Surfshark VPN protocols

Advanced technologies for secure internet connection

  • IKEv2 - the fast favorite on mobile OS
  • OpenVPN - a reliable open-source classic
  • Shadowsocks - top choice in restrictive countries

What are VPN protocols?

VPN tunneling protocols are a technology that helps VPNs safely send your data through the internet, which is necessary if you want to browse websites, use social media, or do just about anything else online.

Different protocols vary in their speed and security. Many are considered obsolete and not secure, which is why they are rarely used – like PPTP or L2TP, which we do not offer in any of our apps. 

If you’d like to learn more about each individual protocol, check out this article that talks about VPN protocols in depth.

Surfshark VPN offers these protocols: 


IKEv2 (short for Internet Key Exchange version 2) is a fast and secure protocol that tends to work best when the server you’re connecting to is physically nearby. It was developed by Cisco and Microsoft security engineers and it is very popular among mobile users.

Availability: MacOS, Android, Windows, iOS and Fire TV applications.


OpenVPN is an open-source protocol, which means that it is constantly being developed and improved by security professionals around the world. It’s fast, secure, and often works best for long-distance connections or desktop operating systems.

Availability: Android, Windows, iOS, Fire TV and Linux applications.


Shadowsocks is an encrypted proxy that was designed specifically to help people overcome the restrictions of the so-called Great Firewall of China. It works great for that purpose, but if you are not in a restricted country, you’re better off using either OpenVPN or IKEv2.

Availability: Android and Windows applications.

How to set up the VPN protocol of your choice in any Surfshark app


Open your app’s Settings


Go to the Advanced section


Select your protocol. That’s it!

What about other protocols?


Outdated and not secure tunneling protocols

L2TP, sometimes available as a slightly improved L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP are both old-school tunneling protocols. They are obsolete and do not offer adequate security, which is why we highly recommend to avoid both of them.


A new kid on the block

WireGuard is one of the newest protocols, currently unavailable in any of the Surfshark apps. It claims to be fast and secure, however, further testing is needed to determine whether these claims hold up.

VPN protocols questions and answers

What’s the difference between a tunneling protocol and a VPN protocol?

A tunneling protocol is simply a way to transfer information from point A to point B. It may offer a basic layer of encryption, but it is not considered secure.

A VPN protocol does so much more – it makes sure to authenticate data, offers end-to-end encryption, may even hide VPN traffic with the help of obfuscation, as well as offers perfect forward secrecy, and key exchange via secure channels, among other things. While it may have a tunneling protocol inside of these operations, it handles most of what you need your VPN to do, and does it safely.

How do I know which protocol is the best for me?

As long as you’re not using old, outdated protocols, you’re good! If you want the best protocol for a specific scenario, let the apps handle it and opt for automatic protocol selection.

Protect yourself with the latest security protocols