|Original author(s)||Jason A. Donenfeld|
|Developer(s)||Jason A. Donenfeld|
1.0.20210219 / 19 February 2021
|Written in||C (Linux, FreeBSD kernel modules, NetBSD, OpenBSD kernel drivers), Go (userspace implementation)|
|Type||Virtual private network|
|License||various free and open-source|
WireGuard is a communication protocol and free and open-source software that implements encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs), and was designed with the goals of ease of use, high speed performance, and low attack surface. It aims for better performance and more power than IPsec and OpenVPN, two common tunneling protocols. The WireGuard protocol passes traffic over UDP.
In March 2020, the Linux version of the software reached a stable production release and was incorporated into the Linux 5.6 kernel, and backported to earlier Linux kernels in some Linux distributions. The Linux kernel components are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2; other implementations are under GPLv2 or other free/open-source licenses.
WireGuard uses the following:
- Curve25519 for key exchange
- ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption
- Poly1305 for message authentication codes
- SipHash for hashtable keys
- BLAKE2s for cryptographic hash function
- UDP-based only
WireGuard supports pre-shared symmetric key mode, which provides an additional layer of symmetric encryption to mitigate any future advances in quantum computing. The risk being that traffic is stored until quantum computers are capable of breaking Curve25519; at which point traffic could be decrypted. Pre-shared keys are "usually troublesome from a key management perspective and might be more likely stolen", but in the shorter term, if the symmetric key is compromised, the Curve25519 keys still provide more than sufficient protection.
- Star (server/client)
- A client endpoint does not have to be defined before the client starts sending data.
- Client endpoints can be statically predefined.
Excluding such complex features from the minimal core codebase improves its stability and security. For ensuring security WireGuard restricts the options for implementing cryptographic controls, limits the choices for key exchange processes, and maps algorithms to a small subset of modern cryptographic primitives. If a flaw is found in any of the primitives, a new version can be released that resolves the issue. Also, configuration settings that affect the security of the overall application cannot be modified by unprivileged users.
WireGuard aims to provide a simple and effective virtual private network implementation. A 2018 review by Ars Technica observed that popular VPN technologies such as OpenVPN and IPsec are often complex to set up, disconnect easily (in the absence of further configuration), take substantial time to negotiate reconnections, may use outdated ciphers, and have relatively massive code bases of over 400,000 and 600,000 lines of code, respectively, which hinders debugging.
WireGuard's design seeks to reduce these issues, aiming to make the tunnel more secure and easier to manage by default. By using versioning of cryptography packages, it focuses on ciphers believed to be among the most secure current encryption methods, and at the time of the Ars Technica review had a codebase of around 4000 lines of kernel code, about 1% of either OpenVPN or IPsec, making security audits easier. WireGuard was praised by Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds who called it a "work of art" in contrast to OpenVPN and IPsec. Ars Technica reported that in testing, stable tunnels were easily created with WireGuard, compared to alternatives, and commented that it would be "hard to go back" to long reconnection delays, compared to WireGuard's "no nonsense" instant reconnections.
Oregon senator Ron Wyden has recommended to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that they evaluate WireGuard as a replacement for existing technologies like IPsec and OpenVPN.
Implementations of the WireGuard protocol include:
- Donenfeld's initial implementation, written in C and Go.
- Cloudflare's BoringTun, a user space implementation written in Rust.
- Matt Dunwoodie's implementation for OpenBSD, written in C.
- Ryota Ozaki's wg(4) implementation, for NetBSD, is written in C.
- The FreeBSD implementation is written in C and shares most of the data path with the OpenBSD implementation.
- OpenWrt Project: WireGuard
- Native Windows kernel implementation named "wireguard-nt", since August 2021
- OPNsense via standard package os-WireGuard
- pfSense via standard package (pfSense-pkg-WireGuard) (A Netgate-endorsed community package)
User space programs supporting WireGuard include:
- NetworkManager since version 1.16
- systemd since version 237
- Intel's ConnMan since version 1.38
- IPVanish VPN since version 184.108.40.206
- Mozilla VPN
- NOIA Network 
- NordVPN via Nordlynx
- PiVPN since 17 October 2019
- Private Internet Access VPN since 10 April 2020
- ProtonVPN since July 2021
- Surfshark since October 2020
- Mistborn (software) VPN since March 2020
- Oracle Linux with "Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel" Release 6 Update 1, since November 2020
- oVPN since Feb 2020, roll-out in 2021
- Torguard since 2020
- Trust.zone VPN since February 2021
- Veeam Powered Network v2, since May 2019
- VPN Unlimited since November 2019
- Vypr VPN since May 2020
- Windscribe in 2020
Early snapshots of the code base exist from June 30, 2016. Four early adopters of WireGuard were the VPN service providers Mullvad, AzireVPN, IVPN and cryptostorm. WireGuard has received donations from Mullvad, Private Internet Access, IVPN, the NLnet Foundation and now also from OVPN.
As of June 2018[update] the developers of WireGuard advise treating the code and protocol as experimental, and caution that they have not yet achieved a stable release compatible with CVE tracking of any security vulnerabilities that may be discovered.[needs update]
On 9 December 2019, David Miller - primary maintainer of the Linux networking stack - accepted the WireGuard patches into the "net-next" maintainer tree, for inclusion in an upcoming kernel.
On 29 March 2020 WireGuard was incorporated into the Linux 5.6 release tree. The Windows version of the software remains at beta.
On 22 June 2020, after the work of Matt Dunwoodie and Jason A. Donenfeld, WireGuard support was imported into OpenBSD.
In March 2021, kernel-mode WireGuard support was removed from FreeBSD 13.0, still in testing, after an urgent code cleanup in FreeBSD WireGuard could not be completed quickly. FreeBSD-based pfSense Community Edition (CE) 2.5.0 and pfSense Plus 21.02 removed kernel-based WireGuard as well.
In May 2021, WireGuard support was re-introduced back into pfSense CE and pfSense Plus development snapshots as an experimental package written by a member of the pfSense community, Christian McDonald. The WireGuard package for pfSense incorporates the ongoing kernel-mode WireGuard development work by Jason A. Donenfeld that was originally sponsored by Netgate
In June 2021, the official package repositories for both pfSense CE 2.5.2 and pfSense Plus 21.05 included the WireGuard package
- Comparison of virtual private network services
- Secure Shell (SSH), a cryptographic network protocol used to secure services over an unsecured network.
- Not all platforms may have a currently released version and some may be at beta.[needs update?]
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