The whole idea behind using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is to keep your online identity safe and anonymous. Unfortunately, not every provider will deliver what was promised, so you might want to check whether your VPN is leaking your information.

Every person using the Internet can be easily identified by their IP address, revealing every bit of personal and private information, including passwords, the content you visited, payment details, and much more. One of the basic means of protection of a VPN consists of masking or changing your IP address, making it untraceable for your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The success of a good provider lies mostly in this ability.

Although the reasons for using a VPN are numerous, one of the most important ones is precisely this – masking your IP address. By successfully doing so, you will be able to access Geo-blocked content, to keep all of your online data safe from your ISP and prying eyes, to escape governmental restrictions, and much more. However, if your VPN provider can’t guarantee leak protection, all of this goes down the drain. So, what exactly are VPN leaks, how do they happen, and what should you do in order to avoid them?

DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks

In order to know whether your VPN is leaking, first, you need to know the types of leaks that might put you in danger and how they happen.

IP leak. As was briefly mentioned before, without a VPN you use the IP address that your ISP has provided for you. This means that all of your online data can be traced and stored by your provider, including personal information that you would rather keep private.

Using a VPN means that you can mask your real IP address with a different one given to you by your VPN provider. This way only you and your VPN server can have access to this information. Of course, in case your VPN is not leaking.

Let’s say that you want to access Hulu, which can only be accessed in the US. In order to do that from another location, you need to use a US server that will appear as if you are located there yourself. But if you have a problem connecting, it means that the service is tracking your original IP address, rather than the one from your VPN server. To be more precise, your VPN is leaking.

DNS leak. A Domain Name Service (DNS) is a way of simplifying our access to the Internet, by making it possible to type words instead of numbers for the website we want to visit. Therefore, a DNS job is to translate these words (basically the URL) into the numeric identifier (IP address). The process is called a DNS resolution. When you use a VPN provider, this DNS resolution should take place on the servers given by your VPN, and if not, then your real IP address can easily be tracked. This is just a simple way of explaining a DNS leak, but in reality, it’s much more complicated.

WebRTC. WebRTC or Web Real-Time Communication is an application programming interface (API) that allows voice and video chats, as well as P2P file sharing between browsers, without the need of an intermediate server. There are a few benefits when using a WebRTC, however, VPN users need to be careful. For two devices to communicate via WebRTC they need to know each other’s real IP addresses, which means that a third-party website might exploit this and detect your real IP address.

Is your VPN affected?

If you want to be sure that you are completely safe when using a VPN provider, then you need to test it. Doing this is as simple as it gets. The only thing you need to do is visit a website that has these leak tests, such as “What is my address”. Even some VPN websites offer this kind of tracking. For example, on Perfect Privacy’s website, you can check for IP, DNS, WebRTC, and MS leaks.

Make sure you check before and after logging into your VPN account. If you see the same address before and after connecting, then we have bad news for you. It’s time to change your provider and invest your money in a better and more secure one.

Many VPNs in their feature package include leak protection, and a large number of them deliver this. However, don’t believe everything you see. The best thing you can do is try a VPN provider for free before deciding on buying it. If they don’t offer a free trial, make sure it has a money-back policy. Additionally, don’t trust free providers, because chances are they won’t grant you a secure protection. If your privacy and personal information are at stake, you need to do everything in order to protect them. Don’t you agree?