The core principle behind a VPN service is the masking of a users IP address, but sometimes leaks occur. Here, we take a brief look at why IP leaks happen, and what can be done to prevent them.
What's an IP leak, you ask? The clue's in the name
Look, I'm not going to patronize you: if you're here, you probably already know the basics, like what an IP address is and how a VPN service protects it, and you can probably intuit from that what an IP leak is. No, you're not here to be talked to like a pre-schooler, you're here to know how to quickly detect and stop them.
Why do IP leaks happen?
IP leaks happen for a number of reasons, with some of the more common being poor IPv6 integration, poor DNS protection, the very nature of WebRTC communication, and just plain old disconnects. This article isn't about the technical deep dive, so I'm not going to eat up your time explaining the minutia, suffice it to say that if you are facing any of those IP leak issues then it's almost always down to the VPN service itself being subpar.
Any VPN worth its salt will have, or be looking at implementing systems to mitigate these factors, whether that be full IPv6 integration, a kill switch to protect against disconnect leaks, or frankly, just better coding and infrastructure.
How do I find out if I have an IP leak?
The good news is that it's really easy to detect whether you have an IP leak. Simply take yourselves over to any one of the reputable IP leak test sites and run tests with both your VPN connected and disconnected; if any of the IP addresses listed are the same whether the VPN is connected or not, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you've sprung a leak.
How do I fix IP leaks?
The not so good news is there isn't much you can personally do about it as most of it is reliant on your VPN, and the few solutions you can do are neither simple nor comprehensive.
There is one thing you most certainly can do, however, and that's to ditch whatever lame VPN you are currently using and sign up for a better one that won't leak your IP!
There are plenty of factors to account for when choosing what VPN to go with (check out Rebecca's nifty little guide to doing just that), but specifically in terms of IP leak prevention, some of the things you might want to look for in a VPN are:
- full integration and support for IPv6
- strong DNS protection
- accommodations for WebRTC connections
- a kill switch to protect against disconnect leaks
Am I going to recommend you get Windscribe? Obviously! I think we've got a really good product, and a great team. That doesn't mean I won't also tell you to check out your options and make your own decision on it - just be sure you get the best protection for you, and avoid those IP leaks!