What Is a VPN Leak?
A ‘leak’ is when your VPN exposes personal information that could be traced back to your true identity. This typically refers to your IP address, DNS information, or geographic location.
VPN leaks reveal your identity and activity to your ISP, government, and any other third party monitoring your connection. For this reason, a leaking VPN is fundamentally useless.
You undoubtedly want to keep this information private, so VPN providers market themselves accordingly. The truth is, however, that most VPN protocols were not actually designed with privacy in mind.
By default, most protocols send DNS requests to default servers. They leak IPv4 traffic when forced to reconnect, and they are usually completely oblivious to IPv6 traffic. Only the VPNs specifically developed to offset these problems will offer you protection.
Here is a summary of the four main types of VPN leak:
- IP Address leaks: IP leaks occur when your VPN fails to mask your personal IP address with one of its own. This is a significant privacy risk as your ISP and any websites you visit will be able to link your activity to your identity.
- DNS leaks: A VPN is supposed to route your DNS requests to its own DNS servers. If your VPN routes these requests to your ISP’s DNS servers instead, it’s called a DNS leak. This exposes your browsing activity and any websites you visit to any other eavesdroppers.
- WebRTC leaks: WebRTC is a browser-based technology that allows audio and video communications to work inside web pages. WebRTC has clever ways of discovering your true IP address even if a VPN is on. The best VPNs block WebRTC requests.
- IPv6 leaks: IPv6 is a new form of IP address that is not currently supported by most VPNs. Unless a VPN supports or actively blocks IPv6, your personal IPv6 address can be exposed if you’re on an IPv6-enabled network.
To find out if your VPN is working as it should, you can run your own basic test at home using our VPN and Torrent IP leak testing tool. It requires very little technical knowledge and takes just a matter of minutes.
You can also conduct a basic manual test for IP leaks using our What Is My IP checker tool.
Simply check your IP address before and after connecting to a VPN server – if your IP address doesn’t change, your VPN isn’t working.