Data is largely safe on our computers. We have a lot of control over what goes on in our own system and can take precautions that will keep invaders from being able to get in or, failing that, access our important information. However, what about when you’re logging into your bank or sending a copy of your social security card to a new employer? What about when your personal data is in a place that you can’t control? That is why you need a secure VPN tunnel.

What is a VPN Tunnel?

Whenever you send information online, it has to be sent from one computer to another. Usually, you have to connect to several computers in order to send even a single message. While it is being transmitted, it can be intercepted by hackers, government officials, corporations, and anybody else who happens to be watching.

A VPN tunnel is a protocol that builds a layer of encryption around what you’re sending so that it can get from you to the intended destination safely. Think of plastic slides at playgrounds. When a kid goes down an open slide, you can see who they are and what they’re doing. But if it’s one of those completely enclosed slides, you can’t see the kid until they come out the other side.

Now, imagine that both the top and bottom of the slide were also enclosed in opaque plastic. That’s what it’s like to transmit data through a VPN tunnel.

What are VPN Tunnel Protocols?

A VPN tunneling protocol is a set of rules that tell your computer how to encrypt your data and send it. There isn’t just one way to send data safely online. In fact, over the years there have been several different protocols, some more secure than others.

PPTP

The first major tunneling protocol was PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol), which is still being used today. It’s very fast, but that’s because it doesn’t encrypt your data very well. If you’re more concerned about speed than safety, this can be useful. But fewer people are using PPTP because the speed generally isn’t worth having crackable encryption.

OpenVPN

This is considered one of the most secure VPN tunnel protocols in existence. Not only does it work with nearly every operating system (including obscure ones like Solaris and OpenBSD), it also is great for data integrity. One of the rules it sets for transferring data is that every time a packet is received by the intended computer, it confirms receipt with the sender. As a result, files are less likely to get corrupted during transmission. It also uses the highest grade of encryption available and has yet to be broken to anyone’s knowledge.

IKEv2

This is a good in-between protocol. IKEv2 is a joint project between Cisco Systems and Microsoft that balances speed and security. Unlike OpenVPN, it doesn’t require that every packet be confirmed before sending another. Nor does it encrypt your data as thoroughly as OpenVPN does. But it does build a VPN tunnel to protect your data in transit and is perfect for anything but the most sensitive information.

How Do I Use a VPN Tunnel?

This is the easy part. Utilizing a VPN tunnel is as simple as signing up to a virtual private network like PrivadoVPN. 

When you use the PrivadoVPN app, you have the choice of either OpenVPN or IKEv2 tunneling protocols. All you need to do is go to the Settings menu and pick the one you want. This gives you control over how you balance speed and security.

Keeping your data private is the best thing you can do in an increasingly online world. You can’t control every aspect of your connection, but a small, extra effort can make a big difference. Sending your data through a secure VPN tunnel helps keep your private information private.