What Is the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)?

Numerous protocols serve as the foundation for data transmission in network communication. Among these protocols is the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP). The understanding of this protocol is crucial for IT professionals and network enthusiasts.

What is the layer 2 tunneling protocol (L2TP)?

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, often abbreviated as L2TP, is a tunneling protocol. It is used by internet service providers (ISPs) to enable the creation of virtual private networks (VPNs). Developed jointly by Cisco and Microsoft, L2TP merges the best features of two other protocols: Cisco’s Layer 2 Forwarding (L2F) and Microsoft’s Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP).

How does L2TP work

This protocol functions by constructing a tunnel between two connection points, wherein data packets receive encapsulation or ‘wrapping’ to ensure their secure transmission. Although L2TP does not provide encryption on its own, it is typically paired with another protocol known as IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), which offers this crucial layer of encryption.

What is the layer 2 tunneling protocol used for?

The primary application of L2TP lies in creating and maintaining virtual private networks. These networks facilitate users in securely accessing a remote network over the internet as though they were directly connected. This proves particularly beneficial for businesses operating across multiple locations or with employees working remotely.


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

Point-to-point tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is a network protocol that enables the implementation of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) over the internet. This protocol, developed by Microsoft, creates a tunnel, encapsulates the data packet, and transmits it over an IP network. Though PPTP itself does not offer encryption, it can be combined with a protocol called Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE) to achieve data security.


While both PPTP and L2TP are integral to the creation of VPNs, they have notable differences. PPTP, though straightforward to set up and manage, has weaker security due to its relatively low encryption standard. L2TP, on the other hand, while requiring a more complex configuration, provides an additional layer of security by pairing with IPsec for robust encryption. Despite this, L2TP’s data encapsulation process can lead to slower transmission speeds compared to PPTP.

Consequently, the choice between PPTP and L2TP depends on whether the user prioritizes ease of use and speed (PPTP) or enhanced security (L2TP).

Benefits of L2TP

  1. Security: When used in conjunction with IPSec, the L2TP protocol can offer high levels of security. It does not contain any major vulnerabilities, thus providing reliable protection for data transmission.
  2. Reliability and Stability: L2TP is known for its reliability and stability, ensuring consistent and dependable performance.
  3. Compatibility: L2TP demonstrates high compatibility, functioning effectively across a range of operating systems.
  4. Configurability: The protocol allows for significant configurability, enabling it to be tailored to specific network requirements.
  5. Protection from Man-In-The-Middle Attacks: L2TP provides effective protection from man-in-the-middle attacks, further enhancing its security credentials.

The role of L2TP in modern networking

Understanding the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is vital for network communications. Its role in creating secure VPNs makes it an invaluable tool in the modern internet landscape. Despite its complexity and the potential performance hit from encryption, its benefits, especially in terms of security, make it a preferred choice over older protocols like PPTP.

Ready to become an IT Ninja?

Learn how NinjaOne can help you simplify IT operations.

Watch Demo×

See NinjaOne in action!

By submitting this form, I accept NinjaOne's privacy policy.

Start a Free Trial of the
#1 Endpoint Management Software on G2

No credit card required, full access to all features