Have you heard about DNS leaks? The security flaw can result in your online privacy getting compromised without you knowing about it! In this article, we’ll go over what DNS leaks are, how they’re caused, how to check for them, and what you can do to prevent these types of leaks from happening. But before we delve into those details, let’s revisit what DNS is:
What is DNS?
The Domain Name System (DNS) is what allows us to browse the internet in an easy and quick manner. It’s responsible for converting domain names such as “google.com” or “facebook.com” into IP addresses and the other way around.
Here’s how it works: When you enter a website name in your browser, your device sends a query to the DNS server, asking for its IP address. The DNS server responds with the IP address, which enables your device to connect to the site you want to visit.
What is a DNS Leak?
A DNS leak typically takes place while using a VPN service on your computer or phone. When you connect to one on the VPN’s servers, all your internet traffic is transmitted through an encrypted tunnel, including your DNS requests.
However, this doesn’t always happen. DNS leaks can cause your requests to be sent via the default DNS servers owned by your internet service provider (ISP). As a result, your true IP address and online activity become visible to everyone.
How Does this Affect You?
If a DNS leak occurs, your internet traffic is no longer private because your ISP can view your DNS requests. Do you know what that means? They’ll be able to tell what sites you’re visiting, apps you’re using, and basically everything you’re doing online.
That’s not all, though. A DNS leak also uncovers your real geolocation along with details about your ISP, such as name and location. It may not seem like a big deal, but that’s precisely the type of information hackers can use to target you and your device.
Common Causes of DNS Leaks
Now that you know what DNS leaks are and why they’re bad for your online privacy, you might be wondering how these leaks happen? We’ve outlined a few potential reasons for DNS leaks below:
- Improper manual VPN configuration.
- Built-in OS features like the Smart Multi-Homed Name Resolution on Windows.
- The VPN service doesn’t have robust DNS leak protection.
- Incorrect network configuration.
- The VPN service doesn’t support IPv6 addresses.
How to Check If You Have a DNS Leak
If you want to test if your VPN connection is DNS leak-free, there are many tools available for this purpose. Just follow these simple steps to check if you’re experiencing DNS leaks:
- Connect to your VPN service.
- Open any DNS leak test site.
- If the displayed IP address and location match the VPN server you selected, go ahead and take the Standard or Extended Test.
- The results shouldn’t show any DNS server that belongs to your ISP. If so, your internet traffic is private. If not, your DNS is leaking!
How to Prevent DNS Leaks
Don’t want to fall victim to DNS leaks? Here are some things you can do to prevent and/or fix a DNS leak:
- Choose a VPN service that offers apps for all platforms to eliminate the risk of improper manual configuration.
- If you’re using Windows 10 or below, you may be exposed to DNS leaks due to the Smart Multi-Homed Name Resolution feature. Therefore, you’re better off disabling it.
- Don’t settle for a VPN service without robust DNS leak protection. You’ll come across many VPN review sites that evaluate VPN providers across various areas, including IP leaks.
- If your DNS leak is triggered because you regularly hop between different networks, configuring your VPN service to only use the DNS servers provided by them should solve the issue.
- Switch to an IPv6-capable VPN service or one that will give you the option to block IPv6 traffic altogether.
As you can see, DNS leaks are disastrous for your online privacy. By following our advice above, though, you can stay safe from these leaks and browse the internet safely and privately.