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Maybe you have heard of DNS leak but you are not quite sure what it is and how it can affect your security online. In this post, we will explain how you can detect, prevent and fix DNS leaks.
But first, let’s see what a DNS is.
DNS or Domain Name System is the internet’s equivalent of a phonebook. When you type any URL, you will be first directed to the DNS server which searches for the correct IP address of that specific URL or domain name. So basically, they maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Usually, your internet service provider (ISP) is the one to provide the DNS servers and by that, they are able to monitor all your online activity.
A DNS leak is an issue with the network configuration resulting in privacy loss, where anyone can see the full list of websites and apps you use by sending DNS queries over insecure links. When using a VPN service, the URL you are searching for is not directly passed to your ISP. Instead, it uses an anonymous DNS server, hiding your activity from the ISP. The DNS requests are vital for Internet communication. When you make a DNS query, you are basically making a request to translate the name of a server for example, www.gmail.com, into an IP address. When you connect to a VPN, all your traffic will pass through a safe path as DNS requests can and will reveal all your online activity if they ‘leak’ out of the secure path.
DNS leaks are a real danger for your online privacy. Usually, DNS leaks can be caused by a variety of factors, be it slow internet speed causing delays in website response or corrupted Windows operating system files. For example, when the website you are searching for takes too long to load and that means directing the data to your ISP. This can be used by some malicious websites to gather your personal data. So a DNS Leak basically means that you are no longer protected or anonymous online as your IP address is disclosed to any website. Also, using a VPN will not always protect you from some online geo-restrictions as your IP can sometimes be detected by your ISP regardless. However, this is not the case should you use a public DNS.
There are a number of websites that offer DNS leak tests online and many of them offer free services. You can see if you have any DNS leaks by visiting websites like dnsleaktest.com or dnsleak.com. First, you have to make sure that you are connected to your VPN and then you can run the test. You should hopefully not be able to see any information directing to your internet service provider.
There are several things that you can do in order to prevent DNS leak from happening like assigning your computer a static IP. But the most simple and secure solution is using a VPN service with built-in DNS Leak Protection. When connected to a VPN, you automatically connect with that VPN’s DNS server instead of your ISP’s DNS. This way, you are protected as the ISP doesn’t know which domain you are accessing or what website you are visiting. But what happens if your VPN does not include DNS leak protection? In this case, you can manually set up a public DNS like Public Google DNS or OpenDNS within your internet connection or VPN connection.
Using a VPN service is increasing in popularity due to the many users who wish to maintain their privacy and security online. This can be extremely useful for users who either want to prevent their data being leaked or for those who wish to access geo-restricted sites where governments either spy on their citizens or attempt to censor certain online content. So A VPN is the best solution to the many problems you can encounter on the internet as we are facing some quite erratic times in the online world.