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What is a VPN Tunnel? How Does a VPN Tunnel Work?

What is a VPN Tunnel? How Does a VPN Tunnel Work?
Oct 14, 2022
A VPN tunnel encrypts the connection between your device and external sources. User data goes through a VPN tunnel that hides original data even from the receiver. Learn more about how a VPN tunnel works.
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What is a VPN Tunnel? How Does a VPN Tunnel Work? - FastVPN
The only way to be safe online is by establishing a secure connection. The most secure form of this is a tunnel, which can be incredibly selective about what traffic goes through it. But what is a VPN tunnel, and how does it work?
In this article, we will answer both questions so you won’t need to wonder anymore.

What is a VPN Tunnel?

A VPN tunnel is an encrypted connection between you and an external source. To access data from the tunnel, you need to access the cipher (an algorithm that encrypts the data) or the sender. In a VPN tunnel, even the receiver doesn’t get the original data in its pure form.
Think of a literal train tunnel. There are only two open points. Just like the same as train tunnels, VPN tunnels create a link between your device and an outside network. The data in the VPN tunnel cannot be seen by anyone. It is a direct tunnel which is completely unseen by third parties.
This is your train’s private route to whatever part of the internet you want. So in a sense, having a VPN is like having a private train lead you to whatever part of the internet you wish.

How Does a VPN Tunnel Work?

As with many VPN tunnels, your VPN client is the source of your tunnel creation. So it works through these steps:
  1. You access your VPN client or log into the server (you enter the tunnel)
  1. A direct connection is established through the server (you travel through the tunnel)
  1. You access whatever thing you want to do on the internet (you exit the tunnel)
In this case, it is best to think of your tunnel as having back and forth continuous traffic. This traffic represents a series of requests and responses. However, the series of sedans that represent your traffic might be disguised as a military convoy. This represents encryption.
VPN Tunnel Encryption
VPN Tunnel Encryption

How Does Encryption Work in a Tunnel?

Encryption is when the data from your VPN tunnel is behind a cipher. As mentioned earlier, this is an algorithm that blends your data into a random set of gibberish. It is unrecognizable but meant to be translated (somewhat) once it reaches the other side.
Encryption lets you expose only the necessary data. So instead of people seeing the bumper stickers on your original sedans that inexplicably tell people where you live, they see a fake version of that. Sharing unnecessary data is no longer a problem, thanks to encryption.
Of course, encryption isn’t as helpful if you have to log in and create an account. Imagine this to be a checkpoint using our traffic analogy. The difference is that some of these checkpoints are less invasive. You can enter an email not connected to your data with these logins. These checkpoints might ask, “what are you doing here?”
Other checkpoints are not so nice, but you can also provide false information to them. Providing fake information online is typically less risky. However, you might run into complications with this phony information if you have to make an online payment.
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How To Test Your VPN Tunnel

To test your VPN tunnel, you must ping your IP address. To do this, you have a few different options:
  • Open the command prompt on Windows and type “ping” and your IP address on the cmd screen. To find out your IP address, type in “ipconfig.”
  • Open the terminal in Mac OS and type in “ping” and your IP address. Go to your network connection menu within system preferences to find your IP.
  • Go to the Linux terminal and type “sudo ping -v.” After installation s finished, type “ping” and your IP address. To find your IP address, you can go to your network settings.
  • Or you can go to our home page and check out the IP data at the top.

Different VPN Tunneling Protocols

VPN protocols have combined suites of information on how a tunnel is made and what encryption is used. These protocols provide information to help VPN clients establish secure connections. Here’s a quick roundup of each protocol:
  • OpenVPN – OpenVPN is one of the most trusted and secure VPN protocols. Consider a well-defined tunnel with sturdy beams and well-traveled roads. It encrypts using AES-256, the most trusted form of encryption.
  • WireGuard – WireGuard uses modern protocols for encryption that scare some people off. Consider a lightspeed rail that you have never been on before. While it is modern, it doesn’t have the same long-term trustworthiness as other tunnels you have been down.
  • IKEv2/IPSec – IKEv2/IPSec is another well-established tunnel known for mobile applications and speed. Consider a thinner tunnel that is mainly traveled by bikes. While it is sturdy, it is less popular on beefier machines (like computers).
  • L2TP – L2TP (Layer Two Tunneling Protocol) uses other security protocols (IPSec) to make their journey. Consider a tunnel with no supports where IPSec represents the beams. You would not want to go down it without some additional security, so sticking with more established tunnels might be better.
  • PPTP – PPTP (Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol) is an out-of-date VPN protocol. Consider an old mining tunnel that is neat to look at but makes you nervous when traveling through. Given that this tunnel can collapse at any moment don’t bother going down it.

Which VPN Protocol Should I Use?

Some tunnels (protocols) are better than others. Going with the most trusted options is often your best bet. You need decide which VPN protocol is the best for your needs. You might choose protocol that prioritizes the security or you might put the speed to number one priority.
However, if you need to get on less established tracks, you can be a trailblazer in your group. WireGuard, for example, makes some security-conscious people nervous. However, it has been proven in several tests.

What is Split Tunneling?

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Split tunneling is a unique VPN feature that allows you to localize specific apps or programs. For example, if you’d like Netflix to be in Europe while all of your other apps are in the Netherlands, you can do that.
Going back to our tunnel-based analogy, think of a train switching station. In a switching station, a train stops to be directed to different locations. The data (train) leads to the correct area with this station.
Not all tunnels lead to the same destination, meaning your VPN client sorts out what tunnel goes where. Split tunneling gives you two options, where the “switch” is simultaneous.
So, for example, if you were to use both the website and the app separately but split tunnel for an app, you would have two tunnels leading to the same destination. However, if your web browser was elsewhere, this is two tunnels to two different spots from the same source.
Split tunneling still relies on the same VPN protocol you have by default. This is because encryption still occurs to make the destination believe that you come from where they are at. So despite having a train coming from the UAE, your train might be disguised for that local European location.

Conclusion – Why Should I Worry About VPN Tunneling Protocols?

Your VPN tunneling protocol is the last line of defense between you and the other side. Picking the best tunnel is paramount to remain secure. So your VPN tunnel has good encryption, ensure you get FastVPN.
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