What Is SSTP? (Your Guide to the SSTP VPN Protocol)
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the go-to tool for getting past geo-restrictions and other censorship while providing outstanding privacy and security. Some of these VPNs advertise themselves as providing the fastest connections, unbreakable encryption, or abundant server options. To make all of that possible, VPN providers fit their VPNs with certain “instructions.” Those instructions are called protocols.
VPN protocols guide your data traffic through a specific transmission method. While many protocols vary in how they operate, they have all been designed based on Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). PPP gathers your data and then sends it securely to a server on the other side.
Several VPN protocols have been developed over the years. However, as technology continues to evolve, some protocols become outdated and easy targets for malicious activities. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at one of the most secure VPN protocols, Secure Socket Tunnel Protocol (SSTP).
What is the SSTP VPN Protocol?
SSTP was developed and is owned by Microsoft. It was first equipped on Windows Vista, and since then, every Microsoft operating system has default support for the protocol. It was designed to protect data between a VPN client and a VPN server. This protocol is also known as Microsoft Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (MS-SSTP).
SSTP is highly secured, and it is often compared with OpenVPN. This protocol works to establish a secure connection for encrypted data transmission. SSTP is also considered to be a fast protocol. It may not be the fastest because its strong encryption may sometimes cause your network connection to slow down. However, depending on your device and bandwidth, you could enjoy high-speed connections.
SSTP provides a more secure connection and a wider server network than its counterpart Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). SSTP also uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit SSL/TLS certificates. Any data being transmitted would require authentication with a secret key. SSTP uses TCP port 443, which can get through firewalls with fewer chances of being blocked.
Although Microsoft owns SSTP, there have been speculations that the NSA may have a way to bypass the protocol’s security. At the moment, there’s no evidence to prove the NSA has access to SSTP. Also, SSTP is not open-source, which makes it one of the most secure VPN protocols.
SSTP is a Windows proprietary technology, but it is also supported by other operating systems like Linux and BSD by default. However, SSTP is available on Android, macOS, and iOS via VPN applications. You can easily set it up on any of the platforms.
How Does SSTP Work?
SSTP works to create a secure connection between you, the VPN client, and the VPN server. SSTP is almost the same as PPTP because the two use the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) system. This protocol makes a virtual transmission tunnel between the two designated spots (a VPN client and a VPN server) and scrambles the complete information sent through that tunnel. Regardless of utilizing a similar information transmission component (PPP), SSTP offers a safer connection because it uses more grounded encryption.
With PPP, the idea of sending private information through the tunnel is to shield you from digital threats and keep hackers from penetrating your connection. On the other hand, SSTP condenses your information and scrambles it before sending it through the secure tunnel.
Apart from encapsulation, the protocol inundates your traffic information with extra data. This conceals your real request information from sneaks like government organizations, hackers, stalkers, and other malicious characters. Be that as it may, the VPN can “unmask” the data to begin the next step of processing your information.
In an attempt to keep you anonymous, your VPN scrambles the uncovered information by interpreting it into a whole new sort of data (like a coding set) that only the VPN server can unscramble.
The methods talked about above misleads cybercrooks into getting lost when attempting to get at you. Regardless of whether they find some way or another to get through the encapsulation, the military-grade encryption standard would be impossible for them to crack. Likewise, the protocol doesn’t only utilize those procedures when you’re sending data from your gadget; it also uses the same tunneling process for receiving a response to your device.
Advantages of the SSTP Protocol
The Secure Socket Tunnel Protocol has a lot of benefits. These benefits are why many people agree that SSTP is a very secure and efficient VPN protocol. Let’s discuss some of these advantages briefly:
1. Privacy & Security
Privacy and security are two main reasons people use VPNs. There are various ways to protect your privacy and stay safe without a VPN, but they’re not all foolproof.
A VPN that uses SSTP offers military-grade AES-256 encryption. This level of encryption ensures that you’re not exposed to several risks such as hacking and surveillance.
Additionally, SSTP utilizes Perfect Forward Secrecy, which functions to ensure that previous encryption codes used don’t get compromised later on. This preserves not just your current VPN session but future ones as well.
SSTP provides above-average connection speeds. Unlike several other protocols with a slower speed rate, SSTP performs better. Other protocols are sometimes slower because of the level of encryption, but that isn’t exactly the case with SSTP.
Furthermore, how fast your speed is might depend on your bandwidth and your device’s processing power.
3. Firewall Bypassing
SSTP is also excellent at bypassing firewalls and other restrictions you may face online. No matter the type of firewall, you’ll easily gain access with SSTP. The protocol uses TCP port 443, which is why it can’t be detected and blocked.
4. Supported Platforms & Easy Setup
SSTP is Microsoft’s property, so it makes sense that the protocol has built-in support in their operating systems. It is arguably the perfect protocol for Windows devices.
However, SSTP is also available on macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and some routers, and it is very easy to set up.
Disadvantages of SSTP Protocol
There are no serious downsides with SSTP, but it still has a few disadvantages such as:
1. Device Compatibility
SSTP works perfectly on Windows, but there’s the possibility of encountering some issues with other devices such as Android, macOS, and Linux.
2. Speed Drop
SSTP is definitely a secure protocol. However, its strong encryption can cause your internet to lag a bit. So this may not be the best choice for you if you’re interested in high-speed activities like streaming, online gaming, and torrenting.
SSTP Versus Other VPN Protocols
Here’s a quick comparison of SSTP and a few other VPN protocols:
1. SSTP v OpenVPN
SSTP and OpenVPN are both highly-secured VPN protocols that use powerful encryption and ciphers. However, OpenVPN is open-source, which gives users more trust that there are no backdoors or loopholes.
Also, OpenVPN can use TCP, as well as UDP. This gives it a speed and network stability advantage over SSTP. Firewalls hardly block both protocols, but SSTP doesn’t support authenticated web proxies, meaning that a network administrator can fish out SSTP headers if it uses a non-authenticated web proxy.
OpenVPN is available on more platforms than SSTP. You can set it up on Windows, macOS, iOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, and NetBSD.
OpenVPN also has a more stable network connection in terms of network changes. It uses a “float” command which ensures that your connections stay the same as you switch networks.
2. SSTP v PPTP
SSTP and PPTP are sorts of siblings. They were both developed by Microsoft, but the company collaborated with Cisco to work on PPTP. in terms of security, SSTP is the better protocol. It uses 256-bit encryption keys, while PPTP uses the less secure 128-bit encryption keys.
Speed is the only advantage PPTP has over SSTP. Its weak encryption gives it high-speed connections. Although PPTP was featured on a lot of platforms in the past, a lot has changed since it was launched. Most VPN providers and operating systems are now opting for more secure and stable protocols like SSTP and OpenVPN.
3. SSTP v WireGuard
Both protocols are excellent for securing your data. However, WireGuard was developed more recently than SSTP, and its developers tried to fix issues with existing protocols. It is a preferred option for privacy. WireGuard is open-source, and it isn’t a Microsoft proprietary technology. It is also supported on more platforms than SSTP.
SSTP and WireGuard are very stable, but WireGuard offers faster connections because it is lightweight. Unlike SSTP, WireGuard only uses UDP ports which network administrators could block.
For Windows users, SSTP is an excellent choice. It is almost on the same level as OpenVPN in terms of privacy and security. Microsoft Corporation owns SSTP, and it isn’t open-source. Apart from Windows devices, it is compatible with a limited number of other platforms, unlike other VPN protocols. Generally, SSTP is a great protocol without any serious issues. If you don’t mind its few flaws, you can use this protocol if other options don’t appeal to you.