VPN Terms to Know
Let’s face it—when it comes to VPNs, it gets technical fast. To help decode the VPN lingo, we’ve put together a quick list of common terms you need to know.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN is a like a secret tunnel that gets you to the internet from your home network or mobile device undetected. It hides your connection and everything you do while connected (shopping, browsing, bingeing on Netflix) so that hackers and other cybercriminals can’t get to you.
DNS (Domain Name System)
The DNS is the internet’s phonebook. It takes the words we use to find a website (like SafeWise.com) and translates it into language your computer understands. Basically, it converts everything into numerical IP addresses. DNS servers are the GPS that gets you to your internet destination. They can also be tracked, which gives hackers information about what you’re doing online.
DNS Leak Protection
This is a security feature offered by many VPNs. A DNS leak is a breach in your internet connection, and due to glitchy Wi-Fi connections or a flaw in your device, a leak can happen even if you’re using a VPN. These leaks are usually momentary disconnections that leave your internet browsing and other activities vulnerable. Leak protection is a VPN feature that blocks any access to the internet—even for a second—if the VPN isn’t active.
Encryption is the process of translating data into a code so that it’s protected, even if there is a security breach.
The 14 Eyes
If this term makes you think of James Bond or Killing Eve, then you’re on the right track. The 14 Eyes refers to global surveillance alliances that are in place to collect and share data. It’s called the 14 Eyes because there are 14 countries involved, including the US. When it comes to keeping your information private, a VPN company based in one of the 14 Eyes countries can be forced to share any data they’ve collected–even if they have no-logging policies. A list of 14 Eyes countries is included below.
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
VPNs are all about privacy, so when you use one, you don’t want to leave a record of your online activities. If a VPN claims to have a no-logging policy, that means the VPN servers keep no record of what you do on the internet when you’re using the VPN. Most VPNs advertise a no-logging policy, but some are more reliable than others. If the VPN provider is located in a 14 Eyes jurisdiction, then any records that do exist (like your account information) could still be accessed by a government or law enforcement agency.