VPN Encryption: How Does It Work? What Types Are There?

Using a VPN helps in staying private and anonymous when using the internet. Whether you’re using a work, home, or public network, your activities will remain private. By using a VPN, you also reduce your risk of cyberattacks. Since your data is not traceable, cybercriminals will be unable to hack your device. 

A virtual private network (VPN) uses different types of encryptions to protect your privacy and hide your IP address. With these encryptions, your online activities become invisible and untraceable.

There are different kinds of VPN encryptions that make this possible. Some provide a higher level of privacy than others. Read on to learn about how VPN works and the kinds of encryptions you should look out for when choosing a VPN. 

How VPNs Work 

A VPN provides users with a private connection to the internet, thereby keeping their data safe and secure. Using a VPN is highly recommended to prevent cybercrime, keep you anonymous, and help you access geo-restricted content

It works by sending the internet connection on your device through an encrypted private server. Your data passes through the VPN server and not your regular server. This process also changes your old IP address with a new one, thereby throwing off anyone who may be on your trail.

The private server creates an encrypted tunnel that hides your data, keeping your connection only between you and the VPN provider. Through this encrypted tunnel, your location changes to a different country of your choice. With a different country showing as your current location, you can access geo-blocked content in that country, and maintain your anonymity.

Through a VPN, you can comfortably make payment or business transactions on your secured websites, with the assurance that no other person can access your data.  

Although these features vary between VPN service providers, it is clear that VPNs are there to protect you when using the internet. 

Different VPN service providers use different kinds of encryption. These encryption models come with variations of anonymity and security.

Types of Encryption

There are two main categories of VPN encryption: Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption. These categories of encryptions have different models. 

1. Symmetric Encryption 

Symmetric encryption is the oldest and arguably, strongest encryption. It uses both the public and private identical keys and has a fast algorithm. Its cipher was first used in Roman times, which allows the transformation of data by an algorithm. A cipher is an algorithm used for performing encryption and decryption processes. 

Symmetric encryption has the same mapping to encrypt and decrypt coded messages, hence the name. This means that it uses the same key for both the encryption and the decryption processes. The cipher used is called the “Shared keys” or “shared secret”. 

The symmetric ciphers are not always direct. Some of them use complicated algorithm systems that group texts into grids. One popular strategy is the block cipher encryption key. Its grid content turns into key blocks that are shifted and scrambled in different forms based on the encryption system. 

Symmetric Encryption ciphers are used in AES and Blowfish models. They are known as one of the strongest encryption models a VPN can have.

AES 

AES is an acronym for Advanced Encryption System. It is considered one of the strongest encryption models for VPNs all over the world. The AES encryption model is popularly used by premium VPN service providers like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and ProtonVPN.

The AES encryption uses an approved 128-bit, 192-bit, or 256-bit symmetric encryption algorithm for its data encryption and decryption. It is arguably the best encryption model in keeping one anonymous and private when using the internet. AES has a NIST certification and is seen as secure since the US government uses it. 

Blowfish 

Blowfish uses a 128-bit key symmetric encryption algorithm for encrypting and decrypting data. It is a relatively safe alternative to AES. Blowfish became an alternative because people feared that the government could access their data with AES encryption since they use it. 

Although this myth is untrue, it has made people switch to Blowfish. However, Blowfish is not as reliable as AES. 

2. Asymmetric Encryption 

Asymmetric encryption is also known as public-key cryptography. It uses a mathematical pair of private and public keys in its encryption and decryption process. The private key is kept by the owner while the public key is shared among other recipients.

When data is encrypted with the recipient’s private key, it has to be decrypted with the corresponding public key. If data is encrypted with a public key then it has to be decrypted with a corresponding private key. RSA is a common example of Asymmetric encryption. 

RSA

RSA is an acronym for Rivest, Shamir, Adleman- the surnames of the creator of the algorithm. It was created in 1977 and was widely used in secure data transmission. Most VPN service providers no longer use this model. However, few VPN service providers incorporate it. 

Types of VPN Protocols

VPN protocols are the set of instructions a VPN service uses to establish a secure connection for its users. Most VPN service providers use transmission protocols and encryption standards to ensure a secure connection. Here are some commonly used VPN protocols: 

PPTP 

PPTP is an acronym for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. It is a standard protocol used in securing connections to a VPN. PPTP allows users to access a good network from a remote location. 

L2TP/IPSec

It is not possible to use L2TP to encrypt data unless it is used alongside IPSec. When paired together, it provides a secure connection. 

IPSec

IPSec is an acronym for Internet Protocol Security. It is also a secure network protocol. It encrypts the data packets sent through an IP network and has great security features. To enable a stronger connection, IPSec is used alongside L2TP and IKEv2.

IKEv2

It is a stable and fast protocol, especially when used with AES encryption. It is a little difficult to incorporate into a VPN server. It may cause security problems when inexperienced VPN providers don’t incorporate it correctly. When done right, it is safe, reliable, and secured. 

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is one of the best protocols for VPN services. It offers a highly stable and secure connection and uses open source. It supports different encryption models including, AES and blowfish. 

SSTP

SSTP is an acronym for Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol. It uses SSL v3 and thus provides a secure connection, just like OpenVPN. 

VPN Encryption Protocols: Pros & Cons 

Here are the major pros and cons of the different VPN protocols:

PPTP

Pros

– It is easy to set up. 

– It is very fast. 

Cons

-Firewalls often block it.

– It is not as secure as other protocols. 

OpenVPN

Pros

– It is highly configurable and can bypass firewalls. 

– It is also very secure and uses Open-source. 

Cons

-It needs third-party software when setting it up. 

L2TP/IPSec

Pros

– It is secure and supported on almost every platform.

– It is easy to set up.

– Allows multithreading.

Cons

– It is slower than OpenVPN.

IKEV2

Pros

– One of the fastest VPN protocols.

– It is stable.

– Easy to set up. 

Cons

– It is not supported on numerous platforms. 

– Firewalls can block the protocol. 

SSTP

Pros

It bypasses firewalls. 

– It is easy to use.

– Supported in a wide range of platforms.

Cons

– Only works well on Windows.

Top VPNs With Strong Encryptions

Here are two VPNs with great encryption that we recommend.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN devices

Features

  • Number of servers: More than 3,000
  • Speeds: Unlimited
  • Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 5
  • 24 live chat: Yes
  • 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Pros/Cons

  • Fastest VPN out there
  • Strict no logs policy
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Few discounts
Visit ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN service providers. It has AES 256-bit encryption that keeps the network highly secure and safe. With 3000 servers spread across 94 countries, ExpressVPN helps protect your identity and keeps you private at all times. 

Its strong encryption helps you drastically reduce the risk of cyber threats on your device. Your data will be encrypted, and your location changed to the countries available. 

Furthermore, Express VPN has key security features to keep you secured at all times. It has two leak testers, a malware protector, and a kill switch. Its kill-switch helps in preventing data leaks whenever your connection to the VPN fails. 

In addition to its strong encryption, Express VPN uses OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols to establish a more secure connection. The VPN service provider also has a strict no-log policy. This policy prevents the company from saving your data or sharing it with anyone. With this policy, you can be assured that your data is highly secured. 

An extra benefit to using ExpressVPN is its split-tunneling feature that allows you to use a VPN on selected apps and leave others to your local ISP. The VPN service provider also grants you access to geo-restricted sites and contents. It bypasses VPN blocks on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites and gives you access to your desired content. 

Furthermore, ExpressVPN is affordable and allows you to connect up to five (5) devices at the same time. The software is compatible with nearly all devices and will keep you essentially safe and secure.

  • Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption;
  • Lowest price: $6.67

NordVPN

NordVPN devices

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: 5342 in 58 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Lots of pricing options
  • Netflix support kept up to date
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Slow app
Visit NordVPN

NordVPN is also an excellent VPN service provider. It uses 256-bit AES encryption and has the necessary security features in preventing cyberattacks and keeping you private when using the internet. 

NordVPN has over 5,000 servers spread in different locations across 60 countries in the world. The VPN is safe and has key security features, including DNS protection, kill-switch, and CyberSec. Its CyberSec features help block malware, and the kill-switch feature keeps you safe even when your connection fails. 

The VPN service provider uses the OpenVPN protocol as well as IKEv2/IPsec to enhance your connection and make it more safe and secure. Furthermore, it has the split-tunneling feature. A feature that lets you leave some of your preferred apps and sites to your local ISP and connects the others to a VPN. This feature will allow you to access your local websites while keeping you connected to a VPN on other preferred websites. 

NordVPN gives you access to geo-restricted content on streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and others. It also bypasses VPN blocks on websites and keeps your data anonymous. 

Additionally, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy that prevents the company from using or saving your data. The VPN service provider also has an excellent customer service team, to solve all your VPN-related problems. 

The software allows up to six (6) simultaneous connections through a single subscription and is compatible with nearly all devices.

  • Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption;
  • Lowest price: $3.71

Conclusion 

A VPN is essential in keeping your online activities and data safe when using the internet. It prevents cyberattacks and makes you untraceable. VPN service providers utilize either the Symmetric or Asymmetric type of encryption to give a strong and secure connection. AES encryption is one of the best encryption models, and it is present in some of the best VPNs including ExpressVPN and NordVPN.