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What is WireGuard? A New VPN Protocol Explained

What is WireGuard?

What is WireGuard? The WireGuard VPN protocol has caused a significant impact in the VPN industry. Esteemed figures in the tech and programming community, such as Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, have commended it as a superior alternative to earlier VPN protocols like OpenVPN and IPSec. Consequently, many VPN providers have adopted this speedy and secure protocol. An initial assessment conducted by Ars Technica demonstrated that WireGuard’s connection and reconnection times were notably faster than other protocols. Additionally, its cryptographic choices ensured enhanced security. This article will delve into what all the excitement is about and explain how WireGuard can safeguard your browsing activities.

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is a modern and innovative VPN (Virtual Private Network) protocol that aims to provide secure and efficient communication over the internet. It was designed to be simple, fast, and easy to use, while also being highly secure. Unlike traditional VPN protocols like OpenVPN or IPSec, WireGuard is built with a minimalistic approach, making it easier to audit and maintain. It uses state-of-the-art cryptography to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data transmitted over the network. WireGuard has gained popularity for its speed and performance, as well as its ability to seamlessly transition between different network interfaces. Overall, WireGuard offers a promising solution for those seeking a reliable and efficient VPN protocol.

WireGuard VPN protocol explained

WireGuard functions as a VPN protocol, facilitating communication between a client (such as a computer or phone) and a VPN server. Additionally, the term “WireGuard” can also refer to the application that can be installed on various devices. WireGuard exclusively supports UDP and does not utilize any handshake protocols. This is one of the factors contributing to its exceptional speed, as it can bypass the verification processes required by OpenVPN TCP.

  • NordVPN: best VPN using WireGuard technology
  • Surfshark – fast WireGuard VPN with unlimited connections
  • IPVanish – WireGuard VPN with secure browsing features
  • Atlas VPN – excellent budget VPN with WireGuard
  • CyberGhost – cheap VPN with a fast WireGuard solution

Visit NordVPN 

Pros & cons

WireGuard is highly regarded in the field of VPNs due to its significant advantages that have a crucial impact on the cybersecurity industry. Below, you will discover the reasons why this protocol is considered a game-changer:

Agility:  WireGuard establishes and reestablishes connections quickly, even when switching between networks. It remains connected in scenarios where other VPN protocols would struggle. In comparison, other VPN protocols can occasionally feel fragile or cumbersome.

Security: WireGuard stands out among other VPN software by selecting intelligent and contemporary cryptographic primitives with secure presets. Moreover, it is notably compact and straightforward compared to older protocols, enabling security researchers to conduct audits with greater ease.

Speed: WireGuard utilizes rapid cryptographic code, and its low-level element resides within the Linux kernel on servers and Linux desktops. As a result, it offers superior speed compared to VPNs operating in userspace.

Ease of deployment: Installing both the client and server components of WireGuard is remarkably straightforward. You can easily obtain pre-built client applications for desktops and mobile devices from the app store of your preferred platform. When it comes to setting up WireGuard on the server side, it is as simple as configuring SSH, a task that is well-known to almost every IT professional.

However, to get something great, we must sacrifice something in return. Therefore, WireGuard also comes with some issues:

Baked-in support:  While WireGuard provides client applications for all major platforms, it requires additional software to function properly, except on certain Linux distributions. If you wish to utilize a VPN on a device that does not allow app installations, you will need to opt for an alternative protocol.

Obfuscation:  The main objective of the WireGuard project is not to create a VPN that can bypass deep-packet inspection. For instance, if you are attempting to bypass the Great Firewall of China, WireGuard alone will not be effective. Nevertheless, WireGuard’s design enables it to accommodate obfuscation tunnels as an additional layer.

How does WireGuard work?

WireGuard is a VPN protocol that employs state-of-the-art cryptography and network code to build an encrypted tunnel between two devices. It uses symmetric encryption to create this secure connection. WireGuard is designed cleverly, so it even functions when the client device’s IP address changes, allowing for quick switching between mobile data and Wi-Fi without any delays in reconnecting to the VPN. Additionally, because of its efficient design, it consumes fewer resources than other VPN protocols, making it a popular choice for those seeking fast speed and low latency while using a VPN.

Is WireGuard secure?

WireGuard is a highly secure tunneling protocol that stands out due to its implementation of state-of-the-art cryptography. It is considered one of the most secure VPN protocols available today. With WireGuard, both the VPN server and your client device remain uncompromised, making it extremely difficult for an external attacker to gather information about your browsing activities. The streamlined code of this system unquestionably enhances its safety by using fewer lines of code compared to OpenVPN, for instance. A less complicated setup decreases the likelihood of errors and misconfigurations, ultimately enhancing your overall safety.

Why is WireGuard important?

WireGuard is a new VPN protocol that has gained popularity for its speed and simplicity. Unlike the previous standards like IPSec and OpenVPN, which were complex and difficult to configure, WireGuard offers a streamlined solution that is easy to set up. Moreover, its codebase is small and has undergone thorough security audits, making it less vulnerable to security breaches. With its fast speeds and high level of security, WireGuard has become a popular choice for businesses looking to secure their network connections. Its simplicity also makes it an attractive option for individual users who want a hassle-free VPN experience.

Is WireGuard better than other protocols?

Indeed, WireGuard has the potential to transfer data faster compared to other protocols due to its utilization of faster cryptography and integration with the Linux kernel. However, the most noticeable advantage of WireGuard is its ability to establish connections swiftly. Let’s compare WireGuard with the two alternative protocols currently available:

WireGuard vs. OpenVPN

In a particular test, WireGuard demonstrated superior raw speed compared to OpenVPN in regular conditions, with a margin of approximately 15%. When OpenVPN was limited to its slower TCP mode, WireGuard outperformed it by a remarkable 56%. Although the disparity in the best-case scenario may not be groundbreaking, you will undoubtedly notice the enhanced speed of WireGuard, especially when dealing with large downloads.

OpenVPN and WireGuard are both open-source protocols that have minimal vulnerabilities. To set them up on most devices, additional configuration files are needed. However, there is a distinction between the two. WireGuard utilizes more advanced cryptographic libraries and is significantly more efficient. Additionally, compared to OpenVPN, the use of the WireGuard protocol has a noticeably lesser impact on battery life.

WireGuard vs. IPSec/IKEv2

IPSec, a relatively recent protocol, is known for its speed. However, WireGuard offers two advantages: its cryptographic primitives have the potential to be faster, and it is integrated into the Linux kernel. In a specific scenario, IPSec outperformed WireGuard in one test, but overall WireGuard consistently delivered fast performance.

The main distinction between IKEv2 and WireGuard is that the former is supported by default on most devices, while the latter requires additional file installation. Nevertheless, WireGuard has an advantage due to its utilization of more modern cryptographic libraries. Although IKEv2 does not require significant CPU resources for defense and generally performs well in most usage cases.

How to easily configure WireGuard clients

Rather than having to manually copy certificates and input information, the WireGuard app on mobile devices allows you to simply scan a QR code. Your VPN provider or server software can supply you with a QR code that can be scanned. Afterwards, in the WireGuard app, tap the plus sign and select “Create from QR code”.

Which VPNs support WireGuard?

WireGuard, a VPN protocol known for its speed and security, has gained popularity among commercial VPN providers due to its many advantages for end-users. With faster speeds and improved security features, it has become an attractive option for those seeking a reliable VPN service. Moreover, the open-source nature of WireGuard allows for easier integration with other technologies and platforms. As more VPN providers adopt this protocol, users can expect to see even more improvements in their online privacy and security.

NordVPN – NordVPN became the first major VPN service to embrace WireGuard technology. They achieved this by making modifications to the open-source WireGuard software and developing their own protocol called NordLynx. As a result, NordVPN is considered the top VPN service for WireGuard implementation.

IPVanish – IPVanish is a flexible VPN provider that leans towards being more suitable for beginners when it comes to incorporating the WireGuard tunneling protocol into its range of features. The addition of this protocol is an important enhancement to IPVanish’s comprehensive service.

CyberGhost – CyberGhost is a powerful VPN that offers an extensive range of servers and is compatible with the WireGuard protocol. WireGuard was integrated into CyberGhost in 2020, and it is now accessible on both desktop and mobile applications.

Surfshark – Surfshark, a VPN that is recognized by many, incorporates advanced security features into its service. Among these features is the implementation of the WireGuard protocol. Instead of static IP addresses, Surfshark provides dynamic IP addresses to its WireGuard users, ensuring the preservation of their online privacy.

Additionally, WireGuard received early support from Private Internet Access, cryptostorm, and various other VPN providers. As the WireGuard protocol and software developed, an increasing number of commercial VPN providers started to endorse it. To find out if your preferred provider offers WireGuard, simply search for it on their website. Furthermore, if you wish to establish your own VPN server, you can easily configure it to support WireGuard from the start. One significant benefit of using WireGuard in this scenario is that there are significantly fewer configuration options to adjust for optimal security.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is WireGuard a VPN?

No, WireGuard does not function as a VPN. WireGuard operates as a VPN protocol rather than a VPN connection. With WireGuard, your device can establish communication with a VPN server; however, WireGuard itself does not offer any paid services.

What port does WireGuard use?

WireGuard has the ability to utilize any port that is considered “high” (above the ones that are restricted on modern operating systems). However, its default port is 51820/UDP.

Is WireGuard better than OpenVPN?

In the majority of situations, WireGuard surpasses OpenVPN in terms of performance. WireGuard offers a more streamlined and efficient setup process compared to OpenVPN. However, it is worth noting that there are still some devices that are incompatible with WireGuard at this time. For instance, if you are using an older router for a router-based VPN, you may need to continue using OpenVPN.

Is WireGuard multithreaded?

Indeed, the WireGuard connection is optimized through the use of multithreading. This allows the protocol to leverage multiple CPU cores, resulting in improved performance.

Is WireGuard safe for torrenting?

Certainly, WireGuard can be considered safe for torrenting. However, it is crucial to remember that maintaining a kill switch and being cautious in general are just as significant as the selection of your tunneling protocol when it comes to privacy concerns.

Bottom line

Although IPSec and OpenVPN have been effective for many individuals, they do have their limitations. These older protocols can be sluggish, utilize obsolete encryption methods, and present challenges when it comes to maintaining security. WireGuard, on the other hand, revolutionized the world of VPN protocols. If you desire a state-of-the-art VPN experience that keeps pace with the latest technological advancements, WireGuard is your best choice.

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