In spite of the many advantages that come about as a result of being able to get work done remotely through the Internet, there are still a number of risks that anyone mindful of their work should consider. These risks include attacks from hackers, and even intrusion of privacy from your very own ISP. There are a number of methods through which these hackers can harm you, and a few popular ones include DNS & IP leaks. In this help guide, we’re going to take you through both forms of leaks, and even reveal what you can do to put yourself out of harm’s way. Here’s our IP Leaks vs DNS Leaks guide.
A DNS Leak Explained
The initials DNS stand for Domain Name System. It’s a framework used by machines that are capable of connecting to the internet to translate the addresses that we are familiar with, to numeric forms that are easier for machines to process. This number is what we recognize as the Internet Protocol address (your IP) and it’s your ISP’s job to facilitate that translation.
Any device that connects to the Internet has one, and they are unique to each and every machine. When using a VPN connection, one of the measures taken to hide your identity includes switching your IP address so that nobody is able to trace back your connection to your actual location. Along with this, your VPN also takes your data, traffic and all the information you share online, and sends it through virtual tunnels where any threats to your privacy from government agencies, third parties or any cybercriminals are thwarted.
Depending on the standard of your VPN service, the DNS leaks might be dealt with either through dedicated DNS servers, or other some other public means such as Google DNS. There are some privacy issues that may come about, but they shouldn’t be something that you should worry about. If any of your traffic, unfortunately, gets out of the tunnel created by your VPN service, then you might find yourself in problems. You need a service that promises not to keep track of your browsing history by not keeping logs, so that in case your DNS leaks, it’s still slightly more difficult to track down what you’ve been up to online.
It’s also important that your OS doesn’t mess up and send IPv4 requests through the DNS server provided by your ISP, instead of the one generated by your VPN. This normally happens when a security error arises, where the requests are forwarded to your ISP’s DNS server instead of your VPN’s, and as a result, you get an IP address that points to your exact location.
An IP leak is something similar to a DNS leak, but as the name implies, it’s your IP address that gets exposed. This normally happens when a skilled user takes advantage of an existing program found in some browsers, where the flaw happens to be associated with a framework designed to facilitate communication online, known as WebRTC. It’s used by ill-intentioned users to reveal the victim’s IP address through coding using a platform known as STUN. The platform is a special server which permits equipment that’s on the same network you’re in to expose your IP address.
One particular difference between DNS and IP leaks is the factors that directly influence how well each of the two work. DNS leaks are directly affected by the strength of your VPN service and the security measures in place, while IP leaks depend on how well a user is able to manipulate the WebRTC platform through a STUN server.
Checking for VPN leaks
If you suspect that your connection may be affected by a form of either DNS or IP leaks, or you just want to make sure your connection is in tip-top shape, there’s a way you can check and confirm whether or not this is the case:
- Start by heading to a site that can confirm what your IP address is, like Whatismyip.network.
- Go on and type in your actual IP address, the one provided by your ISP.
- Having done that, search for a reliable VPN provider, sign up for it, then sign in.
- Identify a remote server from another country, and connect to it.
- Head back to the “What Is My IP Address” page and confirm your IP address again like you had done previously.
- If there’s no problem, meaning no IP or DNS leaks, you should see a new address, since you’d just subscribed to a VPN service.
- Now, search for a WebRTC test page, and take note of the IP address that shows up.
- Again, if you get to see your VPN’s address, then you’re alright.
Staying Protected From Any Type Of Leak
If, having conducted our test, you find out that there is a leak, then there’s no cause for alarm since below we have a number of measures you can take to get back to being secure:
Get a VPNCheck Pro – If you’re a Windows user, you can use this software to protect your connection from DNS leaks and other online threats.
Get a VPN with DNS Leak protection – Stay on the lookout for any VPN service that explicitly mentions it’s ability to prevent any form of traffic or data leaving your system through unprotected means.
Configuring VPN on your router – This is more effective since any device getting to the Internet through your router stays protected.
Deactivating WebRTC in your primary browser – Most browsers come with this feature activated, so you’d need to switch it off to stay protected. Safari and Internet Explorer have it deactivated by default, so you’re extra safe if you decide to stick with them. Chrome and Opera users would need to get the ScriptSafe extension to do so, while Firefox users can install the Disable WebRTC add-on.
Conclusion on Preventing IP & DNS Leaks
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t really have that much technological knowledge, then the best way to keep yourself protected would be to subscribe to a credible VPN service. The level of security you get to enjoy depends on a large extent on the VPN service you choose, so you should make your choice knowing exactly what your VPN service is capable of doing for you. For users looking for the highest level of protection even form IP & DNS leaks, then a service such as ExpressVPN is able to ensure that nothing comes between their private connection to the Internet, and none of their data gets stolen or lost. Any comments or feedback you might be having for us? Just leave them in the comment section below and we’ll be happy to respond.