VPN Glossary




The Virtual Private Network (VPN) Glossary is an ongoing work in progress. As new terms are found that are associated with VPN services, they will be added here. Internet security is important as many people get online, browse websites, check emails and banking or credit card accounts without any protection of their information.

They could protect themselves for less than the cost of a cheeseburger each month. Yet, they go without because they’ve never heard of a VPN, or reading through a VPN service website, they get lost with the alphabet soup of terms. As a result, they do nothing and wait “until another day” which never gets here… until they become a victim and lose thousands of dollars, their identity and sometimes everything they’ve worked for.

This glossary is intended to clarify the features found in various VPNs, and what they do. If you’re brand new to VPNs, then read, A Quick Primer for Internet Safety & VPN”. You’ll see why this simple and inexpensive tool can protect you and your family’s sensitive information.



AES-256-GCM Encryption:

Definition: AES-256-GCM encryption is a secure encryption algorithm used in VPNs to protect data transmitted over the internet. It ensures encryption of data using a 256-bit key.

– Offers a high level of security and privacy.
– Provides protection against various types of attacks, such as data interception or unauthorized access.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– May require more processing power, which can affect the performance of the VPN.
– Some older devices or software may not support this type of encryption.

Note: AES-256-GCM encryption: Various VPN software options.

Anonymous Torrenting:

Definition: Anonymous torrenting is a feature in VPNs that allows users to download or share files through torrenting platforms without revealing their actual IP address.

– Protects the privacy by hiding the userโ€™s IP address.
– Prevents potential legal consequences that may arise from torrenting copyrighted material.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Reduces the speed of torrenting because of the extra steps involved in the anonymization process.
– Some torrenting platforms may block VPN connections, limiting access to certain content.

Note: Many VPN software options offer anonymous torrenting as a feature.

Camouflage Mode:

Definition: Camouflage Mode is a feature in VPNs that masks VPN traffic, making it look like regular internet traffic. It helps to prevent VPN detection and circumvents censorship or restrictions imposed by certain networks or countries.

– Enhances the privacy and security of VPN users.
– Allows users to access blocked websites or services.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– May slightly decrease the connection speed because of the added process of disguising VPN traffic.
– Some networks or countries may detect and block VPN connections despite camouflage mode.

Note: Camouflage Mode is available in various VPN software programs.


Definition: CleanWeb is a feature in VPNs that blocks ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts while browsing the internet. It improves the user experience by enhancing security and reducing unwanted distractions.

– Speeds browsing by removing ads and unnecessary scripts.
– Protects the user from potentially harmful websites or downloads.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– May occasionally block legitimate content or interfere with certain website functionalities.
– Can increase resource usage or slow down browsing on older devices.

Note: CleanWeb is a feature provided by VPNs like Surfshark.


Definition: Cure53 is a security company that conducts independent audits and penetration testing of VPN services to ensure their security and privacy measures are robust. Their testing includes identifying vulnerabilities and recommending improvements.

– Provides reassurance to users that the VPN service has been audited and tested by a reputable third-party.
– Increases transparency and trustworthiness of the VPN service.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Not all VPN services undergo Cure53 audits, so it may be challenging to find this specific accreditation.

Note: Various VPN software options.

Dark Web Monitor Alerts:

Definition: Dark Web Monitor is a feature in VPNs that scans the dark web for userโ€™s leaked personal information, such as email addresses, usernames, or passwords. When found in the dark web, it sends an alert to the user, allowing them to take action and secure their accounts.

– Helps users identify potential security breaches and take timely preventive measures.
– Increases overall security and privacy of the userโ€™s digital footprint.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Alerts may sometimes generate false positives, causing unnecessary concern.
– Not all VPN services offer this feature, limiting its availability.

Note: Dark Web Monitor alerts are available in certain VPN services, such as NordVPN.

Dedicated IP:

Definition: Dedicated IP is an option offered by VPNs that provides users with a unique IP address reserved solely for their use. Unlike shared IP addresses, dedicated IPs – not shared with other users.

– Allows users to bypass certain security measures or access geographically restricted content limited to specific IP addresses.
– Provides better control and stability for online services that require a consistent IP address.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Dedicated IPs – More expensive compared to shared IP options.
– Might reduce privacy from the IP address not being shared with others.

Note: Dedicated IP addresses can be available through certain VPN services, such as TorGuard.

DNS Leak Test:

Definition: A DNS leak test is a method used to determine whether a VPN is successfully blocking the userโ€™s DNS requests from being visible to their internet service provider (ISP) or other potentially tracking entities.

– Ensures that DNS requests properly routed through the VPN tunnel, maintaining privacy.
– Helps identify potential security vulnerabilities or misconfiguration.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Some VPN services may fail DNS leak tests because of misconfiguration or technical issues.
– DNS leak tests may require external tools or websites, adding an extra step for users.

Note: DNS leak tests conducted using various online tools or software available for VPN users.

Double VPN:

Definition: Double VPN, also known as multi-hop VPN, is a feature that routes userโ€™s internet traffic through two or more VPN servers instead of just one. This provides an extra layer of encryption and anonymity.

– Increases security by adding a layer of encryption, making it extremely difficult to trace back the userโ€™s online activities.
– Allows users to access restricted content from multiple geographic locations.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Double VPN connections may reduce the browsing speed because of the added encryption and routing processes.
– Can increase the complexity of users in troubleshooting network issues compared to a single VPN connection.

Note: Double VPN – offered by VPN providers, as NordVPN and Surfshark.

IPv4 Leak Protection:

Definition: IPv4 leak protection is a feature implemented in VPN software to prevent leaking of the userโ€™s actual IP address during browsing or other online activities. It ensures that all internet traffic goes through the VPN tunnel, masking the userโ€™s actual identity.

– Enhances online privacy and anonymity by preventing unintentional disclosure of the userโ€™s IP address.
– Provides an added layer of security by preventing potential IP address-based attacks.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– In rare cases, IPv4 leak protection mechanisms can lead to connectivity issues or conflicts with certain applications or services.
– While it prevents IPv4 leaks, it may not provide protection against IPv6 leaks (a separate feature).

Note: Various VPN software options.


Definition: Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) with IP Security (IPsec) is a VPN tunneling protocol that combines both IKEv2 for secure key exchange and IPsec for encryption and authenticated communication.

– Provides robust security with strong encryption and effective protection against various types of cyber threats.
– Offers fast connections, especially when switching between networks (e.g., from Wi-Fi to mobile data).

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Not as widely supported by all devices or operating systems compared to other VPN protocols.
– Configuration and setup can be more complex for inexperienced users compared to simpler protocols like WireGuard.

: Various VPN software options.

Kill Switch:

Definition: Kill Switch is a feature in VPNs that automatically cuts off the internet connection if the VPN connection drops or becomes unstable. It protects the userโ€™s privacy by preventing data leaks with VPN failures.

– Safeguards against accidental exposure of userโ€™s data in case of VPN disconnection.
– An extra layer of security and privacy for the VPN connection.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– May temporarily interrupt internet connectivity until the VPN connection restoration, or manually disabled.
– Some VPN services may have limitations or compatibility issues with certain devices or operating systems.

Note: Kill Switch is a common feature across various VPN software.

MFA Protection:

Definition: MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) protection is an extra layer of security in VPNs that requires users to provide multiple forms of identification before accessing their accounts. It adds a step to the login process, typically generating a unique code on the userโ€™s mobile device.

– Provides an additional layer of security, making it more difficult for unauthorized users to gain access to the userโ€™s VPN account.
– Reduces the risk of account breaches through stolen passwords or login credentials.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Extra step in the login process seen as time-consuming for some users.
– May require additional hardware or software to enable MFA protection.

Note: MFA protection enabled in VPN services such as NordVPN.

NoBorders Mode:

Definition: NoBorders mode is a feature in VPNs designed to bypass strict censorship or internet restrictions imposed by certain countries. It disguises VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, allowing users in such regions to access blocked content.

– Enables users to access the open internet even in highly restricted regions.
– Protects privacy by evading government surveillance and online censorship.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– NoBorders mode may slightly decrease connection speed because of the added complexity in disguising VPN traffic.
– Governments or ISPs may continually develop their censorship mechanisms, making it challenging for the VPN service to bypass restrictions.

Note: Various VPN software options are available in VPNs like Surfshark.

Obfuscated Servers:

Definition: Obfuscated servers are special servers offered by VPNs that help to mask or hide VPN traffic, making it appear as regular internet traffic. This feature is useful in bypassing network-level VPN blocking or censorship.

– Allows users to access the internet freely in regions with blocked or restricted VPN traffic.
– Increases privacy by making VPN traffic undetectable to network surveillance systems.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– May slightly decrease browsing speed due to the additional processing required to obfuscate VPN traffic.
– Some network filters may still detect obfuscated VPN traffic and attempt to block it.

Note: VPNs like NordVPN and Surfshark.

Onion Over VPN:

Definition: Onion Over VPN is a feature offered by certain VPNs that combines the privacy benefits of the Tor network with the security and encryption provided by the VPN. It routes userโ€™s internet traffic through the VPN server and then through the Tor network.

– Provides an extra layer of anonymity by obfuscating the userโ€™s IP address twice.
– Allows users to access .onion websites and use Tor browser while benefiting from the VPNโ€™s security features.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Onion Over VPN may slow down browsing speed because of the additional routing and encryption processes.
– Not all VPN providers offer this feature, limiting its availability.

Note: VPNs like NordVPN offer Onion Over VPN functionality.


Definition: OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol widely used by VPN services for secure and private communication. It uses SSL/TLS protocols to establish an encrypted connection between the client and the VPN server.

– Offers high-security standards and encryption, maintaining user privacy.
– Available on multiple operating systems and devices, ensuring compatibility.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– May require additional configuration or software installations for certain devices or operating systems.
– The initial setup of OpenVPN might be more complex compared to other VPN protocols.

Note: VPNs like NordVPN offer OpenVPN functionality.

Private DNS:

Definition: Private DNS is a DNS (Domain Name System) resolver provided by some VPN services. It encrypts DNS queries, preventing ISPs or external entities from seeing what websites the user is accessing.

– Protects user privacy by preventing DNS queries from being intercepted or logged.
– Increases security by minimizing the risk of DNS tampering or redirection.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Some VPN providers may not offer private DNS resolution, potentially exposing DNS queries to ISPs or other monitoring entities.
– Private DNS settings may need manual configuration on certain devices or operating systems.

Note: VPNs like NordVPN offer Private DNS.


Definition: SmartDNS is a technology used by certain VPN services to bypass regional content restrictions with no encryption or tunneling. It reroutes the userโ€™s DNS requests to servers in different geographic regions.

– Allows users to access region-specific content from anywhere in the world.
– Provides faster speeds for streaming or gaming as it doesnโ€™t involve the overhead of encryption.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– SmartDNS offers no encryption, compromising user privacy and security.
– It may not work with certain services or platforms that require VPN tunneling.

Note: Various VPN software options.

Split Tunneling:

Definition: Split tunneling is a feature in VPNs that allows users to choose which internet traffic should to route through the VPN server and which directly to the internet. It provides flexibility in defining which applications or websites benefit from the VPNโ€™s encryption and which do not.

– Increases browsing speed for non-sensitive or non-restricted applications by avoiding VPN encryption overhead.
– Directs specific applications or websites to use the VPN tunnel for enhanced privacy and security.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Incorrect setup or misconfiguration of split tunneling can lead to unintended privacy leaks.
– Some VPN services may not offer split tunneling, limiting its availability.

Note: Split tunneling is available in VPNs like NordVPN.

Threat Protection:

Definition: Threat protection is a feature in VPNs that includes various security measures to safeguard users from online threats, such as malware, phishing attempts, or known malicious websites. It scans and filters internet traffic to prevent potential attacks.

– Protection from malware infections and provides a safer browsing experience.
– Reduces the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks or visiting malicious websites.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Threat protection features may require additional resources, potentially affecting VPN performance.
– Not all VPN services provide comprehensive threat protection features.

Note: VPN software such as NordVPN and Surfshark offer threat protection.


Definition: Torrenting is a method of file sharing that allows users to download and upload large files (like movies, music, software, etc.) using a distributed network of peers. With torrenting, files are split into small pieces and shared among multiple users, making the download process faster and more efficient.

– Privacy: VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt your data, making it difficult for others to trace your torrenting activities.
– Security: VPNs protect your online data from potential hackers or snoopers, enhancing your overall online security.
– Anonymity: By hiding your IP address and encrypting your connection, VPNs help maintain your anonymity while torrenting.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– Reduced Speed: The encryption and routing process of a VPN may cause slightly slower download/upload speeds.
– Cost: VPN services often require a subscription fee, which adds to the overall cost of torrenting.

Note: While torrenting is a general term, certain VPN software providers offer optimized servers and features specifically for torrenting purposes.


Definition: WireGuard is a modern open-source VPN protocol that aims to provide fast and secure communication between devices over a virtual private network.

– Fast and efficient performance, allowing for quicker data transmission.
– A smaller codebase makes it easier to audit and maintain.

๐Ÿ”ด CON:
– As a relatively new protocol, it may have minimal testing or adoption in the community.
– May lack certain features found in older, more established protocols.

Note: Various VPN software options.