VPN Leaks: How Can You Test and Fix Them?

ByTop10.com StaffApr. 10, 2019
How to protect yourself from VPN data leaks
There are many reasons for VPN leaks to happen, and because a leaking VPN is the same as no VPN at all, taking care of the problem is important. A leaky VPN defeats the purpose of hiding your IP and securing your data while browsing online or using public WiFi.

When a leak happens, your true location and activities are exposed and accessible by cybercriminals, government agencies, and ISPs. A leaky VPN is like an inverted vacuum cleaner: Instead of helping you clean an area, it blows out all dirt.

If you want to know everything about VPN leaks, then you have come to the right place.

What is a VPN leak? 

In some cases, it is possible for the VPN you are using to fail in protecting your device’s Domain Name System (DNS) queries or hiding your location. This can happen despite the fact that your traffic is being concealed by the VPN tunnel. When this happens, unauthorized entities can easily check your browsing history and app usage.

Think of DNS as the internet’s address book. If it gets compromised, everything you do online is

affected to some degree. Your browser, for example, uses your DNS to locate servers that store and operate the sites and/or services you visit. Your device, on the other hand, sends queries to the server, which in turn sends directions back to what you are searching for. A compromised DNS can present a huge privacy risk.

So, how does it happen and why?

There are many reasons why VPNs leak. It can be due to DNS server issues or conflict

with the WebRTC API, both of which can easily put your true location in the spotlight. The trickiest part is that this can happen when you least expect it and without warning.

You might think your VPN connection is strong and working because you do not receive any

notification about an error whatsoever. Without even being aware, government agencies, ISPs, and even cybercriminals might be feasting on your personal information.

You can never worry too much about protecting your personal data. That is why finding not just a VPN that works, but one that is really airtight, is imperative. A trustworthy VPN should be able to guarantee you that leaks will not happen. 

What are the risks?

Under normal circumstances, your VPN is expected to protect your anonymity by scrambling all

information you work with online and using an alternate location to replace your geographically

traceable IP address.

Let’s say the aforementioned process fails to happen when your internet connection becomes

unstable. As such, the link between you and the VPN service is broken. The connection, on the other hand, will simply revert to your original IP address and all those activities or information you browse online can be as visible as a plain text.

It goes without saying that a VPN leak exposes your privacy and injures data protection. This also means that your activity and data are exposed to the ever-prying eyes of ISP providers,

government agencies, and hackers.

How do I know if my VPN is leaking?

For every action there is a reaction and the reaction for a VPN leak is a VPN leak detection tool, of course. There are lots of them out there and most are free to use. Here are some of the ones we know (click on each of them to be redirected to their product page):  

Now, here is a quick step-by-step guide on how you can check VPN leakage. It is a pretty straightforward process and it should not take much of your time. Visit a site that can tell your actual IP address. A popular site that you can use is What Is My IP Address. Again, remember to jot down your actual IP address, the one that your internet service provider assigned you.

Log in to your go-to VPN and select an exit server in a different country (although you may

use whichever exit server you feel like using). From there, click on the ‘connect’ button.

Visit What Is My IP Address again—or whatever site you prefer to get your IP address—and check your IP address. Since you are using a VPN—and provided it is working as intended—you should now see a completely different IP address; the one corresponding to the VPN you are using and the country you chose.

Now go to Roseler’s WebRTC test page and jot down the IP address displayed on it.

If both of the tools mentioned above are able to display your VPN’s IP address, then there is nothing to worry about. You are in the clear. But if the What Is My IP Address site shows your VPN and the WebRTC test page displays your normal IP address, then one thing is for sure: You have a VPN leak. All your online activity and your IP address are displayed for the world to see.

How Can I Stop VPN Leaks?

If you did the steps above and found out that your VPN is leaking, then you certainly need to stop it. Fortunately, there are ways to stop VPN leaks right from the get-go. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Diagnosing the Leak—When your computer uses the default setting and is not even routing, say, DNS applications through your VPN’s DNS server, you may not be able to identify this as a leak right away. That is why performing a leak test by following the above-mentioned steps is the best first step. Let’s say you use CryptoIP. After running the test, you should be able to know if there is a DNS leak status and continue accordingly.
  •  Changing DNS Servers: Your default DNS server is typically the one that your ISP gave you. If you do not want your ISP to see what you are doing online, you just need to change your DNS server. 
  • Using VPN Monitoring Software: The good news is that some software—particularly those that monitor VPNs—offer support in the event of a leak. The not-so-good news is that this feature is likely to be available in the premium version only. If you opt to pay for the premium version, the option for VPN monitoring should be perfect if you are concerned about online security hacking or a DNS leak.
  • Using VPN With DNS Leak Protection: There are VPNs designed specifically to allow the monitoring of your DNS requests, ensuring that they all go through the VPN instead of the ISP. Keep in mind that the latter is reportedly the most common cause of leaks. To check if your VPN offers this, go to the settings and check if there is an option for checking and preventing VPN leaks. You may also want to contact your VPN provider directly to know more about this capability.
  • Disabling Teredo: This Windows-based technology is capable of allowing communication across 2 IP protocols. Unfortunately, this tool has been proven time and again to cause leaks. So if you’ve got one hanging around, you may want to disable it for good. To disable Teredo, you just need to open up the command space and enter this command: “netsh interface teredo set state disabled” (quotation marks not included). If you want to activate it again, you just need to enter this command: ““netsh interface teredo set state type=default” (quotation marks not included).

Many individuals use a VPN to make their information secure. While this is a good way to protect your information while online, it is still possible for leaks to happen. If you want to prevent and stop a leak from happening, make sure to perform the necessary tasks mentioned in this article.

Sure, not every leak has catastrophic repercussions, but you never know when the risk is lurking around the corner, so make a habit of protecting your personal information by using an airtight VPN.