first of all, What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Although we have talked about this many times, a VPN is a service that protects your privacy and security by encrypting all your traffic and hiding your IP address.
Hackers and other Internet criminals will see the IP address of the VPN instead of yours, if they spy on their online activities. Similarly, anyone trying to intercept your traffic will find it useless thanks to the built-in encryption.
VPNs can also bypass regional blocks for online content, allowing you to watch shows and movies that aren’t normally available in your country or region. Very common to use it to see the premiere of HBO Max that is in the United States and not here (like Matrix).
But today we are going to see what split tunneling is in a VPN, something that is little different from the traditional concept of VPN that we usually talk about in this magazine.
What is split tunneling in a VPN?
Split tunneling is a feature offered by some VPNs that allows you to decide which apps, games, and connected services use the VPN for connectivity and which use your standard connection.
This differs from normal or “full tunnel” VPN configurations, which encrypt and redirect all traffic on your system, regardless of source or destination. Without split tunneling, you’ll have to turn off your VPN every time you want to use your standard connection and turn it on whenever you want its added security.
Why use split tunneling?
The ability to choose which apps and services use the VPN of your choice and which ones don’t is very useful and interesting. Activities such as telecommuting, browsing your bank’s website, or shopping online through a grid Public WiFi can benefit from the added security of a VPN.
But other activitiessuch as playing online games or streaming available content, may suffer from the slight delay that VPNs can add to your connection speed (rather to the added ping).
The modest drop in connection speeds is barely noticeable for browsing, but can be disastrous for online gaming. And this is important, as forgetting to activate it at the wrong time could leave you exposed to security risks.
How does split tunneling work?
Split tunneling splits your network traffic into two. Standard, unencrypted traffic continues to flow unimpeded over one route, while sensitive and protected data is encrypted and routed through the VPN’s private network.
It’s like having a completely separate second network connection, a bit slower, but also much more secure. There are three main types of split tunnels: URL-based, application-based, and reverse
URL-based split tunneling focuses on traffic going to specific URLs, encrypting only that traffic. This type of installation could be configured to encrypt all traffic to your bank’s website, login pages, and other trusted sites.
All traffic linked to a specific URL can be filtered this way, while traffic to any unspecified URL remains on your standard connection. Many VPNs offer a browser extension to help users set which URLs will be encrypted.
App-Based Split Tunneling it’s almost identical to the URL-based variety, but it filters traffic from specific apps, rather than specific URLs. Some examples of coordination would be logging into your bank’s mobile app, accessing your company’s Slack, etc.
And the reverse split tunnel it is best for people who want almost all of their traffic encrypted. Reverse split tunneling does the opposite, encrypting everything on your system by default. Anything you don’t want to encrypt will have to be specified.
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