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What is IKEv2 Protocol: Complete Guide

Last updated: March 23, 2024 16 min read
What is IKEv2

IKEv2 is a popular protocol in VPNs. It offers a powerful combination of encryption, stability, and speed. This makes it a popular choice for individuals and businesses. This guide examines what is IKEv2, its benefits, and practical applications across various devices and platforms.


If you are among the ever-increasing number of VPN users, you are probably familiar with IKEv2, one of the protocols frequently given by VPN companies. IKEv2 is an excellent solution for the best smartphone-based internet experience combined with IPSec.

In this post, we’ll look at how the protocol works and its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding IKEv2 allows you to make choices regarding your digital security. It might assist you in determining if you are a technologically aware individual or an IT expert. Continue reading to learn about IKEv2 and optimize your online experience. We will also offer you a list of our best VPN providers that support this protocol.

Compatibilty of Devices

In Short: What is IKEv2 VPN?

The IKEv2/IPsec protocol, sometimes known as IKEv2 VPN, is widely used worldwide. It is a powerful combination of the IKEv2 key management and IPSec technologies. It makes connecting devices, VPN servers, and secure data sharing more accessible using IPsec.

What is IKEv2?

Is Onion Over VPN Different from Double VPN?

The IKEv2 is a VPN protocol that secures data transmissions between two devices via the web. IKEv2 has replaced the original IKE protocol. It is a standard option for setting up VPNs across different devices and OSs.

IKEv2 offers a safe and dependable way to create and keep VPN tunnels. It leverages the IPsec protocols, which secure data transmission between the VPN client and server. It further provides data encryption, data integrity checks, and authentication.

IKEv2 establishes a secure tunnel using both symmetric and asymmetric cryptography. Digital certificates or pre-shared keys verify the authentication of the client and server at the outset of IKEv2. Once authenticated, it determines encryption and integrity algorithms to ensure security.

A remarkable feature of IKEv2 is its easy adaptation to changing networks. Its fast reconnection can help network switches and alterations. For example, it switches from Wi-Fi to cellular data connections within seconds. It is an excellent choice for mobile devices, which often connect to different networks.

Versatile and secure, IKEv2 is the favored protocol of many enterprise environments. It provides users with efficient network management. You can get it on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android operating systems.

Why are IKEv2 and IPsec Always Together?

What is IKEv2

IKEv2 and IPsec help each other in creating secure virtual private networks. It establishes the tunnel. IKEv2 and IPsec work together for enhanced compatibility. They allow easy deployment of IKEv2 VPN solutions on various platforms and operating systems. This unification provides guaranteed secure connections between different VPN devices and software.

IKEv2 handles establishing a secure link between the VPN client and server. It initiates a trust relationship and facilitates the exchange of encryption keys. It helps to stay protected throughout the VPN session. IKEv2’s dynamic rekeying feature allows periodic essential renewal while connected to a VPN. It promotes higher security by reducing the possibility of breach keys.

IPsec provides necessary security functions for secure data transmission. These include encryption algorithms for maintaining data secrecy, authentication protocols, and integrity controls. It helps verify communication endpoints and data protection throughout transmission. These safeguards are fundamental for securing confidential information transferred through a VPN.


What’s the Difference Between IKEv1 and IKEv2?

The IKE protocol, used in VPNs, has two versions: IKEv1 and IKEv2. Though they both perform a similar task, they have various significant features. Some of the essential differences include:

Protocol DesignTwo-phase negotiationSingle-phase negotiation
Security FeaturesRobust encryption, authentication, and integrity checksEnhanced cryptographic algorithms, stronger authentication methods, improved key negotiation and rekeying
FlexibilityLimited support for mobility and network transitionsDesigned for seamless mobility and network transitions
NAT TraversalRequires extra configurations or specialized techniques like NAT-TNative support for NAT traversal
Ecosystem SupportWidespread implementation and supportSupported on various platforms and operating systems
EfficiencyLess efficient due to different negotiation phasesA streamlined process for faster and more efficient connection establishment
AdoptionEstablished and widely usedBecoming the preferred choice for modern VPN deployments

Is IKEv2 VPN Safe?

Yes, it is safe to use. It incorporates robust security protocols to protect data transmissions across the connection.

Safeguard All your devices
  • IKEv2 VPN utilizes the IPsec suite, which includes encryption algorithms such as AES. AES 256 is a secure and robust encryption algorithm. It encrypts the data traffic.
  • IKEv2 uses various methods to verify the identities of the VPN client and server. It ensures that only authorized devices can establish a secure connection. Authentication methods can include digital certificates, pre-shared keys, or other security mechanisms.
  • IKEv2 incorporates integrity checks, such as HMAC (Hash-based Message Authentication Code). It detects any tampering or modification of the transmitted data. These checks help ensure data integrity and protect against unauthorized changes.
  • IKEv2 supports Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). Even if someone gets the encryption keys, they cannot decrypt past or future sessions. PFS provides security by ensuring each session uses unique encryption keys.
  • IKEv2 uses a secure exchange process to establish a trusted connection. It negotiates encryption parameters and establishes a secure channel for key exchange. It prevents eavesdropping and unauthorized access to the keys.

How to Set Up IKEv2 on My Device?

Setting up IKEv2 on your device is easy; find a VPN service that supports the protocol, such as ExtremeVPN. Then, follow these steps for the installation process for macOS, iOS, and Android users:

  • Get ExtremeVPN’s subscription plan.
  • Install the ExtremeVPN app on your device.
  • To switch to IKEv2, go to Settings, select the VPN settings option, and then choose the Protocol.

How to Set Up IKEv2 on Windows 11?

Window Icon
  • Open “Settings” on your Windows 11.
  • Click “Network & Internet.”
  • On the left sidebar, click on “VPN” to open the VPN settings.
  • Under the VPN settings, click on “Add a VPN connection.”
  • There, you will need to provide the necessary information to set up the IKEv2 connection:
  • VPN provider: Select “Windows (built-in).”
  • Connection name: Enter a name for your VPN connection (e.g., My VPN).
  • Server name or address: Enter the IP address or hostname of the VPN server you want to connect to.
  • VPN type: Select “IKEv2”.
  • Type of sign-in info: Choose the option based on your VPN provider’s requirements.
  • Enter your sign-in credentials.
  • Click the “Save” button to save the VPN connection settings.
  • Once you save the connection, click on the VPN connection in the main section of the window.
  • Click the “Connect” button to establish the IKEv2 VPN connection.

How to Set Up IKEv2 on MacOS?

macOS Icon
  • Click on the Apple menu at the top-left corner of the screen.
  • Select “System Preferences.”
  • Click “Network.”
  • Click the “+” button to add a new network connection.
  • In the interface selection window, select “VPN” for the interface.
  • Choose “IKEv2” as the VPN type.
  • Click on the “Create” button.
  • In the next window, you need to configure the IKEv2 VPN connection settings:
  • Configuration: Set it to “Default.”
  • Server Address: Enter the IP address or hostname of the VPN server you want to connect to.
  • Remote ID: Leave this field blank unless your VPN provider specifies a Remote ID.
  • Local ID: Leave this field blank unless your VPN provider specifies a Local ID.
  • User Authentication: Choose your VPN service’s authentication method.
  • Username: Enter your VPN account username.
  • Password: Enter your VPN account password.
  • Click on the “Authentication Settings” to configure any extra authentication settings.
  • After configuring, click the “OK” button to save the changes.
  • You will see the new IKEv2 VPN connection in the main Network settings.
  • Click on the “Connect” button next to the VPN connection.
  • A small VPN icon in the menu bar indicates the active VPN connection.

How to Set Up IKEv2 on Android?

Andorid Icon
  • Open the Settings app.
  • In the Settings menu, scroll down and tap “Network & Internet” or “Connections.”
  • Tap on “VPN” to access the VPN settings.
  • Tap the “+” or “Add” button in the VPN settings to create a new VPN connection.
  • You will see a list of VPN options. Select “IKEv2/IPSec PSK” from the list.
  • In the configuration screen, you must provide the necessary information:
  • Name: Enter a name for the VPN connection.
  • Server address: Enter the IP address or hostname of the VPN server you want to connect to.
  • IPSec identifier: Leave this field empty unless your VPN provider specifies an identifier.
  • IPSec pre-shared key: Enter the pre-shared key provided by your VPN provider.
  • Username: Enter your VPN account username.
  • Password: Enter your VPN account password.
  • After entering the information, tap “Save.”
  • You will see the new IKEv2 VPN connection in the VPN settings.
  • To connect to the VPN, tap the “Connect” button.
  • Once connected, a key icon in the status bar indicates the active VPN connection.

How to Set Up IKEv2 on Ubuntu?

Ubuntu Icon
  • Open the terminal on your Ubuntu system. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T or searching for “Terminal” in the applications menu.
  • Install the necessary packages by running the following command in the terminal:
  • sudo apt-get install strongswan strongswan-plugin-eap-mschapv2 libcharon-extra-plugins
  • Once the installation is complete, open the terminal. Navigate to the /etc/ipsec.d/ directory by running the following command:
  • cd /etc/ipsec.d/
  • Create a new configuration file for the IKEv2 VPN connection. Replace “VPN server IP or hostname” with “your VPN username” with your VPN account username.
  • Save the configuration file and exit the editor.
  • In the terminal, restart the strongSwan service.
  • Your IKEv2 VPN connection is now set up on Ubuntu. You should now enter your VPN account password.

How to Set Up IKEv2 on iOS?

iOS Icon
  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap on “VPN” to access the VPN settings.
  • Tap on “Add VPN Configuration” to create a new VPN connection.
  • Select “IKEv2” as the VPN type.
  • Enter a name for the VPN connection.
  • In the Server field, enter the IP address or hostname of the VPN server you want to connect to.
  • Enter your VPN account username and password.
  • Scroll down and tap “Show Advanced Options.”
  • Tap on “Authentication” and select the authentication method provided by your VPN service.
  • Tap on “Done” to save the VPN configuration.
  • You will see the new IKEv2 VPN connection in the VPN settings.
  • To connect to the VPN, toggle the switch next to the VPN connection to the “ON” position.
  • Your iOS device will establish the IKEv2 VPN connection.
  • Once connected, a VPN icon in the status bar indicates the active VPN connection.

IKEv2 vs. SSTP vs. L2TP vs. OpenVPN vs. PPTP VPN Protocol Comparison

SecurityThe most recent VPN protocol uses IPSec and is quite secure.Secure when used with ephemeral keys and strong cipher.IPSec over L2TP has no major weaknesses.Exceedingly secure when combined with ephemeral keys and strong cipher.Multiple security flaws.
SpeedMOBIIKE Support makes it resilient and stable. It is faster than others.Faster than L2TP and PPTPBecause of its excellent encryption/decryption efficiency, L2TL/IPSec remains ultra-fast in spite of tunneling overhead.Excellent performance when traversing far distances and making connections with long delays.Its basic encryption makes it the fastest.
CompatibilityWindows OS iOS, Mac OS X (Manual), BlackBerry (Manual), and Android (Manual).Windows OS iOS (Not Supported), Android (Not Supported), MAC OS X, and More.Windows OS iOS (Manual), Android (Manual), Mac OS X (Manual), and More.Windows OS iOS (Manual), Android Mac OS X (Manual), and More.All Major Platforms (Manual).
StabilityHighly stable once connectedMore stable on WindowsStable ConnectionStable ConnectionDisconnects frequently
Cross-Platform SupportGoodLimitedGoodExcellentGood
Ease of SetupModerateEasyEasyModerateEasy

How Does IKEv2 Compare to Other Protocols?

What are VPN Protocols

IKEv2 vs. SSTP

  • Security: Both protocols offer high-security levels. IKEv2 utilizes robust encryption algorithms, while SSTP uses SSL/TLS for encryption.
  • Cross-Platform Support: IKEv2 has good cross-platform support. SSTP has limited cross-platform support for Windows platforms.
  • Performance: IKEv2 is generally faster due to its efficient reconnection capabilities. SSTP offers moderate performance.
  • Firewall Compatibility: IKEv2 has good firewall compatibility. SSTP bypasses firewalls using port 443, commonly allowed for HTTPS traffic.
  • Ease of Setup: IKEv2 setup requires moderate configuration. SSTP is relatively easy to set up.

IKEv2 vs. L2TP

  • Security: IKEv2 provides high protection with strong encryption. L2TP relies on the encryption provided by the accompanying IPSec protocol.
  • Cross-Platform Support: Both protocols have good cross-platform support.
  • Performance: IKEv2 generally offers faster performance due to its efficiency in re-establishing connections. L2TP’s performance can be slower due to double encapsulation.
  • Firewall Compatibility: Both protocols have good firewall compatibility.
  • Ease of Setup: IKEv2 setup needs more configuration, whereas L2TP is generally easy to set up.

IKEv2 vs. OpenVPN

  • Security: Both protocols provide high protection with strong encryption.
  • Cross-Platform Support: OpenVPN has excellent cross-platform support. IKEv2 has good support but is not available on all platforms.
  • Performance: IKEv2 offers fast performance, especially in re-establishing connections. OpenVPN performance can vary depending on configuration and network conditions.
  • Firewall Compatibility: Both protocols have excellent firewall compatibility.
  • Ease of Setup: IKEv2 setup needs moderate configuration. OpenVPN setup can be more involved but provides more customization options.

IKEv2 vs. PPTP

  • Security: IKEv2 offers high protection with strong encryption. PPTP has known security vulnerabilities and is less secure.
  • Cross-Platform Support: Both protocols have good cross-platform support.
  • Performance: IKEv2 offers faster performance. PPTP has speedy implementation due to its simplicity.
  • Firewall Compatibility: Both protocols have good firewall compatibility.
  • Ease of Setup: Both protocols are easy, but IKEv2 needs more configuration.

What are the Benefits and Downsides of IKEv2?

IKEv2 provides strong security for VPN connections. It supports robust encryption algorithms like AES and offers secure fundamental exchange mechanisms. It is safe against various cyber threats.IKEv2 is available on major platforms like Windows, iOS, and Android. Still, it is not supported on other operating systems or devices like other VPN protocols.
IKEv2 is a stabile VPN protocol. It re-establishes connections after network interruptions or changes in network conditions. It handles switching between network interfaces, ensuring a reliable VPN connection.Setting up IKEv2 needs a more advanced configuration than other VPN protocols. Configuring certificates, authentication methods, and different settings can be more involved.
IKEv2 excels in establishing connections, even after temporary disruptions. This feature is particularly beneficial for mobile devices that switch between networks.Some older or legacy devices and operating systems may have limited or no support for IKEv2. It makes it less suitable in specific environments where broad compatibility is necessary.
IKEv2 is well-suited for mobile devices. It is natively supported on most major mobile platforms, including iOS and Android. It offers efficient battery usage and seamless roaming capabilities.In specific networks, IKEv2 traffic is restricted or blocked by firewalls or network policies. It limits its usability in those situations.
IKEv2 includes built-in Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal mechanisms. It allows it to bypass NAT devices and firewalls without requiring extra configuration.By default, IKEv2 uses UDP ports for communication. While UDP is generally faster, some networks or firewalls might have stricter policies that block or restrict UDP traffic. It can impact the usability of IKEv2 in such scenarios.

Is IKEv2 Compatible with My Device?


IKEv2 is compatible with various devices and operating systems. The compatibility of a VPN protocol is how it is implemented. Here’s how ExtremeVPN does it:

  • Windows: Yes
  • MacOS: Yes
  • iOS: Yes
  • Android: Yes
  • Linux: Yes


In conclusion, IKEv2 is a secure and efficient VPN protocol. It offers a range of benefits for users seeking a reliable and fast connection. It provides strong encryption, stability, and the ability to re-establish relations after interruptions. This feature makes it an attractive choice for individuals and businesses. IKEv2 is compatible with major platforms. It includes Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Yet, its configuration complexity and limited support on specific legacy systems or networks with strict policies may pose challenges in particular scenarios. Despite these drawbacks, the performance and security features of IKEv2 make it valuable. By understanding the characteristics and considerations of IKEv2, users can make informed decisions about incorporating this protocol into their VPN setups and enjoy a secure and seamless online experience.


Is IKEv2 good for gaming? Up
Yes, IKEv2 can be a good choice for gaming due to its fast reconnection capabilities and efficient performance.
Is IKEv2 VPN safe? Up
Yes, IKEv2 VPN is secure as it offers strong security measures. These include robust encryption algorithms for protecting data during transmission.
Is IKEv2 VPN free? Up
IKEv2 VPN services can be free and paid, with various options from many providers.
Which is better: OpenVPN or IKEv2? Up
The choice between OpenVPN and IKEv2 depends on specific needs. Both protocols are secure and reliable.
Which is better: IKEv2 or L2TP? Up
The choice between IKEv2 and L2TP depends on priorities. IKEv2 generally offers faster performance and more robust security.
Is IKEv2 safer than IKEv1? Up
IKEv2 is generally considered safer than its predecessor, IKEv1. It provides improved security features and more robust encryption algorithms.
What does IKEv2 mean on an iPhone? Up
IKEv2 refers to an iPhone’s Internet Key Exchange version 2 VPN protocol. It provides secure and reliable VPN connections for enhanced privacy and data protection.

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Minhal is a content writer specializing in cybersecurity and tech news. With a background in journal...
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