What is VPN Encryption? Best Encryption Algorithms Included

Fundamentally, encryption is a term for converting data from a readable form to the encoded or unreadable format with the help of patterns and algorithms. This encoded format can only be understood when the right algorithm or decryption key is used.

Moving further, VPN encryption is a method of coding which encrypts the simple or plain text data to make sure to convert it as indecipherable gibberish to anyone who tries to steal or monitor it. There are multiple VPN encryption types to execute this. It protects sensitive data from cybercriminals as they won’t be able to decrypt or peak into on your Internet Connections when you utilize public internet. These confidential data include bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and login credentials, etc. The VPN encryption also makes sure that all or any of your online activities can’t be supervised by anyone.

Encryption is essential as it permits people to avail of securely protected data that you don’t want anyone else to see or utilize. Usually, businesses use it to secure their corporate secrets, governments use to secure classified information, and many individuals use it to protect personal data from guarding their transaction, conversation, identity, etc. This helps in securing the data even if the hardware is stolen.

Bigger the key size, better the encryption; the following table illustrates possible encryption key combinations.

Key Size Possible Key Permutations
1-bit2
2-bit4
8-bit256
16-bit65536
64-bit4.2 x 10^9
128-bit3.4 x 1^38
192-bit6.2 X 10^57
256-bit1.1 x 10^77

What is Encryption?

Knowing the applications, and protocols are not enough to understand the essence of VPN encryption. To understand the working and the VPN better. It is crucial to understand the term encryption.

Encryption is the technique or method by which the information is altered into a secret code. This is the first step in the whole process. This is where the algorithms decide how to divide the information and in what ways it should be encrypted. This process hides the actual meaning of the data and makes it look meaningless or haphazard.

In the computer language, the unencrypted data is termed as plaintext, and when the data is encrypted, it is termed as ciphertext. The formulas, methods, or techniques implemented to encode or decode the messages are known as encryption algorithms or ciphers.

To ensure the efficiency of the encryption and security of the data, the cipher or the encrypted data includes a variable as part of the algorithm. The variable is termed called a key, which makes the whole cipher’s output unique. Usually, there is one key, but various algorithms use a different number of keys for different types of data. When an encrypted message or cipher is intercepted by an unauthorized or illegal entity or hacker, the intruder has to guess which encrypted data is used by the sender to encrypt the information along with the keys utilized as a variable. These encryptions are distinct for different data by algorithms. The time required to guess the encryption of the information is directly proportional to the efficiency of the security offered.

How Does Encryption Work?

Ever seen those sci-fi movies where one or the other scene is about intercepting information. The characters trying to intercept the information would always try to “decode” information because it is often in terms that are uninterpretable. Those uninterpretable terms are a specific feature introduced by encryption.

The idea began with Julius Caesar, who came up with a substitution cipher that could be used to replace the original written message with a jumbled version. However, Caesar’s methodology was simple enough to be broken because it consisted of repetition.

Today, encryption happens through the use of a cryptographic key that replaces Caesar’s ciphers. The key holds randomly generated numbers (thereby reducing any repetition) or computer algorithms that generate random numbers. The data is exposed to a key that scrambles the information at the sender’s end. The only way to interpret the data then is to expose it to the key again. This second exposure comes at the receiver’s end. Once decoded, the data is understandable for the receiver.

The key may be private (symmetric key) or Public (asymmetric key). A public key means that the key at both the sender’s and the receiver’s end are exactly the same. The key may then be a simple packet of information. In case the packet with the sender and the receiver are different, communication cannot take place.

On the other hand, a Public Key means that a key is published and available for use by the public. In this case, the sender will use the encryption key while the receiver uses the decryption key. While the private key is only in one specific computer, the sender will send the public key to any computer that is to receive and decode that data later on. However, the data sent with a public key will obviously be less secure than data sent with a private key.

However, more often, public-key encryption methodologies will be seen employed on large scales by way of a secure web server. Digital certificates come into play when that happens. A digital certificate certifies that the web server is trusted. So, the digital certificate ensures that information goes only to who it is targeted.

With increased security needs, modern systems today are introducing forward secrecy systems. Why? To ensure that each session has a new key generated for all encoding and decoding purposes. This increases the security that the method provides.

Why Encryption Matters

There are multiple reasons for using encryption; however, the three most popular reasons why encryption matters include:

  1. Internet Privacy
  2. Avoid Cybercrime
  3. Regulations demand

1) Internet privacy concerns can get extremely dangerous: Encryption helps daily internet users to protect their online privacy. There is sensitive information transferred over emails, messages, or credentials entered in various sites.

2) Hackers are advancing by each passing day: There are numerous hackers who work illegally. However, there is a firm that has turned this into their official business. Cybercrime has been turned into a proper business, and there are multiple international hacking firms operating in the present time.

3) Regulations demand it: People entrust other organizations and sites with their sensitive information, which requires protection. Therefore, to ensure regulation and standard, it is essential to incorporate cyber-security.

Which is the Best VPN Encryption Protocol?

VPN works basically for protecting your web browsing data, among other things. This is executed by altering your IP address and encrypting your data. A VPN protocol is a set of rules which are utilized to negotiate a relation among the VPN client and the VPN server. There are multiple VPN protocols. However, the most recommended and popular is OpenVPN.

OpenVPN is the most recommended VPN protocol by most of the leading VPN providers. It is comparatively a newer protocol that is extremely flexible and provides high security. It is based on an open-source technology like OpenSSL encryption library and SSL V3/TLS V1 protocols. The open-source nature of this protocol allows this technology to be maintained, updated, and inspected by the community of supporters regularly. When the data or traffic is transmitted through an OpenVPN connection, it becomes hard to distinguish among an HTTPS over SSL connection. The ability to hide in plain sight makes it secure from hacking and other cybercrimes.

Also, this can run on any port using both UDP and TCP protocols; therefore, getting around firewalls isn’t the problem. It offers efficient and high security through various methods, which is enhanced when coupled with AES encryption. Unlike others, OpenVPN has managed to stay secure, which ensures its security claims.

OTHER VPN PROTOCOLS

Usually, people are unaware of the importance and working of VPN protocols. However, its importance can’t be looked over. The VPN protocol is how your VPN will secure the transferring of data. There is a multitude of distinct protocols that are based on the operating system, platform, performance, and much more.

PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and few others are the popular VPN protocols. These gained importance because of the safety and speed test VPN encryption offers and ensures utmost security regard of its difficulty. Few are listed below, along with the reason for their popularity.

OpenVPN: Extremely compatible, and the setup process is simple.

PPTP: It is straightforward to set up on any device, and secondly, it is ideal for streaming.

SSTP: It can bypass VPN blocking firewalls and can get past the firewalls after encrypting text without being detected. Along with this, its setup is unimaginably easy, especially on Windows platforms.

IKEv2: It is the fastest VPN protocol, and the multi-homing technology helps to switch between WI-FI to 3G to 4G without getting disconnected. And, it is extremely easy to set up and configure.

Best Encryption Algorithms

  1. Triple DES or 3DES
  2. RSA
  3. Blowfish
  4. Twofish
  5. AES

1. Triple DES or 3DES

Triple Data Encryption Standard is computerized cryptography where block cipher algorithms are applied thrice to every block. The critical size is enhanced in the triple DES to ensure additional security through encryption techniques. Every block has 64-bits data. There are three independent 56-bits DES keys, which make 168-bits in total. Its complex structure and high encryption length provide high security and efficiency.

2. RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman)

RSA is an abbreviation for Rivest-Shamir-Adleman. This is an algorithm for modern computers for encrypting and decrypting data. It is an asymmetric cryptographic algorithm. Asymmetric nature shows that there are two different keys. It is also known as public-key cryptography, as one of the keys can be provided to anyone. This key is the public key, and the other one is the private key. Both are interchangeably used for encrypting and decrypting data.

The high level of security that RSA offers is ensured by the difficulty of factoring long strings, the answer of multiplying two large prime numbers.

3. Blowfish

Blowfish is very much similar to DES and is considered as an efficient alternative to it. Bruce Schneier designed and created it as a general-purpose algorithm. The authenticity and security of cipher have been tested multiple times but always proved to be the best in such encryption checks. The technology of Blowfish is symmetric, which means that one key is utilized to encrypt an entire block of the data.

The size of one block in blowfish is 64-bit, and the length of the key may fluctuate from 32-bits to the 448-bit key. Full encryption has never been broken. The use of smaller keys makes it faster, except for the changing keys. Every change of the key needs a pre-processing and taking resource equivalent to encrypting 4kb of text. Its exceptional speed, flexibility, and security make its name among the best encryption algorithms.

4. Twofish

Twofish is a brainchild of the same designer of Blowfish, Bruce Schneier. This algorithm utilizes block ciphering and is symmetric in nature. Being symmetric means, it uses the same key for enciphering and deciphering. The Twofish algorithm works by dividing the data into 128-bit blocks then applies the key simultaneously to each 128-bit block. It only uses keys for the encryption of data of up to 256-bit. Every block’s encryption is put into an extremely complex relation to the result of the encryption of the previous block. This brings out a haphazard look to the data, but everything has a meaning behind it. This encryption method is not patented and is, therefore, free to use.

5. AES

It was created by the Belgian cryptographers, namely: Vincent Rijmen and Joan Daemen. Later it was called AES, which is an abbreviation for Advanced Encryption Standard, which was initially called Rijndael. AES is an asymmetric encryption algorithm. It gained popularity because of its straightforward implementation in hardware along with restricted environments.

It is considered to be more efficient than its predecessors as it utilizes complex algorithms and longer keys. The decryption works much faster in this algorithm. This characteristic makes it a better alternative for a cipher in routers, firewalls, security protocols, and, in general, any application which utilizes encryption.

About Sebastian Riley

Sebastian Riley is a cyberlibertarian activist and an internet freedom fighter who strongly believes in an unsegregated and uncensored internet. With a cybersecurity degree, Sebastian is a professional bug hunter and a freelance opensource penetration tester.