If you use VPNs frequently, you may have come across WireGuard when selecting a protocol to use. But what exactly is WireGuard, and what makes it stand out from other VPN protocols out there? In this article, we’ll tell you all about what makes this VPN protocol unique, its origin, implementation, and why you may be better off choosing it.
Before explaining what WireGuard is, it is essential to establish a basic understanding of VPN protocols for those who are new to the subject. VPN protocols are programs that contain a set of instructions for how data is transferred between users and a VPN server.
VPN protocols are at the heart of VPN services. They determine the kind of networking tunnels that are created for data to be transmitted between a client and a server. VPN protocols are the reason why you can enjoy private and secure browsing when using a VPN service.
There are several VPN protocols to choose from, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. WireGuard is a relatively new VPN protocol. It was designed as a replacement for popular VPN protocols like IPSec, IPv6, and OpenVPN.
WireGuard is touted as safer, simpler, faster, and easy-to-use. WireGuard is the brainchild of developer Jason Donenfeld. It was launched in 2016 and is thought to still be in its experimental phase. Nonetheless, it is already available as an option on many VPNs.
WireGuard stands out from other VPN protocols because it is open source. Also, it contains just 4,000 lines of code, so it is one of the leanest VPN protocols. Additionally, it also comes with ultra-modern cryptography.
WireGuard is designed to be simple but powerful. It can work with embedded devices, routers, and even supercomputers. It is super easy to deploy; a connection is made by initiating an exchange of simple public keys, and connection handshakes are programmed to take place every few minutes automatically. You don’t have to worry about random disconnections. WireGuard also supports IP address roaming.
This VPN protocol was originally designed for Linux kernel but can now be deployed on Windows, Android, BSD, macOS, and iOS.
The lean code of WireGuard means it is easy to debug it and scan it for potential security loopholes. As indicated above, WireGuard is still under development, but it is shaping up to be a revolutionary VPN protocol.
As indicated above, WireGuard comes with ultra-modern security provisions. Its cryptography protocols and algorithms focus on protecting user data and preventing any breach of privacy.
Unlike most VPN protocols that depend on the AES encryption system, WireGuard uses a combination of ChaCha20 and Poly1305 for encryption and authentication, respectively. This ensures you can enjoy protection without any extra workload for your hardware.
WireGuard has a 1.5 Round Trip Time handshake. The connection handshake is time-based and does not depend on the content of your data packets. This means there is no interruption in your connection even if some data packets get lost.
The WireGuard cryptography design also includes BLAKE2s and SipHash24 for hashing and hashtable keys, HKDF for key derivation, and Cure25519 for Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) agreement protocol.
Since different developers contributed to this open-source system, WireGuard’s cryptography system is so effective that it is almost impossible to find and exploit security vulnerabilities. A connection between peers is established through the exchange of public keys, just like OpenSSH.
WireGuard’s unique Cryptokey Routing ensures that every network has a list of tunnel IP addresses and public keys that are associated with it. The protocol will only respond to peers that have the right public keys. This eliminates the possibility of key impersonation.
There is a pulse mechanism to ensure that the shared public keys are the and handshakes are updated frequently. Each host has a separate packet queue to reduce the possibility of a loss of data packets during handshakes.
WireGuard depends on a 64-bit counter instead of reusing nonces. This prevents the possibility of replay attacks since it cannot be wound backward. WireGuard’s defense system also includes protection against denial-of-service attacks.
When you establish a connection with WireGuard, everything is done quickly and automatically. It works smoothly, and there is no erratic loss of connection.
OpenVPN is an award-winning VPN protocol and one of the most trusted options for users. Just like WireGuard, OpenVPN is open source. Although OpenVPN is touted to be highly reliable and flexible, WireGuard is much leaner and possibly more impervious to attacks.
OpenVPN has over 400,000 lines of code, while WireGuard has just 4,000 lines of code. The huge code of OpenVPN provides a wide area for hackers to exploit. On the other hand, WireGuard’s shorter code makes it easier to debug and scan for security issues.
OpenVPN depends on OpenSSL for its encryption. OpenSSL supports different cryptography algorithms. This makes it flexible and an excellent option to guarantee your security. OpenVPN can switch between different cryptographic algorithms to ensure your safety. The only downside is that the complexity of the code and its execution can translate to a slower execution and speed.
WireGuard’s cryptography and security system are built into its code. This makes WireGuard much more safe and stable. WireGuard has a fixed set of cryptographic algorithms. So, while WireGuard lacks the multiple cryptographic algorithm options that OpenVPN has, it makes up for this with speed.
In terms of performance, tests show that WireGuard is a much better option compared to OpenVPN. WireGuard is more than 50 times faster than OpenVPN in terms of performance speed and establishing connections. It is also much more stable.
OpenVPN’s encryption and identification system depend on certificates, while WireGuard uses public keys for authentication and encryption.
If you are more concerned about privacy than performance, then OpenVPN ranks over WireGuard since it does not store any user logs. WireGuard’s cryptokey routing algorithm requires the system to store IP addresses on a VPN server since it cannot dynamically assign IP addresses to the users on a server. This means each user gets the same IP address.
However, VPN services like NordVPN have come up with a solution that allows users to enjoy the benefits of WireGuard without having to compromise on their no-logs stance.
The main advantage that WireGuard has over other VPN protocols is that it is designed to be lighter and offers state-of-the-art encryption without any performance overhead. This means it is faster, safer, and virtually invulnerable to hacking attempts.
WireGuard offers super-fast speeds compared to other VPN protocols. It is undoubtedly the fastest and possibly the most secure VPN protocol available today.
Users get to enjoy excellent performance and bandwidth speeds of up to 1000Mbps without compromising on security. Although this VPN protocol provides super-fast performance, it doesn’t put a heavy workload on your CPU or drain your battery since it is executed as a Linux kernel module. It works with different devices and can even be deployed on basic devices like the Raspberry Pi.
The fact that WireGuard uses public keys instead of certificate authentication is one of the reasons for its superior performance. This also guarantees impenetrable encryption at all times.
Another key advantage of WireGuard is that it is user friendly. Setting up a secure connection and configuring the settings is quick and mostly automatic. Also, WireGuard is deployable on all the major operating systems.
Since WireGuard has fewer lines of code than other VPN protocols, it is easy to audit and scan for potential security issues. While a team of developers will have to work on auditing the code of a VPN protocol like OpenVPN, auditing the WireGuard code can be a one-person job.
Another often overlooked advantage of WireGuard is that it is still under development. This is often cited as a disadvantage of this VPN protocol, but in reality, it means that the best is yet to come, and WireGuard is bound to get better with time.
Although WireGuard has only been around for a few years, it presents such exciting prospects that some of the top VPN protocols are already making it available as an option for users. So, if you are thinking of using WireGuard, you’ll be glad to know that there are many VPNs to choose from.
A lot of the VPN platforms that support WireGuard have sought to improve it in different ways. For example, while this VPN protocol is supposed to store IP addresses, VPN platforms have figured how to enhance the system to protect user privacy and uphold their no-logging policy.
NordVPN was one of the first VPNs to support WireGuard, but many other VPNs give users the option of using the WireGuard protocol. Apart from NordVPN, some of the best VPN providers that support WireGuard are Surfshark, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, StrongVPN, and many others. We’ll briefly look at some of the top VPNs that support WireGuard below.
NordVPN is one of the leading VPNs in the world today and was one of the first to support WireGuard through its NordLynx protocol. NordVPN is optimized to provide super-fast speed and strong security. It is one of the all-around fastest VPNs available today.
This VPN has 5500 servers in 59 countries across the globe. NordVPN is available for routers and browsers. You can also get the app - compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux. It can be connected to up to six devices at the same time.
NordVPN supports Torrenting and P2P. It is also an excellent option for uninterrupted streaming. This VPN works with Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and other online streaming platforms.
NordVPN AES 256-bit encryption and protects against IPV6 and DNS leaks. You can choose from different protocols like OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), IKEv2/IPSec, and NordLynx (WireGuard) when using this VPN. Some other features of NordVPN include a kill switch, no logging, double VPN, IP masking, Onion over VPN protocol, malware protection, and adblocking.
NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol was launched in July 2019. It was initially only available for Linux but is now available for all other operating systems. NordLynx is based on the WireGuard protocol. To prevent logging, NordVPN enhanced the NordLynx protocol by adding double NAT (network address translation) to it.
The double NAT system works by creating two network interfaces. The dynamic IP system ensures that each user gets a unique IP address. The IP address only remains active while the session is ongoing, and an external database is responsible for user authentication.
This means a dynamic IP address is assigned to each tunnel, and the user’s IP addresses aren’t stored. So, you can enjoy the benefits of WireGuard without compromising your privacy. To use NordLynx, all you have to do is select it from the options when choosing a protocol for your NordVPN connection.
Surfshark was launched in 2018. Although this VPN provider has been around for a comparatively short time, it has earned a good reputation thanks to its numerous features, user-friendly software, and affordable pricing.
Surfshark has about 1700 servers in 63 countries across the world. This VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption. You can choose from different protocols, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, and Shadowsocks.
Surfshark works with all the major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. It is also available as a browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox. It can also be installed on a router and a smart TV.
Surfshark is great for Torrenting and P2P file sharing. You get access to 15 Netflix libraries from different countries across the world. It also works for other streaming platforms like Hulu, HBO, Prime Video, Disney Plus, ESPN, SlingTV, and many more. You can connect an unlimited number of devices to one Surfshark account.
Surfshark comes with numerous features, including DNS and IPv6 protection. It has an ad blocker, malware blocker, and tracker blocker called CleanWeb. This feature ensures that you can stay truly anonymous online. If your email or password is breached, Surfshark’s HackLock monitors things and keeps you notified.
If you are in a tightly censored country, Surfshark VPN allows you to access the internet without any restriction, thanks to its NoBorders Mode. In this mode, you can access special servers. There is also a Camouflage mode, which makes your internet activity appear innocuous to anyone who is monitoring you.
Surfshark comes with an automatic kill switch. This VPN has a no-logs policy. Surfshark does not store any information related to your internet activity.
Surfshark officially made WireGuard available on its platform in October 2020. It is available for Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS devices. Just like NordVPN, Surfshark provides a dynamic IP address to all users who choose the WireGuard protocol.
Apart from this double NAT feature, Surfshark also uses a network of RAM-only servers. This means you can be 100 percent sure that no data is stored.
Private Internet Access is an open-source VPN platform that has been around for over a decade. It supports advanced network settings and comes with an easy-to-use app. You can connect the Private Internet Access VPN to 10 devices simultaneously.
Private Internet Access is compatible with Android, Windows, Linux, iOS, and macOS operating systems. You can install it on a router and a smart TV. And it is available as an add-on for Chrome and Firefox.
You can use Private Internet Access for Torrenting and P2P file sharing. This VPN comes with numerous features, including IPv6 protection, DNS protection, split tunneling, and IP masking. In addition to these, you also get an ad blocker, malware blocker, and tracker blocker. Private Internet Access has a strict no-logs policy.
Private Internet Access has over 17,000 servers in 72 countries across the world. That’s more servers than many of the top VPNs available today.
This VPN uses AES 256-bit and AES 128-bit encryption. You can choose either OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, or WireGuard protocol. It also gives users the option of using the SOCKS5 proxy.
You can use Private Internet Access to access blocked multimedia content on Netflix and other streaming platforms. It also works well for P2P file sharing. With Private Internet Access, you enjoy unlimited bandwidth.
Private Internet Access first announced the availability of WireGuard as part of a beta program in March 2020. However, WireGuard is now out of the beta testing phase on the Private Internet Access platform and is now available to everyone using this VPN.
Private Internet Access has sought to supplement the WireGuard protocol with additional security provisions. The VPN runs an RSA-certified RESTful API on its servers that run WireGuard. This ensures that your traffic is not logged. Private Internet Access also has a daemon that deletes connection data when it remains dormant for at least three minutes.
CyberGhost is a VPN service that was launched in 2011. This VPN has grown to be one of the top-rated VPN platforms with millions of users across the globe. The team behind CyberGhost believes that privacy is a basic human right, so they work tirelessly to provide tools to keep users anonymous and safe online.
CyberGhost VPN has 6800 servers in 90 different countries across the world, and it supports up to 7 simultaneous connections on the same account. CyberGhost is compatible with Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Linux. It is also available for smart TVs and as an add-on plugin for Chrome. You can even have it installed on a router.
CyberGhost supports Torrenting and PSP file sharing. It also supports getting past Netflix’s geo-blocking restrictions and works with most of the top streaming platforms, like Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Showtime, ESPN, BBC iPlayer, and others.
CyberGhost VPN features include a kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, double encryption, split tunneling, WiFi and HTTPS protection, ad blocker, and No-Spy servers (multihop servers). All these provisions ensure that you stay safe online.
CyberGhost has a strict no-logs policy. The people behind this VPN are open about their work. This is why, in 2018, CyberGhost became one of the first VPN platforms to publish a transparency report.
CyberGhost uses AES 256-bit encryption. It supports different VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.
CyberGhost made WireGuard available to Linux users earlier this year. CyberGhost is currently beta testing WireGuard on the iOS platform. The CyberGhost team is still working to make the service available for other operating systems, and no doubt, it will be available for all users in the near future.
Just like Private Internet Access, CyberGhost also runs RESTful API for users who choose the WireGuard protocol to ensure that no data is logged. This adds another layer of security and protects your privacy.
WireGuard can be connected to virtually any device that works with a VPN. The list of devices supported by WireGuard includes the following:
WireGuard can work with any device that can be connected to the internet. It works with Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and other operating systems, This includes supercomputers and basic computers like the Raspberry Pi.
Yes, WireGuard is safe, although it is still under development. The main problem with WireGuard currently is that some user data is logged, particularly your IP address. However, since VPN providers understand that anonymity and privacy are part of the core reasons people use VPNs, they have solutions to get past that hurdle.
Some of the ways that VPN services like NordVPN, Surfshark, and other platforms have improved the WireGuard protocol include running double NAT and RESTful API on it.
There’s no doubt that WireGuard is the future of VPN protocols. It is leaner, faster, and more secure than many of the VPN protocols available today. Ironically, although it does not have the cryptographic agility of many popular VPN protocols, it does a better job of protecting your data.
WireGuard beats all VPN protocols in terms of almost everything worth considering. Yes, this VPN protocol does have its shortcomings, but it can easily be patched. Also, the fact that WireGuard is still under development means it stands to be considerably better (than it currently is) before it is officially deemed to be market worthy.