VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) provide an easy way for online anonymity. With just a few clicks, it makes it possible to mask your location and hide your online activity from prying eyes. VPNs aren’t however foolproof; a DNS leak could leave you exposed even when the VPN is ON. DNS (dynamic name system) links IP addresses with the URL a user has visited. The website sends a request to the DNS Server (containing the URL), which then points it to the appropriate IP address.
A VPN provides an anonymous DNS server, thus ensuring the target website or URL doesn’t get your public IP address. In other words, the request isn’t sent directly through your web browser, but the VPN thus making it almost impossible for an attacker or ISP to monitor your connection. A DNS leak occurs when the browser sends a DNS request directly, thus ignoring the VPN. Although the link will seem encrypted or anonymous, the ISP will be able to track your online. This is a risk you wouldn’t want to take, especially if concerned about your security online. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to prevent a DNS leak.
1. Perform a Leak Test
It’s not always easy to identify a DNS leak. Some applications might choose not to use the VPN’s DNS server, hence connect directly via the DNS provided for by the ISP. Running a DNS leak test can however help you determine the status of your connection. All you need to do is visit cryptoip.info to run the test. The test should show whether there’s a leak or not.
2. Change The Default DNS Servers
Your computer will most likely use the default DNS server provided for by your ISP. Changing your DNS server would be a good idea even when you aren’t that concerned about a leak. One of the advantages of changing your DNS is that you will be able to get faster connection speeds. Be sure to choose a DNS server that provides the best performance, security, and prevent DNS leaks.
3. Choose A VPN With DNS Leak Protection
Do this when shopping for a VPN. A good VPN should have this feature already activated, or provide an option on the settings page. VPNs with this feature monitor your connection to ensure there isn’t a DNS leak. All connections are tunneled through the VPN’s server for better efficiency and reliability.
4. Invest In A VPN Monitoring Software
Installing a VPN monitoring software to your system might be the solution for preventing a DNS leak. These software’s are only available in paid options. If concerned about your online security and the possibility of a DNS leak, then a VPN monitoring software is a must-have.
5. Disable Teredo
This feature is prevalent with Windows-based systems. Teredo enables communication between two IP protocols and will at times cause DNS leaks. Disabling teredo can, therefore, help prevent a possible DNS leak. To do this, you’ll need to enter a few commands. Enter into the command space as an administrator, then type ‘netsh interface teredo set state disabled’. Should you want to activate teredo again in the future, simply type ‘netsh interface teredo set type=default’ in CMD.
Simply having a VPN doesn’t guarantee you 100% anonymity online. A DNS leak could leave you exposed to ISPS and other prying eyes. Limiting chances of a DNS Leak by following the tips outlined above can however help prevent this from happening. If you already have a VPN installed, check to see if it offers an option for DNS monitoring for improved functionality. If not, you can invest in a good VPN monitoring software to force all connections through the VPN
What To Look For In A VPN
Encryption And Protocol
There are many reasons for using a VPN and you need to consider which service is best for your needs. Most people who use them are concerned about security. This is why you need to check that the VPN provider offers the best encryption.
When it comes to security, one of the best protocols is OpenVPN which offers both encryption and speed. There are some other protocols as well, but this is considered the most advanced. It is also recommended and used by the top VPN providers.
The Data Logging
Say No To Free
There are some free VPN services out there, but they are generally slow and unreliable. It is also important to note that nothing is really free in this world. A VPN is a server that your computer is tunneling through to access the internet.
This will cost money and if a company is offering the service for free, you will be compromising something else. This could be your data and privacy. If security and privacy are the reasons why you are using a VPN, you would be better off paying each month.
The price of the service will vary depending on the features and the number of connections you get. If you choose a yearly plan, the price will often be more reasonable than the monthly one. You can also test a VPN service with a free trial which is offered by a number of providers.
The Number Of Servers
One of the common reasons to use a VPN is to access geo-restricted content. There are some countries where Facebook and Netflix are restricted. A VPN will be able to help you access them without any issues. There are also some things that are looked on more favorably in certain countries which can be appealing to users such as P2P.
The bottom line with this is to check the locations of the VPN servers before you sign up. You need to ensure that they meet your needs. If you want a VPN to access BBC iPlayer, you need a service that has UK-base servers.
The Number Of Connections Allowed
Another factor to consider is the number of connections the VPN providers allows. You do not want to pay separately for your devices. Many of the providers on the market will offer their services across a number of platforms and allow multiple connections at one. This will generally be for the same low monthly or yearly price.
The Platform Compatibility
The top VPN providers will offer their service on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. However, you still need to ensure that the provider supports all of the platforms that you want to run the service on. Having access to a dedicated app for your platform will make using the VPN much easier.
How to Identify and Prevent DNS Leaks was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.