The Ins and Outs of IKEv2/IPsec: A Beginner’s Guide


The Ins and Outs of IKEv2/IPsec: A Beginner’s Guide.



IKEv2, also known as Internet Key Exchange version 2, stands as a pivotal tunneling protocol rooted in IPsec, designed to catalyze secure, swift, and steadfast VPN communication among VPN devices. This dynamic duo, comprising IKEv2 and IPsec, orchestrates a seamless amalgamation of robust security and efficient data transport. Within this synergy, IKEv2 takes the lead, initiating and managing the VPN connections with agility and precision, while IPsec provides the foundational framework, functioning as an authentication suite ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of data in transit. Together, they forge an unyielding shield of protection, safeguarding sensitive information traversing networks, while ensuring optimal performance and reliability for users worldwide.

Mechanisms of IKEv2/IPsec

Together, IKEv2 and IPsec encrypt traffic while IKEv2 delivers data packets to the server to create the security association.

Since IPsec has direct access to the CPU, memory, and other hardware components, it can process data quicker than IKEv2, which runs in user space.

To negotiate security keys used by the VPN client and server, IKEV2 sets up a security association (SA).

Encrypted communication between the two peers begins after a secure tunnel is established and IKEv2 has validated the security association.

How Does SA help IKEv2/IPsec in Authentication?

Between the user and the VPN server, the IKEv2 protocol creates a communication tunnel to secure the connection.

It uses the SA attribute to carry out its function of verifying the identity of both parties.

Security Associations (SAs) are a technique that establishes security settings between two network entities by generating a symmetric encryption key for each.

With the use of these keys, data is encrypted and decrypted during transmission between the client and server.

Why is IKEv2/IPsec Popular and When to Use it?

The remarkable speed of IKEv2/IPsec has earned it acclaim as a leading VPN technology. Renowned for its swift connection speeds, IKEv2 stands out not only for its user-friendly interface and robust security measures but also for its adaptability to mobile users and seamless integration with highly optimized VPN tunnels. When opting for a VPN, experts often recommend choosing IKEv2 to ensure both enhanced security and faster connection speeds. This dynamic duo of protocols actively maintains a secure and efficient virtual private network, catering to the diverse needs of users while delivering unparalleled performance and peace of mind.

Are IKEv2 and IPsec the Same? [Main Differences]

Frequently used in tandem, IPsec and IKEv2 mutually enhance each other’s capabilities.

IKEv2 seamlessly integrates with IPsec’s authentication suite within its protocol stack.

The opacity of IPsec’s operations to third parties renders it dependable and secure.

IKEv2 establishes a robust foundation for ensuring consistency, rapid data transfer, and seamless connection switching.

Why should IKEv2/IPsec be used together?

One of the keys to its speed is the integration of IPsec and IKEv2. IPsec operates in the kernel, while IKEv2 operates in user space.

IKEv2 collaborates with the server to create a security relationship by sending a few data packets.

It then transfers all the data to IPsec, which uses the security associations to encrypt the traffic, along with the IP addresses, security measures, and ports used in the connection.

Is IKEv2/IPsec Secure?

Supporting a range of cryptographic methods such as AES, Blowfish, and Camellia, IKEv2 utilizes industry-leading 256 encryptions.

IKEv2 itself harbors no known vulnerabilities, except when poorly implemented.

Is IKEv2 a Paid VPN Protocol?

IKEv2 is natively supported by basically any OS but we should clarify that IKEv2 VPN is both free and not free as, like all VPN protocols, it requires a properly configured VPN server to function.

IKEv2/IPsec Advantages

  • Automatic Reconnect

Even if your device moves from one internet source to another, this protocol will immediately restart/resume your VPN connection.

  • Compatible with Multiple Devices

Many different types of devices, such as routers, cellphones, and connected homeware, support IKEv2/IPsec.

  • Stability

Users can switch between internet connections and maintain their security by using IKEv2/IPsec, which offers a reliable connection.

  • Secure

For the highest level of security, IKEv2 employs several sophisticated ciphers.

  • Encryption Algorithms

To provide robust protection, IKEv2/IPSec encrypts using ciphers.

IKEv2 encryption supports many algorithms that most VPN providers use such as Blowfish, Camellia, and AES 256-bit.

  • Speed

IKEv2/IPSec provides fast data transfer and a pleasant VPN browsing experience.

  • Great Partnership

Many VPN service providers utilize the IKEv2 VPN protocol to provide a safer and more efficient experience because of the strong privacy alliance between IPsec and IKEv2.

Many VPN service providers utilize the IKEv2 VPN protocol to provide a safer and more efficient experience because of the strong privacy alliance between IPsec and IKEv2.

  • Certificate-based Authentication

Because the protocol doesn’t allow calls to action until it has confirmed the requestor’s identity, it is excellent at thwarting man-in-the-middle and denial-of-service attacks.

  • Ideal for Torrenting and Streaming

Most VPN protocols that consume system and connection resources should be expected to reduce bandwidth due to levels of protection.

IKEv2/IPSec is the ideal VPN protocol for torrenting and streaming because there is a noticeable decrease in speed.

  • Cross-platform VPN Protocol

Windows and macOS are supported natively by the VPN protocol.

It may be configured on Linux servers and connect to clients running iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

  • Supports MOBIKE

It is convenient to use with a mobile phone because it supports MOBIKE.

The instant the IP changes, devices that are transitioning from network data to local Wi-Fi may expose you to possible data leaks.

Fortunately, these IP and network transfers are smooth with IKEv2, and the security of the VPN protocol is unbroken.

  • Low Latency

The preferred IKEv2 port is UDP 500. In essence, this lowers the latency that this VPN generates, allowing network-intensive apps to function more optimally.

IKEv2/IPsec Disadvantages

  • IKEv2 VPN is not Open Source.
  • Since IKEv2 only uses port UDP 500, it can be easily blocked by firewalls or network administrators.
  • The password you entered is hashed by IKEv2 and compared to the hash value that has been stored. The ease of cracking a password increases with its complexity.
  • Because IKEv2 is based on ISAKMP, it is vulnerable to attack.
  • The IKEv2 protocol is only natively supported by the most recent iterations of macOS, iOS, and Windows. The rest of the group will have to manually configure software or configurations.

How does IKEv2 work with PFS?

IKEv2 actively supports Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) to guarantee complete confidentiality and data integrity.

Which Port does IKEv2 use?

Port 500 and UDP packets are both used by IKEv2/IPSec.

Which open-source software does IKEv2 integrate with?

  • OpenIKEv2
  • StrongSwan
  • OpenSwan

Is IKEv2 faster than IKEv1? [Key Differences]

Yes, IKEv2 surpasses IKEv1 in speed and efficiency due to its support for EAP and its lower bandwidth usage.

IKEv1, an outdated and insecure version of IPSec, remains vulnerable to intrusions.

IKEv2 utilizes encryption keys on both ends of the VPN connection, supports MOBIKE, and establishes tunnels with reduced communication requirements.

Is IKEv2 better than L2TP/IPSec?

Another protocol that is used with IPSec is L2TP.

Since L2TP takes a lot longer to send data and security credentials via a VPN connection, IKEv2 speed is noticeably faster.

Compared to L2TP, IKEv2 is more reliable and more difficult for NAT firewalls to block.

Is OpenVPN better than IKEv2/IPsec?

IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN offer comparable levels of security, but they differ in key aspects:

While OpenVPN is open-source, IKEv2 is not. Their operational dissimilarities arise from OpenVPN safeguarding data during transit rather than at the IP level.

OpenVPN utilizes TCP port 443, typically reserved for HTTPS communication, making it challenging for system administrators to block without disrupting regular internet traffic, thus less prone to firewall interference.

In contrast, IKEv2 ports offer faster speeds compared to HTTPS traffic. Consequently, IKEv2 imposes less bandwidth interference than OpenVPN.

What are  IKEv2/IPsec Alternatives?

Main rivals to IKEv2 include OpenVPN and SoftEther, renowned for their superior performance.

Even when alternatives like OpenVPN and SoftEther aren’t available, opting for IKEv2 remains a viable choice, especially for mobile devices.

In terms of effectiveness and performance, IKEv2 surpasses other VPN protocols, particularly on mobile devices.

Is WireGuard better than IKEv2/IPsec?

Both Linux, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android seamlessly support both protocols, with minimal speed variations between them.

WireGuard, being open-source, stands in contrast to the closed-source nature of IKEv2.

WireGuard integrates top cryptographic solutions like BLAKE2, Poly1305, HKDF, SipHash24, ChaCha20, and others, a feature also observed in IKEv2 VPN.


Is PPTP better than IKEv2/IPsec?

If speed and security are your use case, you must choose IKEv2.

In terms of safety and dependability, IKEv2 VPN connections are far superior to PPTP VPN connections. It works with the widely used AES 256-bit cipher in the industry.

Because of this, the IKEv2 is inherently slower, albeit the difference in speed is not noticeable.

IKEv2 is faster than PPTP but comes with a more complex configuration than PPTP.

Is SoftEther better than IKEv2/IPsec?

While SoftEther proves superior due to its open-source nature, both protocols offer considerable security.

SoftEther surpasses IKEv2 in speed.

SoftEther utilizes port 443, which poses a greater challenge for firewall blocking.

In contrast, IKEv2’s MOBIKE feature guarantees connection stability during network transitions.

The SoftEther VPN server supports protocols like L2TP/IPSec and IPSec, but it is incompatible with the IKEv2 protocol.

What are the best IKEv2/IPsec VPN Services?

  • NordVPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • AtlasVPN
  • Surfshark
  • CyberGhost
  • IPVanish


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