what is wireguard vpn protocol

What Is WireGuard And Should You Use It In 2021?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Admin

There are several types of VPN protocols in use today. Of these, WireGuard is the newest protocol that is trending, but what is WireGuard?

In this article, we look at more about this VPN protocol and modern VPNs that support WireGuard.

Yes, I know this is a bit on the technical side but it’s important to learn about WireGuard as it is a major breakthrough in VPN technology.

As you know, a VPN protocol is a set of rules that determine how your traffic is exchanged between your device and the VPN server, forming the VPN tunnel.

Some protocols are optimized for security while sacrificing speed and some for speed at the expense of security.

However, WireGuard was developed to give a protocol that provides all the desired attributes of a VPN protocol in one package.

what is wireguard

How does WireGuard work?

This VPN protocol raised excitement in a lot of people and it was formed back in 2016.

It took all these years of testing and development until it was officially released in March 2020.

WireGuard is open-source and it was initially released for Linux operating system but now is available for all other major operating systems.

It uses a complex, proven cryptography to encrypt your data called cryptokey routing, where public encryption keys are coupled with authorized IP addresses in the VPN tunnel.

For the tech-savvy, WireGuard describes cryptokey routing as follows:

“WireGuard associates tunnel IP addresses with public keys and remote endpoints. When the interface sends a packet to a peer, it does the following:

  1. This packet is meant for 192.168.30.8. Which peer is that? Let me look… Okay, it’s for peer ABCDEFGH. (Or if it’s not for any configured peer, drop the packet.)
  2. Encrypt entire IP packet using peer ABCDEFGH’s public key.
  3. What is the remote endpoint of peer ABCDEFGH? Let me look… Okay, the endpoint is UDP port 53133 on host 216.58.211.110.
  4. Send encrypted bytes from step 2 over the Internet to 216.58.211.110:53133 using UDP.

When the interface receives a packet, this happens:

  1. I just got a packet from UDP port 7361 on host 98.139.183.24. Let’s decrypt it!
  2. It decrypted and authenticated properly for peer LMNOPQRS. Okay, let’s remember that peer LMNOPQRS’s most recent Internet endpoint is 98.139.183.24:7361 using UDP.
  3. Once decrypted, the plain-text packet is from 192.168.43.89. Is peer LMNOPQRS allowed to be sending us packets as 192.168.43.89?
  4. If so, accept the packet on the interface. If not, drop it.

Behind the scenes there is much happening to provide proper privacy, authenticity, and perfect forward secrecy, using state-of-the-art cryptography.”

Instead of using the usual algorithms that have known weaknesses, WireGuard opts for the following, strong protocols and primitives:

  • Curve25519 for ECDH
  • Chacha20 for asymmetric encryption, authenticated with Poly1305
  • HKDF for key derivation
  • Blake2s for hashing and keyed hashing
  • SipHash24 for hashtable keys

Platforms

WireGuard works on all major platforms that include Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Ubuntu and Linux.

In addition, you can also use it on your router and that secures all devices connected to the router.

Development of the protocol is ongoing and that means there could be kinks that need to be straightened out.

However, some VPN providers have already rolled out WireGuard as part of their ammunition to fight cyber-attacks.

I will mention them in the last section and you can start using WireGuard right away.

Is WireGuard better than OpenVPN?

WireGuard’s goal is to replace OpenVPN, which was formed in 2001 so it is fairly old.

OpenVPN has stood the test of time with reliable speeds, strong encryption and ease of use.

WireGuard does this by offering better performance and reliability, that is:

  • Faster speeds – It is lightweight, hence faster speeds
  • Smaller code – WireGuard uses a much smaller code than OpenVPN, hence it’s easy to address any vulnerabilities or bugs. While WireGuard has around 4000 lines of code, OpenVPN has well over 100 000 lines! This means an app using WireGuard is less likely to crash or hang, something desirable when gaming, streaming or torrenting.
  • Simpler to use – The smaller, lightweight architecture means it is simpler to use WireGuard across all devices without compromising the user experience. This is important because VPNs are now available for consumers who want a VPNs that keeps them secure without any hassles.
  • More security – As highlighted previously, WireGuard uses next generation encryption that is highly secure. In addition, WireGuard creates a “stealth VPN” in which no data packets are transmitted by default, unless there are any data packets to be send. This reduces the amount of data intercepted by packet sniffers.
  • Increased battery life in mobile devices – The “stealth mode” also helps improve battery life.

The version that is out is WireGuard 1.0.0 and since it is a new protocol, it is probably good to wait for the next version.

That way, most of the bugs will be fixed and concerns raised are addressed in subsequent versions.

If you work with sensitive data, it’s safer to stick to OpenVPN for now because it has been used for a long time and has an excellent track record.

WireGuard is definitely going to be the best VPN protocol when issues around security have been addressed.

The fact that it has made it to version 1.0.0 means significant leaps have been made.

List of the best WireGuard VPN services

You can start using WireGuard and test it to get a feel of this new protocol. The opinion is divided among VPN providers, with some not yet using WireGuard.

However, we have top VPNs, like NordVPN, that have embraced this new protocol.

I have only picked VPNs that are at the top with reliable services.

These also come with all standard features that include:

  • A reliable kill switch so that internet connection is terminated when there is any disruption of the VPN connection.
  • No DNS leaks
  • Fast connection speed
  • Widespread server coverage so that the nearest server is in close proximity
  • Money-back guarantee period so that you are able to test the VPN before committing to a plan.
  • 24/7 customer support to handle your queries.
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Strong encryption of your traffic so that your activities are hidden effectively from your ISP or the government.

1. NordVPN – Plenty of security features (Recommended)

Supports WireGuard. Our Rating 4.8

NordVPN is the best VPN that uses WireGuard to secure your data in a VPN tunnel.

It has more than 5100 servers in over 60 worldwide, making the VPN network very reliable.

NordLynx is a VPN protocol offered by NordVPN and it is is built around WireGuard protocol.

Up to 6 devices are supported simultaneously on one account and apps are available for all major operating systems like Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS or Android.

Start a risk-free trial for 30-days using the link below and you get a heavy discount.

Get 68% off a 2-year plan and 30-day money-back guarantee:

Read NordVPN full review

2. Surfshark VPN – Low-cost VPN with all standard features

Supports WireGuard. Our Rating 4.6

WireGuard was added to the list of protocols used by Surfshark VPN in October 2020.

There is no limit to the number of devices you can use on one Surfshark account and all have access to WireGuard protocol.

It is available for all major platforms which are Android, Windows, iOS, MacOS and Linux.

Traffic is encrypted using AES 256-bit encryption and you have an option to use other VPN protocols too.

The network has more than 3200 servers in over 65 countries, making it one of the best VPNs.

Grab the best Surfshark deal using the link provided below:

Get 83% off a 2-year plan and 30-day money-back guarantee:

Read Surfshark full review

3. CyberGhost VPN – User-friendly and many servers

Supports WireGuard. Our Rating 4.7

CyberGhost VPN is another premium VPN uses WireGuard to secure your traffic.

It has an extensive network of 6800+ secure servers in over 88 countries.

In addition, CyberGhost VPN is very user-friendly and that is great for newbies.

The company maintains high security standards and in 2020, it introduced an anonymous dedicated IP system.

Apps of all major operating systems are available and up to 7 devices are supported on one account simultaneously.

Start your 45-day risk-free trial by using the link below to access WireGuard for CyberGhost VPN.

Get 83% off a 3-year plan and 45-day money-back guarantee:

Read CyberGhost full review

4. Private Internet Access VPN – Secure servers

Supports WireGuard. Our Rating 4.1

PIA has an extensive network of more than 28 000 VPN and proxy servers distributed worldwide.

If you install PIA VPN, you have access to WireGuard and secure your data.

This VPN allows you to pay using secure methods like Bitcoin or even gift cards.

Up to 10 devices can be used simultaneously on one account and they can from any major operating system.

A dedicated IP is also available, giving you more freedom online.

Use the link below to get the best PIA deal and unlock all the features of the VPN.

Get 73% off a 2-year plan and 30-day money-back guarantee:

Read PIA full review

5. VyprVPN – Wide coverage and reliable

Supports WireGuard. Our Rating 4.5

This is a low-priced VPN that also supports WireGuard as one of the protocols available.

More than 700 servers are available in 64+ countries worldwide.

Devices that are supported include Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, Linux or even routers.

VyprVPN also uses Chameleon protocol, which is useful for bypassing strong firewalls so this is a solid VPN.

You can unblock Netflix and other streaming services easily with VyprVPN.

Get a huge discount with the link below to start using WireGuard.

Get 87% off a 3-year plan and 30-day money-back guarantee:

Read VyprVPN full review

Of course there are some top VPNs that have not jumped onboard because of security concerns. One of them is ExpressVPN but it has indicated that it supports the auditing of WireGuard.

Once the protocol has passed all the security tests then it can be rolled out to ExpressVPN users.

Conclusion

WireGuard is newer than OpenVPN and as more reviews are done we expect more VPN providers to embrace it.

There is still a lot of research that is going on and some VPN providers are taking part in the ongoing development since it’s an open-source project.

OpenVPN remains the industry standard, which is something you have to remember when you need strong privacy online.

Technology is evolving so we will continue to make follow ups and update you when sufficient studies about WireGuard have been done.

What VPN are you using? Leave comments below and share the article on social media.

Tech writer and VPN expert. DIY enthusiast and loves anything to do with space science.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *