How to know if your VPN is leaking and how to fix VPN leaks?

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Think your VPN is leaking? Then read the rest of this guide.

You don’t have to think too deeply on this part if you have made sure that you picked any of the best VPN service providers from our list.

Our list only includes those VPN services that do not leak and provide foolproof protection.

With that said, you should also keep in mind that if your VPN service is leaking any data, then you can take certain steps to address the situation.

We’re going to discuss those steps today.

But really, how secure is the user’s data in the modern world of the internet?

It doesn’t really matter how strong of a setup you have right now.

You may think your living in the digital version of Fort Knox but the fact is you don’t.

So there is no point in taking massive risks with information that you find personal and/or sensitive.

This is a good time for us to tell you that it is always worth it to confirm that VPNs or Virtual Private Network and the apps that you may use are actually successfully carrying out their job.

If the VPN service that you have subscribed to simply allows your online traffic to move through the internet without protection, then that’s definitely bad news for you.

The problem with such VPN apps is that most of the times you would not even know if the app is letting your data go hither and thither.

Again, if you have already read our guides on how to select the best VPN service providers in the world you really have nothing to worry about as you will have the best protection possible.

Our best VPN service providers list only lists those VPNs that can provide genuine protection and on all devices including smart devices and traditional desktop machines.

Of course, that is not a rarity in the VPN industry.

Almost every elite VPN service provider offers apps that work across a multiple number of operating systems and devices.

You are free to check with your VPN service provider though.

Your private data isn’t something that you should take a chance on.

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In the real world, things do break.

Researchers find new exploits and security holes in different security systems all the time.

Hence, there is always a slight chance that the VPN service that you have signed up for may have started to leak some of your data.

Obviously, that is something that no VPN user would prefer from a service for which he/she is paying.

Let’s take a look at the exact steps that you have to take in order to make sure you know when your VPN app goes bad.

Double check your current IP Address

If you have an internet connection then even your house has its own IP address in addition to its street address.

But what is an IP address?

An IP address stands for Internet Protocol address.

You should think of it as a unique number which is assigned to the user’s WiFi router by the user’s internet service provider.

On that note, we should also mention that it is the job of the user’s internal home network to provide each active node in the user’s home an IP address.

By active nodes we mean,

  • Consoles
  • Phones
  • PCs
  • Smart appliances
  • Any device that has a connection to your WiFi router

However, for the purposes of this guide, we are only interested in talking about the user’s public-facing IP address.

Without a valid IP address, your router or computer would simply have no way to talk to various servers on the internet.

Servers on the internet do not make use of names that sound human-readable such as securitygladiators.com.

Why?

Because just like humans, machines have preferences.

We prefer words.

Machine prefer numbers.

Typically, IP addresses are not only bound to the internet service providers that actually assign them but also to certain locations.

For example, ISPs such as Comcast and/or Spectrum have one range of different IP addresses for a given time and a second (different) range of IP addresses for another given town.

The other thing we would like to mention here is that when a person has access to your IP address, he/she can extract a lot more information than just numbers from it.

More specifically, anyone with your machine’s true IP address can track you down and know where your residence is.

Now, IP addresses tend to come in a variety of different formats.

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Most IP addresses are of the IPv4 variety or Internet Protocol version 4.

Examples include 172.17.245.1

But there are also IPv6 variety which usually looks something along the lines of 2002:0bd8:0013:0002:3d5f:7354:0000:5db1

But we are going to keep things simple in this guide.

It is very easy for you to find the public-facing IP address of your machine on your own.

All you have to do is to go to Google.com and then type the string ‘what is my current IP address.’

There are other options as well.

You can go to websites like,

to check your IP address as well.

The websites or tools that we have mentioned above will display just a little bit more information about your machine than just the IP address of it.

Not only will such tools mention the IP address but they also mention the Geo-IP of your machine.

The GEO-IP is nothing more than just the location which is linked to your address.

Now, what you need to do here is to take that IP address that one of these tools show to you and then search for that IP address in Google.

Do not forget to put the term ‘IP’ just in front of the actual IP address while searching for it in Google.

For example, we want you to search for something like this: ‘ IP 172.17.254.2’.

It goes without saying that you should not use the quotation marks that we have used in the example above.

Now, if the IP address keeps giving you the location of your city then, unfortunately, your VPN service is leaking your data.

So what’s causing the leak?

Well, there could be many cases.

But the main one you should concern yourself with is the WebRTC bug.

The obvious question that arises from the previous sentence is:

What is WebRTC?

Well, think of it as a collection of different standards.

These standards work very hard in order to find a given user’s IP address.

But they are not evil.

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They do their work so that they can make things move a bit quickly when a given user makes use of the internet and other online services such as video streaming and video chatting.

Now, if you happen to make use of a web browser that is fairly modern, you will probably have this feature.

All modern browsers enable standards such as WebRTC work a lot better.

If you click here, you can legitimately check for WebRTC leaks with the official Hide My Ass test for WebRTC Leaks.

Now, remember that VPN services that usually work with the help of a browser extension have the ability to turn this feature off from within the browser.

VPN extensions do lots of other things but we will not mention them here.

If you do not want to make use of a VPN extension to do the job for you then you can disable WebRTC within your web browser on your own in a more direct manner.

Let’s see how you can do that right now.

Disable WebRTC in Google Chrome

To disable WebRTC in Chrome you will probably need another extension such as WebRTC Leak Prevent or WebRTC Network Limiter.

If that doesn’t sound too promising then you can also try to use WebRTC Control and then toggle it to on and/or off from time to time directly via the toolbar section.

Disable WebRTC in Microsoft Edge

So here is the bad news.

If you have Microsoft Edge as your primary web browser then there is no real way to fix WebRTC leaks.

However, there is a way to actually hide your current local IP address completely.

To do that you should type:

about:flags.

After that, you should check the box which appears right next to the option that says hide my local IP address over WebRTC connections.

We should mention here that following the above steps will probably hurt the user more because of lack of location-based services than help protect the user’s data and privacy.

Safari

Our research shows that you shouldn’t face major issues because of the simple reason that Apple web browser does not really share user information like other third-party web browsers do.

Firefox

Okay, so Mozilla Firefox you need to type:

about:config

Then you need to press the button that says I accept the risk!

After that, you should type media.peerconnection.enabled’ in the shown search box.

When that is done, you should perform a double-click in order to alter the shown Value column so that it says False.

Opera

First, you need to make your way to View.

And then to Show Extensions.

After that, you should click on WebRTC Leak Prevent.

When that’s done, perform a click on Options.

What you need to do now is to select the option that disables WebRTC.

Do not forget to save your new settings.

Best way to check my device for DNS leaks

Before starting this section you need to know more about the term DNS.

DNS stands for Domain Name System.

As far as the internet goes, this is the thing that makes up domain names and IP addresses work.

When we say domain names we mean things like ‘securitygladiators.com’ or ‘google.com’

What you would want to do is to type the exact domain name, that you are interested in, into your favorite (or not so favorite) web browser.

Once you do, the DNS would quickly spring into action and would translate all of the user’s traffic which would be moving back and forth from the user’s web browser to the related web server.

And there is no way for a DNS to do all that without making use of IP address numbers.

You should not have a problem with the DNS knowing your IP address because otherwise, no one would be happy.

Now, the other thing you should understand is that your internet service provider is actually a part of the whole process.

To put it in simpler terms, your internet service provider possesses DNS servers on its own network in order to assist with tasks involving translation.

While there is nothing wrong with that, we simply cannot ignore the fact that this alone gives your internet service provider avenues to make efforts in tracking you online wherever you go.

You can go to YouTube and watch videos on why in an ideal situation you would want to sign up for a VPN service that has DNS services available on its servers.

If you make use of a VPN service, theoretically speaking, it means that your online traffic gets redirected to DNS servers that are totally anonymous.

Now, if the web browser you are using simply sends all of your requests to your internet service provider without warning then that is definitely a DNS leak.

If you want to test for DNS leaks then we are glad to let you know that there are many tools available online.

All you have to do is make use of websites such as,

Again, you should have no problems in gettings results which precisely display the owner of the online DNS server that you may be using and the IP address of the DNS server.

Now, if you notice that the DNS server address is that of your internet service provider’s server then you definitely have a case of DNS leak.

In particular, we would like to mention DNSLeak.com.

We like this tool a lot.

We like it because it displays the results using a nice and clear color-coded theme.

If it gives the message looks like your DNS might be leaking it makes sure that it does so by using a red font.

If DNSLeak.com detects that you are in the clear then it displays the message in green.

We have also mentioned Hidester.

Our research shows that this tool provides users with a complete list of each and every DNS server that they may hit.

Keep in mind that several servers would actually correspond to your own internet service provider if you have a leaky VPN service.

Once Hidester detects that, it will let you know.

How to fix these leaks

Now, if you have established that you are indeed suffering from a DNS leak then there are a couple of things that you can do about it.

The first thing that you should do is to try and change your VPN.

Change it to the one that specifically works well for you and your needs.

That should help you solve the problem of DNS leaks.

Click here to learn more about the VPN service providers that are leak-free all day and every day.

If you cannot do that and just do not want to change your VPN service then your best option is to purchase Guavi’s VPNCheck Pro.

It will cost you around $19.92.

Our research shows that this tool comes with a DNS leak fix of its own.

This tool also monitors the user’s VPN for various other VPN-related issues.

We hope you have not forgotten that you also have the option of changing DNS servers that your WiFi router is using whenever you have to send requests to different places on the internet.

The actual process can become rather complicated.

Why do we say that?

We say that because switching DNS servers requires the user to make their way into the settings of their WiFi router.

However, if you do not find that difficult then perhaps the process is worth it for you.

There are other services like OpenDNS from Cisco and Google Public DNS that provide you with complete instructions on how to go about setting them up.

Their instructions work pretty well with a large number of WiFi routers.

The OpenDNS option from Cisco comes with a personal version with various different free options.

It even provides instructions for an option which is geared towards users who want parental/family controls which allow them to block sites of questionable nature.

With that said, users also have the option of paying them $19.95 per year to get access to extra services which as whitelists of various websites and usage stats.

The option goes by the name of OpenDNS Home VIP, if you are interested.

If you want a DNS service that is specifically built for internet-enabled mobile devices then you need to give Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 a try.

The great thing about this DNS service is that it not only assists users in encrypting their DNS queries but also promises them a much faster internet experience.

Users who want to, can configure it to work with their WiFi routers and desktop machines.

Perhaps this is a good time to mention that updating any sort of DNS changes to your WiFi router would mean that all of your internet traffic whether in office or at home would use the brand new DNS service.

Not only that, but you will also be able to take advantage of all the ancillary features that the DNS service may offer.

Some of the devices that can take advantage of the features that Cloudflare offers include,

  • Phones
  • Consoles
  • Tablets
  • PCs
  • Smart speakers
  • Many other devices

While you may want to use these services as early as possible, you should not forget that you are effectively handing all of your DNS traffic from your ISP (probably a corporation) to another giant corporation.

Of course, there is another option.

You could try and spend some money on hardware.

This hardware would work at the router level and would add an extra layer of security to your connection.

However, for most online consumers that may well be overkill.

Some people feel slightly paranoid all the time, so this option may suit them better than most.

What we would suggest is to make use of a VPN software and/or app on individual PC along with handheld devices if you want supplemental security at all times.

That should be the least that you should do for your online security.

A thing or two about plugging other leaks

We know from our experience that at some point in the past you have plugged your location into your web browser.

Not a bad thing by any means.

The only problem is that sometimes web browsers are a bit too curious to share your information with all the services that you use and the websites that you regularly visit.

In such cases, your VPN may not be the source of all security troubles.

You can go to IPleak.net and check the incredible amount of data that some users just like you may unknowingly give up to websites.

So to combat this problem you need to make use of an alternative web browser.

You would ideally want this web browser to be great at security.

Enter: the Tor Browser.

The Tor Browser is the perfect example of a web browser that is only interested in keeping the user anonymous.

It does that by bouncing the user’s requests all over the world before allowing the request to land on the web server that the user is interested in.

Of course, then some information has to come back to the user’s machine as well.

And it does so in a similar fashion.

 

 

 

Zohair

Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
Zohair

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