The Different Types of VPN Leaks

The Different Types of VPN Leaks
The Different Types of VPN Leaks

VPNs are an excellent way of protecting your online anonymity, accessing geo-blocked content, and much more. All this is done primarily by hiding your IP (Internet Protocol) address, which is how your device is recognized by websites and services you access, and the most basic form of your online identity. below in this article, we will cover The Different Types of VPN Leaks.

Unfortunately, certain software and even hardware implementations can betray you, bypassing the anonymity offered by VPNs. Here’s how a VPN without proper leak protections can expose your identity online. 

IPv4 Leaks

IPv4 is simply the name for the previous standard of the IP protocol. You may recognize IPv4 addresses by this example format: 192.168. 1.5. Now, this isn’t a “leak” as much as a sign that you aren’t connected to a VPN server or your VPN client simply doesn’t work for whatever reason.

As for the following leak type, it’s important to note that IPv4 addresses have run out as of 2019. There are simply too many devices with Internet capabilities nowadays, and IPv4 could not keep up with that growth. IPv6 was created to address that problem, though adoption of the new standard has been slow.

IPv6 Leaks

The reason your VPN could leak your IPv6 address (if your ISP even supports it at the moment) is exactly because of IPv6’s slow deployment. Until IPv6 becomes the true standard, ISPs are forced to support both IPv4 and IPv6 connections at the same time.

VPN providers haven’t been in a hurry to adapt either, so your IPv6 traffic could end up being routed through your ISP instead of your VPN client. Yes, that basically means only your IPv4 address is anonymized, leaving your IPv6 traffic exposed to your ISP and any websites you visit.

The only real solution to these leaks is to disable IPv6 traffic on your device completely, or to use a VPN with leak protection. Of course, the latter usually just means that the VPN client forces all network traffic to go through IPv4.

WebRTC Leaks

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is a feature that allows for audio and video communication directly through your browser. However, the way it’s built allows websites to perform what are known as STUN requests to see both your VPN server’s and your real IP address.

This vulnerability is limited to Windows, and fortunately there are ways to counteract it even if your VPN doesn’t have built-in WebRTC leak protection. Chrome and Firefox users may use script-blocking add-ons such as NoScript or ScriptSafe to block the requests.

Alternatively, there are browser extensions specifically made to block WebRTC requests. Of course, they are much more limited in scope, but work well enough if you don’t want to bother with the learning curve of a script-blocker.

DNS Leaks

It’s no secret that ISPs don’t have the best intentions in mind when it comes to your browsing data. There was a whole FTC investigation around major ISPs selling their customers’ browser and location history. With that in mind, you don’t want your VPN to leak your Domain Name System (DNS) requests.

What DNS does is translate a link you’d use to access a website (say, into an IP address. This makes it less cumbersome to browse the web, as nobody wants to type in all those numbers just to watch some cat videos.

Normally, DNS requests go through your ISP’s DNS servers, but a VPN will use their own servers to avoid this and protect your privacy. Still, operating system features like Windows SMHNR or improper network configuration could lead to your DNS requests going through to your ISP, anyway. And well, you’ve seen what happens if they do.

How to check for VPN Leaks

It can be a pain to verify all these various settings on your own. Moreover, trying to disable stuff like SMHNR in Windows 10 to prevent DNS leaks might not even work half the time. Not to mention Microsoft’s OS updates tend to reset your settings on a whim.

Luckily, you don’t need to go through the hassle. It’s easier to deal with the problem if you’re aware what it is from the start. So don’t hesitate to use this ProPrivacy tool to check your VPN for leaks of any kind, all in under a minute.

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