VPN Leaks and How to Test for Them
VPNs are often touted as being extremely secure and a great way to protect your data. But recent tests have shown that the vast majority of VPNs, over 80% of them in fact, actually have a number of leaks that expose their users’ personal information.
This essentially negates the main reason of using a VPN and unknowingly exposes you to a wide range of security threats. So how can you tell if your VPN is leaking information?
Below you’ll learn how to test for VPN leaks, what the various types of leaks are and how to fix them.
How to Test for VPN Leaks
There are a number of websites that can help you identify VPN leaks but a good all-in-one testing option is ipleak.net. Before you perform the test, you will need to know your IPv4 and IPv6 addresses as well as your internet service provider’s DNS.
Visit ipleak.net while disconnected from your VPN. When you visit the site you’ll see three sections: Your IP Addresses, Your IP Addresses – WebRTC detection, and DNS Addresses. Make note of your IP addresses in the first section, and the DNS addresses in the last section.
Once you’re ready to perform the test, connect to one of your VPN’s servers and then visit ipleak.net again. If you see your real IPv4 or IPv6 address within the first section, your VPN is leaking your IP address. If you see either of your real IP addresses in the second section, you have a WebRTC detection leak. Lastly, if you see any of your ISP’s DNS’ within the third section, you have DNS leak.
IP Address Leaks
If you have an IP address leak, it means your real IP address is still being broadcast to the world. With your IP address, a person can pinpoint your location and track your online activity. An IP leak is not only a security issue but by giving away your location it can also prevent you from accessing geo-blocked content.
If you perform a test and find that your VPN is leaking your IP address, one solution is to create a manual firewall rule. Most Windows and Mac computers come equipped with a firewall that can be customized. Go to your firewall setting and create a rule that blocks all internet traffic not from your VPN. This should prevent any further IP leaks.
If you have a WebRTC leak, the problem actually isn’t with your VPN but with your browser. Most VPNs aren’t designed to prevent this kind of vulnerability, although there are some that have the capability.
WebRTC is technology that helps make voice and video chat, and P2P sharing within your browser possible. Although this technology offers a number of benefits, it also poses a security risk. WebRTC allows for requests to STUN servers that will result in your local IP address being exposed. If you have a WebRTC leak, this is what is happening.
The best way to solve the problem is to simply turn off WebRTC within your browser. The way to do this will vary depending on your browser. Perform a Google search to find the instructions for your specific browser.
Unfortunately, Chrome does not let you disable WebRTC, but there are two add-ons you can install to prevent it from being used. WebRTC leak prevent and uBlock Origin can both be used to prevent WebRTC leaks but it’s important to note that these solutions are not 100% guaranteed.
This type of leak occurs when your DNS queries are sent to ISP DNS servers directly, rather than being routed through your VPN. A DNS query occurs every time you access a website on your device. So, when you have a DNS leak, ISPs will have access to your browsing history and can view all of the websites that you have visited.
If you have a DNS leak, there are a couple different solutions that you can try.
DNS leaks often happen due to incorrect network settings. Sometimes, even though you’re using a VPN, your operating system will continue to route traffic through the default DNS server, rather than the DNS server assigned by the VPN. This is a common problem with Windows devices. To fix it, switch to a static DNS server. You can also try public DNS services like 18.104.22.168 or Open NIC Project.
Some VPNs have built-in features to prevent DNS leaks. Explore your VPN and see if you can find such a feature. The solution may be as simple as making sure that the feature is turned on.
VPNs That Will Not Leak
Although the solutions listed above can help you prevent your VPN from leaking data, the truth is that if you detect leaks while using your VPN, chances are you are using an inferior service and you should probably switch to a more secure provider.
With VPNs growing in popularity, new services are popping up every day. While some of them are ok, many are sub-par and actually do little to protect your data. So, it’s best to do your research before purchasing any VPN.
Below is a list of five VPNs that have been thoroughly tested and proven to never leak your data.
Not only do these VPNs not leak your IP address of DNS queries, but they also have sophisticated technology in place to prevent WebRTC leaks.
Simply put, the best solution for VPN leaks is to switch to one of the high-quality VPNs listed above.