With the exponentially increasing internet crowd, there are many privacy concerns for all the netizens. Many people use a VPN to hide their true IP address for browsing freely. Using VPN helps in unlocking geo-based restrictions, hiding identity, restricted access, etc.

Actually, a unique IP address is assigned to every user connecting to the internet. The IP address helps the other servers and websites to locate you and provide you with personalised search results and content based on your region. A VPN masks your IP and transfers all the data througha a secured tunnel so that you can’t be traced. All the requests are forwarded to the VPN server, making the website to believe that you are in a different part of the globe.

So, in a nutshell VPN is very important part of the internet extravaganza, as websites can’t track your real location. But all this only lasts until your VPN has a leak.

Introduction

Usually, when you use a VPN, the outside observers can only see the IP assigned by the VPN. But if there happens to be an IP leak then the websites will be able to track your real IP address hence compromising your privacy. Due to the IP leak your real location and all the browsing information can be accessed by the website you are visiting and even to your ISP.

IP leaks aren’t the fault of your VPN. They are often caused by the vulnerablities in the existing applications you are using, like browser plugins, operating system, etc. The major causes of IP leak are

  • WebRTC leak
  • DNS leak

WebRTC leak

WebRTC or Web Real-Time Communication is an open-source technology inbuilt in most of the modern web browsers. It provides real-time communications, such as voice calls, video chat, and file sharing without downloading any additional plugins or extension.

While WebRTC is really useful it has a potential of endangering your privacy when you connect to a VPN. Most of the VPN does not have WebRTC leak protection and can’t stop the IP leak from occuring.

An IP leak takes place when the WebRTC function exposes your original IP via STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) requests while the VPN is active. Actually browsers allow websites to run various scripts(javascript, flash, etc) in the background. These scripts help to display the page properly and these are not blocked even by any AdBlock. So, it becomes very easy for the website to run a few scripts to fetch your real IP address.

DNS leak

A DNS (Domain Name Service) is the key service to browse the internet. It works as an IP address resolver by mapping the hostnames to the IP addresses. Actually, it is not easy to memorise the different IP address. But the website address can be relatively easy to remember. For example, you would like to type in google.com in the search bar rather than 216.58.196.78 to access google. Therefore DNS can be thought of an important service to browse the internet.

Now, while you are masked under the VPN tunnel a DNS leak can cause the browser to expose your real IP address. Usually the local host is configured to send the browser requests to the DNS provided by the ISP. Therefore, even if you use any VPN the requests pass through the local ISP and hence your activities end up being logged.

Your ISP uses this data to log your activities and will eventually filter the internet speeed while streaming media. Moreover, the whole personal log can be easily accessed by the government and can be used for surveillance.

So, why should you care?

While it is normal for the websites and your ISP to track you down while you are not using any VPN. But people use VPN to mask their real identities, and an IP leak defeats this sole purpose of having a VPN. Therefore, if there is an IP leak then the VPN is basically of no use. So, let’s see how you can diagnose and prevent an IP leak.

You can check if your VPN is leaking your IP by visiting the IP leak website. If in case there happens to be a leak then you can use the following tips to prevent it in the future.

  • Disable WebRTC in your browser to prevent any WebRTC leak while browsing.
  • Try using a browser with no WebRTC by default.
  • Use a VPN with DNS leak protection which will detect and possibly prevent your IP from being leaked.
  • Use a kill switch in VPN the kill switch will disconnect the internet immediately if the VPN closes unexpectedly. Having a kill switch helps in case the VPN closes down unexpectedly.

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned to Kickagadet for more amazing articles and updates.

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