Is WireGuard the Future of VPN Protocols? 2020 Safety Update

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WireGuard is a new open-source VPN protocol that simplifies the encryption process. It promises to be faster than OpenVPN and IKEv2, and its fans predict that it will surpass every existing protocol.

But is this true? Will WireGuard put an end to the VPN issues we see today, like speed loss and dropouts?

WireGuard isn’t without its faults. It’s still in development, and even its creators acknowledge there are some inherent security risks involved. Because of this, few VPNs have integrated it so far.

Of the three VPNs that currently support WireGuard, NordVPN is the most comprehensive service that offers a safe WireGuard solution.

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What’s Exciting About the New WireGuard Protocol?

There are pros and cons to each VPN protocol (e.g., faster usually means less secure), but there are several potential advantages of using WireGuard.

In addition to outpacing OpenVPN and IKEv2, WireGuard was built for ease of use. Even manual network configuration is quite simple.

One of the reasons for the new protocol’s speed and simplicity is a streamlined approach to encryption.

WireGuard’s developers have reassembled the elements that make up ready-made encryption algorithms (called “primitives”). The goal is to gain speed without losing security.

It’s also far less bloated than OpenVPN, with only 4,000 lines of code. For comparison, OpenVPN has 70,000 lines of code.

This compact coding ensures regular, thorough auditing and improvement, which leads to fewer vulnerabilities than other protocols.

Potential Risks of Using WireGuard Now

Despite its many positives, even WireGuard’s primary developer, Jason Donenfeld, classifies it as experimental. This means your experience with WireGuard might not match those impressive speed test results because of potential stability issues.

There are several security concerns, too. The most pressing is the way WireGuard assigns IP addresses. Both OpenVPN and IKEv2 dynamically assign IP addresses. This means your VPN issues you a different IP every time you connect.

WireGuard can’t dynamically assign IP addresses. Instead, you get the same static IP address every time you connect. So that it can assign the same address each time, WireGuard has to log and store your real IP address and timestamps.

Storing your identifiable information violates most VPN’s privacy policies. Many services have issued statements saying that they will not implement WireGuard until this is rectified.

The creator himself is quick to caution VPN users against relying on the new protocol, recognizing that there’s plenty of work to be done before a stable version is released.

Despite these issues, some VPNs aren’t waiting. Three services have resolved WireGuard’s risks by pairing it with custom security features. 

Which VPNs Support WireGuard? – Full Analysis (Updated September 2020)

These three VPNs are leading the charge to offer WireGuard support. I tested all three to see how they tackle WireGuard’s flaws while safeguarding your security and privacy. I ran each VPN through speed tests to see if WireGuard can truly make your VPN connection faster. I also tested for general security and reliability.

We retest and update our results regularly, so this list will be revised as soon as there are new WireGuard developments.

1. NordVPN – A Lightning-Fast and Secure WireGuard Solution

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with NordVPN.

  • Secure NordLynx solution
  • Lightning-fast speeds made even faster by WireGuard
  • 4,000 WireGuard servers
  • Ad and malware blockers
  • Connect up to 6 devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

NordVPN is one of the first services to roll out a complete, secure WireGuard solution. It’s called NordLynx, and you can find and enable it in your Auto Connect settings.

NordLynx adds a double network address translation (NAT) system that assigns you a dynamic IP address while you’re using WireGuard. This NAT system gives you access to WireGuard’s impressive speeds without compromising your security.

And the speeds are remarkable. NordVPN is already the fastest VPN I’ve tested, and WireGuard makes it even faster. Connecting to a NordVPN server with OpenVPN caused my download speeds to drop from 18.79 Mbps to 14.66 Mbps – that’s only a 22% drop in speed and still pretty good for a VPN.

However, connecting to NordLynx increased my speed. My connection ran at 20 Mbps, which is an impressive 6% increase on my base speed. My upload speed was only marginally affected, dropping from 13.33 Mbps to 13.24 Mbps – compared to the 10.18 Mbps I got with OpenVPN.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in AU 3 18.79 13.33
AU server with OpenVPN 13 14.66 10.18
AU server with NordLynx 4 20.00 13.24

Paired with NordVPN’s already superfast SmartPlay DNS, NordLynx is ideal for streaming. I was able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in several regions, as well as Hulu, Disney+, HBO, and more – all with no buffering.

I also enjoyed impressive speeds while testing a few of NordVPN’s 4,200+ P2P-optimized servers. NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy that applies to NordLynx, too – you can torrent safely knowing that there’s no record of your activity.

I ran DNS and IPv6 leak tests with WireGuard enabled and didn’t detect any leaks. That means your IP address and DNS requests can’t be exposed by security flaws on your device or by IPv6-enabled websites attempting to channel your traffic outside of your VPN connection.

CyberSec security software also blocks malware and ads (yes, that means ad-free streaming!).

Have questions about WireGuard or need help finding NordLynx in your settings? NordVPN runs 24/7 live chat support that I found quick and easy to navigate – although the representative wasn’t able to tell me exactly how many countries are covered by NordVPN’s WireGuard support.

Want to test NordLynx before committing to a long-term subscription? You can use the 30-day money-back guarantee to experience WireGuard for yourself – completely risk-free.

Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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2. IVPN – Secure, Manual WireGuard Implementation

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with IVPN.

  • Manual WireGuard support with additional privacy features
  • 78 WireGuard servers in 32 countries
  • Improved speeds with WireGuard
  • 7 simultaneous connections
  • 3-day free trial and 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: Netflix US
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux

Using WireGuard with IVPN is not as easy as NordLynx – you need to do some manual configuration to get the new protocol working.

IVPN has user guides for setting up WireGuard on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux that I found fairly easy to follow.

Although its website states that “WireGuard is sufficiently secure for the purposes of a privacy VPN,” IVPN has taken some additional steps to address problems with dynamic IP assignment and logging.

First, IVPN randomly allocates you an IP address alongside your WireGuard key to mimic dynamic assignment and ensure you’re not linked to the same IP address every time you connect. Your WireGuard key and all of your information are deleted as soon as you log out.

It also disconnects you and automatically deletes your information if you’re inactive for more than 180 seconds. Disconnecting and reconnecting with WireGuard is almost instantaneous, so I didn’t notice any dropouts during my tests.

If you don’t log out, IVPN automatically regenerates your WireGuard key once a week to ensure that your data isn’t stored for long. You can even change your settings to delete your key and information daily.

Like NordVPN, IVPN’s speeds are significantly improved by WireGuard. To see the difference, I ran speed tests for both OpenVPN and WireGuard.

Where OpenVPN gave me a 5% decrease, WireGuard gave me a 7% increase in download speed.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in AU 3 17.61 10.83
AU server with OpenVPN 44 16.70 9.73
AU server with WireGuard 27 18.80 7.25

I was able to unblock Netflix US with some IVPN WireGuard servers, but I didn’t have much luck with other streaming platforms. That’s a shame since the speeds I got with my WireGuard server were great for buffer-free streaming.

I was also able to torrent on a couple of WireGuard servers. I am satisfied that, with IVPN’s additional privacy measures, WireGuard doesn’t invalidate its no-logs policy.

I tested for DNS and IPv6 leaks and couldn’t find any. I was particularly impressed with IVPN’s blockers for ads, malware, and data harvesting. I was able to stream YouTube with no annoying ads.

If you want to test IVPN’s WireGuard support first, it offers a 3-day free trial and a 7-day money-back guarantee. That’s not as long as other VPNs, which usually give you at least 30 days to claim your refund.

There’s 24/7 live chat if you have questions about setting up WireGuard, but I didn’t find it as helpful as the user guides. The representative I spoke to kept sending me links instead of answering my questions, which was quite frustrating.

Want to know more? Explore our IVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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3. Mullvad – Manual WireGuard Support With Some Additional Protections

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Mullvad.

  • Easy WireGuard configuration
  • 50 WireGuard servers in 24 countries
  • Decent speeds
  • Connect 5 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: HBO GO
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, routers

Mullvad is such a keen supporter of WireGuard that it already uses the protocol as a default on its Android app. If you’re a Windows, macOS, iOS, or Linux user, through, getting set up is easy. All you have to do is go to Tunnel protocol settings and select “WireGuard.”

The configuration is easier than IVPN, but Mullvad offers a weaker solution to WireGuard’s privacy flaws. Like IVPN, it disconnects and reconnects you automatically if you’re inactive for 180 seconds, but that’s the extent of its problem-solving.

You can use its Multihop feature to redirect your traffic through several VPN servers while connected to WireGuard to increase your privacy. But, you have to activate Multihop manually, as it’s not part of the full WireGuard solution like it is with NordLynx.

I was also surprised to find that using Mullvad with WireGuard didn’t increase my speed as much as with OpenVPN. OpenVPN was actually faster— it took my base speed from 6.14 Mbps to 17.52 Mbps. That’s a 185% increase. With WireGuard, I only saw a 171% increase – but that’s still impressive.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in AU 3 6.14 8.48
AU server with OpenVPN 26 17.52 9.19
AU server with WireGuard 28 16.62 13.24

That’s more than fast enough for streaming with no buffering. Sadly, I was only able to access HBO GO using Mullvad – it was unable to overcome most geoblocks.

Mullvad is a good VPN for torrenting, though. It has safe torrenting guidelines in the Help section of its website and allows P2P traffic on all of its servers. It also has a strict no-logs policy.

Unlike NordVPN and IVPN, Mullvad doesn’t have any built-in protection against malware or ads. Instead, it recommends you download and install additional ad-blocking software yourself, which is time-consuming.

If you need help setting up WireGuard, you have to contact its support team via email – there’s no 24/7 live chat option. However, its email support is prompt and helpful – I received a response in under an hour.

You can also try WireGuard out for yourself, risk-free with Mullvad’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our Mullvad review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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FAQs

🔒 How secure is WireGuard?

WireGuard’s 4,000 lines of code leave less room for vulnerabilities or security flaws. It’s also much easier to check and audit.

Still, WireGuard assigns static IP addresses and logs some identifying information. If you want a safe way to try out the new protocol, I recommend using a WireGuard solution like NordLynx, which has its own additional privacy measures.

⚖️ Is WireGuard better than OpenVPN?

WireGuard is faster than OpenVPN. It’s also less complicated and less bloated.

WireGuard has been independently audited as of version 1.0.0, but OpenVPN has undergone years of testing and auditing.

Until WireGuard’s privacy issues have been rectified, OpenVPN is still the safer option – even though WireGuard is the faster one.

🗓️ Can I use WireGuard now?

Most VPNs won’t implement WireGuard support until it has been thoroughly tested and audited multiple times. Others say that they’re waiting for WireGuard’s creators to come up with a more robust privacy solution that won’t invalidate their no-logs policies.

At the moment, only three VPNs give you safe WireGuard support: NordVPN, IVPN, and Mullvad.

Bottom Line

WireGuard has been hailed as the future of VPNs. The speed and security tests I conducted on it yield very exciting results.

However, even its developers admit it isn’t fully tested or complete. We’ll have to wait a little longer before WireGuard is in good enough shape to be offered by VPNs across the board.

But some VPNs are ahead of the game and are either working with WireGuard or coming up with their own solutions to its privacy issues.

Of all of these, NordVPN offers the most comprehensive and trustworthy WireGuard solution. NordLynx is incredibly fast, reliable, and secure while maintaining NordVPN’s high standards when it comes to privacy and logging.

To summarize, here are the only VPNs implementing WireGuard safely in 2020…

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