What is VPN Split Tunneling? (Guide for 2022)

Last Updated: August 12, 2022
What is VPN Split Tunneling?
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Split tunneling is a function of virtual private networks (VPNs) that divides the internet traffic you send and receive.

So that part of it travels through an encoded VPN connection while the remaining portion travels through a second tunnel on the unsecured networking.

Usually, split tunneling allows you to pick which applications to protect and which to allow normal connectivity.

With this capability, you may protect sensitive data while still allowing access to your network’s peripherals so that you can simultaneously connect international connections and local area networks.

It’s also useful if you’re looking to conserve bandwidth.

How Do Split Tunnels Operate?

VPN Split Tunneling

The software idea of split tunneling “splits” your Internet connection into two.

Your Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provider generates two connections for you to utilize online: one connection that routes all of your traffic through a safe and encrypted VPN tunnel and another connection that lets you access directly to the public internet.

By configuration, VPNs transport all internet traffic through a protected, encrypted channel, concealing all online data and activity from potential snoopers.

Split tunneling is a feature offered by the majority of the finest VPN providers.

It allows you to select which websites, applications, and networks to access over the VPN and which to access directly.

Imagine having one foot inside and one foot outside of your VPN tunnel.

The utilization of less bandwidth is another advantage that can be gained from using split tunneling.

You will be able to gain faster internet access without filling your bandwidth if you utilize a VPN because you have the ability to choose which applications will flow through the VPN server.

The direct (open) access to the internet and the tunnel (VPN) connection to the internet are both provided continuously by a split tunneling virtual private network (VPN), which, in essence, represents the best of both worlds by allowing users two identities during the same time.

Consequently, you can connect your network with security protocols and different devices as needed.

In addition, the use of the split-tunneling VPN eliminates the potential problems associated with using the same network for all connections or the necessity to switch networks prior to use.

Using the split tunneling VPN capability, remote workers will be able to securely access resources from any device in any region of the world.

When Do You Need Split Tunneling?

Your whole internet traffic will be sent through an encrypted tunnel when you use a basic virtual private network (VPN), protecting it from prying eyes such as hackers and other third parties.

If your VPN does not enable split tunneling, you may encounter the following situations:

  • You cannot simultaneously access foreign and local internet services.
  • All data transmitted across the VPN consumes bandwidth.
  • LAN devices are inaccessible while connecting to a VPN.

Using a VPN with split-tunneling, you can:

  • Stream international films utilizing local IP addresses for web services
  • Safely download files without slowing down other Internet operations
  • Securely connect your network printer while browsing the internet.

Using a VPN to transmit all of your data can significantly strain your bandwidth and slow down your internet connection.

Using split tunneling reduces the amount of data directed via VPN, hence reducing the impact on internet performance.

You require split tunneling When you require simultaneous access to both a private and public network.

Because split tunneling concurrently links you to both of these networks, you can automatically stream international content and receive local Google search results.

In addition, you are able to use other devices on your network, like a printer, without putting your online confidentiality at risk.

The Various Sorts Of VPN Split Tunnel

There are commonly three ways a VPN provider divides your Internet traffic:

1. App-Based Split Tunneling

You can pick which programs connect over the VPN and which connect straight to the internet with app-based split tunneling.

Typically, this capability is configured using VPN software installed on your device.

2. URL-Based Split Tunneling

Using a URL-based method, you can direct your VPN to only handle data from particular websites.

Whenever you browse these websites, the Vpn protects all of your network traffic across the private network.

URL-based split tunneling requires a VPN browser extension in the majority of scenarios.

Suppose you wish to view your online stock portfolio while connected to a coffee shop’s public network.

In this scenario, you could add the trading platform’s URL to the security list of your VPN.

The VPN will then utilize the browser extension to decide if the website you are visiting should be routed through their network.

3. Split IP Address Tunneling

IP address split tunneling is less prevalent than the alternative two methods. It permits you to identify the IP addresses to which you wish to connect with or without the VPN.

4. Inverse Split Tunneling

You have the ability to select individual apps and URLs that will be routed through your VPN when you use the inverse split tunneling feature.

This method is comparable to a Firewall as a Service in which you set Firewall policies based on user-defined roles for your network resources.

5. Dynamic Split Tunneling

Dynamic split tunneling advances standard split tunneling by employing a DNS protocol to determine which traffic/protocols and domains are included or excluded from the tunnel.

6. Dual-Stack Connectivity (Unintended Split Tunneling)

Less an option than a circumstance to be mindful of: If you are using a VPN and can use both IPv4 and IPv6 sites from your network, it is likely that your IPv6 traffic is being transmitted without encryption.

Make sure both are supported by your VPN!

Is Split Tunneling Dangerous?

A company that employs split tunneling cannot be operated by the cloud.

Such harmful data leaks are particularly concerning when they are caused by insiders employing nefarious tactics.

Employees are more likely to be exploited while connecting over open, insecure networks, such as those at Internet cafés or other businesses that use unsecured networks rather than IP networks.

What Advantages Does Split Tunneling Offer?

Split Tunneling
Credits: Geekflare

Secure Connection

Split tunneling enables distant employees to retain a protected network with their respective work-related login credentials.

It allows employees to utilize the public network without revealing company data or documents to cyber dangers.

Split tunneling creates safe Internet connections in order to prevent spoofing and data harvesting.

Reduces VPN Traffic

When using a virtual private network (VPN), the data always has to go via the server of the VPN.

If the volume of traffic is large enough, data might “accumulate,” causing a sort of traffic congestion.

Split tunneling is a mechanism for prioritizing which types of data require protection and which do not, hence lowering overall congestion and enhancing performance.

Faster Speeds

When you only have a sluggish Internet connection, adopting a virtual private network (VPN) can make your app performance substantially worse.

One solution is to use Split Tunneling, which excludes the applications that do not require protection, freeing up more bandwidth for the critical applications that carry sensitive data.

Additionally, games can be excluded from the VPN divide. This can make a significant impact on latency and loading times for simple games.

Permit Access To Several Networks

This pertains exclusively to local area network (LAN) connections.

Local area networks connect equipment present in a single physical location, such as PCs and printers in a house or office.

However, VPNs can prevent LAN connections from establishing in some circumstances.

A VPN could, for instance, prohibit a computer from connecting to a wireless printer, requiring the user to deactivate the VPN in order to print.

Split tunneling makes it possible to connect to LANs without disconnecting from a VPN.

Maintain Safety Without Restricting Access

Certain media services do not allow users to access their material when using a virtual private network (VPN).

They want to verify that you are accessing their content from the country you claim to be in. Meanwhile, VPNs provide exceptional security.

With split tunneling, you do not have to pick between online security and watching your favorite television shows.

Simply pick the streaming applications and devices you wish to exclude from the VPN tunnel; these will utilize your ordinary network connection while the rest of your activity remains protected.

Exclude Data-Heavy Apps

It’s possible that using a VPN will slow down your connection. Typically, this drop won’t have a significant impact on you, but there may be times when it interferes with your activities.

Simply use Bypasser to select the applications on your device that do not need to be encrypted in order for them to function at their normal pace.

Use Different IP Addresses

A VPN replaces your IP address with that of the VPN server. When you choose to exclude some applications from VPN use, they will utilize your local IP.

This allows you to utilize two IPs simultaneously and browse local content on some apps while being anonymous on others.

What Security Risks Does VPN Split Tunneling Pose?

The risks associated with VPN split tunneling must be balanced against its benefits.

Those responsible for information security in corporate contexts employ defensive technologies to safeguard endpoints and prevent users from performing particular operations, whether on purpose or by accident.

Users have traditionally been able to overcome proxy servers and other devices designed to restrict and safeguard network access.

Therefore, if a user is accessing the organization’s network from an unsecured network, they can put it at risk.

If a hacker is successful in compromising the network the customer is operating from by employing the technique of split tunneling, the hacker may be capable of placing the rest of the organization’s network in danger as well.

Network security is in danger as long as one or more company computers are compromised.

Vulnerable To Cyberattacks

VPN Split Tunneling permits the simultaneous usage of a VPN private network and an open network. If a remote employee views a bad website, malware can infect his computer.

Moreover, the malware is capable of entering the organization’s system and causing damage. This allows a hacker to take secret information from an organization.

Permissions Can Be Bypassed By Employees

When an organization allows its employees the flexibility of working remotely, it will typically restrict certain websites on its servers.

This prohibits employees from accessing the websites that have been blocked.

If a corporation gives VPN Split Tunneling to its employees, they can overcome restrictions and access banned content, hence increasing the security risk for the organization.

Split Tunnel Vs. Full Tunnel

Split Tunnel Vs. Full Tunnel
Credits: Linkedin

The term “full tunnel” refers to sending all of your traffic through your VPN; meanwhile, the term “split tunneling” refers to transmitting some of your data using a VPN and some of it using an unsecured network.

This indicates that complete tunneling is more secure than split tunneling because it protects all of your traffic, whereas split tunneling only secures a portion of it.

As a result, full tunneling typically results in slower rates than split tunneling, as all your data must be encrypted. Nevertheless, it is the safer alternative.

Is Split Tunneling Compatible With All Devices?

ExpressVPN Split Tunneling

If your VPN supports split tunneling, it is likely that it will offer a Windows 10 VPN client. These are often the most well-equipped VPN programs available.

Android is versatile and supports numerous features; therefore, a premium Android VPN will likely enable split tunneling.

VPN services for the Mac may or may not support split tunneling.

Even premium VPNs like ExpressVPN and Private Web Access do not provide the facility on macOS 11 and later because Network Kernel extensions have been removed.

However, if you’re running an older version of the operating system, you can probably still utilize it.

The Final Thoughts

It’s possible to keep your private information safe without affecting your internet speed by using VPN split tunneling.

However, it does mean that your traffic will be less secure than if you were to use a VPN for all of your online activities.

Regarding internet security, sometimes split tunneling is not recommended; instead, simple use of a VPN for all of your traffic is suggested.

It’s worth trying split tunneling, even if you don’t feel the necessity to secure anything, just to be on the safe side, so you don’t have to worry about your connection speeds.

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Written by Trevor Cooke

The only safe internet is a private internet. You’ll see me at parties talking about cybersecurity, privacy, and VPNs. Yes, I’m that guy.
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