No wonder VPNs are among the best cyber-security tool software to date. It allows users to disguise their IP address and attain complete web anonymity and prevent cyber crimes like hacking, identity theft, and other scams. Not only this, but VPN also helps you circumvent internet censorship, geo-blocking and ISP’s snooping. However, there’s an unfortunate side of VPN exists too; there can be security flaws or IP leaks that may occur and kill the purpose of using the VPN. This can put your online privacy and anonymity at a great risk. And many a time, users fail to understand when and how this occurs. To this end, we bring you a brief guide to help you learn how to detect VPN IP, DNS leaks.
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How To Detect VPN IP, DNS Leaks and Stop It
What Causes VPN Leaks?
The nub of this whole issues is that the Virtual Private Network hides your real IP address along with your location and the identity given by your ISP. You may have often noticed that sometimes you try to access any video on YouTube or any website that says you can not access this content due to your location. This implies that they detect your location via your IP address; telling them from which country you are requesting to access the site or video. VPN helps you bypass this by giving you a fake IP address of some other country where that content is accessible. Following are the three main ways that contribute to leaking your personal data using VPN.(Also see, IP Leaks VS DNS Leaks)
Dated Protocols And Bugs
Some VPN providers fail to update their VPN protocols timely; that results in VPN leaks and leads the users to compromise their privacy and web anonymity. Also, bugs contribute their part in hijacking VPN sessions. Also, some security experts found a few years back that it’s easy to know the real IP of many VPN users by using WebRTC feature. That means; even while connecting to VPN; the websites can still detect your real IP and hence the location too.
Conceivably DNS leaks are the most well-known form of how a VPN connection can leak your IP address. DNS leaks are essentially caused by secondary operating system configuration, user failures, and VPN provider bugs. DNS stands for ‘Domain Name System‘. It fundamentally is a mechanism that converts website addresses into IP addresses. Similarly to IP leaks, DNS leaks can also reveal your location. Windows OS is apparently the most troubled by DNS leaks because of how it wields DNS requests and resolution.
IPV6 protocol, one of the many IP protocols that are notorious for causing VPN leaks. Without bringing it into your knowledge, IPv6 can reveal private information about your original location, etc. IP protocols are important to you so that you can send and receive data over the web. Without them, you can not visit websites, download any file, or send emails. Due to the fact, IPv4 IP addresses are running out, IPv6 IPs were introduced.
The problem is that some VPN services can only manage IPv4 requests and ignore IPv6 requests. If your ISP gives you with IPv6, but your VPN service overlooks IPv6 requests, your VPN connection is plausibly leaking your actual location and other personal data.(Also check, A Comprehensive Guide to IP Leaks)
How to Detect VPN IP, DNS Leaks?
At the time of signing up for a VPN account, you get the option of selecting either “exit server,” or any server location that VPN will apparently “pretend” you are located. This is how any website service gets convinced that you are actually from that country which the IP address is showing. So here’s how to detect VPN IP, DNS leaks.
- To check if the VPN in control is hit, get into a website such as Whatismyip.network and take a check of your real IP address given by your ISP.
- Afterward, log into your VPN, choose an exit server in another country and check your connection.
- Go back to the Whatismyip.network website to recheck your IP address.
- Ideally, you should have a new IP assigned by your VPN provider according to the server location you chose.
- Now, go to the WebRTC test page and note down IP that’s being displayed there. When both tools project the IP address of your VPN, you know it’s all right.
- However, if the WhatIsMyIP.network shows your VPN while the WebRTC test exposes your normal IP address, you know your browser is unquestionably leaking your original IP address.
Prevent VPN Leaks By Disabling Your Browser’s WebRTC
The browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera come with default WebRTC feature enabled; while, Internet Explorer and Safari do not. Therefore, if the test mentioned above works for your browser, you know where you stand and that your browser is affected.
Turning to a browser that isn’t WebRTC-enabled works here. But if you want to use the same browser like Opera and Chrome, install Chrome Web Store’s ScriptSafe extension. It’s actually overkilling but will turn off your browser’s WebRTC. Opera users are at liberty to utilize this add-on by first avoiding some steps.
With Firefox, there are two available options. You can either install Mozilla’s Disable WebRTC addon or direct disable the WebRTC by going to a new tab and locating “about config” in the address bar. Click on the false setting on “media.peerconnection.enabled”. But, browser extensions that preserve privacy such as uBlock, AdBlock, Disconnect, and Ghostery don’t dismiss this behaviour. Also, keep in mind that your privacy add-on or ad blocker will update itself to block the WebRTC in future.
Prevent VPN Leaks By Configuring VPN On Your Router
Configuring VPN right on your router; rather than doing it only for your computer is a permanent solution to fix VPN leaks. This will not only protect one device but all of them on the same network.
However, if you’re often changing exit servers, you need to tweak the router setup every time you wish to change. Similarly, if your connection is needed sometimes only and particularly for work and not streaming, you have to disable or enable your VPN on the router every time the switch is needed. The process may be complicated or easy and depends on your VPN and router.
Conclusion -How to Detect VPN IP, DNS Leaks and Stop It
Given that VPN leaks affect mostly Windows users, but depending on the VPN used and its configuration, your IP address may get leaked on a Linux or Mac system as well. The worst news is that because of VPN leaks; you think you are protecting your sensitive data while you’re actually exposed. Hopefully, the guide above has provided you a better idea of how to detect VPN IP, DNS leaks and how to prevent it.(Also read, How to Check If Your VPN Connection Is Secure?)