WireGuard VPN: What Is It And Should You Use It?
Apr 7, 2022
WireGuard VPN is a VPN protocol that is mainly developed for Linux systems. It is said that WireGuard VPN protocol is slightly more secure than the other VPN protocols. Keep reading to see the reasons.
WireGuard VPN Protocol: What Is It? Learn The Pros and Cons of Using It - FastVPN
There are two new VPN protocols that you could consider new. One of them, WireGuard, is integrated with many foremost VPNs. Despite this, is the WireGuard VPN worth using? Below, we will provide you with a few reasons for and against using this new protocol.
What is WireGuard VPN?How WireGuard WorksWireGuard ProsSecuritySpeedPower ConsumptionWireGuard ConsIP Address IssuesUntested PrivacyNot Used Across Some VPN ServicesLess ReliableWireGuard vs. Other ProtocolsConclusion – Is WireGuard Worth It?
What is WireGuard VPN?
The WireGuard VPN is a secure, layer-three network tunnel mainly developed for Linux systems. While intended to be a replacement for IPSec, WireGuard has managed to expand into mainstream VPN usage.
WireGuard has a reputation of being typically more secure than other protocols because of its lack of customization. In other protocols (PPTP, L2TP, etc.), you can customize the system how you want. However, this option inherently has some disadvantages, as not everyone is aware of the best security options.
The result? Most people tend to stick with what’s the most convenient over what’s truly secure. If there is nothing to misconfigure, there’s less chance of a mistake.
How WireGuard Works
WireGuard makes use of some influential and experimental technologies:
- Curve25519 as 128-bit key exchange.
- ChaCha20 is a symmetric stream cipher for encrypting data.
- Poly1305 for authentication purposes
- SipHash to generate hash keys
- BLAKE2 is a cryptographic hash function to generate keys into fixed lengths
These combined technologies do away with the industry-standard AES-256 encryption style. Instead, they rely on the newer technologies of ChaCha20 and Poly1305 alongside the use of incredibly potent Elliptic-Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key agreements. In lamens terms, this means that it is pretty secure, often using experimental technologies.
However, these technologies also haven’t had as much testing as the potent AES-256, which makes people nervous. Regardless, the system has been naturally resistant to key impersonation and specific attacks.
WireGuard also works using pre-shared keys (PSKs) as symmetric encryption. Going back to the Curve25519, this suggests the need for quantum computers to be able to break the cipher. Part of the problem with PSKs is that they tend to be more security light, but the result increases speed.
As a lightweight code set that is half of what OpenVPN uses, it seeks to be a simpler and faster alternative. Because it is built on a Linux system, its primary praises come from its simplistic use of Linux. Linux Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, went as far as to call it a work of art. But how does it work for users?
As you might imagine, WireGuard’s design choices make it ideal for developers. Less code typically equals less work. But how does this translate to the consumer?
Because WireGuard’s creators work on ECDH and ChaCha20, quantum computing is required to break the cipher. Without getting too technical, you need a computer with a lot of power and infinite time on its hands to overcome the ciphers.
The lack of customization is also seen as a security boon, preventing people from coupling the protocol with weak releases. This means that nobody can customize it and use the name despite only using half of the protocol’s security strength.
To address further concerns, WireGuard also runs on an open-source platform. This means that developers can see everything the program does, leaving no security exploits to question. This open-source allowance also enables WireGuard to better integrate across multiple platforms.
WireGuard does two things to make it incredibly fast:
First, it relies solely on UDP connections, the same connection type that works for video streaming. If you know anything about the demands of streaming video, you know they require a fast connection. So UDP helps out with this by creating a faster experience.
The other thing that makes WireGuard faster is the reliance on less code. A sorter and more efficient set of code mean WireGuard spends less time processing. Combine ts with the symmetric PSK system, and it takes a fraction of the time to confirm that both sides of a connection should be with each other.
Because WireGuard operates using less code, it also is less system intensive. You can easily take the protocol and run it in the background. When code is more lightweight, it takes up less power, giving it up for other applications and uses.
Not everything WireGuard does is incredible. Here are some reasons against its use:
IP Address Issues
The biggest weakness with WireGuard’s system comes back to its static IP address use. It depends on static allocation rather than relying on dynamic assignment (which makes it harder to connect IP addresses with specific VPN users).
WireGuard does not attempt to hide these addresses on their servers, exposing them to the world. While they still need to break through to identify the person behind the IP, they can quickly tell repeat offenders. That means you can easily be blocked if a company or country doesn’t like your connection.
The reliance on modern, experimental pieces of technology means that its encryption is comparatively untested. Where the more extensively used AES-256 encryption has repeatedly and successfully been used, ChaCha20 doesn’t have the same people.
While ChaCha20 has repeatedly been tested to show excellent security, privacy is another matter. So you are more likely to be blocked by governments, schools, and some websites.
Not Used Across Some VPN Services
Because WireGuard is newer than OpenVPN, it lacks the same widespread appeal. Most of the biggest providers have used this protocol, but not everyone is an adopter. If you prefer its use and want to try a range of VPN services, you might be limited by your options.
WireGuard focuses on the less reliable UDP-style connection type. While UDP is fast, its tendency to rely on speed means it starts to transfer before the connection is fully established. So if you want the complete file to be sent over with fewer chances for errors, WireGuard isn’t an ideal choice.
WireGuard vs. Other Protocols
If you don’t like WireGuard, there are many other protocols available. Here’s a list:
- OpenVPN – Users of OpenVPN love it for its proven security and long-term applications. However, OpenVPN isn’t as fast as WireGuard, making it less appealing when gaming or streaming videos.
- IKEv2/IPSec – The Internet Key Exchange combines with IPSec to create a robust system. The problem? The system is developed by Microsoft and Cisco. Those who use it will find the platform less flexible and riskier.
- SoftEther – A newer VPN protocol is SoftEther. While it is high-speed and open source, it doesn’t have the same support as WireGuard o any other VPN protocol, given that it is early and experimental.
- L2TP – An L2TP (Layer Two Tunnel Protocol) is a vehicle for IPSec, giving it strong associations with Microsoft and Cisco. It does have the use of the IKE exchange but also has a history of NSA collaboration, making it less secure for those who want to avoid government intrusion.
- PPTP – Point-To-Pont Tunneling Protocol is an old-fashioned protocol developed during the 90s. While it received updates into the 2000s, it is no longer usable as a protocol, making WireGuard an obvious alternative.
Compared to other protocols, the consensus is that OpenVPN is still the preferred option for overcoming country-based blocks. However, WireGuard might be feasible when seeking a combination of speed and security.
Conclusion – Is WireGuard Worth It?
WireGuard is an excellent VPN protocol for first-world problems. In lamens terms, look at it like this:
If you want a fast protocol to watch Netflix or fool your ISP, WireGuard is great. While you can easily be identified due to a lack of privacy, it’s hard to unearth any of your specific details.
Meanwhile, OpenVPN is still a better option when you want privacy and security. This means you sacrifice a bt of speed, but it is worth it when trying to escape oppressive environments.