What are IP and DNS Leaks in a VPN Service?

3 min

A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best tools we have today to protect our privacy online. When you use a VPN to surf the web, it effectively hides your IP address and takes over the task of sending DNS queries. This tunneling action protects your identity and privacy online and makes your web activities less vulnerable.

Let’s take some time to understand what IP leaks and DNS leaks are and why it is critical for VPNs to prevent them.

What is an IP Leak?

In cybersecurity, an IP leak is a phenomenon in which your IP address is exposed in your network while connected to a VPN service. Your IP address then is visible to your internet service provider (ISP), the websites you visit, and attackers if they intercept your network connection.

IP leak is an undesired event and occurs due to a fault in the privacy software being used. If you’re using a VPN or a proxy service, your IP address should be ideally hidden throughout the session. 

How Do IP Leaks Occur?

IP leaks can occur due to a deficiency in service provided by privacy software. If the software in question fails to route your connection through another server, your connection can become vulnerable.

Poor tunneling infrastructure, high latency, use of undedicated or virtual servers, and servers going offline are some common causes of IP leaks.

The trouble with an IP leakage is that you may not even realize it. The privacy software in question will still be on, but your IP address will not be hidden. 

IP leaks can be either temporary or permanent. This is one reason why you should periodically check your privacy software for IP leaks.

How to Avoid IP Leaks?

IP leak is a fault in the functioning of a VPN and not something that is solved by it. Cloaking your IP address with another is one of the VPN’s primary jobs. 

If you notice an IP leak in your secured VPN connection, you should immediately contact your provider. If IP leaks are frequent, we recommend switching to another provider.

It is worth noting that VPNs are better equipped to hide your IP address than other privacy software like proxies. In that case, a good-quality VPN can better protect you from IP exposure.

What is a DNS Leak?

Domain name system (DNS) is a registry of IP addresses that your network connection uses to find other websites, servers, and computers on the internet. When you type in a website URL on a browser, it sends a DNS query to find out the IP address of that website. Usually, this is handled by your ISP.

However, when you’re protected by a VPN or any other privacy software, these DNS queries are handled by their server and not by your ISP. This way, your ISP or any other entity cannot know what websites you’re visiting. (Note that ISPs can still snoop on you.)

DNS leak occurs when DNS queries are handled by your ISP when they should instead be handled by your VPN’s servers. It means that your VPN is malfunctioning, making you vulnerable, similar to the case during an IP leak.

DNS leaks are as problematic as IP leaks because they can expose your web activities such as the websites you visit. ISPs generally are toothless when you are under a tunnel, but a DNS leak gives them direct access. And if your ISP can access your traffic, an attacker can too.

How Do DNS Leaks Occur?

DNS leaks occur the same way IP leaks do. Poor VPN infrastructure and servers going offline are the most common causes of DNS leaks. The VPN switching off automatically or not being able to tunnel your connection are other reasons. In other words, a DNS leak restores your original network connection, making you vulnerable.

DNS leaks cannot be detected unless you test your VPN. For this reason, we recommend you test your VPN regularly. 

How to Avoid DNS Leaks?

A VPN with physical RAM servers and a strong infrastructure will rarely cause DNS leaks. As long as the servers are online, your VPN connection keeps working and encrypts your web traffic.

Advanced encryption offered by such VPNs also improves the overall security of your connection. Even if an attacker manages to intercept your traffic, all they’ll see is gibberish code. However, if the tunnel switches off or the VPN stops the encryption, you will be exposed.

Some VPNs have a kill switch that automatically shuts off your internet connection when it detects a service malfunction. This feature can also help in preventing DNS and IP leaks.

Therefore, the key to avoiding IP and DNS leaks is to choose a high-quality VPN that offers advanced encryption, physical servers, and features like a kill switch. Try TuxlerVPN today to enjoy strong VPN protection through a residential IP network.

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