As the name suggests, DNS (Domain Name System) leaks occur when you browse the internet without protection and expose your true location or identity. You are at risk of DNS leaks when you use an unprotected Internet connection – e.g., when you connect to the web from unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots, or from your cell phone when you are using a data plan that does not mask your real location and identity.
What Is A DNS Leak?
When you connect to your local internet service provider (ISP), such as Comcast or Cox, you are also connecting to their DNS servers. These servers function as a traffic police officer, directing your computer when and where it should be going on the internet. The problem is that some of these services are not particularly good at protecting your privacy, meaning they can share what you are doing with others in plain text. In fact, there have been instances of users trying to circumvent their ISPs only to accidentally bypass their own VPNs and expose themselves—these are called DNS leaks and they happen more often than you think. Worse yet, while most reputable VPNs will protect against these leaks by default, others do not.
What are the risks of a DNS leak?
Most people never think about their browser’s Domain Name System (DNS) resolution service. Most users are aware that their computer sends information, such as an IP address, to sites they visit, but they may not know that browsers also send your DNS information. This could leave you vulnerable because third parties could have access to your personal data and online activity if there is no protection in place.
Ways To Prevent A DNS Leak
Primarily, use some sort of Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network. When connected via VPN, your device will route your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel back to your VPN provider, meaning nobody can snoop on or modify it along its journey.
Ensure that you are using an up-to-date protocol such as OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec. While these protocols are not as secure as using a standard HTTPS connection, they are significantly more secure than basic HTTP or unprotected Wi-Fi connections. Also, be sure to check your VPN provider has adequate server coverage in your region.
The ISP and government agencies can monitor your online activity by identifying your IP address. If you are working on something that is considered illegal in your country or living under political unrest, then such activities can be potentially dangerous for you. By adding security tools to your computer, internet connection, or smartphone and following some simple steps, you can protect yourself from being tracked. Continue reading to learn more about how you can protect yourself from spying eyes.