For today’s internet users Virtual Private Network (VPN) is not an alien thing, yet the terms used when describing a VPN & its functionality certainly are.
Hence, in today’s post, we will explain the most common VPN terms and what they mean for data privacy.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an encrypted connection over the internet that helps transmit data privately and securely. This means, unauthorized people including ISP, and other third parties can be prevented from eavesdropping on the traffic thus allowing users to work remotely without the fear of being tracked.
This explains the usefulness of VPN, but what about the terminologies we use when talking about VPN?
To help understand them here’s a glossary that describes the most common VPN terms.
Glossary – VPN Term And What They Mean
Access Point (AP) –
A wireless network device that serves as a portal for devices to connect to a local area network.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) –
Advanced Encryption Standard originally known as Rijndael, is a symmetric encryption cipher used to encrypt sensitive data. Used globally, AES was developed by two Belgian cryptographers: Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, and its aim is to offer electronic data encryption.
Using it, anyone today can encrypt data for free and stop unauthorized data access.
In simple terms, if no one can identify you in a group, you are anonymous, the same is true for your online presence. Concerning VPN, this means becoming untraceable even when your digital footprints are used.
Often confused with internet speed, bandwidth is the volume of data that can be sent over an internet connection or network in a given time frame. Normally, bandwidth is measured in bits per second and is also known as connection speed.
Commonly used to download copyrighted material like movies, shows, etc, BitTorrent is a file transfer protocol used for peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) among multiple users. This makes tracing a person easy hence, to avoid being traced using a VPN that allows masking P2P sharing is important.
To conceal your IP address, give Systweak VPN a try.
Blocking websites like Facebook, Google, content like movies, and other online services by the government is censorship.
The algorithm is used to encrypt and decrypt connections between a user’s device and a server.
Any device be it desktop, smartphone, laptop or any network-compatible device that can communicate with a server is a client.
Small text files are stored by web browsers to quickly open webpages and remember website-related information.
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Dark Web –The hidden collection of internet sites (that are not indexed by Google or other search engines) accessible only through a specific web browser. Used for both legal and illegal purposes it helps keep internet activity anonymous.
A computer network with restricted access is used mainly for illicit peer-to-peer file sharing.
DDoS attacks –
A distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack takes place via a botnet and it occurs when the server is overloaded with requests thereby, slowing it down or shutting it down completely. The DDoS attack uses more than one unique IP address, infected with malware from thousands of hosts.
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Deep web –
Often used interchangeably, Deep Web and Dark Web are not the same thing. Deep Web refers to non-indexed pages while Dark Web refers to both non-indexed and pages involved in illegal activities.
Note: Users who know the web address or credentials to access such pages can access it.
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a network management protocol used to automatically assign an IP address and other information to each host on the network. DHCP also assigns the subnet mask, default gateway address, domain name server, and so on.
Domain Name System (DNS) is a system that translates a website’s domain name (for example wethegeek.com) to an IP address (22.214.171.124). Normally, DNS servers are operated by ISP or VPN providers thus helping users enter website names instead of numbers.
DNS Leak –
As the name infers it is a security flaw that allows ISP to monitor online activities. To avoid this, most VPNs like Systweak VPN offer DNS leak protection.
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DNS Request –
A request is sent to the IP address related to the domain name in a URL.
DNS Poisoning –
DNS poisoning often known as DNS cache poisoning or DNS spoofing is a security vulnerability in the Domain Name System (DNS) that redirects internet traffic to malicious websites.
Domain name –
A unique name that identifies a website. All domain names have a domain suffix like .com, .net, .ed, .org, etc.
A method of protecting data by using mathematical cipher & converting data into a format that no one can understand. This helps prevent unauthorized access. Moreover, the parties without the correct encryption keys cannot decrypt this data.
Encryption key –
A random string of bits generated to scramble and unscramble data. The longer the key, the hard it is to decipher the encrypted data.
End-to-end encryption –
A secure communication system to transmit data privately and securely online. This method prevents anyone in the middle from reading private conversations. Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp both use end-to-end encryption making others including the company to read data.
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A way of connecting computers on a local area network (LAN), used since the 1990s, and the idea behind it, is to access and send data over multiple computers.
A network security device that monitors and filters outgoing and incoming network traffic. It helps avoid “drive-by attacks.”
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Firmware is a software program or set of instructions written directly onto a hardware device. Generally, firmware is stored in flash memory so that it doesn’t get deleted when there is a power failure.
Five-Eyes is an intelligence alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries work together to gather data and share it with respective security organizations.
Geo-restrictions also called geo-blocks are a way to restrict access to certain services and platforms on a geographical basis. The most common example is content restriction implied by streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.
The process of masking a real location or country so that you can appear to be in another location of your choice is Geo-spoofing. This allows users to access geo-restricted content and services. The use of VPN like Systweak VPN is used for this purpose.
As the name explains, a handshake is when two parties – client and server come across each other for the first time. It involves several steps and the process creates a master encryption key, used during a particular session. This means, “handshake” verifies the connection to the intended server and ensures it is not an attacker’s “spoofed” server.
Hash function –
A function used to cryptographically secure messages.
HTTP proxy –
Hypertext Transfer Protocols (HTTP) is a protocol used to send and display files (graphics, text, sound, multimedia, etc) on the Internet. Also, it examines web traffic to identify suspicious content thus protecting your web server from attacks from external networks.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS), is a secure version of the HTTP protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website. To increase the security of data transfer HTTPS is encrypted and it protects the privacy and integrity of communications from man-in-the-middle and other online attacks.
A computer network for sharing information, operational systems, collaboration tools, and other computing services within the organization with restricted access to outsiders is Intranet.
IP address –
Internet Protocol (IP address) is a unique address assigned to every device that helps identify it on the internet or a local network.
IP leak –
A security flaw that leaks the user’s actual IP address while connected to a VPN service. It occurs when the VPN you are using to hide an IP address is not trusted or does not offer a Kill Switch. If you are looking for a VPN that helps prevent IP leaks, try using Systweak VPN.
Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), is a group of protocols used to set up encrypted connections between devices. It helps keep data transmitted over the public network securely. Unlike OpenVPN and PPTP, IPSec sends encrypted packets. Furthermore, “IP” within the terms “IPSec” stands for Internet Protocol and “Sec” for secure.
Ip stands for Internet Protocol and v4 stands for Version Four (IPv4). It is the primary version of Internet Protocol brought into action in 1983. The addresses in the IP version are 32-bit integers expressed in hexadecimal notation. Example 126.96.36.199 is an IPv4 address.
The latest version of Internet Protocol is IPv6 and it has been in existence since 1998. Unlike IPv4 it uses 128-bit addressing to support approximately 340 trillion. Also, IPv6 uses eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons. For example: 2606:4700:3030::6815:5b74
Internet Service Provider (ISP), is an organization that provides basic internet service. It also provides DNS service and firewalls, that can be intentionally broken to block either websites or PPTP in countries exercising internet control.
Key exchange –
A cryptography method using which cryptographic keys are exchanged between two parties.
Kill switch –
A feature of modern VPN that disconnects the connection to the internet when the VPN connection fails. This prevents your online actions from being exposed to nasty people.
A VPN tunneling protocol that contains no known vulnerabilities and includes encryption. It is built- into most operating systems and uses a packet-switched network connection making it possible for endpoints to be located on different machines.
Local Area Network is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area like school, home, office building, etc.
Man-in-the-middle attacks (MITM) –
A general term used for attackers who positions themselves in a conversation between a user and an application. The goal of this attack is to steal personal information, like login credentials, financial information, and other sensitive information. Free Wi-Fi hotspots are the main target for MITM attacks.
Multi-Hop VPN (aka Double VPN) –
Multi-hope VPN adds an extra layer of encryption and an additional server to the normal VPN connection. In short, when two or more VPN servers are connected to offer security and route traffic it is called double VPN.
Double VPN works on the concept of Tor but there’s a drawback: multi-hop VPN connections are much slower.
Network Address Translation (NAT) –
A method of mapping multiple local private addresses to a public one before transferring the information is NAT. Let’s say if someone uses a laptop to search for a cafe the request will be sent in a packet to the router, which will then be passed along to the web. But before this, the router will change the outgoing IP address from a private local address to a public one.
A technique used by VPN to hide their traffic. This doesn’t modify VPN traffic, instead, the VPN traffic looks like HTTPS traffic thereby adding a layer of stealth to the data.
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Open Source –
Software built with a source code that is available for free for anyone to inspect. An open-source VPN is loved by technical experts as they can check it for vulnerabilities and a VPN cannot lie about the activities it uses.
To know more about free VPNs, read our previous post.
A connectivity tool for remote login with SSH protocol that encrypts traffic eliminating connection hijacking and other attacks.
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A virtual private network system that implements techniques to create a secure site-to-site connection. Used by major VPN providers it helps protect internet connection and can be implemented by both server and client applications.
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Peer-to-Peer (P2P) –
An efficient file sharing method between computers or other connected devices is used to share media files like movies, music, and others. Sometimes P2P makes ISPs and content copyright holders disfavor the activity.
Ping time –
Time taken, by a small data set to be transmitted from a device to the server on the internet and vice versa. Ping time is measured in milliseconds (ms).
Point-to-Point Tunneling (PPTP) –
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is an obsolete VPN protocol used to connect to VPN. Though insecure still many VPN platforms simply use it. Cracked by NSA and hackers, PPTP is a weak protocol to use.
A protocol is a standard set of rules that determine how data is transmitted between different devices and communicates with each other.
A proxy server acts as a gateway between you and the internet. Using it, you can route traffic without revealing your IP address. They work as a VPN server but lack the encrypted protection of a VPN server.
A near-anonymous state in which a user has a consistent identifier instead of a real-name. It allows users to communicate with one another anonymously.
A networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks. It acts much like a virtual traffic cop, who tells where the data is to be sent and received.
Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) –
A cryptographic hash function is used to hash data and certificate files. It takes an input and produces a 160-bit (20 bytes) value. There are two versions of this algorithm SHA-1 and SHA-2.
The time when a user logs in to a website and logs out of it or exits the browser is session time. For example, the period between when you log into an online shopping site to buy a product, complete the transaction and exit the browser, or switch to another site.
Shared IP Address –
Unlink a dedicated one, shared IP address is mapped to an address that is shared with multiple users. This makes it impossible for an observer to know which user is responsible for which activity.
The number of devices allowed by a to simultaneously connect to their servers using a single username.
A service that permits users to break geo-restrictions applied to content and services, like Netflix, Hulu, etc. It can be applied to any device and is often far more complicated to set up than a VPN.
Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) –
Although TLS is the successor to SSL, the terms are used interchangeably. SSL/TLS is the encryption protocol used to secure an HTTPS website.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) –
A form of virtual private network tunnel that provides a mechanism to transport PPP traffic through SSL/TLS channels.
Transport Layer Security (TLS) –
A security protocol was first defined in 1999, that is more efficient and secure than SSL. It provides privacy and data integrity for internet connections. To secure communications over a network TLS is used as it comprises two layers: the TLS record and the TLS handshake protocols.
When ISP intentionally slows down connection speed it is called speed throttling, or bandwidth throttling. It is a way of regulating network traffic and minimizing potential bandwidth congestion.
Using a good VPN like Systweak VPN you can prevent this from happening as the ISP will not be able to know what you do online.
A free and open-source browser software that anonymizes your web browsing by routing your online traffic through a network of multiple servers.
An encrypted link between your computer or smartphone and the outside network to pass data through an encrypted server. The tunnel helps keep data private and once the data is passed through a VPN server only then it is decrypted.
Two Factor Authentication (2FA) –
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) also known as two-step verification is a security process in which alongside entering the password user has to enter a code received in email or phone.
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User Datagram Protocol (UDP)
A Transport Layer Protocol is part of the Internet Protocol suite, referred to as UDP/IP. Unlike TCP, which checks data packets that are communicated between computers and VPN, it is an unreliable and connectionless protocol.
This means connection sent over UDP is either sent with errors or is sent and received very quickly. Hence, it should only be used during streaming or gaming. For other tasks, TCP is recommended.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) –
A URL is nothing more than a text-based website address. It consists of domain names like (“wethegeek,” ) and other essential components (such as “HTTPS://” and “www.”).
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
It is a technology that allows users to make voice calls using broadband internet connections instead of traditional phone lines.
A software-based technology that establishes a secure connection between the user and a VPN server.
The processes and sets of instructions VPN provide to the user to rely on when transmitting data to enjoy stable, & secure communications are VPN protocol.
Popular VPN protocols included in a VPN are:
The server used by a VPN provider to re-routes and encrypts the internet traffic. It helps connect to a VPN server that accepts a user’s request to fetch the information without disclosing information about the user.
The layer of encryption secures the connection between your computer or connected device and a VPN server.
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VPN service –
The opportunity to establish a protected network connection when using a public network.
Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) –
It is a free, open-source project that provides web browsers and mobile applications with real-time communication. It can be used for multiple tasks, the most important of which are real-time peer-to-peer audio and video communications.
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) –
It is a security algorithm that provides data confidentiality.
Wireless networking technology allows devices to communicate with each other online.
A public Wi-Fi internet connection is found in coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and other public places. Though free, these hotspots are risky as they lack encryption thereby allowing hackers to easily intercept connections and steal user’s data.
A technique to secure wireless networks with an authentication protocol. It requires a password or network key when a user or device tries to connect.
Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) –
A network that allows devices to connect and communicate wirelessly. Unlike wired LAN where devices communicate over Ethernet cables, here the devices connect via Wi-Fi.
A type of encryption used to secure the majority of Wi-Fi networks. It provides unique encryption keys for each wireless client that connects to it.
With this, we come to the end of the glossary of VPN terms. We hope you enjoyed the post. If there’s something we missed, please let us know in the comments section below. Also, if you want us to create a glossary for some other terms do let us know the same.