A VPN is a great privacy tool that hides your location and IP address. But, not all services protect your privacy as they should.
Misconfigured apps may leak your real IP address thus revealing your true identity. If you’re concerned about your connection status, you should do a VPN test. So, how to check if VPN is leaking IP address?
Let’s first take a look at the ways how your service can leak your IP address.
What is IP Leak?
A VPN leak reveals your real IP address when connected to a server. It can happen due to misconfiguration or poor technical implementation. A VPN leak can expose your identity by leaking your IPv4, IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC requests. A secure service will never leak your IP in any circumstance.
An IP address is the most accurate identification of who you are online. It is critical for a VPN service to keep this information hidden. If your IP is leaked this means that:
- all online activity can be linked to you
- your connection is no longer private
- your torrenting and P2P downloads can be detected
- websites know who you are
- your ISP knows where you browse
Let’s see what leaks a VPN may have.
IPv4 and IPv6 Leaks
IPv4 is the most common version of the IP address that is used on the web. It is a direct link between you and your browsing activity. No VPN should ever have a simple IPv4 leak. If it does, this means that the service has some serious technical issues. You should stop using such a VPN service and switch to the one that does not leak.
IPv6 leak is like an IPv4, but it is just a different version of the same address. Many ISPs like Verizon or Comcast already assign you both versions of addresses.
If a VPN provider does not take into account IPv6 there’s a chance it can leak it. Nowadays the best providers have IPv6 leak protection that blocks this type of IP.
A DNS leak can reveal the websites you are visiting to your ISP. Your device queries the IP address of the website you are trying to access before even connecting to it. These DNS requests must be routed inside an encrypted VPN tunnel.
If VPN apps do not handle these requests there’s a risk that the websites you access are exposed. To prevent this, it is best to use a VPN that uses its own private DNS addresses.
WebRTC is a browser feature that is commonly used for real-time communication. This technology allows faster speeds for video chats, live streaming, and file transfer. But when it comes to privacy it may not be the best solution out there.
WebRTC can create communication channels outside the encrypted tunnel. VPN apps can not control this feature and thus it has to be handled manually. You can also turn it off with a VPN extension for your browser.
How to Check if VPN is Leaking IP Address?
When you want to check if your VPN is leaking IP addresses you need to do a VPN test. IP leak tests will show you if your service is properly configured and verify all types of leaks. IP leaks might be inconsistent, so it’s best to check with a few VPN servers.
Here’s how to check if VPN is leaking IP address:
- Step 1: write down your current IP address when you are not connected to a VPN. You can check your real IP address at https://ipleak.net/
- Step 2: Connect to a VPN server you wish to test
- Step 3: Go to ipleak.net and wait until all automatic tests will finish. It is best to run this test on a clean browser session. You can use the Private Window to avoid any false positives as the websites may cache the data.
- Step 4: Check the results. If you are connected to a VPN server and you see your IP address, it means that a VPN is leaking IP address.
- Step 5: Double-check. Use browserleaks to verify your results. This is another great website that can check for any of the leaks a VPN might have.
What to Do if a VPN Is Leaking Your IP Address?
If you noticed that a VPN is leaking your IP or DNS, it is a bad sign. You should immediately change to a VPN with DNS protection. Services like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Surfshark are the best choices for privacy.
It is not much you can do to fix those issues as it depends on the under-the-hood configurations. Changing to a different VPN server might temporarily help, but a root cause can only be fixed by the provider itself. A VPN with an IP leak is unsafe to use.
What to Do In Case of a WebRTC Leak?
As mentioned before, WebRTC is a tricky technology that a VPN can not control. To protect yourself from this leak you can disable it manually or use a VPN browser extension.
The best VPN services have extensions that can easily disable WebRTC with just a button click. Another way is to disable it manually in browser settings.
How to Disable WebRTC on Chrome:
To disable WebRTC leak on chrome you need to install the WebRTC Leak Prevent extension. It will block any IP leaks associated with it, but will not disable it. It modifies privacy and security settings so that you can still use it.
How to Disable WebRTC on Firefox:
- Type into URL field “about:config” and accept the risk
- Type “media.peerconnection.enabled” into a search bar
- Change the value to “false”
- That’s all, you are protected from WebRCT leak on Firefox!
What Happens if Your VPN Leaks?
Your Identity Gets Exposed
A VPN can hide your identity from the websites you visit. It does so by using a VPN server’s IP address on your behalf. If your real IP is leaked then this means your location and your identity is exposed. A leaking VPN can not protect you from being tracked by advertisers or being traced.
Reveals Browsing Habits to ISP
If your DNS requests are leaking this means that ISP knows where exactly you are trying to connect. ISP can read the logs that are stored on the DNS server. All your browsing activity can be traced back to you if the VPN did not handle DNS queries.
You Can Get a Fine For Torrenting
VPN hides your torrent and P2P traffic and data you download. In case of an IP leak, your torrenting can be easily detected. If your ISP catches you sharing copyrighted material you are at risk of getting a fine.
Read more: What Happens If Your VPN Disconnects
IP leaks are common among poorly made VPNs. They can have IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks. To check if your VPN leaks, you need to do a VPN test. It will show if you can trust a VPN with your privacy.
The best VPNs will never leak your IP and provide you the tools to be protected at all times.
Here are some VPNs with IP and DNS leak protection: