VPN Protocols – IPSec

VPN Services

I agree that reading too much about VPN Protocols might be boring at times but sometimes you got to plunge into the boring details of a technology in order to understand that technology better. I promise to stay away from such boring topics once I am done with this series on VPN Protocols, but for now please bear with me. I am trying to fill up the archives of How to Hide IP with some really good information. Learn about VPN protocols IPSec.

Till now, we have covered the below VPN Protocols (the list is being updated as and when new content is written):

What is IPSec?

When I say IPSec then I guess the Windows based users should feel an adrenaline rush. After all, IPSec is their protocol which is used in partnership with the likes of Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol. IPSec can be used as a funneling protocol on its own.

It has been tagged by many critics as the standard VPN solution due to its balanced nature and list of amazing features. One such important feature that helps IPSec achieve the status of standard VPN solution is its improved connectivity in case of gateway-to-fateway VPNs. IPSec operates at higher position in our network OSI model which we call as network layer (whose commercial name is Layer 3.)

IPSec on hardware VPN machines

IPSec is also famous for its implementation by most of the hardware VPN machines. To take an example, Cisco’s VPN and the PIX firewalls use IPsec. Others using IPSec are SonicWall, NetScreen, and WatchGuard machines. Some of the enterprise level software firewalls that support IPSec are CheckPoint, ISA Server, and Symantec Enterprise Firewall. Please understand that this was just a list of hardware and software that support IPSec. You will find a lot more once you start Googling.

While in tunnel mode, IPSec smartly secures packets that are being moved from one gateway to other or from a client computer to a gateway. VPN protocols IPSec works with IP based applications and networks. Wasn’t that pretty obvious due to its name? Just like L2TP and PPTP, even IPSec looks for a client installed in the local machine for it to work properly.

When it comes to authentication, IPSec uses Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol with digital certificates (the more secure method) accompanied. In some cases, preshared key is used in place of digital certificates. Due to these features, IPSec is smart enough to protect VPN services from famous hack attacks like – man-in-the-middle attack, Replay, and Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack.

VPN Protocols IPSec support

IPSec is supported by Windows XP/2000/2003 only. The older version of Windows Operating System do not support IPSec. Third party VPN vendors, like Cisco and CheckPoint, will provide client based custom software when they offer VPN services. Please understand that these might cost you some money.

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