People use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) for many different reasons. Some use them to unblock websites or use applications from any location where they are otherwise inaccessible due to local government blocking, while others install VPN to hide their actual IP addresses or encrypt data being transferred via the Internet. With the increasing online security concerns from phishing to email hacking,

VPN has become the go-to solution to minimize the risk of a security breach. Not only are VPN applications reliable, but also so easy to use that even the most casual computer users know how to secure their connections.

VPN is constructed basically by using public Internet wires to join nodes and enable users to create networks for an Internet connection. These networks are equipped with encryptions and other security measures to prevent the connection from being intercepted by unauthorized users.

VPN has been around for many years, and there are many different companies offering various versions of the same thing with their own unique encryption methods. Regardless of the versions, VPN essentially has only three major elements: the server, the protocol, and the encryption level.

Even the most basic version of VPN has adequate encryption level to secure connection and the transfer of data. The network is run on an encrypted tunnel to keep the data transferred confidential. When the tunnel runs through typical NAT (Network Addressed Translation) path – for example, a router – the tunnel often stops working. One of the main reasons is that the node and endpoint have the same internal LAN address; when the connection is bridged by a NAT, all sorts of complication may happen. While such VPN protocol is reliable in terms of security, connection reliability is often a hurdle difficult to overcome. But you don’t have to use a typical VPN because there are newer versions with higher encryption levels and more robust connectivity. One of the most powerful today is the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP).

Originally developed by Microsoft, SSTP is one of the most secure and reliable VPN available today. It was created as an answer to the typical VPNs’ unstable connectivity issues with a major improvement on the encryption level at the same time. SSTP establishes a connection over secure HTTPS, allowing users to access networks (including those behind NAT routers, proxies, and firewalls) without any concern for poor/lost connectivity or even port blocking problems.

What You Need to Know

Internet protocol is a highly complex thing, and that is without any kind of VPN involved. When it comes to SSTP VPN, things get much more complicated but you should be able to understand the basics from the following points:

  • SSTP is a proprietary technology owned by Microsoft and was first introduced with the release of Windows Vista. Newer versions of Windows also come with native support for SSTP VPN. It is also compatible with Linux, Ubuntu and Mac OS.
  • SSTP creates a secure tunnel to transfer data by facilitating the transport of PPP traffic via SSL/TLS channel.
  • PPP or Point-to-Point Protocol is one that establishes communication between two directly connected computers.
  • SSL/TLS establishes a secure connection between the web server and browsers/clients.

PPP is most commonly used for a basic level of connectivity. SSL provides data integrity and cryptography techniques, while TSL allows client and server to authenticate each other.

  • There is a close relation between SSL and SSTP, but the latter is a tunneling protocol. But because SSTP uses SSL/TLS over TCP port 443 –the same port used for HTTPS traffic – connection can pass through just about every proxy server and firewall, making it a dependable technology to access all websites from every location. For users who live in areas or countries with severe internet censorship or regulations, SSTP is an effective way to bypass online restrictions. Another advantage of using TCP port 443 is that SSTP is able to function without problem in network environments where other VPNs are easily blocked.
  • SSTP is intended as application-layer VPN protocol, but not for site-to-site VPN. Perhaps it is a limitation, but the good this is that SSTP allows seamless connections among many application endpoints over a single network. A major benefit is the efficient usage of communication resources available to that particular network.
  • When it comes to encryption, SSTP always utilizes 2048 bit encryption. Compared to most (if not all) VPN protocols, SSTP is arguably the most secure thanks to the sophisticated authentication processes. Although it is more reliable than competitors, SSTP VPN protocol is still not the most widely used because of its limited compatibility. It will work with major operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS (although Microsoft has not directly ported SSTPS for other computer operating systems, so you need to use third-party client tool). There is still no native support for mobile devices either. If you are a Windows user, it most likely is the best solution to ensure your internet safety.

The vast majority of users are not well-informed about what kind of VPN protocol they use, and which one to use depending on their specific needs.

SSTP VPN on Windows

Even with the built-in support for Windows, users still have to configure the connection properly to make the connection work. Open Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center to access the settings. An easier way is to download and install a ready-to-go SSTP VPN application. Since Windows users already have native support for SSTP protocol, there is almost no reason at all to opt for the less secure options.

Advantages and Drawbacks

In addition to reliable security, SSTP VPN comes with a lot of other advantages too including:

  • Perfect anonymity/secrecy
  • You don’t have to install a third-party VPN client, although the process is much easier if you do
  • SSTP is advanced enough to pass through just about every firewall and online restriction
  • It is integrated into the Windows operating system

There are unfortunately several (yet notable) disadvantages:

  • The technology is exclusively owned by Microsoft; this may not be a big deal, but the simple fact that it is not open-source may hinder improvement. However, it is already very secure as it is now.
  • On operating systems other than windows, SSTP connections depend on third-party clients. Connection quality and reliability are therefore determined by how well-made the clients are.
  • High-level encryption may slow down connection unless you have extensive bandwidth

The shortcomings are far outweighed by the benefits, especially if security and privacy come as a priority.

Author's Bio: 

Amy Jackson works as an advertising specialist at web design and development agency, she is an inspired writer who loves to share her experiences using lovely words. Her passion for writing has made her produce numerous articles on design, Technology digital marketing and business. You can also follow the author on Twitter