December 6, 2023

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split tunneling

Split Tunneling: What is it and Why Should You Care

The internet is a vast and varied thing and accessing certain sites that have specific security protocols can be difficult. In an age where we use technology for nearly everything we do, it is important that, when accessing the internet or other secure content, you have the proper safety measures in place. Split tunneling can make it possible to access content that might be on a secure server through the network that you are using, even if you are not in the office or in the area in which the virtual private network was set up.

What is Split Tunneling?

Split tunneling is a bypass of sorts that allows the user to access two different networks at the same time. This concept allows mobile users to access two different security domains at the same time, though through different access points. Consider a user that is staying in a hotel room. Most hotels offer Wi-Fi for guests so that they can check their accounts, stay on top of work, and keep in touch.

A user that wants to connect to the servers at their job and access files that are held there would certainly be able to, and able to do so safely, by using split tunneling. The user can connect to the secure serve and the contents through virtual private network software that keeps the content and the servers private and connected through Wi-Fi. When that same user wants to go search on a search engine they would be able to do so through the internet at the hotel rather than through the VPN that the user was using to access the content on the secure server.

This is going to make it possible for users to access secure content on a public network and still be able to look at other content that may not need to be accessed through the VPN. There are different types of split tunneling that do different things. A “split-include” tunnel, for example, is going to be a tunnel that only allows access by those inquiries that are destined to go to a certain place. A “split-exclude” tunnel is configured to accept all traffic except for a certain set that is defined by the person that sets the tunnel up.

Advantages to Split Tunneling

There are some distinct advantages to split tunneling. The first is that it helps to move things along better in terms of things like accessing certain apps and content. Some apps are not going to need special security protocols and are not going to need to be put through the virtual private network. These apps can instead connect directly to the internet. Using a split tunnel allows you to funnel the inquiries that need to be on the VPN to the correct place, while other apps that may not need the added security can connect directly to the internet.

Another distinct benefit is that it eliminates the need to connect and disconnect to the network as you switch between content and switch between files that may need to be protected and those that do not. This means that you can seamlessly use your network and access the internet as needed with the proper security protocols without having to change over networks or have more than one device in use at a time. This makes both work and access easier and helps to alleviate some of the issues that you might have with using the same network for all of your applications and having to swap out networks or use the same network for all connections.

Another benefit is that split tunneling allows you to get rid of the bottle neck or the bogged down experience that many people have when they try to use the same network and the same connection for all of their processes. Say you have three employees that are all using the same virtual private network. Two of them are accessing sensitive content that is on your private work or corporate server. The other employee is conducting internet research on a typical search engine that does not need any protection from the VPN.

The two employees that are working in the private network on things that do need to be protected are going to experience lagging and may even have connection issues because the third employee is also working off of the same VPN. With tunneling, you can direct the inquiries and the searches of the third employee directly to the internet instead of bogging down the VPN and making the work for the other employees harder and more time consuming.

Split tunneling is a great way to really make a difference in the overall use of your VPN. Split tunneling, when set up correctly, can help to reduce the overall backlog and clogging on your network and can also help to protect what needs to be protected and to send those inquiries that may not be so sensitive straight through to the internet.

Disadvantages to Split Tunneling

The first drawback to split tunneling is that anything that is going to bypass the VPN is not going to be protected by the security protocols that you might have in place. This means that if you do end up using a split tunnel and something is accessed outside of the VPN and the security protocols, you may end up with content getting accessed by people that might not otherwise see it.

Also, if the split tunnel is not set up correctly or is not secure, it can leave room for hackers to access your information and to get into your servers. It is important that if you are setting up a split tunnel that you have the help of a company that is trusted, that is experienced, and that can set up the tunnel so that only the content that does not need to be protected slips through.

Types of Split Tunneling

There are a few different options and types when it comes to split tunneling. Inverse split tunneling works to make sure that only specific content enters the tunnel and exits it. This helps to make sure that everything that has been passed through is correct and protected. As mentioned before, there are split inclusive and split exclusive options as well. Finding an experienced company to help set up your split tunnel is going to help you to be sure your tunnel is set up properly and that your content is going to be safe overall. You can also white list or choose what content is going to be excluded from the VPN and what content is going to need to be added to the tunnel or stay on the network.

Split Tunneling App: Whitelister by Surfshark

Surfshark has been known for creating fantastic virtual private networks and making sure that all your content is safe and secure. This is an experienced company that is going to be able to help you secure your content, make sure that only those that are meant to access content can do so, and that any network use is monitored so that you can make sure your content is safe.

Surfshark has created Whitelister, which works to create a split tunnel that is safe, secure, and that is going to help you to get the most out of your virtual private network. Whitelister helps you to create the parameters for your split tunnel so that only the things you want get through. It is made with industry leading technology and can help you to make sure that the apps you want to bypass the VPN are going to be able to with ease.

Using this app is easy enough if you take the time to choose the right options when it comes to the overall network and tunnel. You can choose what gets through, you can choose what stays on the virtual private network, and you can make sure that only the content you want to bypass the network is able to. Split tunneling with Whitelister allows you to create a white list that is allowed to be excluded from your virtual private network so that you are in full control of your list and what is going to be outside of the VPN parameters.

Split tunneling has the potential to make a huge difference in the way that you are accessing your VPN and taking the time to set up which content goes out and what stays on the network can be highly beneficial. 

By Alex Moersen

By Alex Moersen

Alex Moersen is an Associate Editor for Innovation & Tech Today, covering pop culture, science and tech, sustainability, and more. Twitter: @yaboii_shanoo

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