A VPN service is a privacy tool designed to protect you from someone monitoring your network usage. It works by encrypting all of your network traffic and then relaying it through to a server on the Internet. This provides you with a level of anonymity and privacy.
Tip: Encryption is a mathematical process that scrambles data so that it requires an “encryption key” to decrypt. Without the key, encrypted data is impossible to read. In encrypted web connections, only your computer and the webserver know the encryption key. To everyone else, your web connection data looks random data.
When using the internet, all of your web traffic goes through your ISP (Internet Service Provider). If they want to, are ordered to, or are hacked by someone who wants to, they can monitor your web usage. For unencrypted websites, your ISP can see all web traffic. This is why it’s so important to never enter a password on a website with no HTTPS encryption. For HTTPS encrypted connections, your ISP can only see what websites you’re connecting to (specific pages are not visible).
Using a VPN makes it appear that all your network traffic is going to, or coming from, a single IP address. This stops your ISP from being able to monitor and filter what websites you connect to, as the only data that they have is that you’re connecting to your VPN server. The encryption layer of the VPN ensures that no one can analyse the content of your web traffic to the VPN server.
Tip: The encryption layer of a VPN doesn’t make it safe to enter passwords on unencrypted HTTP websites. While your connection to the VPN server is securely encrypted, the connection between the VPN server and the website is not. If someone is monitoring that connection, your password could still be compromised.
What is a Double VPN?
A double VPN routes your data through two VPN servers in a technique called “VPN server chaining”. Instead of just relaying your network connection through one VPN server, a double VPN relays your connection through two, one after the other.
A double VPN connection connects securely to one VPN server, and then relays its connection to the first VPN server through a second secure VPN connection.
How is a Double VPN better than a Single VPN?
The main benefit of using a double VPN is that neither VPN server knows both the real source and ultimate destination of any network traffic. The first VPN server knows that your computer is connecting through it to another VPN server, but it doesn’t know what websites the other VPN server is connecting to. The second VPN server knows what websites it is connecting to and that it is connected to the first VPN, but it doesn’t know that the first VPN server is sending the data to you.
This is a major advantage for people under heavy internet surveillance, such as political activists and journalists living under oppressive regimes. Using a double VPN increases the difficulty of tying your internet usage to you.
This can also be considered a level of redundancy. If one of your VPN servers is compromised, you’re still protected by a fully functioning VPN, and your data can’t be tied to you.
Are there any Drawbacks to a Double VPN?
Using a VPN can slow down your connection to websites, this is primarily due to the travel time increase of going through the VPN server, especially if the server is on a different continent. Using a double VPN won’t necessarily double the delay. However, it adds another connection step which can add a relatively significant delay. On top of this, it is possible that your download speed may be faster than the connection speed of one of the VPN links. If this is the case, your download speed will be limited to the slowest of the connections between you and the end website.
Using a double VPN means your computer has to encrypt and decrypt all data it sends twice. For most modern computers, this increase in data processing won’t cause much delay. However, for some older or budget devices, this effect may be noticeable, especially on mobile phones.
The main benefit of using a double VPN is that neither VPN server knows both ends of the connection. However, the easiest way to configure a double VPN is to enable a setting in a VPN product that supports it, such as NordVPN. Here you can easily choose to use a double VPN connection from the options, and it will just work. However, using a single provider for both VPN servers could allow the provider to tie you to your activity, thus potentially removing the main benefit of using a double VPN. It is possible to configure two separate VPNs to work as a double VPN, which would keep the main benefit intact. However, configuring your network to work this way can be significantly more complex, and thus leaves room for more mistakes to be made.
A double VPN is two VPN connections chained together. The aim of a double VPN is that neither VPN server knows both the source and destination of any traffic.
If you’re in a position where you’re attempting to avoid network monitoring from a targeted attacker, then using a double VPN may provide you with more security. This is primarily due to the extra protection provided by neither VPN server knowing both you and the websites you’re connecting to.
If you’re just using a VPN because it increases your privacy from your ISP, you probably don’t need to use a double VPN. While it does provide a bit of extra protection, this will probably be outweighed by the performance impact.