VPNs can have many uses. Some might utilize them to access streaming services from other countries and the hidden content that lies within. Others use it to stay safe when torrenting. And some find it important for providing complete online privacy. However, because it is capable of doing all those things, some will prefer to use VPN software only with specific programs and applications. For example, a customer that is torrenting and gaming at the same time may not want to the latter’s connection to be channeled through a VPN as the connection speed might be slower. In these cases, the best option is to use split tunnel for the VPN’s connection.
What Is Split Tunneling?
Split tunneling lets you decide which apps will the use VPN and conversely those that will not. The user can decide which software they want to activate, allowing them to specify which programs will be protected by the VPN’s encryption. While it can be manually configured using the VPN’s protocols and the respective software to utilize split tunneling, it can be a bothersome task and even complicated for some users. Some VPN services, such as ExpressVPN, Ivacy, and PureVPN, support split tunneling as part of a built-in functionality.
The Pros of Split Tunneling
There are a number of reasons why split tunneling might be beneficial. First, by associating the VPN with specific programs and apps, users will be able to alleviate bottlenecks and conserve bandwidth as internet traffic does not have to pass through the VPN server. On top of the software that is directly used by users such as browsers, games, or streaming services, devices also run additional programs that use internet connections in the background such as antivirus suites. If each of these applications all went through the VPN connection, then it would mean that the encrypted connection would be slower than what would be expected.
Additionally, split tunneling allows users to navigate between private and public networks at the same time. Employees can access company resources from anywhere in the world and still be able to use their own local network simultaneously.
The Bad Side of the Coin
Despite being of great help when it comes to VPN traffic, split tunneling also comes with disadvantages. In cases where workers remotely access a company’s network through a VPN, third parties will be able to bypass gateway level security that might be in place within the company infrastructure. This means that both the company and the collaborator would be at risk of being a target of malicious attacks. In addition, the use of split tunneling could augment the chances of DNS leaks happening, therefore exposing private user data.
Extra care is necessary for those who decide to manually configure the split tunnel VPN and the system’s firewall, as an improper configuration can lead to corporate and personal data exposure.
As a final note, it is important to consider that while split tunneling helps separate VPN traffic, ISPs can still interpret the connection’s behavior in order to understand the kind of activity that customers are doing online.
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