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VPN Dictionary: What Do All These Terms Mean?

Entering the world of VPN providers can be a daunting experience for many people. To help you, we have compiled a list of words with the most recurring terminology in this “VPN dictionary”, we have given answers to the most common questions, and we have tried to explain the operation and importance of the current encryption protocols in a clear language for any Internet user.

AES

It is the abbreviation for Advanced Encryption Standard (in Spanish: Advanced Encryption Standard). The AES , developed in Belgium, was adopted as a world standard in 2001 and succeeded DES (Data Encryption Standard), which was widely used by governments to protect their data, especially the United States government.

Bittorrent

A software also known for its 'peer-to-peer' function that allows file sharing between a specific set of computers. The protocol cuts large files into smaller parts, distributes them to computers and reassembles them once the downloads have been completed. By sending small files across multiple connections instead of a large file, the software greatly reduces the network load. the BittorrentIt is only one of these peer-to-peer systems that are often used to share illegal files that violate copyright regulations. Please note that copyright holders maintain records of the IP addresses associated with Bittorrent downloads, and Bittorrent users are expected to face criminal charges in the near future as the service itself does not protect addresses. IP.

DNS

Abbreviation for Domain Name Server (in Spanish: Domain Name System); the server that registers which IP address belongs to which domain name or URL: the name of the website you visit.

DNS leak

A computer error that accidentally "filters" your IP address to third parties. Technically, the error occurs when a VPN service provider does not support certain applications, and these applications are active while configuring your VPN to connect to the site. Applications will connect to a web domain on a regular basis despite their VPN configuration, exposing their IP address. Another example of DNS leakage is when your VPN connection suddenly breaks down or fails but the connection to a web domain remains operational. Many VPN providers offer 'killswitch' functionality to avoid this error.

Encryption

General term for a variety of methods that are used to protect computer data. It is the coding of data with mathematical algorithms that make the information intelligible to people who do not have access to the algorithm. Think about your bank details online: both you and your bank know how to "decipher" the information sent between you (through small bank readers) and your bank, but others do not. It is a very useful and used security protocol.

End to End Encryption

Encryption form in which only the sending party and the receiving party have access to the data, which excludes even your provider from seeing exactly what makes up the information you have sent or received.

Geographic Locks

A geographical block or a 'geoblocking' ensures that certain online content is only available to people in a predetermined territory. Well-known examples include area-specific content on YouTube or Netflix , platforms widely known for offering content by territories, which makes Netflix United States very different from Netflix available in Australia or Germany, for example. Geoblocks are circumvented (if desired) by changing their IP address to one that belongs to the specific territory of the content you wish to access. Most VPN and Proxy servers are able to do this for you.

IKEv2

The most recent protocol to exchange security keys between computer systems. This Internet Key Exchange system works in combination with the IPsec to secure VPN connections, and also ensures that no one has access to the encryption keys needed to decode the data. At the time of writing this information, the IPSec and IKEv2 combination is considered the safest method to connect to the Internet through a VPN server.

An important advantage of the IKEv2 protocol is that the VPN connection is not disconnected when your computer changes networks (for example, from your WiFi to a mobile network).

Internet Service Provider or Internet Provider (ISP) Commercial part that offers, among other things, Internet services. Think of your online telephone services, digital television, etc. In general, the ISP provides the necessary hardware to connect to routers, modems and TV decoders, and sometimes also the cable lines needed to connect a client to a larger Internet infrastructure.

IP adress

All devices seeking Internet access are marked with an IP address by the Internet provider, usually through their Internet router, which gives the same IP address to other devices that connect to it.

IP addresses act as private addresses: they identify the place where the information needs to go, be it an email, an Internet voice chat or your Netflix movie.

IPv4 and IPv6 protocols

Current IP addresses are usually based on an earlier Internet traffic protocol, called IPv4. The composition of the addresses has four series of (maximum) three numbers. The number of possible IP addresses with this configuration is limited, and humanity has almost used each and every one of them. The new IPv6 protocol was designed to counteract the problem: it has longer sequences that allow both numbers and letters, greatly expanding the number of possible IP addresses.

KillSwitch

Automated security measure of last resort. Eliminate your Internet connection at the time your VPN server fails. If not available, the VPN server failure would leave your computer open to attacks from outside and expose your IP address. This feature is available for several VPN providers (but not for everyone!).

L2TP

Abbreviation for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol . A protocol used to connect devices to a VPN server. It is an insecure method by itself; The L2TP is simply used for the configuration of the VPN connection, but it does not protect it. The use of encryption protocols is therefore mandatory; IPSec is a common option (and quite safe), but users are not limited to it.

L2TP / IPSec

The IPSec encryption method is in use with most VPN providers. The abbreviation means 'Internet Protocol Security' and the method is responsible for encrypting data, verifying the integrity of data transfers and transferring encryption keys between your device and the VPN server. Today, IPSec is considered to be a very secure option, but it is advisable to control the news related to encryption: the documents published by the Snowden programmer clearly show how secret services such as the CIA are trying to crack the IPSec code.

Logs

Each computer or server keeps a diary of what happens on the machine. These 'records' store a number of things, such as the time someone logged in or the duration of an Internet session. The services of VPN servers are generally different: they often apply a non-registration policy to their servers, to keep government officials in the dark about what happened on the servers, in case they ask. Please note that not all VPN services have the same registration policy, so you should check their statements on this topic.

Modem

Device that connects digital equipment (i.e. computers) to the Internet, usually through analog data lines (i.e. telephone cables). Currently, most modems are combinations of modems and routers.

OpenVPN

A software to configure VPN connections without using the applications of VPN providers. It works with its own encryption protocols (an exchange of TLS encryption keys), and is open source and free, making it an ideal program to configure your own VPN connections.

PPTP

Abbreviation for Point to Point Tunneling Protocol ( in Spanish: Point to Point Tunnel Protocol). It connects two computers and theoretically blocks the rest of the Internet, although it is almost never used due to serious security flaws.

Proxy Server

Specialized type of server that hides the user's location to websites and services that you visit online. Think of it as a VPN server: your IP address is hidden from others, but proxies do not offer the type of encryption security that VPN servers offer.

Router

A piece of computer hardware that distributes data packets from the Internet to the correct computing device. Set up a local network to do this and increase the Internet signal whenever necessary.

Server

A server is a central computer that serves other computers. The type of service depends on what the server is used for: a VPN server connects computers to VPN networks, while a video game server allows people to play with each other using different computers. In general, servers are kept out of sight of the public, in buildings with the ideal conditions to accommodate them: when a server breaks down, no one can access the data stored in it.

Smart DNS

An alternative to VPN servers, but without the protection offered by a VPN through encryption. An intelligent DNS does not protect your data, but replaces your IP address with a false one. Lack of protection will prevent many people from choosing to use intelligent DNS, but when used, Internet speeds are not hampered by the delay caused by the encryption protocols of VPN servers.

SoftEther

Free VPN server and client. Something for the experts, since the open source structure allows them to adjust the program to their wishes and needs. Experienced programmers use it to build their own VPN server.

SSL / TLS

The most common forms of online data protection: you are responsible for the green marks in your browser window when you visit a banking website. In addition to that, SSL / TLS protocols are used to protect anything from browsing to Internet calls, while also checking if data is not lost during transmissions.

TOR

Abbreviation for The Onion Router (in Spanish: The Onion Router), name that somehow reveals what this network does. The TOR network is a decentralized network developed specifically for anonymous and secure Internet browsing. It operates through a network of computers (called 'nodes') that are reached through a TOR Internet browser. The data you send will travel from one node to another and will be encrypted again and again until they reach their end point, so that nobody can ever decipher where the data originated.

The TOR network is often criticized for two main reasons. Layered encryption makes the service unreasonably slow, but more importantly: criminals like this mode a lot, as it allows them to communicate online without worrying about someone tracking their data. Interestingly, this is also what really makes TOR shine: journalists, dissidents and activists benefit from the same anonymity, as it allows them to communicate while avoiding government censorship and repression.

VPN

Abbreviation for Virtual Private Network (in Spanish: Virtual Private Network). A network of computers interconnected to the public Internet. VPN servers act as a starting point to connect, replacing the usual Internet providers. This move changes your online status: an Internet provider sends your IP address along with your data, which allows you to reveal your location, but a VPN server replaces this information with a random IP, which makes yours impossible of tracking. In addition to this, VPN connections are generally well protected through encryption, which makes it very difficult for others (including your Internet provider) to examine your data.

VPN servers are not only popular with individuals: companies use VPN servers to provide staff with remote access to the company's network and confidential information stored on it. Another group that depends on VPN servers are regular Internet users who want to access broadcast services abroad such as Netflix or iPlayer, or those who use Bittorrent and do not want to worry about their security.

VPN client

An individual who makes use of a server or a VPN app. Some clients require a manual entry to connect, but most services offer pre-installed configurations that do all the work for users.

VPN server

The physical computer that connects clients (users) to a VPN server. The server verifies your access data and decides if you have access. It then sends the requested information (that is, the things you want to transmit, download, etc.) to your device, through a secure connection.

VPN tunnel

A descriptive term for the type of connection that your device has with the VPN server: the transmission of data between them is protected against third parties by encryption, effectively converting the connection into a data tunnel that hides the exact contents.