Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Guide to IPsec VPNs



Elaine B. Barker, Quynh H. Dang, Sheila E. Frankel, Karen Scarfone, Paul Wouters


Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is a widely used network layer security control for protecting communications. IPsec is a framework of open standards for ensuring private communications over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. IPsec configuration is usually performed using the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol. This publication provides practical guidance to organizations on implementing security services based on IPsec so that they can mitigate the risks associated with transmitting sensitive information across networks. The document focuses on how IPsec provides network layer security services and how organizations can implement IPsec and IKE to provide security under different circumstances. It also describes alternatives to IPsec and discusses under what circumstances each alternative may be appropriate.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 800-77 Rev 1
Report Number
800-77 Rev 1


communications security, Internet Key Exchange (IKE), Internet Protocol (IP), Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), network layer security, networking, virtual private network (VPN)


Barker, E. , Dang, Q. , Frankel, S. , Scarfone, K. and Wouters, P. (2020), Guide to IPsec VPNs, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 22, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created June 29, 2020, Updated October 12, 2021