Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software setup that provides internet users with a secure and encrypted data connection between their devices and any other place online. About 25% of internet users use a VPN daily while browsing the web. Be it for privacy-related reasons, anonymity, or the need to bypass geographical restrictions; many people trust VPN providers with their online security.
Every VPN company is going to promise quality services and state-of-the-art data encryption systems. However, new users are unlikely to know how and why they should use a VPN, and they’re even less likely to notice if something is amiss. That’s why this article is going to shed some light on VPN security. Here’s everything you need to know:
What is a VPN leak?
A VPN leak occurs when, despite using a VPN, your real IP address becomes visible. This may be problematic, as your IP address identifies your location through the connection of your device to the internet. As such, if you want to conceal your real IP address for any reason, your safety and anonymity become compromised.
Reputable providers put great effort into maintaining security and facilitating safe online connections, but there are many cases of false advertising. That’s why you should always do your research before you decide on a specific service. Read online reviews, like https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/expressvpn-review/, to see whether the provider is trustworthy and the services they provide meet your requirements and needs. However, if you’ve already chosen one and now suspect that it’s not entirely secure, you need to take action.
A DNS test leak
DNS (Domain Name System) is used to grant access to various websites by translating domain names to corresponding IP addresses. Your requests for translation can sometimes get leaked out of the safe connection tunnel provided by your VPN. While it doesn’t expose your IP address directly, it leaks the location and IP address of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). These, in turn, can be used to go down the rabbit hole and track your IP address.
Whenever you’re worried that you may be experiencing a DNS test leak, you can visit some free websites to check whether it’s the case or if the problem lies elsewhere, and you should do more digging. If you want to avoid DNS test leaks, make sure you use a VPN with its own encrypted DNS — see more at ergonotes.
IP address leak test
Whenever a VPN connection drops, there’s a risk of an IP address leak. You can test whether your IP address has leaked during the reconnection phase. First, shut down your internet connection while keeping your VPN running in the background. After you disconnect, connect yet again and immediately run a rapid-fire IP test sequence. Go to an IP testing website, open multiple tabs and refresh each of them as fast as possible. Once your VPN reconnects, stop refreshing the page and check the results. You’ll know you have a reconnection leak if you find your real IP address in a few tabs.
WebRTC leak test
WebRTC is a feature that facilitates peer-to-peer functionalities on your browser. When your real IP address is exposed through your browser’s WebRTC feature, it means you have a WebRTC leak.
To make sure it’s the case, disconnect your VPN and type “what’s my IP address” in your browser. Then, log in to your VPN and check whether you’re connected to the right server. Go back to the browser of your choice and check your IP address by typing that same phrase again. Your VPN should conceal your real address. Lastly, go to a free website for running a WebRTC test and check the results. You’re fine if both searches show the masked address, but if the WebRTC test shows your actual IP address, it means you have a leak.
You discovered a leak. What next?
In the case of WebRTC leaks, you should disable WebRTC. Depending on the browser, this can be done either by installing a plug-in or by changing the settings. Also, if you find out that your VPN service has a leak, you should contact your VPN’s helpdesk or support team as soon as possible. VPN leaks may result in the loss of sensitive data and jeopardize the sense of your online security and privacy. That’s why it’s so important to contact the right people and ask them to fix the problem right away. Reputable VPN service providers will usually offer 24/7 support or even a live chat feature.
Now it all depends on how the support team handled your issue. If you’re satisfied with their services and receive help fast, you may want to keep using your current VPN, knowing they’ll have your back. However, in case you don’t get the help you’re looking for, you should consider changing your VPN provider. This time, do your research well and choose a reputable one.
The bottom line
Some VPN providers target inexperienced users who still don’t know what to expect from a quality service. In many cases, the marketing techniques are far better than what those providers actually have to offer. Ultimately, remember that no VPN service can guarantee you complete anonymity. Nevertheless, using a VPN will provide you with a sense of security and help you bypass geographical restrictions. Do your research, make sure you choose a reputable provider, and you’ll be satisfied with their services.