IKEv2/IPsec VPN Protocol: All You Need to Know (and setup guide)

What is the IKEv2/IPsec Protocol? All You Need to Know

A VPN protocol is a series of code instructions useful for setting up a secure and encrypted connection between the user’s device and a VPN server. While there are many protocols available, choosing the right tunneling protocol is vital as security and safety on the web depend heavily on it. The protection a VPN can offer a user often depends on the kind of tunneling protocol being used.

This article will discuss the IKEv2/IPsec tunneling protocol, how it works, its features, and its pros and cons.

What is the IKEv2/IPSec Protocol, and How Does it Work?

The IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2) is a standard RFC 7296 tunneling protocol. It was the brainchild of a joint project by Microsoft and Cisco. The first version, which was named IKE (Internet Key Exchange), was released in 1998.  An upgrade to the first version was released in 2005. That is what we know today as the IKEv2. Many critics favor the IKEv2 because of its speed, safety, stability, quick reconnection, and low CPU usage. It is an excellent option for mobile phone users, particularly iOS devices.

The IKEv2 is built around the IPSec, a set of protocols used to secure Internet protocol. It is secure and invisible to third parties.

The IKEv2 functions at maximum levels when paired with this system. This pairing is known as the IKEv2/IPSec tunneling protocol.

Below is a breakdown of how the IKEv2 works. Remember, we are considering how it works when paired up with the IPSec.

The primary function of the IKEv2 is to create a secure tunnel between the user’s device and the VPN server. The tunnel is the path through which data travels from the user’s device to the VPN server and vice versa. The first step in this process is authentication. Here, the protocol authenticates the user’s device and the server and then agrees on what encryption method to use for both.

Benefits of the IKEv2/IPSec Protocol

  • Strong Security
    The protocol offers very robust security. It is compatible with a lot of encryptions, including the AES 256-bit. It also supports other encryption ciphers. This makes its arsenal robust and reliable when it comes to security.
  • Great speed
    It’s the norm for protocols with more massive security to work at lengthened speeds. It’s not so with the IKEv2/IPSec. Despite its robust security features, it offers excellent speed. It doesn’t lag or slow down the user. With this protocol, you can encrypt all your data and still perform high-end tasks like streaming, gaming, and torrenting.
  • Compatibility
    The protocol is compatible with mobile devices. While it’s configurable on other OS, it is the choicest protocol to use on a mobile device. Little wonder iOS favors it as its default protocol.
  • Easy Accessibility
    The IKEv2 is pretty easy to set up and use. The instructions it provides are clear and sufficient enough to get the job done. Once a user visits Settings and follows the instructions, they are highly unlikely to get the whole process wrong.

Disadvantages of the IKEv2/IPSec Protocol

  • Closed source
    The protocol is closed source. While there are open source copies of the protocol made by other companies, the IKEv2 protocol created by Microsoft Office and Cisco remains closed source.
  • Can be blocked
    Because the IKEv2 only uses the UDP port 500, it can be blocked by a firewall.
  • Security issues
    There are a few security issues that have been detected concerning the protocol. First is the possibility of being hacked if the password is weak. This is a fault on the user’s side and can easily be fixed. The second is the NSA exploitation of the ISAKMP. According to a leaked NSA presentation, the NSA has successfully decrypted the IPSec traffic by exploiting the IKE and the ISAKMP. While the details are muddy, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Differences Between IKEv2 & IPSec Protocol

The IkEv2 and IPSec protocols work best when they are combined. The IPSec authentication suites utilize the IkEv2 as one of its protocols. It is also chosen for its security prowess, and its operations are not visible to third parties. The IkEv2, on the other hand, offers stability, quick data flow, and connection hopping.


The IKEv2/IPSec tunneling Protocol is very secure and fast. The combination of the two different protocols creates a hybrid that is fast, stable, and secure. It’s easy to set up and use. It offers the user a world of great features and possibilities.