A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the most powerful software for protecting your daily online activities, although many people use it to conceal their IP address. Thus, masking of IP address has become one of an essential motivations of using a VPN. Moreover, a VPN hides all your online activities and turns it into an encrypted form. This makes sure that your real IP address is out of sight and your VPN provider’s IP address is visible to all.
VPN providers take strong measures to protect IPs from leaking yet there is still a risk of IP leak while you are connected to a VPN. In this guide, we will tell you What IP leak Is, its causes and how to check if VPN is leaking your IP address.
What Is IP Leak?
An IP leak occurs when the real IP address provided by the Internet Service Provider ISP gets leaked while a VPN service is in use. When a user’s computer starts to access default servers instead of connecting to the anonymous VPN servers which are assigned to it by the VPN provider, an IP leak occurs. For your better understanding, let us explain you IP leak with an example:
You searched for some content which is Geo restricted and is not accessible in your country. You signed up for a VPN service and selected a remote location which will mask your location and will show the location of the selected country. This will allow you to access the blocked content easily – everything looks fine till here.
However, you access the content and still your access is denied then it means the VPN service you are using is not able to hide your IP address and the blocked content website is able to track your real IP address of the restricted country. This means that the VPN is leaking your IP address.
What Causes VPN Leaks IP Address?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) makes your identity, location and your IP address vague in order to enhance security online. Also, it allows you to visit websites that are restricted in your country by bypassing the blocking. However, it can leak your real IP address while bypassing the blocking. Following are some causes which can result in IP address leak by a VPN.
Many of the VPN protocols of the VPN providers are out dated. In 2014, VPN sessions were hijacked by exploiting a Heartbleed bug. In 2015, a WebRTC feature was exploited to reveal the IP addresses of the VPN users.
WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication) is a special interface in various internet browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc. WebRTC is a feature in your browser that allows networks to perform file sharing, voice calling, video chats and more. Yet, it can be tricked if it gets in the technical hands and can expose your real IP address even if you are connected to a VPN.
DNS leak is one of the most common causes of IP address leak. The reasons behind DNS leak include user errors, VPN provider bugs, and poor operating system configuration. DNS stands for Domain Name System and it turns website addresses into IP addresses. DNS leak is also capable of exposing your location like IP leaks. The DNS leak greatly relies on how your operating system responds to DNS requests and resolution.
Your IP address and location can also get leaked due to IPv6 protocol. In order to send and receive data via the internet, IP protocols are needed. They are necessary to access websites, send emails, or download files. The IPv6 was introduced due to the reason that IPv4 IP addresses were running out.
The flaw arises when a VPN service is only able to handle IPv4 requests and overlook IPv6 requests. If your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is giving you IPv6 and your VPN service is ignoring IPv6 requests then there is a possibility that your sensitive data along with your location might be leaking.
Another common cause of IP leak is Dropped Connection. When a VPN suddenly gets disconnected and all your web traffic is routed through your regular internet connection which means through a less secure route. Such kind of IP leak happens frequently, yet it can be easily prevented.
How To Check If Your VPN Is Leaking IP Address?
Here is how you can check if your VPN is leaking IP address:
- Open your browser and visit a site such as What Is My IP Address, enter your IP address.
- Sign in to your VPN, choose a remote server and make sure you are connected.
- Revisit What Is My IP Address and look at your IP address again. You should now see a different IP address that is your VPN provider’s IP address.
- Now visit WebRTC test page and check the IP address that appears on this page.
- If the test shows your normal IP address then know that your IP address is visible to everyone.
However, if the test shows your VPN provider’s IP address then it means your IP address is not leaking.
Fix The IP Address Leak
Protection from this IP leak is possible at your own end; yes you don’t need to rely on your VPN provider for this issue. The fix is just a few steps away from you which includes installing a plug-in and disabling of WebRTC in your browser.
Disable WebRTC In Your Browser
Web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera have WebRTC enabled by default. However, Safari and Internet Explorer don’t have this enabled by default unless you do it. If the test showed your IP address it means you are suffering from IP address leak then you can switch to a browser which has disabled WebRTC. However, most users prefer to use browsers which have enabled WebRTC, yet you can disable WebRTC in the following way:
Chrome and Opera
Installing the extension ScriptSafe from the Chrome Web Store can disable the WebRTC. It also works for Opera yet you will have to pass through a cumbersome process for installing it.
For the users of Firefox, there are two options:
- You can disable WebRTC by opening a tab and visiting “about config” in the address bar. Find and false set the “peerconnection.enabled”.
- From Mozilla Add-ons, install the “Disable WebRTC”.
Disabling WebRTC may cause problems in configuring some web services and apps such as chat and other apps which involve the use of computer microphone or camera. If such issues are happening, you can temporarily enable WebRTC to fix it.
The kill switch feature offered by the VPN services is the best fix to avoid dropped connection. The kill switch will constantly monitor your network connection and will ensure that your real IP address never gets revealed in the case of dropped VPN connection. This feature will detect any changes in the connectivity, will automatically stop all internet connectivity and will make sure you get connected to the VPN service.
No doubt that VPN is a good source of encrypting all your data and masking your IP address and location. Yet, you have to be careful while using it and check yourself if it is leaking your IP address. We hope that this guide has helped you to know more about IP address leaking while using a VPN. Solutions provided in this article will definitely ensure that your real IP address remains concealed.