What is Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)?


Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the oldest VPN protocols that is still being used. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is one of the easiest to set up, fastest processing, and most common to use. Because of this efficiency, it is useful for transferring data, like streaming, or for slower devices with limited processing capability.

PPTP has many vulnerabilities when it comes to security. Because of this lack of security, PPTP is often obsolete and is not recommended to be used except in cases where security is unnecessary.

PPTP: Speed and Compatibility

The beauty of PPTP lies not only in its ability to create these safe conduits but also in its speed and compatibility with mobile devices. In comparison with other VPN protocols that may lag or have device restrictions, PPTP takes the lead.

  1. It provides faster connections – critical when time-sensitive tasks are at hand.
  2. Its adaptability allows it to work seamlessly on mobile platforms – an essential feature considering our increasing reliance on smartphones and tablets for business operations.

A Word of Caution about PPTP

No technology comes without its own set of challenges. While PPTP offers many advantages like speed and accessibility, potential vulnerabilities should be considered while planning your cybersecurity strategy. Some of these challenges include:

  • Critical examination of all possible risks involved
  • An analysis on how they could impact your business operation

This approach will ensure you make informed decisions regarding which protocols best suit your needs.

History of PPTP

The history of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) takes us back to 1996, a time when internet security was beginning to make its mark. PPTP is the result of a consortium led by Microsoft with the purpose of creating secure and private network connections over the increasingly popular World Wide Web.

PPTP quickly gained traction for its simplicity and low computational overhead – features that made it an attractive choice for businesses with limited resources. Its modus operandi involved encapsulating data packets within an IP wrapper, which could then be sent across any IP network.

Fast forward to the late ’90s and early 2000s: PPTP’s popularity soared as more businesses started leveraging remote connectivity solutions. But this growth wasn’t without challenges. Over time, various security vulnerabilities were unearthed in the protocol.

The Shift Away from PPTP

This discovery sparked a shift away from using PPTP towards other protocols like L2TP/IPSec or OpenVPN known for their superior security measures. Yet despite these developments, understanding where we came from is crucial in grasping today’s VPN trends better.

A look into the evolution of VPN technologies reveals how our knowledge about online safety has grown by leaps and bounds since those early days with PPTP.

How PPTP Works

PPTP is often used to create VPNs for remote access to a corporate network, here is a basic overview of how PPTP works:

  1. Initiation: The PPTP connection is initiated by the client (the device trying to establish the VPN connection) to the server (the device hosting the VPN service).
  2. TCP Connection: PPTP uses a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) for control and a Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) protocol for encapsulation. A TCP connection is established between the client and the server on port 1723.
  3. Authentication: The client and server authenticate each other using a variety of methods, including passwords or other credentials. This is to ensure that the client has the right to access the server.
  4. Tunnel Establishment: Once authenticated, a GRE tunnel is established between the client and the server. GRE is used to encapsulate the PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) frames carrying the user data.
  5. Data Encapsulation: PPP frames encapsulate the user data. This includes the payload (the actual data being transferred) and headers that provide control information.
  6. Encryption: PPTP can provide encryption for the encapsulated data using various encryption protocols, including Microsoft’s Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE). MPPE encrypts the data to secure it during transmission over the Internet.
  7. Data Transfer: Encapsulated and encrypted data is then transmitted over the Internet through the established GRE tunnel between the client and server.
  8. Decapsulation and Decryption: Upon reaching the destination server, the GRE tunnel is terminated, and the encapsulated and encrypted data is decapsulated. If encryption is used, the data is decrypted to make it readable.
  9. Delivery to Destination: The decrypted data is then delivered to the intended destination on the private network.

The Phases of PPTP in Action

In the first phase, the control connection, communication channels between points are established by PPTP itself. This part of the process is authenticated using protocols like PPP CHAP.

  1. Establishment of control connections between points.
  2. Authentication via PPP CHAP or similar protocols.

Moving on to the second phase, known as data tunneling, this is where your actual information gets transmitted across networks within these already set up connections using the GRE protocol.

A Look at Security Concerns with PPTP

Despite its efficiency, especially for older systems due to low computational requirements, experts often raise eyebrows regarding security vulnerabilities linked with PPTP. Newer alternatives offering stronger encryption standards have surfaced, which may be a better fit than PPTP. 

Advantages of PPTPDisadvantages of PPTP
Very fast speeds128-bit encryption is relatively weak
Easy process to setupHas many vulnerabilities and attack vectors
Most operating systems offer native supportSusceptible to attacks from skilled hackers
Has broad support across multiple VPN servicesCan easily be blocked by firewalls
Has compatibility with VPN routersDoes require router passthrough

Voluntary Tunneling

When we talk about secure connections in network environments, voluntary tunneling often comes up. This technique is a go-to within the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) world.

The beauty of it? Users have the power to manually create private network links. That means you’re not just a passive player – you’re at the helm, steering your own ship through the cyber sea.

Digging Deeper into Voluntary Tunneling

In this setup, it’s all about active participation from users. The client initiates both ends of their VPN tunnel – one with their local ISP and another directly linked to their endpoint on some far-off server.

This might sound complex, but stick with us because there are significant benefits ahead.

Purpose and Advantages: Why Bother?

So why choose voluntary tunneling? Flexibility is king here. You decide when and where these tunnels get established, giving you more control over data transmission paths than ever before.

Troubleshooting also becomes less of a headache as potential issues along your connection path can be easily spotted and isolated thanks to its direct nature. In other words, no more playing detective trying to track down elusive problems.

Compulsory Tunneling

The need for reliable network security has been increasing, and as a result, the use of compulsory tunneling within PPTP is becoming more widespread. But what does it mean? It’s a method that compels a connection to follow an assigned pathway, enhancing control and strengthening security.

The Advantages of Compulsory Tunneling

What makes compulsory tunneling stand out? Its ability to simplify user access management across various networks or locations can’t be overlooked. With this approach, administrative tasks are significantly reduced while ensuring consistent policy enforcement.

  1. Data encryption during transit using VPN technologies such as PPTP increases data safety.
  2. User access management becomes simpler with streamlined processes.
  3. Potential threats can be detected early due to efficient monitoring systems enabled by routing all traffic through secure servers.

Risks Associated with Compulsory Tunneling and Mitigation Strategies

No doubt there are benefits associated with compulsory tunneling, but it also has its share of risks like single point failure vulnerability. How do we counter these challenges?

What is PPTP Passthrough?

When it comes to network security and connectivity, PPTP Passthrough plays a crucial role. This feature enables the smooth transmission of Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) traffic through NAT-enabled routers.

While it may sound technical, the benefits are clear: VPN users can enjoy seamless data transmission. It’s like having your own dedicated highway in a city full of busy roads, eliminating bottlenecks and roadblocks.

The true power of Passthrough shines when multiple users on the same local network require separate VPN connections using PPTP. Without Passthrough, only one user can maintain an active connection at a time, which is far from ideal.

Perimeter 81, a leading name in the field, heavily relies on this technology to provide robust solutions.

The Catch?

  • No Extra Security Layer: Passthrough does not enhance encryption or overall security levels. Its primary function is to facilitate accessibility and flexibility. While it is convenient, it’s important not to overlook other advanced protocols like L2TP/IPsec or OpenVPN for enhanced protection.
  • A Must-Have For Remote Workers: In today’s work-from-home era, remote workers often access their company’s internal resources through Perimeter 81, making Passthrough essential for smooth operations.

The Bottom Line: Should a VPN use PPTP for tunneling?

PPTP has been around since the 1990’s however, as we navigate today’s cybersecurity landscape, it’s worth questioning whether this protocol still meets the necessary standards. PPTP’s encryption standards are not considered to be bulletproof, as it uses 128-bit keys that have shown vulnerability to modern decryption methods.

CVE MITRE, for instance, reports on existing vulnerabilities that could potentially allow attackers to access data transmitted via this protocol. This is not good.

When comparing PPTP with other protocols such as OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec, which offer stronger encryption techniques and more robust security features, relying solely on PPTP for your network security could be likened to playing Russian roulette.

It’s important to remember that choosing the right network security solution for your business goes beyond just understanding protocols like PPTP. It’s about finding a comprehensive solution tailored to your specific needs.

However, it is important to consider alternatives or advanced solutions, such as those provided by Perimeter 81. In the world of cybersecurity, staying informed is crucial for staying ahead.


Is PPTP still used?
Is PPTP still in use? While some businesses and users may still rely on this protocol for specific legacy applications or older systems, its usage is declining due to well-known security vulnerabilities. PPTP is now considered obsolete, and for the most part, has been replaced by protocols that are more advanced like OpenVPN and WireGuard.
What is the difference between VPN and PTP?
A VPN is a protocol that creates a private connection between two points over the internet by encrypting the data. A Point-to-Point protocol line is a physical connection provided by a telecommunication provider that connects two points. Both are able to provide secure communications that connect two networks remotely.
What is the difference between PPTP and L2TP?
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol uses stronger encryption and certificates to authenticate the connection. On the other hand, PPTP has weaker security, but offers a much faster internet connection.
Why is PPTP obsolete?
PPTP is considered obsolete because of its weak encryption standards that couldn’t keep up with advanced network hackers that are looking for vulnerabilities in your network’s security.
What replaced PPTP?
LT2P effectively replaced PPTP. The advanced security offered by LT2P has made it the standard protocol to offer protection for remotely connected networks.