Virtual Private Networks are the number one solution when it comes to protecting yourself on the Internet. The rising trend of using VPNs has resulted in a large industry growth. Nevertheless, the more VPN service providers there are on the market, the higher the chances are of you running into a faulty one. Not all of them were created with the intent of keeping the Internet a safe place. Some VPN service providers are here solely for the profit. In fact, they will offer you much more than they can deliver, putting you in a dangerous situation.

When it comes to good VPN providers, the idea is that they should provide you with full protection from online threats, including doxxing, hackers, or surveillance from any kind. Besides, they are a great way of reaching content from all over the world which has been censored or blocked.

Unfortunately, sometimes, without realizing, your VPN provider might be leaking important data. As a matter of fact, there are three types of VPN leaks, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.

So, what’s the difference between these three?

What is a DNS Leak?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. It’s a system that translates the IP address into a URL address. In a way, it simplifies the Internet. When you try to enter a website, the DNS server receives a request with the URL that you typed in and points it to the correct IP address. It allows you to then access the website you’ve been trying to reach. These requests are usually processed through your ISP’s DNS servers, allowing them to sneak into your privacy. They can see what kind of websites you are visiting, and store some usage logs in the process. But, if you are connected to a VPN these DNS requests will be routed through your VPN provider’s servers instead.

However, your VPN can leak your DNS. This can both put you in danger and prevent you from accessing Geo-blocked content.

Overall, DNS leaks are exposing your Internet Service Provider address (not yours), which can be easily tracked back to you and used by third-parties to collect your browsing history.

What Are WebRTC Leaks?

WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communication. It’s an open-source project that allows your browser a direct P2P communication with other browsers, without the need for an intermediate server. It can be used for web applications such as video chat, live streaming, or file transfer. Its biggest advantage is its speed. However, in order for two browsers to be able to communicate, they need to know each other’s IP addresses. Therefore WebRTC can expose your real IP address, even if you are using a good VPN provider.

Needless to say, as previously mentioned, keeping yourself protected and anonymous on the Internet would be impossible if your real IP address was visible to third side parties. The good news is that it’s really easy to protect yourself from WebRTC leaks, but we’ll get into that later.

All in all, a WebRTC leak is when the WebRTC open-source technology on your browser reveals your real IP address. It’s more of a browser problem than of a VPN leak.

What Are IPv6 Leaks?

IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6. It allows communication and data transfer over the Internet. To understand IPv6 leaks, first, we need to distinguish IPv6 from IPv4 protocol. IPv6 is the newer, upgraded version of Internet Protocol. An interesting difference between the two is that IPv4 addresses contain four number strings with three digits in each, separated by dots. On the other hand, IPv6 consists of eight numbered strings, each containing four characters mixed with numbers and letters, separated by colons. Basically, IPv6 is the future of IP addresses and the solution of never running out of them. However, the problem appears when some VPN providers handle only IPv4 requests. So, when your ISP uses IPv6 but your VPN provider doesn’t, these leaks can occur. This way, a third party can easily reveal your identity. Although they are not that common, as the world is very slowly adapting to IPv6, you should still be aware of the problem.

Bottom line, IPv6 leaks occur when your IP address is leaked by your VPN provider. It happens when your ISP uses IPs6 addresses, while your VPN can only handle IPs4 requests. 

How to Protect Yourself from Leaks

The first step towards protecting yourself from these leaks is by knowing that they exist. Many VPN users are not aware that their provider might be leaking important information. Considering this, my advice would be to search for online tools that can help you with that. They will show you which IP address appears while you are using the Internet. Check your IP address both with and without using a VPN. If it’s the same one, then we’ve got bad news for you.

Because these three are different, it’s important to note that if you want to protect yourself from WebRTC leaks, you can simply disable it from your browser.

For the other two, a great way is by finding a VPN that offers this kind of protection. Some of the best VPN providers in the industry have DNS and IPv6 leak protection, or even a WebRTC leak protection, built in their features.

Additionally, before deciding on purchasing a VPN provider, make sure they have a free trial in which you can test its functionality and whether or not it can keep you protected on the Internet.