currently has no known vulnerabilities, and it offers a welcome alternative to AES as the encryption technology promises to meet the challenges of quantum computing in the near future.
Camellia is a cipher that is similar to AES in terms of security and speed, and is considered impossible to crack by brute force attacks using current technology, even with the short key length option (128 bits). There are no known successful attacks that can effectively weaken the Camellia cipher
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The main difference between Camellia and AES is that it is not certified by NIST, the US organization that created AIST
Using a cipher not related to the US government, rarely used in Camelia VPN software, or not as thoroughly tested as AES, there is certainly debate.
In short: VPNs should use AES-256 ciphers to encrypt your data. ChaCha20 and Camellia are secure options, but your VPN should at least give you an AES option
VPN protocols are the rules and procedures your device follows to establish a secure connection to a VPN server
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In other words, the VPN protocol determines how the VPN tunnel is formed when the encryption cipher is used to encrypt the data flowing through that tunnel.
VPNs will have different speeds, features and vulnerabilities depending on the protocol used Most services will let you choose which protocol to use in the app settings
There are many VPN protocols available, but they are not safe to use. Here is a quick overview of the most common:
Read our complete VPN protocol guide to learn more about the different types of VPN protocols and find out which one is the best.
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In addition to protocols and ciphers, VPNs use a process called handshake and hash authentication to further secure and authenticate your connection.
A handshake is when the initial connection between two computers is a greeting in which both parties authenticate each other and establish communication rules
During the VPN handshake, the VPN client (that is, your device) establishes an initial connection with the VPN server
This connection is used to securely share an encryption key between the client and server. This key is used to encrypt and decrypt data on both ends of the VPN tunnel for the entire browsing session.
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VPN handshakes tend to use the RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) algorithm. RSA has been a cornerstone of Internet security for the past two decades
While there is still no hard evidence that RSA-1024 can be cracked, it is generally considered a security risk given the processing power available today.
RSA-2048 is a more secure option and has relatively low computational latency Therefore, most VPN services avoid RSA-1024
Although the handshake process works well and creates a secure encryption, each session can be decrypted using the private key used in the RSA handshake. In this sense, it is like a “master key”
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If the master key is compromised, it can be used to decrypt every past or present secure session on that VPN server. An attacker can break into the VPN server and gain access to all data flowing through the VPN tunnel
Perfect Forward Secrecy is a protocol feature that uses Diffie-Hellman (DH) or Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key exchange algorithms.
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