what is a dns leak and how can you prevent one

VPNs are the best way to protect your privacy when using public networks. VPNs can be effective but not always flawless. DNS leaks are a major problem to be aware of.

DNS leaks can be an error that compromises your online security. Even if you use a VPN, this can happen. You may not realize that your private data is at risk when this happens. There are many ways to prevent DNS leaks.

You want to know more about DNS leaked DNS and how to avoid them? This article will provide all the information you need about DNS leaks. Then you’ll learn how to avoid these leaks. It is vital to do this in order to protect your data.

These VPNs offer DNS leak protection.

DNS Leaks: The basics

It can be difficult to determine the root cause of DNS leaks. We know that a VPN is designed to protect us when we browse in public. It is difficult to imagine what could cause that breach.

To simplify this topic, let’s begin with the basics of how that private internet connection works. This will ensure that a DNS and VPN are functioning properly. We can then identify the source for DNS leaks.

DNS leaks and internet connectivity are complicated issues. For starters, let’s begin with an obvious question.

What is a DNS?

DNS stands for domain name system. This is an essential component to any internet connection. Without it, you won’t be able to access the websites you wish to. Let’s take a look at what makes a DNS so important.

Searching for websites on the internet is done based upon their domain name. You can search for the domain name by entering it into a search box. There is a lengthy retrieval process behind the scenes. You wouldn’t be able to access the websites you wish to use without this process.

Computers communicate using sets of numbers and not domain names. Internet Protocol (IP), addresses are used to identify specific devices and websites on the internet. Your browser associates the domain that you are interested with an IP address when you go online. DNS’s role is to match the domain to an IP address. This allows you to see the correct website on your screen.

A phone directory is the strongest analogy to a DNS. Each website has an unique IP address. When you visit a site, a DNS uses that site’s IP to display the correct data on your screen. 

This is vital for internet browsing. What happens when a VPN is used?

What does a VPN do?

VPN (Virtual Private Network), is a highly effective method to protect your data. VPNs are particularly useful when you’re using public Wi-Fi. It is easy for other people to see your private information in these settings. When you are online, a VPN will prevent this by following the steps:

If you are using a traditional connection, your connection will go through your internet provider. It is much more likely that hackers will see your IP in this scenario. This allows them to steal your most sensitive data.

This risk can be greatly reduced with a VPN. Your data is not routed through the usual channels. Instead, it travels through a dedicated channel. External parties cannot decipher your data. Even a VPN’s security can be compromised.

What is DNS leak?

DNS leaks can be a sign of a VPN failure. This basically negates the security you have been assured by your VPN. This makes your data almost as vulnerable than if you had no protection whatsoever.

Sometimes, your operating system may not correctly handle your data. Instead of sending your data through your VPN, it will connect to the internet using a standard DNS. This will effectively erase all privacy you had during browsing sessions. Third parties will have easy access to your sensitive data.

This situation is not only dangerous, it’s also frustrating. Many people purchase VPNs to avoid these problems. VPNs are designed to protect you. What would make this system fail?

What causes a DNS leak?

Now that you know what a DNS leak is let’s look at why they occur. A DNS leak can occur in one of several ways. These are some of the most common causes:

  • Incorrect configuration
  • Transparent Proxies
  • IPv6

These issues can all be dangerous to your security. They are also problems that you aren’t likely to detect right away. These make them even more dangerous.

Let’s delve into the details behind those three DNS leak causes.

Internet Configuration Issues

DNS leaks are most often caused by configuration issues. This risk is particularly high if you’re a frequent traveler. Many businesspeople fall under this category. Business people are often in this category. They need to be extra cautious when sending information over public networks.

You will likely connect to the internet as you travel. This means you’re constantly connecting to new networks. Even if your VPN is working properly, it can be hampered by infrequent reconnections.

There is a delay every time you connect to a different network. The local internet will first connect your device. Once your device is connected to the internet, you can use your VPN to protect yourself. Sometimes, however, the transition does not happen. Sometimes this transition does not occur.

You may experience configuration problems when setting up your VPN. If you suspect that your DNS is being leaked, you need to address it immediately.

Transparent Proxies 

Transparent DNS proxies have been adopted by some internet service providers. This allows you to force your traffic through their DNS. This can happen even if you have a VPN. However, transparent proxy sites can often be blocked by a VPN.

A transparent DNS proxy redirects your internet traffic as you browse the web. It may do this without you even knowing. This means that your data will no longer be transmitted via your VPN. This lowers your level of security. This is because internet service providers store the following information, which makes it easy for outsiders access:

  • All DNS queries
  • Browse history
  • Email addresses
  • Passwords
  • Images of personal people

It’s easy to see why this could lead to a security breach. The good news is, most internet providers don’t use these methods. For mobile internet browsing, transparent DNS proxy servers are becoming more popular. This leak is as easy as any other source. If you don’t have configuration issues, check for a transparent DNS proxy (we’ll discuss how to do this further down in the article).

Transition from IPv4 – IPv6

The internet is growing at an unstoppable pace. The number of internet users is on the rise, as well as the availability of internet-supporting devices. As a result, the internet is undergoing major changes. This is mostly related to routing data between IP addresses.

Most internet use IPv4. This system is 32-bit. Each IP address is composed of 12 digits. The explosion in internet use is making this system less effective.

IPv6 is the new system. This system is 128 bits long and allows for more IP addresses. There can be many more IP addresses if there are longer IP addresses. This expansion will allow for the many new devices that can access the internet.

Some VPNs do not yet support IPv6.

You will not be protected if an IPv6 IP address is found while you surf the internet. Some VPNs, however, are not IPv6-compatible and have features that block IPv6 addresses from being visited.

Other Windows-Related Problems

These are the most common causes of DNS-related leaks. There are also DNS leaks that are specifically related to Windows Operating Systems.

These two Windows features could be the culprit:

  • Windows refers to the first as Teredo Technology. Microsoft developed this technology to address the transition from IPv4 and IPv6. Teredo Technology allows users to change to an IPv6 address. Teredo Technology is not compatible with IPv6 VPNs.
  • This other windows issue applies only to Windows 8 and later users.  These operating systems are equipped with Smart Multi-Homed Name Resolution. This feature is designed to speed up your browsing. However, it can also compromise your security.

With this feature, your operating system won’t automatically direct your online activity through your VPN. Instead, it will redirect it to the nearest DNS. This will be the DNS that responds the fastest. There is no guarantee of safety.

How to tell if you have a DNS leak

Understanding what DNS leaks are and how they occur is only the first step. It is now time to apply your knowledge. We will show you how to identify if your DNS is compromised. Next, we’ll discuss common solutions. Soon, you’ll be ready to browse the internet again with your security restored.

DNS Leakage Testing

DNS leaks can cause serious problems. It is easy to test for DNS leaks. Visit one of the many websites offering DNS leak testing. Many of these websites are completely free. Here’s a list of some of the websites you can use for DNS leaked testing:

  • Browser Leaks
  • DNS Leak Test
  • IPLeak

These sites provide instant results. You will be shown a list of DNS servers that process your requests. They will often tell you immediately if there is a DNS leak.

Many other sites can also test DNS leaks. Many of these sites will try to sell you their VPN services. You typically don’t need to make any purchases to test for a DNS leak, though.

Prepare to Fix DNS Leaks

DNS leaks can be difficult to miss. They will not notify you. The first step to resolving DNS leaks involves actively testing for them.

Once you’ve determined that there is a DNS leak, you can begin to fix it. The root cause of your DNS leak will determine the best method to repair it. There are three main reasons DNS leaks can occur, as we have already mentioned. These common problems will be addressed in the sections below.

DNS Leakage Problems

Now you have a solid understanding of DNS leaks and how to spot them. Now let’s take a look at how to solve DNS leak issues. Three simple steps will help us do this. These steps should fix most DNS leaks. These are the three steps.

  1. Use a VPN to ensure your traffic flows through it
  2. Make sure to check for transparent proxies
  3. Forcing your device to use IPv4

It is possible that your DNS leak came from an unlikely source. You will need to take a more thorough approach in these cases. These steps will resolve common DNS leaks. Now let’s dive into the details of how each of these fixes works.

Use your VPN to direct all of your internet traffic through it

This is the easiest way to prevent DNS leaks. It is also the best place to start when trying to resolve a DNS leak. This involves changing the settings of your computer. It will differ depending on your operating systems. Whatever operating system you use, the best way of fixing DNS leakage is to direct traffic through your VPN.

Let’s assume you have a VPN. Most times, your traffic will travel through your VPN servers. However, there are some circumstances when this may not occur. You may unknowingly be using:

These settings give the illusion of complete security. Beneath the surface, these settings may be directing your traffic to places you wouldn’t expect. You can find the solution by looking at your advanced network settings. You can either set your VPN to be your default gateway for internet surfing or you can use a service such as NordVPNProtect your DNS and IPv6 addresses from leakage

Transparent Proxy Detection

As mentioned above, internet service providers might use transparent DNS proxy. These proxies are often bypassed by the previous solution. This allows you to surf anonymously on the internet. There are situations where transparent DNS proxy may still be able to influence your browsing. Even if you use a VPN, this can still happen.

As we have mentioned, travelers are at greater risk for DNS leaks. Every time you connect to a network new, your device might accidentally route you through another server. You can prevent this by making your VPN your default gateway. However, if you find a DNS leak still persisting, you may wish to look for transparent DNS proxies. Here are some websites that can help you with that:

  • Information By IP
  • What’s My IP
  • What’s My IP Address

Similar to DNS leak testing, these sites will immediately inform you about any transparent proxy. You may find that newer VPNs, such as NordVPN, can detect transparent proxy servers. However, if you have an older version of the VPN, these sites may be worth a visit.

Disable IPv6

Now is the time for IPv4 and IPv6 to transition. Many devices can work with both IPv4 and IPv6 as we are in a transitional phase. Sometimes, IPv6 may be the default setting on your device.

You have a better chance of getting a VPN. It does not work correctlyOn the IPv6 network. If you suspect that you have a DNS leak, you should check the default IP system. You can choose between IPv4/IPv6 on most computers.

Your security is enhanced by choosing IPv4. Because almost all VPNs work with IPv4. VPNs will most likely be compatible with IPv6 in the future. But for now, most VPNs block IPv6 automatically, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Conclusion

Online browsing is a private affair. It’s what allows us to search the internet without worrying about compromising our information. VPNs can be a great way for that security. DNS leaks can cause VPNs to fail. You need to have a VPN that has IP leak protection and DNS Leak protection in order to fully protect yourself against these leaks.

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Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.

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