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WebRTC Leaks Vulnerability - Solved

If you have not been taking your security and privacy on the internet seriously, now may be the best time to start being conscious about it. These days, hackers are getting more aggressive, news is filled with data theft as well as other events directly related to little or no internet security/privacy.

Of course, when internet privacy is mentioned, VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, proxy servers and private search engines are always found in the context. They are all great ways, through which you can increase your privacy as well as reduce your vulnerability while online.

While all of the above-mentioned ways shields your IP address from illegal parties, there’s another level of exposure and risk that you may not be aware of, and which is known as WebRTC.

According to Wikipedia, WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) provides web browsers and mobile applications with real-time communication (RTC) via simple application programming interfaces (APIs). It allows audio and video communication to work inside web pages by allowing direct peer-to-peer communication, eliminating the need to install plugins or download native apps.
 

Simply put, it is a collection of standardized technologies that allows web browsers to communicate with each other directly without the need for an intermediate server. While its benefits include faster speeds, there’s a downside to it, especially for those seeking to maintain online anonymity without their real IP address being revealed.

When any two devices communicate with each other via WebRTC (which is enabled by default in browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Microsoft Edge), they need to know each other’s real IP addresses. This process of trying to identify IP addresses is what a third-party could use to identify your real IP address.

The above is described as a WebRTC leak.

You can be forgiven if you’ve not heard of this before. If you’re also thinking that your VPN should protect you, you need to have a rethink. WebRTC leaks are lesser-known and easily overlooked, which is why not all VPN providers protect you from them!

WebRTC identifies IPs via the Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) protocol; a protocol that has several techniques for discovering IPs, two of which include STUN/TURN servers or host candidate, both of which can be used to deceive your browser into revealing an IP address that could identify you, all without your knowledge.

Since they are browser-specific, there is a major chance of being exposed, especially if you regularly use multiple browsers.

So how do you protect yourself against a WEBRTC leak? How can you stop being vulnerable?
 

1. Use a VPN that protects against WebRTC leaks

Only a few VPNs can help protect you against a WebRTC leak, two of which are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. When you open new web pages on your browser while being connected to ExpressVPN, your public IP addresses won’t leak. What’s more?
A VPN like ExpressVPN comes with a browser extension (ExpressVPN browser extension) which can be used to completely disable WebRTC thereby protecting you against WebRTC vulnerabilities.
 

2. Manually disabling WebRTC in your browser

Instead of relying solely on a VPN, you can guard yourself against leaks by manually disabling WebRTC in your browser. Below, we will show you how to go about it for various browsers.

• Firefox

- Find the address bar and type about:config into it.
- An “I accept the risk!” button will appear. Click it.
- Type media.peerconnection.enabled in the search bar.
- Then double-click to change the Value to “false”.

For those wondering, this should work for both versions of Firefox (mobile and desktop versions).
 

• Opera
 
Before you can disable WebRTC in Opera, you’ll need to download an extension called WebRTC Leak Prevent. When you’ve done that, you can then proceed with these steps:

- Access the extension’s settings by clicking on View → Show Extensions → WebRTC    Leak Prevent → Options in that process.
- Choose “Disable non-proxied UDP (force proxy)” from the dropdown menu.
- Click Apply settings.

Be sure to download the extension before you proceed with the steps.
 

• Safari
 
As for this browser, there’s no need to disable WebRTC. This is because the browser has a permissions model which is stricter than those of most browsers. This makes it by default, to hide IP addresses from websites, except the ones used to access the website. It’s important to note that allowing any particular site permission to use audio or video might just expose your IP address.
 

• Microsoft Edge

At the time of writing this, nothing has been discovered with regards to  completely disabling WebRTC in Microsoft Edge. What you can do, is to set your browser to hide your local IP address. Here’s how to go about it:

- In the address bar, type, about:flags.
- Find the option marked Hide my local IP address over WebRTC connections and check it.
 
 
• Chrome (desktop)
 
WebRTC cannot be disabled in Chrome (desktop). One way to circumnavigate this is to use add-ons (which is the only options apart from totally dumping Chrome for another browser). You need to remember that the use of add-ons doesn’t completely protect you against WebRTC vulnerabilities.
 
 
• Chrome (mobile)
 
- On your Android device, open the URL chrome://flags/#disable-webrtc in Chrome.
- Scroll down to find the “WebRTC STUN origin header” and then disable it. You can   as well go one further, by disabling the WebRTC Hardware Video Encoding/Decoding options.
 
 
• Brave

- Method 1:  Go to Preferences > Shields > Fingerprinting Protection. Find and then select Block all fingerprinting.
- Go to Preferences > Security > WebRTC IP Handling Policy > and then select Disable Non-Proxied UDP.

 
 
Little, to nothing was known about WebRTC before 2015. Now that it has been discovered, it shows that for those serious about their internet privacy, you have to take WebRTC leaks seriously. Remember that the browser is usually the weak link through which data may be stolen, you may be hacked or your IP address exposed.

When it comes to your online privacy, there’s nothing as doing too much. Use the tips discussed above and protect yourself from being vulnerable to WebRTC leaks.
 
 

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