People use VPN to safeguard their online privacy, to keep them safe from government interference and also the marketers. Moreover, it also comes to use when you want to bypass geographical restrictions, like watching US Netflix from Australia.
Setting up a VPN is not difficult, and when you sign up for a VPN service, you have a sense of trust with them. But security leaks happen quite often. Thus, many users want to know how do I know if my VPN is working and is my VPN secure.
OK then, let’s get you through the VPN security basics and then walk through various tools to check VPN status.
What does a VPN hide?
When you connect to a VPN, it creates a secure tunnel to pass your data through. It hides your real IP address, the one provided by your ISP and also encrypts the data packets transferred. Any website you open sees the IP address of your VPN server and not yours.
And not only the browser traffic, but a VPN should ensure that none of the app data passes without encryption.
There are chances that the requests from java code get bypassed by VPN, and they reveal your actual IP address. Same can happen with the Flash content.
So, a good VPN connection should secure all the exit points of your device network and route the data through its server. And then comes the DNS requests.
Every device has an IP address, and if you want to open a website, your browser must know the website server’s IP address.
And that’s where DNS requests enter the scene. DNS – Domain Name System – is designed to ease up your memory. So, instead of a long numeric code, you have the easy to remember foxtel.com.au.
When you click to open foxtel.com.au, the device sends a DNS request to get the website’s IP address. And if that request goes to your ISP’s DNS server instead of the VPN’s, your ISP knows what you visit.
And this also is the job of a VPN service provider – to secure your DNS queries. So, let’s look at the ways available to test VPN connection online.
Check IP address
The basic test to check VPN status and know it’s running or not is by asking “What is my IP?” to Google. Do this once before and then after connecting to your VPN. You know what to expect, right? If the VPN connection is successful, it should not show your real IP address.
Next, go for a detailed IP address report, to test VPN connection features. While websites like www.whatismyip.com show only your IP address, location and the name of the ISP, others like whoer.net show you everything it knows.
Everything? Yes, pay a visit there. You will see your IP address (of course), ISP, your location, the operating system you are using and your web browser (even its version).
You also get the IP address reported by the Flash and Java applications and also, the browser’s display size.
Do you see the problem here if your VPN does not work as it should? Take the tests with and without your VPN running and check the values. Next step is to know how to test VPN for DNS leaks.
Check DNS Leaks
A simple way to take this online VPN test is to go to www.dnsleaktest.com and opt for the extended test. It lists all the DNS servers; your device sends a request to. Now compare these results after disconnecting from the VPN. If some of the values returned are same, there probably are leaks.
You can also get DNS request details along with other information of your connection at whoer.net and ipleak.net. You can even get details about your torrent traffic, and see if your VPN bypassed it.
How to prevent VPN leaks?
There is no sure shot way but take service from reliable providers like ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN has its DNS servers, so check the settings to see if the option is activated. It will ensure that your entire connection remains within ExpressVPN servers and thus, encrypted.
ExpressVPN download is available for all the devices you probably use, even your routers. Then it also has the OpenVPN security protocol, the most secure encryption algorithm available. You can even check if your data transfer is encrypted or not. Wireshark is one such software to review the details of data packets transferred to and from your device.
Although ExpressVPN servers do not face connection drops, it offers a Kill Switch in case your internet connection drops and reconnects. It is a measure to stop your internet when the VPN server disconnects from you. This will prevent data leaks in case of automatic re-connection.
So, enjoy your privacy without any fear of leaks.