VPN Protocol Comparison (2017): OpenVPN vs IKev2

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Online privacy has nowadays become the key talking point in the tech universe and a top priority in public opinion. This is greatly a result of the violent crackdowns taken by world governments against internet privacy by tightening the grip around an individual’s right to online freedom through expanding internet surveillance and censorship. Everyday more laws and penalties are created to compromise internet freedom as we know it in an attempt to make the internet an arena for publicly trading personal data. On the other hand, as  technology grows more and more advanced, personal data is put at risk for cyber criminal activities, such as: hacking, phishing, identity theft and many more.

As a consequence, netizens have resorted to using VPN services to maintain the privacy and security of their internet environment. Not only does a VPN encrypt data traffic to make web browsing anonymous and secure, but it also helps its users to bypass geo-restrictions and censorship to be able to unblock restricted web content. However, there is a wide array of VPN services today that use different types of tunneling protocols for encryption, such as: PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, SSTP, IKev2, and many more, which makes it difficult and equally mind-boggling for many internet users when choosing the right VPN provider.

For this reason, we have selected 2 tunneling protocols (OpenVPN and IKev2) to help you get a better idea about encryption protocols and the different features provided by each one. Scroll down for more details.


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OpenVPN is known to be the best, safest and strongest tunneling protocol to this day and it is always recommended by privacy advocates and VPN services. The reason behind this is that OpenVPN is an open source protocol that relies on OpenSSL library (used in online banking, online purchases, sensitive data transfer, etc.) as well as SSLv3/TLSv1 security layers  to create Site-to-Site and Point-to-Point connections and provide strongly encrypted and authenticated VPN solutions. In addition, OpenVPN is supported by a number of sturdy encryption algorithms, such as: AES, Blowfish, 3DES,  CAST-128, Camellia, etc. Most VPN providers rely on either 128-bit Blowfish or AES 256-bit OpenVPN encryption to provide optimal online security and anonymity. OpenVPN stands out among other encryption protocols when it comes to bypassing online censorship, DPI and robust firewalls, like The Great Firewall of China.


1- Compatible with UPD ports to bypass tough firewalls, DPI and other forms of internet censorship.

2- Easy configuration process if you have technical knowledge.

3- Relies on advanced security layers and encryption algorithms, such as: AES, Blowfish, 3DES,  CAST-128, Camellia.

4- Compatible with SSL/TLS, RSA Certificates and X509 PKI, NAT, DHCP, and TUN/TAP virtual devices.

5- Compatible with several platforms, including: Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS and Android.

6- Can be configured on multiple servers to be used with numerous simultaneous connections.

7- The most secure tunneling protocol to date compared to other protocols, like: PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKev2, etc.

8- Can be paired with other protocols to provide maximum security level, such as: SSH over OpenVPN.

9- Uses advanced methods to manage bandwidth.

10- Compatible with smart cards (e.g: Microsoft CryptoAPI).


1- Slower than other encryption protocols, notably L2TP/IPsec.

2- Runs better on desktops than on mobile devices.

3- Complicated setup process.

4- Needs to be configured on certain platforms via an external software.



Internet Key Exchange version 2, IKev2 for short, is an IPsec-based tunneling protocol that was unitedly developed by Cisco and Microsoft. IKev2 relies mainly on AES 256-bit encryption for optimal level of security and comes with several distinctive features and combines between both speed and security. One of IKev2’s special features is that it is extremely mobile-friendly, especially with Blackberry because it supports MOBIKE protocol (Mobility and Multihoming). Moreover, IKev2 is distinctively famous for its ability to auto-reconnecting a VPN connection.  This means that data traffic will remain encrypted and secured even if the VPN connection is temporarily lost due to any malfunction. Auto re-connection is particularly advantageous for mobile users as they can safely switch between network connections (e.g: WiFi to mobile data and vice versa) with their VPN being re-connected automatically in a very short period of time.


1- Faster than L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and SSTP.

2- Auto VPN reconnection.

3- Very secure (but less secure than OpenVPN) as it relies on several encryption protocols, such as: AES 128, AES 192, AES 256 and 3DES algorithms.

4- User-friendly and is very easy to setup.

5- Compatible with Blackberry.

6- Reliable and stable.

7- Uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) to ensure that a session key collected from a group of long-term keys cannot be jeopardised should any of the long-term keys is put at risk in the future.


1- Being IPsec-based, IKev2 uses UDP 500 which can be detected by some ISPs, hence, can be blocked.

2- Not an open-source technology.

3- Not compatible with major platforms.