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How Tunneling is Accomplished in a VPN – Here’s What to Know

Last updated: April 23, 2024 9 min read
How Tunneling is Accomplished in a VPN – Here’s What to Know

Discover the importance of tunneling in securing your online securities and making smart choices for a safer internet experience. This article discusses what tunneling is, its benefits, and how it is accomplished in a VPN.

What do you do when you face security threats on the internet? You use a Virtual Private Network. A reliable VPN like ExtremeVPN is the best solution for online security because it offers a secure connection by establishing an encrypted tunnel between your device and VPN servers.


As a result, tunneling safeguards the privacy of your transmitted data as it moves across networks. If the concept of VPN tunneling and its role in online security is new to you, you’re at the right place.

You’ll find answers to your questions about tunneling, how it operates in a VPN, the various VPN protocols that use tunneling, and their security measures in this detailed guide.

VPNs and Tunnelling: A Quick Overview

A VPN shields online traffic from prying eyes and illegal access by wrapping it in an encrypted tunnel. Conversely, tunneling involves bundling your data inside another packet, ensuring a seamless and secure transmission across networks.


With tunneling, you get a private and protected connection with your VPN, especially when connected to public networks. Additionally, bundling up data protects your sensitive information from leaks, including credit card information, account passwords, and other personal communication details.

Now that you know the relationship between VPNs and tunneling, let’s look at how a VPN operates with tunneling and the different security protocols.

Mechanics of VPNs and Tunnelling


As stated earlier, VPNs allow users to forge a secure, private internet connection. However, your data goes through your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) when you don’t use one. Consequently, your data becomes vulnerable to interception or monitoring by your ISP and other third parties, like cybercriminals, government agencies, etc.

The absence of online privacy makes you worry about the security of your online activities and personal information. However, a VPN remains your best bet if you prioritize online freedom, privacy, and security because they eliminate your security concerns and offer benefits including:

  • Private connection: VPNs hide your IP address and make your online activities appear from another server location. This guarantees that your tracks and location are hidden from third parties.
  • Public Wi-Fi protection: Connecting to an unsecure public Wi-Fi connection makes you prone to hacking and data interception. With a VPN, your internet traffic goes through an encrypted tunnel, even when connected to these public hotspots.
  • Security: Through data encryption, VPNs make your data inaccessible to cybercriminals, ensuring maximum protection of sensitive information.
  • Unblocking restricted content: You can bypass location-based restrictions quickly with a VPN. Consequently, region-restricted websites, social media platforms, streaming services, and more have become available.

What is Tunneling?

VPN Tunnel

Tunneling involves enclosing a network protocol inside another. It enables the safe and effective transfer of data packets over a middle network, like the Internet, by establishing a virtual tunnel from the sender to the recipient.

Your data moves across a network and splits into small parts called packets. Each packet includes information in the header, like the source and destination IP address. Additionally, there is a payload (the real data being sent).

During network transmission, these data packets move to their intended location according to their destination IP address. Regarding tunneling, the initial packet bundles up in a new packet that follows another network protocol.

VPN protocols like OpenVPN, Wireguard, PPTP, and more ensure your bundled data moves to the regular internet, making it safe for your data.

How Tunneling Operates

split tunneling

As previously stated, tunneling operates by putting a new header on the initial packet, retaining all the information required for tunneling. The new header stores the tunnel’s

  • ends’ sources
  • destination IP address, and 
  • other details the tunneling protocol needs.

The bundled or encapsulated packet gets unwrapped once the tunnel reaches the other end. Then, the inner packet goes through its usual process, moving to its designated destination according to the original headers.

Tunneling also works in network technologies like IPv6 transitions. IPv6 packets get wrapped up in IPv4 packets to move through IPv4-designed networks. 

Tunneling is the go-to for sending packets safely and quickly over in-between networks. It allows different technologies and protocols to coexist, ensuring secure connection in all networking situations. 

How Tunnelling Operates in a VPN

How Do Privacy Screen Protectors Work, and Should I Use One

Tunneling works when you initiate a VPN connection and a tunneling protocol is selected. Next, your data packets are contained in the protocol’s headers to safeguard your data from any unauthorized access or interception by adding an extra layer of authentication and encryption.

After this process, the VPN server and your device form a tunnel through which the encapsulated packets are transferred. The original data packets are retained when the outer layer of authentication and encryption provided during encapsulation is removed.

The final stage involves processing and routing, where the server assigns the packets a new IP address. This makes it seem like your internet traffic is coming from the VPN server instead of your device.

VPN Protocols with Tunnelling


Several VPN protocols use tunneling to create secure and private connections between VPN servers and user devices. These protocols have various speeds, security levels, and network and device compatibility configurations.

The following are some VPN protocols that use tunneling:

Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)

This popular VPN protocol provides complete security with authentication and encryption techniques, whether encrypting the data payload in transit mode or the entire IP packet in tunnel mode, which operates at Layer 3 of the OSI model.

In addition, different authentication techniques can be used to implement IPsec, and it works with a range of encryption algorithms.


Being modern and lightweight, this protocol prioritizes simplicity, using the latest cryptographic methods to create secure connections. WireGuard is also faster and more efficient than other VPN protocols. Its user-friendly approach, solid security features, and all-around compatibility add to its growing popularity.

L2TP/IPsec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol over IPsec)

This protocol is usually paired for a safe VPN connection, operating at the OSI model’s data link layer (Layer 2). It uses IPsec for authentication and encryption to ensure reliable security. However, the dependence on particular protocols and ports may cause compatibility problems.


OpenVPN stands out as an open-source VPN protocol because it is user-friendly and adaptable. With SSL/TLS encryption, OpenVPN guarantees a safe connection and allows operating on multiple ports. 

This poses a challenge for firewalls attempting to block it. Furthermore, OpenVPN is compatible with Linux, Windows, macOS, and mobile devices. 

Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol

PPTP is an early VPN protocol. It is relatively fast, given its less resource-intensive encryption and position at the data link layer (Layer 2). However, its vulnerabilities make it unsuitable for handling highly sensitive information or apps.

NOTE: When selecting VPN protocols, consider security, privacy, speed, and device compatibility, among other features. ExtremeVPN is a top-notch VPN service with reliable protocols for tunneling. This service features protocols like Wireguard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN, among others.

Security Measures Used in Tunneling


Security measures are used in VPN tunneling to protect sensitive information from unauthorized parties. Some security measures used in tunneling include:


Encryption becomes necessary when the data packets are wrapped up within a tunnel. When you employ encryption algorithms like 3DES (Triple Data Encryption Standard) or AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), your data is carefully scrambled. This makes data interception impossible and ensures the utmost confidentiality of transmitted information.


Authentication allows only authorized entities to receive and send data through a secure tunnel. With pre-shared keys, digital certificates, or username-password combinations, VPN protocols confirm your device and server identities. 

Advanced Security Protocols

VPN protocols that employ tunneling improve through additional measures. These protocols establish fortified connections using encryption algorithms, cryptographic keys, and other authentication methods.

Data Protection

Data protection during transmission is guaranteed by tunneling. As a result, cryptographic hashing methods, like SHA-256 (Secure Hash Algorithm 256-bit), become useful. These algorithms verify that data packets remain intact during transmission.

The verification further ensures that the received information is precisely like the original form, ensuring data consistency and reliability. 

VPN Tunneling Benefits


VPN tunneling guarantees an enjoyable internet experience because it improves accessibility, security, and privacy. The following are some benefits of VPN tunneling:

  • Improved Data Transmission: VPN tunneling prioritizes safe data transmission. As a result, it employs strong encryption that protects information exchange between your device and the VPN server. 
  • Compatibility: A VPN tunneling protocol should work seamlessly with various devices and operating systems. This versatility ensures smooth tunneling on smartphones, routers, tablets, computers, and more.
  • Bypassing geo-restrictions: VPN tunneling lets you bypass geo-restrictions, granting unrestricted access to the internet and censored content. 
  • Protecting Unsecured Networks: Using public networks exposes you to cyberattacks. However, VPN tunneling protects your online activities, preventing malicious parties from intercepting sensitive information.

Now that you’re clear on how VPN tunneling improves privacy and security, Why wait longer? Join the ExtremeVPN family to enjoy a broad range of benefits while tunneling.


What are the qualities of a quality VPN service? Up
A decent VPN prioritizes your online security, follows a strict zero-logs policy, and has reliable server networks. ExtremeVPN goes the extra mile to offer features like a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, 24/7 customer support, and more. 
Why should a company use a VPN? Up
A company should use a VPN because it allows remote employees to connect securely to their internal network from any location. This ensures smooth communication and access to shared resources, fostering collaboration among dispersed teams. A VPN also encrypts data transmitted between the company’s network and remote users or branch offices to protect sensitive data.
What does NAT overloading use for tracking? Up
Network Address Translation, also known as Port Address Translation, combines source IP addresses, port numbers, and destination IP addresses to track and identify multiple private IP addresses and single public IP addresses.

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About the Author

Thomas is a talented writer and digital privacy fanatic. He loves exploring the world of cybersecuri...
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