Comparison Between Different VPN Protocols

Although VPNs are used for many different reasons but usually they are used to access geo-restricted websites and to maintain online privacy and anonymity. There are many different VPN protocols that are used globally. Some of the most popular ones are PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, SSTP and SoftEther. As you can anticipate, each one of them has different architecture, characteristics and pros and cons. Let’s compare these VPN protocols based on their key characteristics.

Encryption

There is direct connection between the encryption, performance and required processing power. PPTP is generally not considered safe because it used 128 bit encryption. L2TP/IPSec uses 256 bit encryption which provides necessary security without compromising the overall performance drastically. SoftEther also uses 256 bit encryption and it is faster than L2TP/IPSec. OpenVPN uses 160 and 256 bit encryption powered by OpenSSL while SSTP uses 2048 bit encryption powered by TLS.

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Performance

When it comes to performance, PPTP has no match as it is the least secured VPN protocol with very light encryption. Usually this is used for unblocking geo-restricted contents and streaming. L2TP/IPSec and SoftEther are fast too and they also have powerful encryption. SSTP is slower than PPTP but it is still better than OpenVPN which is the slowest VPN protocol used mainly because of its security.

Stability

SSTP and SoftEther can penetrate through firewalls and this is mainly because of SoftEther site to site connection. OpenVPN is considered a preferable choice on unreliable networks while L2TP/IPSec works fine on NAT devices. However, PPTP is not considered reliable on advance devices and unreliable networks.

Ease of Configuration

SSTP comes with Microsoft operating system and it is configurable by personnel with experience of Windows based platforms. PPTP is one of the easiest VPN protocols to configure on all supported devices and almost anyone with little or no technical knowledge at all can configure it. SoftEther is hard to configure because it is relatively newer technology and not much information is available on the subject at this moment. L2TP/IPSec is also easy to setup but OpenVPN is very hard to configure because it is highly configurable and needs 3rd party software.

Processing Power Required

SSTP is the most efficient VPN protocol because it is integrated with Windows based operating systems on core level. PPTP also needs very little processing power because of its encryption but we cannot say it is efficient.  OpenVPN delivers slow performance but it work efficiently when it comes to performance and it can also deal with network latency. L2TP/IPSec uses more processing power than PPTP because of its high level of encryption and it also encrypts the data twice. SoftEther is the least efficient VPN protocol because it heavily relies on software.

Which VPN protocol is the best?

It depends on what is your purpose of using VPN connection; if you are using it to unblock geo-restricted contents only and you don’t need online privacy then PPTP is the best option. If you want to use VPN to be anonymous on the internet then stronger VPN protocols like OpenVPN and SoftEther are recommended.

Is TouchID A Reliable Security Layer?

TouchID got overnight popularity all over the globe when it was launched few years ago. Soon other vendors like Samsung followed the path and installed fingerprint sensors on their devices. However, because of the different hardware and software manufacturers, Android devices don’t usually work well with these sensors and fingerprints has limited functionality on Android phones and tablets.

On the other hand, Apple has implemented its TouchID technology on the core level of their hardware and software that give them a huge advantage. However, TouchID has become more of a security threats instead of a security layer for last couple of months. There are tons of examples where the owners of such devices were forced by law to provide their fingerprints to unlock the device.

There are many ways to disable TouchID on your iOS device and rely on the passcode or password. Theoretically, it is much easier to crack a passcode or password via brute force and much difficult to crack the fingerprint lock. A TouchID device automatically shifts to the passcode or password after 48 hours of using TouchID. For example, if you haven’t used TouchID for more than two days and your device is sitting idle then you need to enter passcode or password to unlock it.

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If you have shutdown your iOS device and restarted it then you need to enter the passcode or password for the first time. After that you can use the TouchID normally but it couldn’t be used for the first time. If you have attempted to unlock the device with incorrect TouchID for more than 5 times then the device would shift to passcode or password automatically.

Even on some latest devices like iPhone 6 and its variants, the device automatically locks the entire phone if you make too many unsuccessful attempts. In either case, using TouchID alone as a security measure is not the most optimized option anymore.

Is It Legal to Use VPN Connection?

People who have heard of VPNs but don’t know much about it often wonder “is it legal to use VPN connection?” and most of the time they couldn’t get a straightforward answer. It is perfectly legal to use VPN connections for all the purposes and activities which are legal on the internet itself. To understand the statement first you need to understand how VPN works and what difference does it make on your web activities when you use it.

VPN refers to Virtual Private Network and it is quite similar to your local network. In local networks, you join the group or network using physical medium like Wi-Fi, Ethernet or some other dedicated way but in VPN you join a private network using a publically available medium like the internet. Although there are tons of reasons why people use VPN connections but it all comes down to two main reasons; VPNs are mainly used to mock the actual geographical location of the device to unblock the geo-restricted contents and secondly they are used because of their powerful encryption.

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VPNs encrypt all of the web transmission using different encryption standards based on the VPN protocol you are using. Some VPN protocols like OpenVPN come with very powerful encryption that makes it impossible for intruders to get access to users’ activities and information.

It is perfectly legal to use VPN connections as long as you don’t do any illegal activities on the internet. For example, email spamming, account hacking, cyber frauds, child pornography and some other things are illegal on the internet. So, whether you are using a VPN connection or not, these activities are prohibited on the web and you should avoid them. VPN does not make a difference here because these activities are prohibited globally. Unblocking geo-restricted contents is an entirely different story.

For example, one particular website or service is not available or prohibited in a country or region then you can use VPN connections to access those websites and services. For example, Netflix and Pandora Internet Radio are only available in limited regions like USA so you can use USA VPN connection to use these services from wherever in the world. Unfortunately some countries are not very fond of VPN connections because they offer liberty to users. Governments spying on their own citizens because of “security” reasons is not a secret anymore.

Countries like China and Iran have laws against VPNs and VPN providers. Because most of the VPN providers are located outside of these countries, local authorities and agencies cannot force them to close their business but they can block their IP addresses. Interestingly, these VPN providers continuously change their IP addresses to provide uninterrupted access to their services to their users all over the globe.

Additionally, some countries like UAE are also in favor of blocking VPN services. UAE is considers one of the very liberated country in Middle East; however lobbying efforts in UAE are getting traction. Regardless of where you live, you can use VPN services without any legal complication. All you have to do is find a VPN service which is available in your country or region.

Google Is Confident About It’s Security

When it comes to security, Android does not have the best reputation in town. Although the operating system which is considered the safest one is not as safe as generally anticipated; many new security holes and vulnerabilities have been discovered in iOS platform for last couple of months but the general perception about Android is the worst. Now Google has revealed some facts about this matter and according to the company, Android is not as unsafe as it is generally considered.

According to the Google, there is a significant difference between what data and public says. For example, according to Google’s own analysis, only 0.15% of Android devices installed a malicious app in 2015. On the other hand, Google scans more than 4 million devices everyday for potential security holes and secure those devices on core level. Because of different hardware and software manufacturers, Google does not have the full control over the process.

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Only the Nexus devices use the pure version of Android and some vendors like LG and Samsung occasionally release some new models running pure Android. All other devices from manufacturers like HTC and Samsung come with their own set of apps and features. For example, Samsung installs TouchWiz and HTC installs SenseUI on its devices.  Because of the lesser control over the software part and lack of compatibility between hardware and software on the core level, Android devices are generally not safe.

Google’s biggest rival, Apple has a huge advantage here. Apple controls the hardware as well as its software that makes it one of the most secure mobile operating systems in the world. Of course Android devices and Android ecosystem offers customization and openness but these same attributes are also vulnerabilities for the platform. Luckily, Google has realized this issue and has been taking actions to make its platform even more powerful and secure.

Mobile Security Threats In 2016

Number of mobile security threat is increasing because of the number of mobile devices are increasing all over the globe. Although individuals experience these security threats too but it’s the corporate world which is the primary target because they possess sensitive information and valuable data. Let’s talk about top mobile security threats in 2016.

Insider Threat

We cannot possibly ignore the human factor; whether it is a deliberate attack made after some planning or pure negligence, insider threat is real. You would be surprised to know even large enterprises do not educate their employees about their security policies and best security practices. As a result, employees lose their passwords, login details, credentials, mobile devices loaded with valuable information and do other things that could put the entire organization in harm’s way.

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It’s not just about awareness but organizations also fail to implement their security policies. It is much easier to do social engineering to get inside access as compared to carry out a sophisticated attack powered by malware and infected apps. Some companies don’t even use password protected network that is an alarming situation.

Malware and Infected Apps

Usually we trust the source and we feel safe if the intended apps and software are downloaded or purchased from the proper channel. However, it is not always the case as infected apps and malware can make their way from proper channels too. There are tons of examples where malware and malicious code were discovered in popular Android and iOS apps.

Mobile malware are quite different as compared to malware and viruses found in desktop computers. Desktop malware usually focus on harvesting and they cannot get easy access to information and valuable data stored on it. On the other hand, mobile malware are specifically designed to do that and most of the times they do it successfully without being detected even by antivirus apps.