We're happy to announce that TunnelBear officially supports the WireGuard protocol for all of our apps!
Okay... not entirely accurate.
TunnelBear has actually supported WireGuard on both Windows and iOS since early 2022. However, as of our most recent macOS and Android updates, WireGuard is officially available for all platforms!
This is pretty big news for our Bears, and we'd like to talk about why supporting WireGuard is so important.
First, what exactly is a VPN protocol?
A VPN protocol is a series of technical rules that govern how your device can securely reach the VPN servers, validate your access to the requests you make online, and encrypt your browsing traffic so that only you can see what you are doing on the web.
Essentially, it controls your entire VPN connection. That's a pretty serious responsibility.
Depending on which app you use, TunnelBear currently supports the following protocols; WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. We also support an Auto option, which just means you prefer to let your Bear decide which protocol you should use (this is the default selection for TunnelBear).
Even if you were unaware, you've always used a VPN protocol. Whenever you connect TunnelBear, your Bear is busy working in the background - deciding which protocol is best for the network and device you are using.
The TL;DR (too long; didn't rawr)
- Allows your device to establish a secure connection to the VPN server
- Encrypts your browsing traffic so that unauthorized entities can't see what you do online
- Authenticates and validates your connection to the VPN server
- Helps circumvent internet censorship tactics used by ISPs, governments, and other censors
Why is it then, that WireGuard is so important?
Simply speaking, the more VPN protocols TunnelBear has, the better. By creating redundancy with the technologies we support, we ensure that TunnelBear remains one of the most robust and flexible VPN apps available - able to help users connect across a variety of different networks.
That being said, there are some fundamental benefits to specifically using WireGuard. As the newest available VPN protocol on the market, WireGuard is an extremely simple yet fast technology that utilizes state-of-the-art cryptography; this means that secure networking can be very high-speed.
- Extremely fast at establishing a VPN connection
- Uses more modern, up-to-date cryptography
- Requires less code to maintain, reducing attack surface
- Improves browsing speed and latency
- Has a much smaller impact on device battery life
- It's newer, and less likely to be blocked or censored
Note: It's important to stress that OpenVPN and IKEv2 are still absolutely secure to use, and in many cases, may be preferable. Every user's network is a little different, and no solution fits all.
A smarter, better, stronger Bear
It isn't enough to simply support the latest protocols (no matter how good they might be). We couldn't just introduce WireGuard to the app, pat the back of our fur, and call it a day.
We had to also make sure the TunnelBear app was smart.
WireGuard, despite it's many benefits, still has some limitations. There are millions of people that rely on TunnelBear to help keep their data secure online, and we couldn't be content introducing a technology without first backing it up with the smartest Bear logic.
Introducing WireGuard to TunnelBear also meant ensuring that our apps knew when to use it.
When you connect to TunnelBear using the "Auto" protocol, it's another way of saying that you will let TunnelBear control your connection. In most cases, this means you will connect using WireGuard first. Should WireGuard fail, your Bear is smart enough to then try OpenVPN and IKEv2 subsequently.
We refer to this as protocol fallback. It's meant to ensure that should your network be more restrictive than usual, TunnelBear is equipped to push through and help get you connected.
More control over how you connect
Protocol fallback? Check.
Protocol selection? Also check.
Yeah, you read that right. Alongside support for WireGuard and our own in-house protocol fallback logic, we also decided to introduce our new VPN Protocol Selection feature for all TunnelBear apps.
We realize that as time goes on and we introduce more VPN protocols to the TunnelBear app, more and more users will become comfortable with managing their own VPN connection. As such, it's important we provide them with that option.
To manage your VPN protocol
- Desktop: Open your TunnelBear settings menu and simply select the Connections tab. You will be able to adjust your VPN protocol here.
- Mobile: You need only open your TunnelBear settings menu. You can tap on the Protocol Selection feature listed to change which VPN protocol you use.
It's as simple as that!
This wraps up another announcement from the TunnelBear sleuth this year, but we're far from done. We have more news and updates coming soon, so please bear with us while we get them ready.