Why to use IKEv2 VPN Protocol?


The Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) VPN protocol is becoming more and more superior over the past few years. V2 is much better then IKEv1. MOBIKE is a unique feature of IKEv2, which makes it very resistant to any network changes. So, if you happen to switch from a wifi connection to a data connection, the VPN connection will remain unaffected. Even while maintaining the high-end security standards, IKEv2 is still able to offer fast speed.

In a nutshell, IKEv2 is an IPsec-based tunneling VPN protocol that provides a secure VPN transmission channel between end VPN devices. IKEV2 is collectively generated by Cisco and Microsoft. The first version of the protocol was IKEv1 and it was launched in 1998, and the second version i.e IKEv2 was launched 7 years later.

IKEv2 protocol

Basics are the same for IKEV2 as for any other VPN protocol, IKEv2 is also accountable for building a secure tunnel between the VPN client and the VPN server. It carries out the process by first validating both the VPN client and the VPN server, and it then confirms the encryption method that will be used in the process. IKEv2 handles the SA attribute. SA is actually the process of setting up security attributes between two network ends which in this case are the VPN client and the VPN server. It is able to do that by producing the same symmetric encryption key for both VPN client and the VPN server. This key is then used to encrypt and decrypt all the data traffic that passes through the VPN tunnel.

Is IKEv2 secure enough?

Without any second thought, yes, IKEv2 VPN protocol is very secure. As it is based on 256-bit encryption and can use multiple ciphers. Moreover, IKEv2/IPSec also supports MOBIKE feature which prevents connection drops when the network is changed.  Also, IKEv2’s certificate-based authentication checks make sure that nothing is done until the identification of the requester is done and validated. How can we forget that Microsoft worked on IKEv2, which itself is a very trustworthy organization? And also they didn’t work on the protocol alone, but together with a company like Cisco, which has a big name in the world of networks.

IKEv2 protocol

Well, no VPN protocol can provide the same speed as your regular internet speed. But, when compared to fellow VPN protocols, IKEv2/IPSec offers good speed. It is actually one of the fastest VPN protocols available to VPN users. It is a bit less than other fast VPN protocols like  PPTP or SoftEther. Also, as it runs on UDP port 500, it helps in reducing the latency. It will be worth mentioning that because of its MOBIKE feature, you don’t need to worry about IKEv2’ speeds going down or being interrupted when the network is changed.

Advantages of using IKEv2 VPN protocol

  • IKEv2 security is pretty strong as it holds many high-end ciphers.
  • IKEv2 is still able to offer fast speed.
  • IKEv2 can efficiently combat network changes, and can automatically restore dropped connections, as it has amazing MOBIKE support.
  • IKEv2 is also available on BlackBerry devices.
  • Setting up an IKEv2 VPN is very simple.

Disadvantages of using IKEv2 VPN protocol

  • IKEv2 only uses UDP port 500, which unfortunately can be blocked in a firewall or in a network by the network admin.
  • IKEv2 doesn’t offer much cross-platform compatibility like other VPN protocols like PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SoftEther.

IKEv2 protocol

1. IKEv1 vs. IKEv2

IKEv2 offers support for remote access by default, thanks to its EAP authentication. IKEv2 consumes less bandwidth than IKEv1.

The IKEv2 VPN protocol uses encryption keys for both sides, making it more secure than IKEv1. IKEv2 has MOBIKE support which helps it to withstand network changes. Unlike IKEv1, IKEv2 can actually detect if a VPN tunnel is “alive” or not. That feature allows IKEv2 to automatically re-establish a dropped connection.  IKEv1 doesn’t have built-in NAT traversal as IKEv2 does. Not IKEv1, but the IKEv2 protocol first confirms if the requester actually exists, and only after validation any further action is taken. Because of that, it’s more immune to DDoS attacks.

2. IKEv2 vs. L2TP/IPSec:

IKEv2/IPSec is faster than L2TP/IPSec, as L2TP/IPSec is more resource consuming due to its double encapsulation mechanism, and when it comes to VPN tunnel negotiation L2TP takes longer time than IKEV2. Both the protocols almost use the same ports due to being paired up with IPSec, L2TP might be easier to block with a NAT firewall as L2TP doesn’t work well with NAT. Both L2TP and IKEv2 are usually bonded with IPSec. It seems they offer the same level of security. L2TP/IPSec is closed-source, there are open-source implementations of IKEv2 which makes it more secure. If we talk about the stability of the connection, it is true that IKEv2 is far more stable than L2TP/IPSec since it can resist network changes. By stability we mean anyone can switch between different internet connections without affecting the IKEv2 connection going down. In case if it goes down for some reason it is restored immediately. If we talk about platforms, L2TP/IPSec is available on more platforms than IKEv2/IPSec is, but IKEv2 is available on BlackBerry devices also.

3. IKEv2 vs. IPSec

It is a very obvious case that IKEv2/IPSec will be better than IPSec in every way,  as it contains the security benefits of IPSec along with the speed and stability of IKEv2.

4. IKEv2 vs. OpenVPN

OpenVPN being open-source seems more appealing option than IKEv2. But, it is not that huge factor as you can similarly use open-source implementations of IKEv2.

When it comes to speed IKEv2 is usually faster than OpenVPN. But at the same time, it is really difficult for a network admin to block OpenVPN traffic as the protocol uses port 443, which is the normal internet traffic HTTPS port. On the other hand, IKEv2 uses only UDP port 500 which can be blocked easily in a network without affecting normal internet traffic.

Both of the protocols are fairly stable, but IKEv2 outdoes OpenVPN on mobile devices as IKEV2 can withstand network changes.

If we talk about cross platforms, L2TP/IPSec is available on more platforms than IKEv2/IPSec is, but IKEv2 is usually a bit easier to set up since it ’s already integrated into the platforms it’s available on.

5. IKEv2 vs. PPTP

IKEv2 have always been a better option than PPTP, as IKEv2 is way more secure than PPTP. Like many other VPN protocols, PPTP also can’t stand with IKEv2 in terms of stability. PPTP is able to outshine many other VPN protocols because of the high speed it offers. But IKEv2 is actually proficient of offering similar speed.

The only known area where PPTP is better than IKEv2 is its availability on most of the platforms and it is easy to configure as well. However, native support for PPTP is being removed from newer versions of some operating systems. For example, PPTP is no longer natively available on iOS 10 and macOS Sierra.

6. IKEv2 vs. SoftEther

Both IKEv2 and SoftEther are similarly secure protocols, just because SoftEther is open source it is trusted over IKEV2. But again you can find open-source implementations of IKEv2 too. Both protocols give out a good speed, though SoftEther is a bit faster than IKEv2. They have their own amazing features. At one hand SoftEther is much harder to block on a firewall or in a network because it runs on port 443 (the HTTPS port). On the other hand, IKEv2’s MOBIKE feature makes it ultra stable. Also, SoftEther is not available for BlackBerry devices, but IKEV2 is available for BlackBerry devices.

How to configure IKEv2?

LimeVPN has a vast knowledge base that will guide you with IKEv2 configuration on different OS https://limevpn.com/how-to-use/

IKEv2 is very secure to use, as it has support for robust encryption ciphers. Also, IKEv2 is the best choice for mobile users due to its MOBIKE support which allows IKEv2 connections to powerfully withstand network changes. It is fast, secure, stable, in short, it is a reliable VPN protocol that you can choose over almost all other VPN protocols.  What are you waiting for? Signup for a VPN service like LimeVPN which support IKEV2 protocol and enjoy a safe and secure internet without worrying about network changes and cyber threats.