Virtual private network encrypts Internet traffic to ensure security and protect privacy online. It makes it difficult for unauthorized parties to intercept or access information within the VPN. The tool enables users to prevent hackers from stealing information submitted over the Internet, restrict internet service providers from logging activities, and curbs governments from tracking online activities.
Today, VPN use has grown in popularity, considering the forces arrayed against information privacy and security. Simultaneously, businesses are advancing the VPN’s features and capabilities to enhance security, which has led to the invention of Double VPNs.
If you are not sure what a double VPN is or its uses, do not worry. We will breakdown all there is to know about a double VPN, how it works, its benefits, and disadvantages. We will also explain the difference between double VPN, obfuscation, and the onion router.
What is a Double VPN?
A Double VPN works like a standard VPN. The key difference is that double VPNs route information via not one but two VPN servers. Unlike standard VPNs, a double VPN hides your IP address twice instead of just once. A double VPN adds a second layer of encryption since Internet traffic passes through two VPN servers.
Double VPNs are also known as multi-hop, double-hop, chained, nested, or cascading VPNs.
Multi-hop VPNs is another type of VPN using a VPN that has become synonymous with double VPNs. Unlike in double VPN where you set up only two servers, multi-hop allows multiple VPN connections simultaneously. Like in double VPN, a multi-hop VPN sends traffic hopping through more than two servers before it reaches the public Internet. Each server adds a new layer of encryption and a different IP address.
How Double VPN Works
Double and Chained VPNs have a relatively simple working principle.
- Your device encrypts data and redirects it to a remote VPN server
- The first server does what a standard VPNs do. It swaps out your IP address for its own and decrypts the data
- Instead of forwarding the Internet traffic right away to the destination, the first VPN server encrypts it for a second time. It sends the re-encrypted information to a second VPN server.
- The second server also operates like any other standard VPN server. It converts the encrypted information back to an original form and replaces the source IP address (assigned by the first VPN server) with its own.
- At this point, your information gets to the destination privately and securely (can be a web server, website, or cloud infrastructure)
- Responses or data from the destination reverses this process by encrypting data on the server and decrypting it on the second and first VPN servers, respectively.
Figure 1: How Double VPN Works
Is Double VPN Safe?
A double VPN is safe. It is a highly safe and private connection, just like in a standard VPN. The double VPN setup increases security offered by a conventional VPN connection by adding a second VPN server.
Suppose hackers steal the key for one VPN server. The data still remains encrypted for the second server, making it impossible for the intruder to steal or read confidential information.
Other than that, the second VPN server in double VPN never sees the sender’s IP address and therefore has no clue about the source. The server perceives that the data is coming from the first VPN server. The ISP is also in the dark about the ultimate destination of Internet traffic. From the ISP’s point of view, the destination for your requests or information is the second VPN server, with absolutely no visibility beyond that stage. A Double VPN adds the protection from VPN correlation attacks that can possibly link traffic to a VPN user.
Double VPN Benefits
Here are the benefits of Double VPNs:
Better Protection from Hackers and Enforcement
Using a nested VPN encrypts user data twice, making it twice as hard for hackers to steal and convert it back to a readable format. The technology protects users and businesses from sophisticated attacks, such as traffic correlation attacks where cyber-attackers process internet traffic to reveal details for the sender, message content, and the destination.
Even if a hacker accesses the VPN server physically, they can’t decipher user identities due to the double VPN’s cascade connection. To succeed in intercepting and converting internet traffic to a readable format in a double VPN, the attacker would need to gain physical access to all servers simultaneously, which is impossible for VPNs in different geographical locations.
Increased Anonymity and Privacy
A double VPN provides complete privacy by changing the actual IP address. Even the internet service provider (ISP) cannot see the sender’s destination. In essence, no one VPN server in a nested VPN can see both the original sender and the internet traffic recipient. The VPN server can see data coming from your computer or smartphone, but it cannot see past the second server to know the website you are visiting. Conversely, the second VPN server can see the destination site, but cannot determine the source’s details, that is, your device.
Using a double VPN makes it difficult for third-parties to trace traffic back to an end-user. The ability to hop online requests between servers in different geographical locations enables you to avoid austere government censorship.
A double VPN is also suitable if you are in a location that only authorizes connections to domestic websites and IP addresses. You first connect to a server in that country and then select a server overseas where the traffic will exit. For instance, if you are in Asia connecting to a VPN server in Europe through a second server in the US, anyone snooping in your country will think you are visiting websites in the US. Anyone snooping in Europe will believe you are in the US.
How to Use Double VPNs
Here’s how to set up and use a Double VPN:
- Using a Double VPN solution from a provider
- A VPN on top of another
- Setting a double VPN using a virtual machine
Method 1 – A Double VPN Solution from a Vendor
You can get a double VPN solution from one of the best VPN providers like NordVPN. It offers a fully encrypted cascade on the two VPN servers. The majority of VPN solutions vendors do not offer double VPNs.
You should ensure that the double VPN vendor provides no-logs policies in such situations, meaning that their VPNs keep no identifiable logs and customer records. It is even better to acquire a double VPN from remote-based companies that avoid government intervention and surveillance.
You must ensure that the solution offers the full functionalities of a double VPN. Some vendors will simply forward your traffic, in this case, your IP address, messages, and destination sites, without encryption. For that reason, you remain vulnerable to a wide range of cyberattacks.
Method 2 – A VPN on Top of Another
You can set up a double VPN by using two VPNs on top of another. For instance, you can have one VPN on your laptop or smartphone and a second one on your router. Using two different VPN solutions or providers offers maximum security. However, the internet speeds in this case will be greatly reduced.
Method 3 – Setting a Double VPN Using a Virtual Machine
You can optionally create a double VPN by installing a virtual machine on your device. Follow the steps below to set up the double-hop VPN:
- Use a virtualization tool like Virtual Box or Hyper-V to install a second operating system on a virtual machine.
- Install a VPN solution on both the host computer and the virtual machine
- Launch the two VPNs
- Any traffic sent from the virtual machine will travel through the two VPN servers, one in the virtual machine and the other in the host
Double VPN Disadvantages
A double VPN has some disadvantages. Chaining two VPN servers and double encryption are the basic tenets of double-hop VPNs. We can draw attention to the drawbacks of this solution.
- Low Speed: Double VPN is slower because of the extra server where internet traffic must pass through. The speed drawback comes from the extra distance data needs to travel to the two VPN servers before getting to its destination. Network congestion, when many users access the VPN simultaneously, also causes slowdowns.
- Resource-Intensive: A double VPN solution is resource-intensive since your setup must encrypt and decrypt all the data twice. The set up can result in decreased processing speeds for low-powered devices.
Who Needs a Double VPN
For an average user, a chain VPN is not worth the performance tradeoffs. A standard VPN with strong encryption and other security controls like malware protection and ad blocker provides adequate security and privacy.
Chained VPNs are suitable for
- political activists
- individuals living under intense internet surveillance
Before connecting to a double VPN, ensure that the connection is fast enough. The device should also have enough resources to cater to the additional computing overhead for encryption and decryption processes and the considerable distance between the two VPN servers. If your internet connection is not stable, it makes double VPNs poorly suited for any online activity that requires low latency and speed, such as downloading large files, playing games, or streaming video.
Double VPN vs. Onion Over VPN
The onion router (TOR) is a web browser that anonymizes your web traffic to protect your identity online. In an onion network, user traffic is encrypted several times as it passes through multiple servers or onion routers. Each onion router receives an encryption key and “peels” a layer of encryption before forwarding the internet traffic to the next router. Only your computer or smartphone can decrypt the message since it has access to all the keys. Intermediary servers cannot determine the message contents, source, or destination.
Figure 2: Onion Over VPN
Governments and ISPs can quickly discover when users access the TOR network. In that event, you can enhance information security and privacy by connecting an Onion over a VPN server. This setup ensures that all traffic passes through a VPN and then on an onion network, leveraging the two technologies’ capabilities.
By its very definition, Onion over VPN may appear to be the same as a double VPN. However, there are some differences between the two systems. A double VPN privacy solution sends internet traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice. The Onion over VPN sends the internet traffic through a single VPN server and the onion network consisting of volunteer-operated servers.
Double VPN vs. Obfuscated
Double VPNs’ straightforward working principle involves sending traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice. In contrast, an obfuscated server uses unique algorithms to hide the fact that you are using a VPN or TOR to bypass internet restrictions and makes it appear like a regular internet activity. Obfuscation masks privacy protection software usage to imply that no tools like VPN are in use. The technology is a handy solution for overcoming excessive third-party snooping. Coupling obfuscation and VPNs also helps bypass VPN blockers in censored regions where privacy tools have an absolute ban.
Ultimately, double VPNs will continue to become more popular and available from more vendors. The tool offers enhanced privacy and security for users who are hyper-conscious of online privacy and security. However, there is a chance that a nested VPN will result in speed issues as the system encrypts data twice and routes Internet traffic via two VPN servers in different locations.
VPN with Double VPN feature
NordVPN is a VPN that offers DoubleVPN, Onion Over VPN and traffic obfuscation features. It has more than 5000+ servers in 59 countries and has a strict and audited no-logs policy.
This provider is popular as it can unblock streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and more. It has pretty fast speeds and fully supports torrenting and P2P traffic.
It uses an industry standard AES-256 key bit encryption and supports WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. It has no IP leaks and protects from DNS leaks. As an extra it also has a CyberSec feature that can block online ads and malicious websites.
For those who always want to protect themselves online it has two kill switches – one for internet connection and another for the apps. It allows up to 6 simultaneous connections and has apps for all platforms – Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and routers.
NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans and accepts cryptocurrency.