VPN tests are great for security, but one of the biggest reasons many people use one is to mask or change IP addresses. This lets you get around location-based restrictions on the content or check if your provider is throttling your connection.
A Virtual Private Network is great for encrypting your data and boosting security, but it’s also useful to obscure your IP address. Your IP address is assigned to your internet connection by your service provider. It can reveal who your service provider is and where you’re located. If you’ve ever visited YouTube and seen “Sorry, this video isn’t available in your country.” You may try to sign up for a new service only to find out your country isn’t supported, your IP address is how they know. Many people use VPNs specifically to get around those location restrictions. When you sign in to a VPN test, usually, you can choose an “exit server” or a location your VPN test will “pretend” you’re actually located. Usually, that’s enough to convince a service you’re in a supported country.
You might think that by using a popular and leading VPN test solution, you ensure that your IP address and online activities remain concealed. To verify that your information and identity are indeed safely concealed, you need to check that your system is not vulnerable to IP or DNS leaks and stop IP leaks you come across in your tests. There are many available websites and services online for Canadian consumers who can quickly test whether your system is leaking into your DNS traffic or IP address. Once on a Canadian service website, you can click here to learn more about how to use the IP leak testing tool.
Whichever Website or Service Site You Use, The Steps Are Basically The Same:
- Disconnect your VPN client and point your web browser to the testing website.
- Make a note of your public IP and DNS server address displayed.
- Connect your VPN client and go to the same website. Make sure to refresh the page.
Once connected to a VPN, the website should not display your previously noted IP or DNS server. If it does, you are suffering from a privacy leak in your system.
Below are some common causes, as well as fixes, to the leak in your privacy
Browser IP leaks
The most common cause of IP leaks is a browser vulnerability that uses WebRTC. WebRTC is an API that allows web applications to run without using any installed extensions or plugins. In this situation, both your real IP address and VPN IP address can be exposed. It’s worryingly easy to embed such a code on a supposedly innocent website.
There are two ways to prevent WebRTC from putting your privacy at risk:
- Set proper firewall rules that block requests made outside your established VPN connection.
- Disable WebRTC in the supported browsers.
IP address leaking from the VPN Test
Even with a VPN test connection active, you should never rely on the DNS server. As provided by your ISP because your privacy could be at risk. Another scenario in which your VPN service provider could be the culprit for a leak is when it doesn’t support IPv6. Unfortunately, the worldwide adoption of the newer IPv6 protocol has been too slow. Some major websites support both of these protocols and serve the appropriate channel as per the client system. The issue arises when a VPN test service provider doesn’t support IPv6 and, instead of addressing the problem, just ignores it.
To stop your IP address leaking through your VPN connection, make sure you do the following:
- Use a VPN that provides a dedicated DNS server and built-in DNS leak protection.
- Use a VPN that supports IPv6 or at least one that offered some kind of workaround for this.
- Disabling IPv6 in the OS manually.
DNS Leaking from the operating system
As much as people love or hate Microsoft products, the reality is that a majority of people use Windows as their main desktop operating system. However, there are some nuances you need to be aware of when using a VPN on Windows. The first in order is the HOST file, where you can specify DNS mappings.
If these will not be available, the operating system will use the network connection configured DNS servers. Also, if they also fail to resolve the requested URL, the request will then be sent to Netbios. So if the highest priority DNS server is able to resolve the request, Windows does not consult other servers. In the case of Windows 10, requests will be sent out to all available network adaptors. Whichever DNS server responds first, get to direct your browser to its target web address. The DNS resolution requests might still go to your ISP’s server, leaving you completely vulnerable. To prevent this type of leak, take the following steps:
- Disable Teredo tunneling
- Turn off the Windows 10 optimization by disabling smart-multi homed name resolution in the group policy editor.
To ensure your IP address is truly private and secure, VPN tests are a great solution. However, the VPN test is very important to keep in mind. Just like any piece of technology, their VPN test effectiveness should be regularly checked. This will allow for maximum efficiency.