Things you should know about IP leak
One of the prime VPN purposes is to hide your IP address, but sometimes it may fall short. An IP leak is something you should know about. Due to this security flaw, your real IP address can be revealed despite using a VPN. There could be many reasons of IP leak: vulnerabilities in operating systems, browser plugins or web browsing software. This article will answer: what is a leak, why can it happen, and how to solve it?
What is IP leak ?
The IP (Internet Protocol) address is the unique number assigned to you by your ISP. The IP address is needed for the communication between your device and the Internet. Besides, when the IP address is assigned, it is attached not only to your ISPs but to a specific location also.
An IP leak is a consequence of the fact, that your real IP address is being exposed even though you are connected to a VPN server. The leak is usually caused by so-called WebRTC bug, and it has nothing to do with how secure your VPN is.
WebRTC handles real-time communication within a browser. It enables browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Safari) to include various features that simplify transmission and makes it faster (P2P activities, video chat, streaming, etc.). WebRTC can give away your real address by its design flaws, even when your VPN is turned on.
VPN providers implement certain WebRTC leak prevention measures. Yet, due to strong WebRTC configuration, no VPN provider will guarantee these measures will prevent leaks. It is always possible for websites to implement a clever code designed to increase the chance of exposure.
Luckily, doing an IP leak test is easy. You can do an IP test by simply visiting a reputable IP checker such as ipleak.net. Then, connect to your VPN and re-visit the website again. If you see the same results, it means that you have an IP leak. But if the IP address is different, it means that your VPN connection is safe and you are secured!
How to fix an IP leak ?
If you have found that you are affected by the WebRTC bug after making the VPN IP leak test, do not worry! There are a few truly effective ways to prevent the IP leak. Disabling WebRTC in your browser settings or installing a WebRTC block plugin will prevent the leak. Though WebRTC on Chrome using a desktop device might be a bit difficult to do. Thus, adding the WebRTC Leak Prevent extension would be the best option.
Unlike a desktop version, Chrome on Android has an option to disable WebRTC directly in it. Here is how to disable WebRTC in Chrome using Android device:
- Type in chrome://flags/#disable-webrtc into the address bar.
- A setting to disable WebRTC will show up. Click ‘Enable’ on this setting.
- Close the browser from your applications screen or by rebooting your phone for the setting to take effect.
To disable WebRTC on Mozilla Firefox, simply type about:config in the address bar. Scroll down to media.peerconnection.enabled, double click to set it to false.
Once done with these leak prevention steps, please make sure to do another WebRTC IP leak test to compare the results.
The risk of DNS leaks
To put it simply, a DNS query is a request to translate a server name to an IP address, which is a numerical representation of a domain. If you don’t use a VPN, your browsing requests are going through your ISP’s DNS servers, which means that your actions online are being recorded. When connected to a VPN, your internet traffic is redirected to encrypted DNS servers assigned by your VPN provider.
Usually, DNS servers are changed automatically upon connecting to a VPN server. But if it fails to set correctly, a DNS leak can occur.
For the best DNS leak test, you might want to check dnsleaktest.com. If you are connected to a VPN server, and the test doesn’t display the DNS servers of your actual ISP, your traffic is secure. But, if the displayed IP address and location match your actual ones, most probably, your VPN service is not working correctly.
If such a case happens, there is no need to worry - you can simply configure DNS addresses manually on your device settings. If you need a hand while doing that, do not hesitate to contact our support team, which is available 24/7.
What it means to your digital privacy
Even though such vulnerabilities can be frightening, there is a bright side of it - everyone can easily mitigate them. It is important that you take the necessary security steps and Atlas VPN will take care of the other half of the fight for privacy. Don’t wait and download free VPN with DNS leak protection.
Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.