What Is Double VPN, And Should You Use It?

 In Cybersecurity, Encryption, Privacy, Security, Smartphone Security, VPN

This security feature is available with a few VPN companies, and is usually included in the top-tier packages. What does it mean? Should you cough up some extra cheddar to get it? In this article, we will break down Double VPN, and explain what you get from the extra layer of protection.

Double VPN 101: How It Works

First, the basic VPN connection. When you connect to your VPN server it becomes the intermediary between your device and the internet, passing your data through a secure tunnel. The data to and from the internet is encrypted, that way third parties will not be able to decipher it. 

Device >>> VPN Server 01 >>> Internet

Here, outgoing data is encrypted on your device (the laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc), then sent to the VPN server, where it is decrypted and sent to the target website, online service or app. 

Incoming data reverses this – it is encrypted on the server, and decrypted on your device. 

With Double VPN, a second server is added to this path.

Device >>> VPN Server 01 >>> VPN Server 02 >>> Internet

This means that you get a second layer of encryption. The second server can even be in a different city or continent. 

With this path, there are two approaches:

  • This first is Nested Double VPN. Here, for outgoing data:
  1. It is encrypted on your device twice. 
  2. This data is sent to the first VPN server, which removes one layer of encryption. 
  3. The result is then sent to the second VPN server, where the other layer of encryption is removed.
  4. The fully decrypted data is then sent to the destination website. 

Incoming data follows the reverse process. Each server encrypts the data it receives, and your device decrypts both layers of encryption. 

  • For the second approach, the data is not encrypted/decrypted twice on the end user device. Instead, for the outgoing traffic: 
  1. The device applies a single layer of encryption to the data. 
  2. This layer is removed at the first VPN, and the data is taken through a second round of encryption
  3. The data is then sent to the second server for decryption. 

This means that the data passing through the tunnels will only have a single layer of encryption, and both servers will be able to view the unencrypted traffic. 

This second approach is less common, and nested Double VPNs are more popular given that they provide the most private and secure configuration. 

Can more servers be added to the chain? Yes. This is referred to as VPN server cascading or VPN server chaining, where you get to have triple, quadruple or even more VPN setups. At every subsequent server, the IP is changed, and the data gets decrypted and re-encrypted before being sent along.

Why All The Fuss?

Well, while encrypting data gives you anonymity, since your ISP or any other third-party snooping on the traffic will find it difficult to decrypt, scrambling already-encrypted data makes it twice as difficult, and not worth the time, energy or money it would take to do so. 

In addition, neither of the VPN servers themselves can see both the source and destination of the internet traffic at the same time. While the first VPN sees that the encrypted data is coming from your device, it cannot tell where the data is going past the second VPN, meaning it won’t know the destination website. On the other hand, while the second VPN will decrypt the data and send it to the destination site, it will only know that it came from the first server, and not the original device that sent it. This gives the user an extremely high level of anonymity, and secures the data. 

What’s more, issues that would result from normal VPN connections – like the occasional IP and DNS leaks, will not be a concern here. Even if there is a leak due to a disruption in connection with the server, and the third part gets to unscramble some bits of data, this would only direct them to the location of the first server, and you will still have the second server clocking your identity. If the security of one of the servers is compromised, then the data getting to the second server will still be encrypted, meaning that third parties will not be able to read it.

Who Gets To Benefit From Double VPN?

Anyone who really wants to protect their privacy and anonymity. These are the likes of whistle-blowers, political activists, and citizens in locations where there are high levels of internet censorship. For instance, there are counties with authoritarian regimes that are forceful, cracking down hard on online freedom of speech. The Double VPN enables you to ensure that the chances of your online activities being traced through your network connection are virtually non-existent. 

The Disadvantages Of Double VPN

All that encrypting and decrypting is bound to weigh on your internet speed. Watching live broadcasts and buffering movies can be slow and frustrating. Certainly, it also depends on the speed that you get from the ISP provider. So, if you opt for Double VPN, ensure that you have sufficient bandwidth to accommodate it. 

Next is the price. As mentioned, this security feature is usually included as one of the top-tier packages with the VPN provider. Providers may also choose to separate the security options within the package, allowing you to use the default VPN normally and switch to the Double VPN when the need for the extra security arises. 


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