Last updated on April 5th, 2019 at 12:58 pm
For most people, the specifics of VPN encryption are technology jargon that one would rather avoid. However, that is not always the best outlook because the kind of encryption a VPN uses plays an integral role in determining how secure and effective it is.
The best place to start is by defining VPN encryption. It is the process by which a VPN hides your data in a coded format that is unreadable to anyone else but you and the receiver. As a result, anyone snooping on the data cannot access it.
VPN encryption can be divided into three major categories.
1. The encryption key length
2. The encryption protocols
3. The encryption algorithms
The encryption key length
Key length is the easiest encryption level to understand. It refers to the number of bits (binary digits) found in the key that an encryption technology uses to secure the data. For instance, with 256-bit encryption, the technology uses a 256-bit key to encrypt and decrypt the data.
When talking of keys, visualize the way a literal key opens a door or lock. Similarly, the key in an encryption technology closes and opens the data or files. Therefore, only the people with the key can access the files or data.
Typically, the longer the key, the harder it is to crack because it is complex. There are three encryption key lengths in use today—256-bit, 192-bit, and 128-bit. Though they are all secure, 256-bit is the most secure, followed by 192 and finally 128. Therefore, when choosing an Android VPN, aim for the one that uses 256-bit encryption.
VPNs use five main types of encryption protocols. Note that the level of privacy and security you get from a VPN for Android will depend on the type of protocol used.
IPSec stands for Internet Protocol Security. It is the most common VPN protocol, and VPNs use it to facilitate the safety of data on IP networks including the internet. That means it will secure data between a firewall and a router, a router and another router, a desktop and a router and finally, a desktop and a server.
2. L2TP—layer 2 tunneling protocol
Often, VPNs use L2TP in conjunction with IPSec to enhance privacy and security. As the name suggests, a tunneling protocol is one that provides a secure tunnel for data to travel. For L2TP in particular, it provides security for data traveling via Layer 2.
By itself, L2TP has no confidentiality or encryption. However, when combined with another protocol, it allows the secure movement of data from one network to another.
3. PPTP—point to point tunneling protocol
Another tunneling protocol that VPNs use to secure data moving from one point to another. PPTP creates an encrypted channel and transfers data from it. It is the most used protocol not only with VPNs but also thousands of operating systems and devices.
Security experts consider OpenVPN the most secure VPN protocol. It is an open source software application that provides a secure point to point connection in virtual tunnels. Moreover, it provides varied and complex security protocol functions.
5. SSTP—secure socket tunneling protocol
SSTP is stronger than L2TP/IPSec and PPTP. However, it is a Microsoft proprietary protocol which means it is mostly used in Windows for high-end encryption.
Nevertheless, in a situation where one cannot use OpenVPN due to lack of support, SSTP is a good alternative.
VPN Jargon: Encryption algorithms
VPNs use encryption algorithms in conjunction with the protocols to enhance security and privacy. There are three main types of encryption algorithms in use by VPNs today.
AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. It is a secure algorithm used with symmetric key encryption such as 128, 192 or 256-bit encryption.
RSA can be considered the opposite of AES because it is an algorithm used with asymmetric key encryptions. Asymmetric key encryption is one that use a public key to encrypt and a private key to decrypt—essentially, two different keys for the encryption process.
Good Android VPNs use the RSA algorithm because it is considered among the best and the strongest.
3. SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm)
SHA is equally strong and secure, and most VPNs use it to encrypt and decrypt data that is traveling through a VPN tunnel. Therefore, a good VPN might use both RSA and SHA to facilitate the highest level of security.
The above information is everything you will ever need to learn about VPN jargon and VPN encryption. Understanding the above will give you an upper leg when choosing a VPN for your Android device.
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