What is Wireguard and why do you need it for safe web browsing? 

Rohan Mathew

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The World Wide Web used to be a much friendlier place until a few years ago and, although more people are using the Internet than ever before, concerns about privacy and safety are at an all-time high.

Data now rules the digital environment, but not all users are happy about how websites track their personal data and how advertisers use it to target them. According to the latest studies, 74% of US Internet users are more concerned than ever about their online privacy, and most of them are afraid of online fraud and having their identity stolen. And that’s not a groundless concern, considering that nearly 165 million personal records were exposed in the United States in 2019 alone. Then there’s the fact that personal data isn’t that personal. 35% of Americans don’t like the idea of having their location data tracked by tech companies, and tailored ads don’t feel like a reasonable price to pay for loss of privacy.

Fortunately, there are tools you can use to regain control of your online privacy and make the Web a safer place for you and your family. VPN is one of the most effective ones. A good VPN service shields your online activity from unethical parties, preventing websites from knowing your true location and unlocking geo-restricted pages. It also boosts security when you have no choice but to connect to a public network, making you less vulnerable to hacking attacks.

VPN services have become more and more popular in the past years, and it is estimated that up to 70% of adult Internet users in the US have installed them on their devices.

A VPN service is very easy to install and run and usually you don’t have to worry about setting it up or updating it, because all of these things are done automatically. However, from time to time, it’s worth staying up to date with the latest advancements in VPN technologies. Wireguard is one of the latest and most exciting ones, and many users are considering switching to a VPN service that’s compatible with it.

Luckily, many VPNs work with Wireguard, so it may not be necessary to change providers.

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What is Wireguard and how does it compare to OpenVPN?

Until not that long ago, VPN software was based on the same technology: OpenVPN. This has been the standard for many years and it has provided excellent results, but OpenVPN does have its shortcomings. For example, it can be slow, and the code behind it is tremendously complex.  

Wireguard is a new VPN protocol that addresses these issues and offers extra benefits. Its first stable release was in September 2019, and it was incorporated into the Linux kernel release in March 2020.

Other important benefits include:

  • Wireguard has stronger encryption, which offers better data protection and reduces the risk of data breaches.
  • It has a simpler codebase. While it’s something that you can appreciate at a user-level, a smaller codebase allows for easier auditing, which means that, if there are any vulnerable points, they’re much easier to detect and fix.
  • Higher speeds. In theory, using a VPN shouldn’t slow down your Internet and you should be able to load pages as usual. However, in reality, VPN does have a bit of latency because it adds extra steps to your connection. And while the difference may not be noticeable for premium VPN services, lower-end ones are visibly slower. Wireguard aims to change that. Preliminary tests have established that Wireguard can be up to 50% faster than OpenVPN, which is not negligible. Plus, it also offers higher performance when switching connections. For example, if you’re on the go and your smartphone switches from Wi-Fi to data, you won’t notice a change.
  • Better performance for mobile devices. Nowadays, the use of VPN is no longer limited to desktop and laptop computers. According to a recent study, 72% of people use only their phones to connect to the Internet, so for them a good VPN is crucial. Compared to OpenVPN, Wireguard has better roaming support and doesn’t drain the battery as much. If you’re the kind of Internet user who travels a lot or uses mostly their phone to browse the Web and make online purchases, a VPN with Wireguard protocol can help you.

If you want to start using Wireguard, you don’t have to go through a complicated process. Most premium VPN providers, such as NordVPN, and Surfshark, already have Wireguard support. However, you should keep in mind that this new VPN protocol is still relatively new and under development. So, while it does have huge potential, it remains to be seen how it evolves in the future. Also, for the time being, OpenVPN remains the better option when it comes to crypto agility. 

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