IPSEC vs. SSL: Which VPN Protocol is Better For YouLast Updated by Joel Timothy on February 13, 2019
Today, many businesses allow staff to work remotely and, to facilitate this, you must have an efficient connection to the office network.
Initially, the only VPN technology available was the IPsec VPN standard, with the introduction of SSL in 1999. Anyone establishing a network connection chooses between the two protocols depending on requirements.
What is IPsec
IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) is a VPN protocol that encrypts and secures data sent over the internet. IPsec VPNs provides great data authentication, confidentiality, and integrity.
For IPsec to work, the sending and receiving devices must share a public key and all communicating devices must have an IPsec client software application installed. There is no restriction to specific applications and users can access the entire network.
What is SSL
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security protocol that provides a secure channel between a server and a client. Typically, this is between a web server and a browser or a mail server and mail client. Instead of having data send in plain text, SSL creates an encrypted link and protects sensitive information like credit card numbers and login details.
SSL offers only one encryption option, but security can be enhanced using third-party authentication. The protocol does not require client software and allows controlled and managed access to specified apps.
- Always-on connectivity
- Wider compatibility and no restrictions on apps
- Multiple encryption options for stronger end-point security
- Inbuilt authentication and does not require third-party integrations
- Fully included in IPv6 clients
- Expensive to deploy
- Hidden costs of supporting software
- Granular security
- No client software required
- Easy to implement
- Lacks built-in user authentication
- Scarce application support
- Cost of purchasing certificates
- Resource-heavy and can cause poor performance in low-end devices
Difference between IPsec and SSL
Among the key differentiators between the VPN protocols is that SSL connects users to specific apps and services, while IPsec connects remote hosts to entire networks and supports all IP-based applications.
IPsec is faster and is optimized for quick access to VoIP and streaming media, and retrieves items at the network layer much quicker. With SSL, users won’t have access to network resources like printers or centralized storage.
IPsec VPN requires host based clients, which means that to access an IPsec VPN, your device must have an IPsec client software application installed. Since most web browsers have SSL capabilities built in, it can be used with almost every computer in the world.
If achieving maximum data safety is your priority, then IPsec is the way to go. IPSec offers built-in authentication making it perfect for preserving data integrity, and IPsec VPNs have strong anti-replay capabilities as well as the option of different encryption levels.
SSL lacks inbuilt authentication and relies on third-party integrations. While IPsec can use the more powerful AES standard, SSL can only use the single DES (128-bit key), which is inadequate for most applications.
IPsec VPN solutions are generally easier to set up and manage. Apart from the VPN app installations, everything else is hands-free on the client side, and users only need to switch on the VPN clients to gain secure access.
The same cannot be said of SSL. When using SSL, client computers have a connection to specific apps and not the entire network, which requires regular configurations to ensure each has the necessary access.
Choosing the right Remote Access VPN
Companies must choose the VPN technology that best matches their business needs. You should consider the size of your organization as well as the user base. If your primary applications are web-based, SSL is a good option, but if you need to go beyond web apps, then you should consider IPsec
Securing data in transit should matter to every business; however, the level of security required varies. The data encryption provided by SSL VPNs may be sufficient for employees trying to access company emails, while the robust data encryption and user authentication provided by IPsec may be required for doctors or finance personnel who need access to sensitive data.
Deploying and managing a remote access VPN can be a costly and time-consuming process, so consider the available budget and in-house expertise. Compared to SSL, IPsec VPNs take much longer to deploy because of the need to provision special-purpose IPsec client software.
Our top recommended L2TP/IPsec VPN
Most premium VPN service providers offer the L2TP/IPsec protocol; however, not many can guarantee the safety of your data. Some top VPNs like ExpressVPN aren’t structured to fit office use, and, in our opinion, the best for business is NordVPN.
The NordVPN service includes CyberSec; a cybersecurity feature that helps prevent phishing and other attacks, and is an essential feature for businesses, as they are the primary targets of cybercrime.
With a business subscription, you will get a dedicated account manager, and each of your VPN accounts will have a dedicated IP address (individual or shared) for stable access to various services and databases.
IPsec and SSL can both be used to provide secure, remote access. Each has strengths and weaknesses that can help you to determine the right VPN protocol for you.