A protocol is basically a set of rules that is used to negotiate and maintain the connection between your device and the Surfshark VPN server.
Everything you do online is based on sending and receiving information. In order to be sent from your device to the server, your information is divided into small packets. Protocols determine in what order these packets will be sent, what encryption will be used to protect them, etc. All protocols used at Surfshark are secure, and it is up to you if you just stay with the default option or switch to your preferred protocol.
Different protocols have different advantages. Some protocols guarantee a better speed, stable connection, others – a higher level of security. Therefore, if you experience some connectivity issues, you should try changing the protocol at first.
Protocols used by Surfshark:
IKEv2 - this is one of the most popular protocols as of right now, it is quickly being adopted by many VPN platforms thanks to its ease-of-use features, strong security, and wireless performance.
At the moment IKEv2 protocol is available in our macOS, Android, Windows, iOS and FireOS applications.
OpenVPN - is an open-source tunneling protocol. As an open-source project, its code is freely available on the internet and it consistently receives updates and maintenance from security and networking experts from across the globe.
You will find OpenVPN (UDP) and OpenVPN (TCP) options on your Surfshark app.
UDP is known to be faster, good for streaming, video calls or games.
TCP is known to be stable and will deliver every single packet of information that you send from your device. Therefore it might be slower compared to other protocols.
OpenVPN is available in our Android, Windows, iOS, FireOS and Linux applications.
Shadowsocks - it is an encrypted proxy that was developed to be free, open-source and mainly used by Chinese people to bypass the Great Firewall restrictions. While using it covers your browser traffic, it is almost impossible to be detected.
Shadowsocks is available in our Android and Windows applications.
Wireguard - it is one of the newest protocols that appeared in the cyber-security market. Wireguard is an open-source communication protocol which should provide better performance than other available protocols.
Surfshark is planning to implement Wireguard to its servers in the second half of 2020.
L2TP - although L2TP is not as secure and fast as other protocols available in the market, Surfshark leaves an option for its users to use this protocol in very specific cases. This protocol might be faster, and available on many routers.
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact our Customer Success Sharks anytime - they will help you out!