VPN Security Protocols Explained: Understanding PPTP

Last Updated by Gray Williams on December 20, 2018

As you are researching different VPNs you have undoubtedly come across companies listing PPTP with their security protocols. If you’re not sure what that means, or whether it is important for you, you’ve come to the right place.

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We’ll explain everything you need to know about PPTP so you can decide if a VPN tunnel best suits your needs.

Choosing the best VPN protocol for the fastest browsing experience can be confusing. If you are looking for the fastest protocol on the market, look no further than PPTP.

About PPTP

PPTP, what is it and what does it stand for?

PPTP is an acronym for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. Phew! It’s not fancy toilet paper! In layman’s terms,  a permitted language in which computers communicate with each other based on a set of rules. These communication rules let users extend their own private network by “tunneling” through unsecured, public networks acting as a VPN.

Created in 1999, PPTP is one of the oldest VPN protocols and is still being used today. Developed by Microsoft, it has been used on all versions of Windows since Windows 95 was created. Today, almost every device, desktop, and mobile platform are being supported by PPTP.

With PPTP, the VPN tunnels maintain a network connection as well as encrypting any data that is transferred over that network. Over the years technology has advanced, PPTP has evolved in finding new ways to encrypt data to ensure that it stays ahead of the game.

After all, PPTP is most popular because it is the fastest, most common, and the easiest VPN protocol to set up.

  • Supported By: Windows, MacOSX, Linux, iOS, Android, DD-WRT, Smartphones, Tablets, and Routers.
  • Encryption: MPPE-128 bit
  • Speed: 70Mbps on a 100Mbps broadband connection.
  • Security: PPTP is not a secure VPN by any means, it is, however, hard to decrypt. PPTP is good to use as backup security.

How PPTP Works

PPTP encrypts, authenticates, and PPP negotiate, any data that passes through and encapsulates the data in an IP envelope. When the data is captured, it travels through a “tunnel.” Every router or machine that processes the data will it (the data) IP packet. These tunnels provide secure communication for LAN use or WAN use. Even if one is on a public network connection, the information will be delivered safely.

PPTP Tunnels

There are two types of tunnels:

  1. Voluntary tunneling – Initiated by the client.
  2. Compulsory tunneling – Initiated by the PPTP server.

Tunnels are created when the user launches a PPTP client that connects to their Internet Service Provider (ISP), this is the Voluntary Tunneling step. When the server initiates, that is referred to as Compulsory Tunneling. Compulsory Tunneling must have a router to start. Voluntary Tunneling does not need routers, bridges or ISP support to initiate.

The voluntary tunneling constructs a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection between the client and the server. Once a VPN tunnel is established, PPTP is able to support two different types of information flow:

  • Control messages for managing the VPN connection. These messages pass directly between the client and the server.
  • Data packets that pass through the tunnel to or from the client.

Reasons to Use PPTP

Setting up a PPTP VPN is a straightforward process. Creating a secure PPTP connection can be done on multiple devices such as laptops, PCs, routers, Xbox’s, smartphones, and much more. PPTP VPNs give you a secure connection that helps you in three different ways;
network security protocolsIt hides your IP address, protects and transports data through a secure tunnel, and transmits the data without affecting the performance of the server. All a PPTP needs is a username, password, and a server address to develop a reliable, secure connection.

PPTP VPN service helps you access websites that are blocked or inaccessible. Using this service allows you to access your favorite movies and TV shows anywhere in the world. It provides a fast connection which is perfect for streaming as it uses very basic encryption.

This is also a downside to using PPTP since it isn’t the most secure VPN to use.

Advantages and Disadvantages of PPTP

PPTP has been around for over a decade. It has many advantages from security to speed. However, there are some disadvantages associated with using a PPTP. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a PPTP.

Advantages

  • PPTP supports all desktop and mobile operating systems. This is the most significant advantage of having PPTP. If you are a Windows user, Windows operating systems automatically support PPTP.
  • PPTP is the easiest VPN protocol to set up even for those that have little experience with configuring VPNs.
  • Due to its low-level encryption, meaning it is great for downloading, streaming, and general use. It is the fastest VPN protocol people use. For example, unblocking geo-restricted content like Hulu, Showtime for instance.
  • PPTP is cost effective.

Disadvantages

  • Limited to 128-bit encryption makes PPTP an ancient VPN protocol. This is an insecure protocol. Encrypted classified information is not recommended to use with PPTP.
  • Government agencies like the NSA have been able to crack the PPTP protocol.
  • Connection stability can vary depending on the network, resulting in slower speeds.
  • It can be easily blocked by ISPs because it runs exclusively on port 1723 and uses non-standard GRE packets which are easily identifiable.
  • Not suitable for online security and online anonymity.

If you intend to utilize a protocol that is easy to set up and enables high-speed performance, but you don’t want to be committed to maintaining a completely safe browsing experience, then PPTP is a VPN protocol you should look into setting up in your own home or business.

Like anything else, make sure you have conducted enough research before making your decision on what PPTP you would like to use.

Gray Williams
Gray Williams is an experienced data and communications engineer and cross-platform copy and content writer and editor with a keen interest in cybersecurity. He has been working with and researching, VPNs and other online privacy tools for many years.