I. Introduction to Lightway
As virtual private network (VPN) usage grows globally, leading provider ExpressVPN recently unveiled an all-new protocol dubbed Lightway—engineered fully in-house to boost security, speed, and reliability standards within the VPN space.
Lightway offers a modern open-source protocol alternative, bridging the gap between legacy offerings like OpenVPN and newer choices like WireGuard. Built on top of WolfSSL’s TLS 1.3 library implementation, Lightway leverages cutting-edge cryptography like AES-256-GCM encryption to create a protocol fine-tuned for security-focused privacy seekers.
Let’s explore Lightway’s capabilities and the sizable improvements this proprietary protocol brings to the table in terms of encryption, transparency, connection stability, and overall user experience.
II. Key Features of Lightway
Boasting an exceptionally compact codebase, Lightway nonetheless incorporates industry-leading encryption standards ensuring maximum privacy and security for VPN connections:
Compact Codebase and Well-Established Cryptography
Weighing in at just 4,000 lines of code, Lightway avoids bloat and complexity—instead providing only essential VPN networking features optimized for speed and security.
The protocol implements battle-tested ciphers including AES-256-GCM symmetric encryption for data transmitted over the secure tunnel. Elliptic curve Diffie-Hellman key exchanges enable perfect forward secrecy.
Together these mechanisms prevent eavesdropping while keeping user data safe even if encryption algorithms become compromised in future.
Use of AES-256-GCM and ChaCha20/Poly1305 Encryption
Lightway leverages AES-256-GCM for symmetry as data travels between VPN server and client device. Combined with keys refreshed during each session, this military-grade algorithm provides watertight confidentiality and integrity for VPN tunnels.
Additionally, Lightway embraces ChaCha20/Poly1305 for endpoint authentication—preventing active hacking attempts like man-in-the-middle attacks mimicking VPN servers.
Support for Perfect Forward Secrecy
Lightway implements elliptic curve Diffie-Hellman key exchanges supporting perfect forward secrecy (PFS)—meaning session keys cannot be derived from long term keys.
Even if an attacker obtained the long term private key enabling initial TLS connection, they cannot decrypt any captured VPN traffic secured via temporary session keys. This forward secrecy renders intercepted data useless.
Implementation of TLS 1.3 for TCP Connections
As the next iteration of industry-standard TLS, version 1.3 emerges with reworked cryptography and tighter security overall. Lightway bakes in TLS 1.3, enabling key session improvements:
- Faster handshake speeds establishing encrypted links
- Reduced surface vulnerabilities targeted by attackers
- Mandatory PFS across all key exchanges
Once network environments universally support TLS 1.3, Lightway connections reap major speed and security dividends.
Future Support for UDP Once TLS 1.3 is Available
Most VPN traffic utilizes TCP (transmission control protocol) maintaining stable connections via reliability checks and sequenced delivery. However UDP (user datagram protocol) alternatively offers faster throughput by skipping these checks.
While TLS 1.3 currently secures only TCP streams, forthcoming implementations will enable UDP connections protected under TLS encryption. At this stage, Lightway will incorporate firewall-friendly UDP alongside TCP for maximized performance.
III. Transparency and Trust
In contrast with closed-source protocols obscuring potential vulnerabilities, ExpressVPN champions openness releasing Lightway’s core source publicly on GitHub. Third-party audits instill further confidence in the protocol’s integrity.
Availability of the Core Codebase on GitHub
As evidenced across sectors like open-source operating systems (i.e. Linux) and web browsers (i.e. Firefox), transparency fuels community trust and rapid bug discovery within large codebases.
Echoing this ethos, ExpressVPN published Lightway’s compact code on GitHub allowing public scrutiny to strengthen overall security. One can examine the modular structure and audit protocol mechanisms like key exchanges line-by-line.
Such transparency exceeds practices across most commercial VPN protocols hiding behind proprietary doors to mask potential flaws or backdoors. Open-source protocols also benefit from community contributions improving toolsets over time.
Third-Party Audit by Cure53 to Ensure Trust
Alongside source visibility, ExpressVPN directed extensive third-party auditing of Lightway by noted information security firm Cure53. Their detailed assessment publicly affirms the protocol’s strong threat model and encryption backbone.
Multiple firms auditing major VPN protocols enhances trustworthiness for users weighing privacy and security factors among providers. ExpressVPN’s efforts on both transparency and independent verification set standards for accountability within the wider VPN industry.
Comparison with other VPN Protocols
Stacking up Lightway’s transparency and audit history against alternatives paints a picture of strong standards:
- OpenVPN – Well-known open-source protocol but audits are less common
- WireGuard – Transparent code but lacks extensive third-party audits
- IPSec – Closed-source and never audited for backdoors
Lightway checks all the boxes on counts from source visibility to independent verification—instilling confidence absent across competing options.
IV. Integration and User Experience
Rather than relying on an outside protocol like OpenVPN or scrapping VPN apps for an entirely new platform, ExpressVPN smartly built Lightway directly into existing native apps across all major devices and operating systems:
Seamless Integration with ExpressVPN Apps
Thanks to the protocol’s compact footstep sliding seamlessly into ExpressVPN’s stack, activating Lightway necessitates no drastic software overhauls. Users enjoy the same smooth UX offered for years.
Behind the scenes, Lightway boots up using cutting-edge cryptography fortifying privacy protections and everyday use. But no app relearning is required to reap serious security and speed gains.
Minimal Impact on Connection Stability and Latency
Despite major under-the-hood improvements, Lightway introduces no adverse tradeoffs around stability or speed during daily usage. Connections remain consistently reliable for activities like video streaming and web browsing.
In fact, Lightway actually enhances throughput via TLS 1.3 while slashing latency. Real-world tests confirm ExtremeVPN users enjoy measurable speed boosts after updating apps with the new protocol live.
Support for Auto-Updates Across Different Platforms
Lightway integrates across Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android for native implementation tailored per platform. Auto-update support further eases access to the latest performance and security patches.
One click within your ExpressVPN app instantly upgrades Lightway to the newest version without hassle or headaches. This frictionless update process keeps your connections optimized automatically as improvements continue percolating.
V. Security and Reliability
Boasting enterprise-grade encryption models and innovative server infrastructure, Lightway takes no shortcuts on foundations of privacy, security and stableconnections underpinning VPN protection:
Emphasis on Maximum Security and Speed
As opposed to retrofitting dated protocols like OpenVPN, ExpressVPN’ built Lightway specifically for contemporary speed and security demands. Modern communication encryption via TLS 1.3 and compact modular architecture translate speed and protection noticeable in daily usage.
Lightway also sidesteps legacy compatibility concerns hampering protocols like IKEv2—instead concentrating efforts exclusively on fortifying connections for the latest networks and silicon like Apple M1 chips seeing widespread adoption.
Utilization of RAM-Based Servers for Temporary Data Storage
ExpressVPN configures Lightway servers relying heavily on error-prone SSD and HDD drives for cache data at rest outside active memory.
Instead Lightway machines function as RAM-disk servers storing cache and keys strictly ephemeral within temporary runtime memory erased instantly after device reboots. This hinders forensic attacks attempting to recover cryptographic data remnants from storage drives and binaries.
Low Latency and High Reliability for Various Online Activities
Between stripped-down modular architecture and WolfSSL’s speedy TLS 1.3 implementation, Lightway connections add minimal overhead enabling activities like 4K video streaming without buffering frustration.
Uptime remains consistent as well thanks to built-in failure resistance delivering 99.99%+ availability even during peak demand. Reliability rarely wavers—keeping privacy always on tap.
As outlined throughout this guide, ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol sets new bars for privacy, security, speed and transparency demanded by modern VPN users. beside other protocols like OpenVPN and IPSec struggle playing catch-up.
Boasting enterprise-grade encryption models and innovative server infrastructure, Lightway takes no shortcuts on foundations of privacy, security and stable connections underpinning VPN protection.
Lightway’s emphasis on modular engineering, open-source visibility and third-party auditing instills trust in ExpressVPN’s commitment to upholding integrity around user privacy. The protocol walks the walk matching promises championing internet freedom through best-practice encryption.
With seamless integration across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android platforms, Lightway also sidesteps any usability growing pains. Just update your ExpressVPN app to tap into dramatically enhanced security safeguarding online activity.
As communication platforms grow more sophisticated, ExpressVPN answers with an equally robust VPN protocol purpose-built meeting privacy demands now and into the encrypted future. Tap Lightway today to fortify your digital life!