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L2TP Protocol Explained

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When you begin looking for a VPN provider, you will notice that there are different types of security Protocols used. Among these protocols is L2TP. Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol does not provide encryption or confidentiality, making it important that you understand exactly what it does for you.

L2TP

Every modern operating system has L2TP/IPSec built in. Just as quick and easy to set up and use as PPTP, it’s also built into devices that are VPN capable. Unfortunately, L2TP utilizes UDP port 500. This port is quickly blocked by NAT firewalls, requiring advanced port forwarding.

The good news is that L2TP has no known vulnerabilities. When implemented properly, the protocol is considered to be secure. Like PPTP, it is believed that the NSA has compromised this protocol and, ultimately, deliberately weakened it.

L2TP/IPSec is not as efficient as OpenVPN and SSTP protocols because it encapsulates data twice. Because of this double encapsulation, it is also slower than the previous two protocols.

Positives:

  • Already built in to modern operating systems
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Considered to be secure

Negatives:

  • Thought to have been compromised by the NSA
  • Thought to have been weakened by the NSA
  • Not as fast as OpenVPN and SSTP
  • May not be able to overcome restrictive firewalls

When given the choice, L2TP/IPSec is preferred over PPTP. In the same token, when given the choice, OpenVPN and SSTP are preferable over L2TP/IPSec. If you are trying to bypass geo-restrictions or simply want to hide your identity from prying eyes, this protocol is considered adequate.

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