The term VPN which stands for Virtual Private Network has been very popular these days because of its ability to protect you while you are surfing internet. You can mask your own IP address through a VPN that will hide all your activities online. In this way, your actual IP address will not be shown to the others and you will be able to stay safe and anonymous.
VPN service providers guarantee that users IP addresses would not be leaked and they take every necessary measure to prove their claim. However, there could still be a chance that your real IP can still leak which means your privacy is all in a great risk. In this article, you can discover what actually IP Leak is, how you can detect if it is really leak, what could cause leak IP and how you can fix the problem.
What Actually IP Address Leak Is?
So first of everything, you need to know what actually IP address Leak is. Every individual internet user is provided a unique IP address by his or her ISP and if the user does not want to expose his real address, he uses a VPN to hide original one. However, if the real address is still exposed, it is called “IP Leak”. It usually occurs when a computer connects internet through default server rather than using an anonymous VPN sever. To understand it in a simpler way, let’s take this example:
A particular website is banned in your region due to geo restriction; however, you still want to access it. You would rather use a VPN to access a site and the VPN would mask your original location and make you appear from somewhere else. For example, you live in China but will appear from Canada. In this way, you will be able to get access to the banned website in your country.
If you are able to access the restricted website, that’s great! Go ahead because your VPN is working. However, if your attempt to access the site is declined, it simply means your VPN is not working effectively. Consequently, your real IP will be shown to those who would be tracking your activities due to any reason. It shows that your VPN service has leaked your real IP address and location.
What Could Be Possible Reasons for IP Leak?
An effective VPN ensures that users’ real identity as well as locations stays hidden while they are online. Nobody would ever like that they are exposed if they really don’t want to. However, there are still various causes which may leak your IP address. Some of them are mentioned below:
1: WebRTC IP Leak
There are a number of service providers which are using outdated VPN protocols and that make users activities vulnerable. For example, in the year 2014, hackers used heartbleed bug to hijack VPN sessions. Similarly, in the year 2015, they exploited a feature called WebRTC that was resulted into exposing of VPN users real IP addresses.
WebRTC stands for Web Real Time Communication and it is basically a special kind of interface even in some of the most popular browsers, like Chrome, Opera and Firefox. This is a high valued feature which is designed to perform very important tasks such as file share and video or audio calls. This important feature can be exploited by the hackers to infiltrate even the strongest VPNs.
2: IP DNS Leak
Another very common type of IP leak is DNS Leak. There could be various reasons for DNS to leak IP address such as improper OS configuration, VPN bugs or user errors. Domain Name System (DNS)’s basic task is to convert a website address into an IP address. In case of DNS leak, the user’s real location may also be leaked which may be quite dangerous. An operating system’s response to DNS resolution as well as requests plays a vital role in causing DNS leak.
3: IPV6 Protocol Leak
The third biggest reason for IP and location leak is IPv6 protocol. Yes, you heard it right “the IPv6 protocol”. The protocols are used to transport data from one place to another during an internet session. For example, if you want to access a website, upload or download a document or simply want to send an email, this will all be possible with the help of protocols like IPv6 which was brought to replace IPv4 IP.
Both IPv6 and IPv4 protocols are working well, however, the actual problem begins if a VPN is not updated to deal with IPv6 requests. For instance, your ISP uses IPv6 while the VPN uses IPv4, the gap will cause leaking of your IP address. Hence, you must be careful while sending or receiving sensitive kind of data online.
4: Dropped VPN Connection
Last but not the least reason for IP leak is a dropped connection. For example, you are surfing internet under the cover of a VPN but incidentally, you lose the connection. In consequence, your traffic will begin going through the regular connection and you will suddenly come on a less secured path. This type of IP leaks are quite common, however, a strong VPN connection will help you prevent it.
IP Leak Test – How Can You Detect Your VPN Is Showing Your Real IP Address?
It is quite simple to check either a VPN is working well or leaking information. Follow these simple steps for an IP leak check:
- With your regular internet connection, go to Google and type something like what is my IP address. You will see your address; note it down somewhere for reference. This address is provided by your ISP.
- Activate your Virtual private network and select a server from a remote location in any country other than yours. Verify either you get connected or not.
- Go to Google again and type again what is my IP address. This time you find a dissimilar IP address which will be shown by your VPN service provider. If both addresses are different, you can be sure that your VPN is not showing your real IP.
- Then you can visit Roseler’s WebRTC IP testing page which will show your IP address. If the page result shows your regular IP address, it means your real identity and location is visible for everyone.
- On contrary if the result shows other IP address provided by VPN, you are in safe zone and can surf internet without any fear of being exposed.
How to Fix If the IP Is Leak?
If your address is leaking, you can’t just leave it as it is because this will put your privacy at greater risk. So instead of depending upon your VPN, you better try to fix the issue on your own. You have to take few necessary steps such as you can disable WebRTC and install a Plugin.
Three major browsers i.e. Chrome, Opera and Firefox allow WebRTC functioning by default. On contrary, the two other major browsers i.e. Internet Explorer and Safari leave the option for users. In case of a leak IP, you better use a browser that does not have WebRTC enabled by default.
Chrome, Opera and Firefox
To disable WebRTC feature in Chrome and Operate, you can download an extension from the Store called ScriptSafe.
If you are a Firefox user, you are lucky to have more than one option.
- Go to “about configuration” page in Firefox search bar. Find and set falsely “peerconnection.enabled”
- You can also get an add-on called “Disable WebRTC and install it in your Firefox browser.
When you disable WebRTC, you might have to face some problems in few webs services which usually involve camera or microphone. In such cases, you can choose to enable WebRTC on temporary basis.
Experts believe that the best way to stay anonymous during online activities and dropped connection is to use “Kill Switch” option. When Kill Switch is active, it will keep monitoring internet connection to ensure your real IP is not exposed due to sudden dropped in connection. In case your connection to VPN is suddenly dropped, your connectivity to the internet will immediately be stopped until VPN connection is restored.
A VPN is always a better option than a regular connection because it will encrypt your sensitive data and hide your genuine IP address. However, you still need to take an extra layer of security to avoid sudden and unexpected leak of IP address due to WebRTC leak, DNS Leak, protocol and dropped connection leak. Take necessary steps discussed above to enhance your online security.