What is WireGuard

Novelty is rare in the VPN world. And it is especially exciting when something new comes along and makes us reexamine our standards. 

In a recent year, that something was WireGuard®. Not every day, a new VPN protocol comes around. But what does this mean for VPNs and you – the user? Let’s take a look.

What is a WireGuard VPN?

What is a WireGuard VPN?

WireGuard is a secure network tunnel. It can be used as a standalone or implemented as a VPN protocol by a VPN service provider. 

For VPNs, WireGuard aims to replace IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN as a more efficient solution. It operates in under 4,000 lines of code compared to 400,000 and 600,000 lines of its competitors.

WireGuard VPN benefits

  • It’s light. Due to its lightweight code and simplicity, WireGuard is easy to audit and more difficult to compromise.
  • It’s fast. WireGuard was designed to use predefined configurations and fewer resources when receiving data. In theory, this should allow it to perform faster than other protocols.
  • It’s secure. While light, WireGuard maintains top-tier authorization, authentication, and encryption standards.
  • It’s easy to use. WireGuard’s lightweight code makes it easy to use as a VPN protocol and build upon afterward.

As a VPN protocol, WireGuard is easily scalable and a breeze to audit. Developers find it a joy to work with. But its pros are not exclusive to development. WireGuard’s issues are easier to detect, and you can expect it to operate at amazing speeds and security on par, if not better, than its competitors.

Since its initial release, WireGuard has received a lot of attention. Cybersecurity and tech gurus around the world sang their praises. And Linux went as far as to implement WireGuard into its kernel (the core of an operating system).

How does a WireGuard VPN work?

WireGuard is different from other VPN protocols due to its approach to security. It doesn’t establish security configurations between your client and the server – they already come predefined.

That’s why WireGuard is connectionless. This makes it faster because you don’t need to connect or reconnect to the server.

All you need to have is your and the server’s keys. The key exchange in WireGuard is based on NoiseIK – a single round trip key exchange. After that, the process is a breeze.

Is WireGuard better than OpenVPN and IKEv2?

Is WireGuard better than OpenVPN and IKEv2?

WireGuard is built to be more efficient than OpenVPN and IKEv2. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform better.

People love to compare VPN protocols. For this reason, people often put up WireGuard against OpenVPN and IKEv2.

However, protocol comparisons often fall into the apples and oranges problem. After all, their performance depends on too many factors:

  • How fast your internet connection is.
  • How loaded the VPN server is.
  • How compatible your device is with the VPN.
  • How close you are to the VPN server.

In theory, yes – WireGuard does certain things better than OpenVPN and IKEv2. Does it mean it will work better for you? Absolutely not. Try each of the protocols out and use the one that gives you the smoothest experience.

Problems with a WireGuard VPN: is it safe?

During WireGuard’s initial hype phase, many people voiced concerns about the protocol itself. They are mostly unfounded. However, let’s address these problems that people have expressed.

These mostly included WG’s default configuration to:

  • Store connected IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. 
  • Not obfuscate the user’s connection.
  • Not assign dynamic IP addresses.

These issues, however, are not relevant for VPN service providers. Why? Because we take protocols and configure them ourselves.

At Surfshark, for example, we do not store your connected IP address. At the same time, we assign dynamic IP addresses to all our users and obfuscate their connection as a layer on top.

WireGuard itself has nothing to do with any of these problems.

What platforms can you use WireGuard on?

As a standalone, WireGuard is available on many different platforms. As a VPN protocol, it depends on what devices your provider configures it on.

Surfshark currently supports WireGuard on Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS.

WireGuard VPN at your fingertips

Overall, WireGuard is great – it’s fast, lightweight, secure, and easy to scale. And it only gets better as a VPN protocol!

If you want to experience it in action – try Surfshark. Our service runs amazing with WireGuard!

“WireGuard” is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld

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