SSTP or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is a term commonly used with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). As one of the few possible solutions for a safe, completely uncensored, and anonymous internet experience, this technology quickly found a large use in the lives of millions of people all around the world. But with so much to choose from, so many providers, applications, and protocols, how do you know if this is the best alternative for you?
For starters, it’s good to set your priorities straight. Do you value privacy over speed? Is your security important as much as the VPN’s performance? Would you mind paying an extra few bucks if needed? After all, good VPNs that can combine every valuable aspect of this technology will come at a higher price.
For years these applications have been used to hide your browsing traffic, mask your IP address, and to bypass website restrictions of any kind. But for beginners, VPNs can really be a real headache. You have many security protocols, encryption ciphers, ports and what not.
Service providers have simplified this for people without the proper technical knowledge, making the use of VPNs rather fun and engaging. Nonetheless, despite the simplicity behind some of the VPNs, you still need to know what exactly you are using and why.
How does a VPN work?
VPNs are a type of a network connection that keeps you protected from prying eyes on the internet. It was invented over two decades ago but was popularized not that long ago.
People often, if not most of the time, use VPNs to get access to entertainment content, such as movies, TV shows, or music, without having to deal with bans and restrictions. Some use it to ensure privacy while browsing the internet, other prefer security and stability. Additionally, a more advanced VPN can provide you with an excellent gaming, streaming, or torrenting experience.
Basically, a Virtual Private Network works in a way that it creates a secure encrypted tunnel between you and their server. After receiving the proper information, the server then makes a request in your name, completely erasing any tracks of you. For example, you want to use Spotify but you are located in Germany. This would not be possible, because the app is only available within the USA, and blocked for other users. Unless you have a VPN.
Upon purchasing and configuring your VPN, you then connect to one of the provider’s servers, in this case, a US server. After you connect, your original IP should be swapped with an American address, appointed by the VPN server. As you are browsing the internet, downloading content, or watching a movie, you stay anonymous, and your traffic stays encapsulated and encrypted throughout the whole time.
The encapsulation hides the information from third parties. This is the so-called VPN tunnel that even if it gets intercepted, thanks to the encryption your traffic is protected with, no one will be able to see past that without a decryption key.
This method of protection is pretty much the same with every VPN, but the level of protection is not. That is up to the security protocols.
VPN Security Protocols
There are a few VPN protocols, and the following are the most used ones by VPN service providers.
PPTP or Point-to-point protocol is an outdated security protocol dating back more than two decades. It’s still used by some people because it has a very simple setup and will not reduce your internet speed. Besides, it was designed by Microsoft and it’s now integrated into Windows, as well as Linux and MacOS. If your principal concern is security and privacy, this protocol is not a good fit for you. PPTP is a tunneling protocol, which means that it doesn’t have a built-in encryption. Besides, the security protocol cannot be used with a stronger encryption than the 128-bit key, which is slightly outdated.
The Layer Two Tunneling Protocol is an extension of the PPTP and is another tunneling protocol without a built-in encryption. However, you can pair the L2TP with something else that will do the job, or usually the Internet Protocol Security – IPSec. L2TP/IPSec is more recent protocol and can use the 256-bit encryption. It’s safer than the PPTP, but there have been cases related to this protocol’s leaks, which makes it vulnerable to attacks.
As you might notice, the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) is another protocol that utilizes the IPSec. IKEv2/IPsec is basically a combination of tunneling protocols. IKEv2, the latest version of the protocol, was designed with an eye on mobile security and many operating systems support it. The best thing about this protocol is that it’s fast and reliable, but it has a hard time unblocking content on the internet.
Without a doubt, the OpenVPN protocol is the most popular choice currently. It’s used by many advanced VPNs and it’s very secure. Although this protocol is perceived as a revolutionary discovery when it comes to online security, there are some drawbacks that cannot be unseen. For example, the protocol doesn’t have a native support for any operating system, which means that the VPN determines whether it will support it or not. So, if the VPN provider you chose does not create a client for iOS, you won’t be able to use the OpenVPN on your iPhone. Moreover, as it uses advanced encryption and technology, the OpenVPN is known to slow down your internet speed. Apart from this, the OpenVPN is indeed one of the best security protocols in the present time.
As mentioned before SSTP stands for Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol. Basically, it works as a tunnel that routes traffic through the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, instead of PPTP or IPSec, and 2048-bit encryption. This is a secure protocol that uses the TCP port 433, which is also used by the OpenVPN. In other words, you will stay protected and easily bypass restrictions and pass through firewalls, without getting blocked out by websites. Basically, it works in situations in which most VPN connections would be blocked.
However, there is a catch with SSTP. It works only with Windows. Let’s take a deeper look.
Advantages of the SSTP VPN Protocol
Many times people disregard this VPN protocol, mostly because they are not entirely informed of its benefits. Yes, the SSTP VPN protocol is a bit limited, but if you are a Windows user, this might be the best solution for your internet safety. Other operating systems can utilize its features only through premium third-party software. Apart from the basic VPN features, such as the anonymity or the encryption, SSTS is also known to do the following:
- Easily bypassing firewalls
With the SSTP protocol, it’s highly unlikely to get kicked out from a website. VPN providers with the SSTP protocol are known for being able to get around these restrictions much easily, even in more advanced cases of firewalls. Apart from the OpenVPN protocol, the other cannot guarantee users such a thing.
- Fast connection
Unlike the OpenVPN, this protocol won’t slow down your connections even though it uses more advanced techniques of protection.
- Windows integration
SSTP was developed by Microsoft and it is fully supported by the Windows operating system. However despite being fully integrated by Windows, SSTP remains compatible with other operating systems as well, but it’s a much more complicated process and it usually requires premium third parties.
Overall, the SSTP protocol is not the most used one in the industry, but it surely has its advantages. It’s recommended for people that want a combination of security, speed, and performance. However, to use its potential it’s best if you are a Windows user.
If you have additional questions, feel free to leave a comment below.