VPN glossary — A simple guide to understanding VPN-related terms
These days, when the safety of user data and online security are questionable, at best, many decide to take matters into their own hands and protect themselves by using VPN technology. However, VPN comes with a wide variety of new terms that can be complicated to understand, especially by new users. Hopefully, our guide to understanding some of these terms will help, as VPN is becoming less of choice and more of a necessity with each passing day.
Advanced Encryption Standard — AES
AES, often presented as AES-256, is one of the best encryption protocols, and many VPN services employ it. It is believed to be unbreakable, even with today’s technology, which is why even the US federal government, as well as other well-known cyber security experts, use it. It was perfected in the last decades, and countless tests were already performed to test its strength, all of them confirming that this encryption standard cannot be broken by modern technology.
This is a VPN software which can hide the identity of VPN users. This includes their IP and location. When enabled, VPNs can provide this level of protection to protect user’s privacy, and protect them from being traced, spied on, or located by anyone, including hackers and the government.
Browser extensions are pieces of software that can be added to browsers to increase their functionalities and add more exciting and useful features. Some VPN clients can come in the form of browser extensions, which makes them more practical. However, users should be aware of the fact that the majority of these VPNs will likely not provide them with full VPN experience, and that they will instead only mask your IP address when you are using a browser.
Ciphers are unique mathematical algorithms that allow VPN services to provide users with data encryption. Encryption was a part of online security for a long time, and ciphers became highly advanced over the years. Most of those that are being used today are nearly impossible to break, at least with the current technology. Ciphers are a guarantee that user information will always remain safe.
Connection logs, or metadata logs, are used by VPN services for resolving potential technical issues, and to prevent illegal activities. In other words, the VPN service collects a certain amount of data, which does not include the same information for all services. Some of them purposefully choose not to record this data at all, so that their users can enjoy maximum privacy and anonymity.
Those who do record it usually do not record much, and they regularly delete such data. This data mostly revolves around connection date, the choice of servers, and the amount of used data.
Cryptography is a combination of engineering and mathematical algorithms which are used for creating different layers of protection. It is vital for security.
This is an open-source firmware based on the Linux operating system, and it is used for wireless routers. In simple terms, it can be used for removing the default operating system of the router and replacing it with the DD-WRT firmware which has a richer feature set.
DNS leaks occur when users activate a VPN, but their DNS (Domain Name System) requests still go to the ISP instead of to their VPN providers. This may expose the real IP address of the user. Many VPNs combat this by introducing an additional feature called DNS leak protection.
Encryption is a method of protecting user’s data by converting it into an encrypted form through the use of ciphers. This way, data becomes unreadable, and even if someone manages to steal it, they will not be able to translate it into readable text.
This is a term used to describe restricting access to specific online content, and it mostly revolves around the location of the user. For example, users who are not located in the US might not have the ability to access some of the US-only content. In other words, said content is Geo-Restricted.
An IP address is a numerical address that is assigned to each user by their ISP. Addresses are used for recording online activities of users, and connecting it to a specific user. IP addresses can be masked by VPN software, which grants the user a new IP, which has no connection to them. This way, the user can remain anonymous, as the IP address will lose any connection to the user as long as the VPN connection is disrupted.
ISP is short for Internet Service Provider, and the term represents the company that provides users with their internet connection.
This is one of the most often used VPN protocols, as it is considered to be one of the best ones on the current market. It provides the best balance between privacy and performance, most platforms support it.
Proxies act as intermediaries between the internet and user devices. They can change users’ IP addresses and make it seem like the user is located in a different area, country, or even continent. It should be noted that proxies do not provide encryption by themselves, and to achieve full safety, users need a security protocol as well. A VPN is a much better choice than simply using a proxy.
What is VPN?
VPN is a Virtual Private Network, which focuses on protecting user data and provides anonymity and encryption to internet users during their online sessions. They typically support numerous devices and work on most platforms. VPNs can be free or premium, although free versions often lack quality and some features that premium services can offer. Many “free” VPN’s collect user data and sell it to data brokers. We do not recommend you use them.
Wi-Fi Hotspots is a term used for naming public internet access points. Most of them can be found in parks, coffee shops, airports, hotels, and similar places. They are typically considered unsafe as anyone can access them, which means that there is always a possibility of sharing one with a hacker that can use it for accessing user device. If this happens, hackers can infect device with malware, steal data, or take full control of the device and use it as part of a botnet, or in other harmful ways. You can safely use them as long as you connect to them using a VPN.