Though virtual private networks (VPNs) offer many advantages as far as security is concerned, there are some small issues to consider. For instance, a VPN won’t connect if the correct ports aren’t opened, or if your Internet service provider blocks access across the entire network. However, the biggest threat is the idea of an IPv6 leak, which can compromise security and allow other entities to control and access your data. In this guide, you will learn what a DNS leak is and how to prevent it from happening with a DNS leak fix. Why is this important? When your VPN doesn’t leak your IP, you know for sure then that your VPN is working.
First, the Basics of DNS Leaks
If you’re not sure what DNS is, you should know that the protocol links IP addresses and domain names. Every domain name has a unique IP, but it’s easier to remember names than numbers. Therefore, the web browser must turn the domain name into an IP address before data can be sent. Typically, the ISP provides DNS services, meaning that a computer communicates with the ISP’s servers to determine a site’s IP. When a VPN is used, you should use the VPN’s DNS servers rather than those of the ISP. However, Windows and other operating systems sometimes use default entries that cause DNS requests to skip the VPN tunnel. This is known as a DNS leak, and it allows the ISP and others to see which sites you connect to.
Spotting or Detecting a DNS Leak
It’s impossible for you to solve a problem unless you’re aware of its existence, but thankfully, with an IPv4 leak test, it’s not difficult to point out a DNS leak. Various online tools allow you to ensure that you are able to detect leaks in your IP address. If you see an IP that displays a location distant from the VPN server, or if IPs from the ISP are shown, an IPv4 leak exists. For IPv6 leaks, you can use test-ipv6.com. IPLeak doesn’t test for IPv6 leaks.
Settings for VPNs
The easiest way to prevent IP leaks is to enable the appropriate setting with the VPN client. Some providers include a check box in the settings menu for this purpose, but others lack such an easy option. Alternatively, you can use VPNCheck stand-alone software. There’s a monthly fee for the unlimited version which is worth it because it provides significant value because it offers an additional layer of DNS leak protection between the user and their ISP. To find out if your ISP is able to access your data when you’re using a VPN, you may need to do a WebRTC leak test with a free online tool such as that found on IPLeak. The WebRTC vulnerability is a massive security flaw that affects Windows OS users only and not Linux or Mac users. It allows website owners to see the real IPs of users even when these users may be using a VPN service. Some VPN companies now offer IP leak protection in their plans. For example, one premium VPN that offers WebRTC leak protection in their plans is Perfect Privacy.
You can also go the free route on your Chrome and Firefox browser simply with an app or configuring the settings. Check out this video for a quick fix to WebRTC leaks on your browser and then double-checking for leaks with IP Leak.
Setting a Static DNS Server
One main reason for DNS leaks is the DHCP mechanism, which assigns DNS servers automatically. This is an issue because the protocol could accidentally connect you to a new server when you switch networks, or as service fluctuates. To prevent these problems, you can use a static server that overrides automatic assignation.
VPN services have dedicated DNS servers and a call to support will yield the servers’ IP addresses. Alternatively, you can assign a static DNS server through OpenDNS or Comodo Secure DNS or you can do an internet search for other open DNS providers’ server IP addresses. Using a static DNS server ensures that the service doesn’t inadvertently get switched to the ISP’s servers via DHCP. By setting the DNS to an open server such as Google’s, you can browse the Internet from almost anywhere without issues and your ISP won’t know a thing.
Despite the advantages of setting a static DNS server, you should proceed with caution if they use the computer in a work environment. In many cases, businesses use their own DNS services that work only for host computers connected to the company’s network. If you bring your personal laptop to work and the network card is statically assigned to use an open DNS server, you won’t be able to use internal company resources without typing the IP address into the web browser, or using an automatically assigned DNS through DHCP.
A Warning for Users of Windows 10
Windows 10’s DNS acts differently than in prior versions of the OS. A new feature, referred to as smart multi-homed name resolution, sends out DNS queries on multiple interfaces. By sending requests to more than one DNS server at a time, Windows 10 finds the fastest routes, resulting in improved web browsing performance. You should disable the setting if you want to use a VPN tunnel without an OpenVPN leak, which lets your internet service provider knowing what’s happening.
The idea behind using a virtual private network is to keep your ISP from snooping around to observe your internet activity. A DNS leak, however, can quickly and easily defeat the VPN’s purpose. It may be a good idea to use a kill switch in case the VPN’s connection unexpectedly drops. While PCs using the Windows OS are more likely to have a DNS leak, Linux and Apple machines aren’t exempt. Therefore, it’s a wise decision to learn how to fix a DNS leak, no matter which operating system you’re using. By learning how to fix DNS leak and how to run an IPv6 leak test, computer users like you will be in a better position to prevent such leaks from exposing your privacy online.