If you spent the money subscribing to a virtual private network to use on mac, windows, or other device, then obviously you want the service to protect your identity and encrypt your data and web traffic. In some cases, if you VPN fails you could face criminal prosecution depending on the censorship laws in your country.
As such it is crucial that you find out if your virtual private network connection might be leaking your IP address or similarly sensitive data. Unfortunately, in recent years there have been a variety of possible hacks and bypasses that can penetrate a VPN’s powerful encryption.
So, you might ask yourself, ‘how do I know if my VPN is working?’. Luckily, we have an answer. There are a few easy steps you can take to find out quickly. First, write down your IP address. If you do not know it, then you can find it easily online on a website like https://whatismyipaddress.com.
Next, visit your VPN and connect to a different country. Make sure that you establish the connection. Now, revisit the https://whatismyipaddress.com website and check what your IP address is currently. It should be a different number then it was before since you are flying under the radar.
If your IP address did not change during the process, then you know that new software implemented by cybercriminals and sites like Google Chrome and Firefox currently bypass your VPN encryption code.
So, now you know the answer to the question ‘how do I know if my VPN is working?’. If you found out that your VPN failed the test, then do not panic. There are steps you can take to regain your security. We will walk you through some of the more popular methods.
But first, we need to understand why these security openings in VPNs occur so frequently lately. Let us take a closer look at what causes most breeches, specifically web real-time communication.
What Causes The Breeches In Virtual Private Networks?
So why the sudden breakdown in security for the previously secure VPNs? What causes these issues? A recent development most of the top browsers like Google, Firefox and Opera implemented known as WebRTC is likely the cause of the problems.
WebRTC, which stands for Web Real-Time Communication, is a standard feature that comes turned on by default in most browser types. Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless feature can cut right through the security of a virtual private network.
If you find that the feature is turned on in your browser setting, then any site or party can access your IP address even when you use your virtual private network. While this flaw might not seem like a big deal, your IP address leads someone to your internet service provider which can lead them to your address.
Streaming companies like Netflix and Hulu are already on the lookout for VPN users bypassing their location restrictions, so it is not a stretch to assume that these companies while start using WebRTC to root people out from their service.
What Are Some Other Ways I Can Find Out If My Virtual Private Network Works?
If you still are not sure whether or not your VPN works, then you should use one of the multiple websites online that allows you to perform a basic security test on your server. In particular, we recommend ipleak.net as a good source for a free trial.
You can perform a test with the service by doing the following actions. First, make sure you possess a stable connection with the virtual private network server you use. Next, load ipleak.net on your browser. Once you load the plug, interrupt your internet connection by manually disengaging (unplugging the cord).
Once you finish this step, then turn your internet back on and run a few websites before checking back on ipleak.net. The site will inform you if any leaks occurred when the internet service stopped. However, keep in mind that this test is a basic one and may not reveal all the problems affecting your VPN.
How Do I Secure My Virtual Private Network After Discovering A Leak?
Now that we know the leading cause of most of the virtual private network breeches let us take at some of the ways we can prevent it from happening in the future.
1) Turn Off the WebRTC Feature On Your Search Engine
As we mentioned before the WebRTC feature on browsers like Google, Opera and Firefox (which allows remote sites access around your VPN to your IP address) come turned on by default. Luckily, there are some ways around this forced feature.
The easiest method for bypassing the WebRTC involves switching to a different internet search browser that does not come with web real-time communication enabled by default. Internet Explorer and Safari are two sites that do not yet come with the invasive feature already equipped.
However, some people might prefer sticking to the browser they usually use. If you fall under this category, then fear not! There are still ways you can use your VPN effectively while still using your browser.
If you use Opera and Chrome, then you can install an extension from the app store called ScriptSafe. By downloading this extension, you effectively disable the real web time communication feature from these two browsers.
Firefox also uses a downloaded extension, though it comes with a different name. Install the Disable WebRTC Add-On from the Firefox add-on store. Like ScriptSafe, this feature will turn off the real-time web communication.
2) Use Your Router to Re-Configure Your VPN
If you want to try a more hands-on approach than merely changing some settings, then you can re-configure your VPN from your computer to your router. One of the best things associated with this method is that it protects all the devices connect to your home network.
This feature means that any smartphones, tablets or other devices which you connect to your home wifi network also receive the same protection from the virtual private network server. However, you should know that this method also comes with some setbacks.
For example, it makes changing countries via exit servers much more difficult. If you like jumping from England to Japan when accessing different television shows, then you will find that it takes a much longer amount of time.
You can still change locations by tweaking, but this process can either be incredibly tricky or incredibly easy depending on the type of router you use.
If you want to re-configure your router, then login to the device’s admin page. Go to the security section, and you should see a section where you can type in the name of your VPN provider.
3) Use Onion Over VPN
Some services, like NordVPN, offer a new service that utilizes the security of the virtual private network and the community-run TOR (or Onion) network. The Onion network works a lot like a VPN server, in that it encrypts information. However, the Onion network does it along multiple volunteer nodes.
The Onion network also comes with some significant problems. It only runs on HTTP traffic, which can mean you cannot go in the deep web with it. Your internet service provider also knows when you use the Onion network, which kind of defeats the purpose of it.
However, if you use the service in tandem with a virtual private network, then they can fill in each other's blind spots. With the NordVPN service, you do not even need to sign up for the public Onion network; the service comes included in the deal.
This inclusion means you do not need to worry about service providers knowing that you use the Onion network. First, the information passes through the Onion and then the VPN, which ensures that almost nobody can gain access to the information you send.
4) Sign Up for a Different, More Secure VPN Service
The sad reality is that many VPN service does not offer the level of security they promise. Unfortunately, the service that many cheaper VPN companies offer presents only the illusion of safety. However, that does not mean that all virtual private network service is not reliable.
There are many out there that offer excellent protection against VPN attacks. In particular, we recommend ExpressVPN and Perfect Privacy as two options that provide advanced leak-proof protection.
We hope this article helped you answer the question ‘how do I know if my VPN is working?’. If you find out that someone infiltrated your virtual private network, then do not panic. There is some easy way you can defend it from future attacks. Just follow the advice on this article carefully, and you will be fine.