What Is WebRTC And How To Disable It From Your Browsers

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Webrtc Leak Became A Huge Disaster, Especially When You Were Behind The VPN Firewall. But There Is A Way To Disable It. 

Your online experience greatly relies on WebRTC as it allows you to establish real-time communication (that’s where it gets its name from) and transmits information between websites and browsers. There are a variety of applications that utilize WebRTC technology. For instance, while using Google Meet to conduct a virtual meeting, you are using WebRTC. Similarly, you are also accessing it for video calls made via Facebook Messenger. Using Discord also requires access to WebRTC.

When most of your online activities are linked with WebRTC, it becomes challenging to acknowledge its drawbacks and security concerns. Instead, you focus more on its advantages and the ways you can utilize it, no matter its consequences. However, we are here to warn you against precisely that, as the negative impact of WebRTC isn’t minor enough to be ignored. Instead, it has the potential to compromise your privacy and leak your private data.

It makes no difference which web browser you employ for internet access since WebRTC operates on every single one of them. However, you can successfully disable WebRTC from your browser with the proper guidance, and we’re here to help you fulfill precisely this purpose.

Tip! Use VPN That Prevent WebRTC

It is terrifying to think of a channel bypassing the encrypted tunnel you have built for your security. It is, therefore, best to use a secure VPN that prevents WebRTC leaks such as:

By using VPN that comes with a built-in feature to prevent WebRTC would not require any other settings mentioned below.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC is a user-oriented technology that does not require to be run using third-party applications or by additional plug-ins. Instead, it utilizes JavaScript to make it easier to use since it operates directly in the browser and enables video conferences without installing an application. This ability to establish direct links is one of the most prominent reasons WebRTC has established itself as the primary rival to the widely used video-calling applications on the internet, such as Skype or FaceTime.

WebRTC possesses an open-source code, and many major browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Opera, are actively promoting it as it can be easily upgraded. It lets you share real-time audio, video, and stream data without needing a server that stores and processes data; instead, it links directly amongst client desktops.

One of the most significant features of WebRTC is the decrease in lag for video chat, voice chat, live streaming, and file-sharing in peer-to-peer communication. It also provides superior sound quality than Adobe Flash due to its ability to modify the microphone’s settings.

WebRTC has the potential to be quite helpful for web developers as well as end-users. While we tend to conceive of it as a mere audio and video communication source, its capabilities extend well beyond those of multimodal connectivity. Because of its enhanced adaptability, app developers may include it in non-browser apps as well. However, because of the security issues surrounding its application by several browsers, it is recommended that you leave it disabled unless you are visiting a trustworthy website.

When It Becomes a Problem?

WebRTC indeed enables a flow of data between peers, which is more rapid and has less latency since there is no intermediary to manage the communication between the clients. Even though WebRTC serves as a beneficial tool that enhances your online experience. Nevertheless, due to its peer-to-peer mode of communication, it can also be used for illegal purposes by several websites so that they can establish a direct link between their server and your browser, making your online presence vulnerable.

Browsers need to share both external as well as local IP addresses to establish audio and video connections. This is why enabling WebRTC in specific browsers poses several security issues as it is prone to leaking your IP address. Once someone gains access to your IP address, they can also detect your personal information, location, and even the device you are currently using, putting your privacy at risk.

Consider the following scenario: You are connected to what you think is a ‘secure’ VPN, and so you would like to make a video/audio call to someone; therefore, you will need to utilize WebRTC to do so. This communication is beneficial for you; however, it comes with a high cost. In exchange, WebRTC leaks some of your private information, and your actual IP address starts showing on the website. This violation of privacy defeats the whole point of having a VPN installed in the first place.

Further security breaches carried out by WebRTC:

You thought this was it? Unfortunately, we haven’t even started mentioning the worst-case scenarios implemented by WebRTC yet.

Have you ever accessed a webpage and granted permission to that webpage to use your microphone or camera? You thought you were the one benefitting from the features, didn’t you? Well, in granting access, you may have unknowingly revealed your identity to that website without even realizing it.

WebRTC makes it simpler for third parties to identify your browser, enabling them to monitor your online activity more quickly. It happens because, in addition to your IP address, WebRTC also exposes additional data like your device specifications including things like:

  • the browser you are using
  • screen resolution of your device
  • your device’s operating system.

It enables hackers, advertising companies, or others to imprint you by combining all of your information. We urge you not to dismiss this as a joke or take your privacy lightly. You can mitigate all of these security hazards by simply disabling WebRTC from your browser.

How Can WebRTC Leak IP Address with VPN?

Back in 2015, one of the most severe issues regarding the application of WebRTC in browsers was brought to the forefront by TorrentFreak. They revealed that a significant bug was harming browsers that supported the WebRTC protocol at the time. According to their findings, a security vulnerability was identified in WebRTC that may jeopardize VPNs’ security and reveal users’ public IP addresses to others. The vulnerability, known as a WebRTC Leak, is said to impact nearly all major browsers.

WebRTC can establish a link between a website’s server and your browser regardless of your network or VPN settings. It is a technology that utilizes sophisticated methods to circumvent firewalls and gather information to create peer-to-peer communications; hence, in most cases, VPNs are also not effective enough to prevent leaks. WebRTC leaks arise due to flaws in the technology that enable hackers to execute JavaScript instructions and acquire information about their peers.

There are great chances that WebRTC may leak your IP address even though you haven’t utilized the technology yet. The longer it remains completely active in your browser, the more your system remains vulnerable.

You may believe that WebRTC leaks occur due to the usage of a VPN plug-in in your web browser. However, this is not the case. Even if you utilize a VPN on your router, it won’t make any difference in resolving the leak concern. The only way you can stop WebRTC leaks is by following the procedures outlined below.

How To Disable WebRTC On Chrome?

Chrome does not offer a built-in mechanism for disabling WebRTC on the desktop. Instead, disabling WebRTC on Chrome would require the installation of a third-party browser extension.

  • To commence, you need to open the chrome web store. 
  • You can either access the extension link directly by clicking here. You can also copy the following URL into your address bar https://chrome.google.com/webstore/ 
  • Once the webpage is launched, search for “WebRTC Control” in the search box.
  •  The required browser extension should come up as the first result in the search.
  • To grant access, you just need to click on “Add to Chrome,” which opens a dialogue box for confirmation. 
  • There, you need to click on “Add extension.” 
  • The installation of WebRTC Control will take place immediately. With that Chrome will launch a new tab with some more details regarding the browser extension.

You can learn more about the extension by reading up on its information on the web. Apart from that, you can modify its settings by right-clicking on the extension icon that appears on the upper-right side of the browser. All you have to do is make sure that the extension icon has a blue circle around it to complete the process. The blue circle indicates that WebRTC Control is activated and is performing its functions effectively.

As an alternative, you can also install extensions such as “WebRTC Network Limiter,” “WebRTC Leak Prevent,or a script-blocker like ScriptSafe.

How To Disable WebRTC On Firefox?

Just like Chrome, Firefox also offers several extensions that you can use to disable WebRTC. However, there is a far more efficient technique that takes less time and energy. Here’s how you can disable WebRTC on Firefox:

  • Enter “about:config” into your browser’s address bar.
  • Then, click the “I accept the risk!” option that appears as a warning on the screen. 
  • This might seem unsafe to you, but we assure you that you will not notice any difference in the performance of your browser as this does not have any negative impact.
  • In the search box of the spreadsheet-style screen that appears, enter “media.peerconnection.enabled.” 
  • That phrase should be the only item that displays on the website right now.
  • If WebRTC is enabled, the term “true” will appear on the right-hand side of the row, underneath the heading “Value.”
  • You are need to double-click anywhere around the entire row, which will change the value to “false” and ultimately disable WebRTC from Firefox. 

Firefox is the only browser that does not necessitate the installation of any extra plug-ins; instead, it offers a quick manual setup without much hassle. This method is also very convenient as you can follow the same procedure to enable WebRTC when required. 

Even though this is a much easier method, most users consistently require turning WebRTC on and off depending on their usage, which is why it is much convenient to install an extension called WebRTC Control and simply turn it on or off through the upper corner of your browser by just one click.

How To Disable WebRTC On Safari?

Apple has recently been integrating WebRTC into Safari; however, it is still considered a trial function. Safari is the only browser, along with Internet Explorer, that does not have WebRTC enabled by default; hence, you do not need to disable it unless you have enabled it yourself. Whereas most of the other browsers have WebRTC enabled by default, and regardless of whether you have enabled it or not, you need to disable it urgently.

Even though WebRTC leaks are generally not a part of Safari, disabling WebRTC on Safari is a sensible approach for user privacy. Here’s how you can disable WebRTC on Safari:

  • Launch Safari on your device and select “Safari” in the menu.
  •  Then choose “Preferences” from the drop-down menu. 
  • After clicking on the “Advanced” tab, scroll down to the bottom of the page and tick the option labeled “Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  • Now, in the menu bar, choose the option “Develop. 
  • Then search for the “WebRTC” option, and disable the checkbox for “Enable Legacy WebRTC API” by clicking it.

Alternatively, most devices display a list of options once you click Develop. In this case, click on Experimental Features and select Remove Legacy WebRTC API from the drop-down menu to disable WebRTC on Safari.

How To Disable WebRTC On Edge?

WebRTC and ORTC (Microsoft’s very own version of WebRTC) are both supported by Microsoft Edge. While it is not possible to altogether disable WebRTC on Edge, instead, you can easily conceal your actual IP address. 

Disabling WebRTC is much more convenient in Microsoft Edge than it is in other browsers. More precisely, Edge allows you to disable a portion of the WebRTC technology in order to get rid of the particular security risk that emerges as a result of the technology and simultaneously utilize its several other beneficial features. Here’s how you can go about doing that:

  • Launch Microsoft Edge on your browser.
  • Enter “about:flags” in the address bar, which will open a list of advanced developer settings. 
  • Scroll down towards the bottom of the page, and you will find an option to “Hide my local IP address over WebRTC connections.”
  • That option had been left blank by default. To activate the feature, you need to click the checkbox. 

Although you will not be able to disable WebRTC connections fully, you will be able to improve the security. You will be prompted to relaunch Firefox after enabling this feature. The change will not be effective until you do so.

The benefit of this function in Microsoft Edge is that it enables you to utilize WebRTC more efficiently and in a secure manner, without having to turn it on and off for video chat and normal surfing, as you would otherwise have to do.

How To Disable WebRTC On Android?

GOOGLE CHROME: Chrome is widely used by Android users, and hence, your phone is also susceptible to WebRTC leaks. However, androids possess the ability to disable WebRTC manually. You can simply disable WebRTC in Android by the following method:

  • Enter the following URL into a Chrome tab: “chrome:/flags/#disable-webrtc”
  • Once the site has launched, scroll down to the bottom and search for “WebRTC STUN origin header, and then disable it. 
  • You may also deactivate the WebRTC Hardware Video Encoding/Decoding option as a precautionary measure, but this may not be required in all cases.

MOZILLA FIREFOX: Firefox for Android does not allow you to disable WebRTC. This is due to the fact that as of April 2021, Androids have been denied access to about:config in Firefox stable and beta channels. Though you are able to gain access to about:config in Android if you install Firefox Nightly from the Play Store for free and utilize it in the manner described below:

  • Launch Firefox Nightly on your Android smartphone
  • Enter about:config in the address bar and press Enter
  • Then scroll down and look for the option media.peerconnection.enabled
  • You must double-tap on this setting to shift it from its default value of ‘True’ and change it to ‘False. 

After you make this change to your Firefox Nightly settings on your Android smartphone, all of the peer-to-peer links, such as WebRTC, will be disabled on your device henceforth.

How To Disable WebRTC On iPhone?

You can only disable WebRTC on your iPhone if you have iOS 11 or earlier versions. The option to disable WebRTC in Settings has been eliminated from iOS 12 and later versions of the iPhone.

SAFARI: To disable WebRTC in iOS 11 or earlier versions, follow this process:

  • Go to Settings, scroll down towards the bottom of the page and click on Safari
  • Select Advanced from the drop-down menu.
  • Choose Experimental Features
  • Now, search for the option to Remove Legacy WebRTC API and tap it so that it turns green, which indicates that the disabling process has been completed in your iPhone.

For Firefox and Chrome in iPhone, you can follow the same methods as listed in the Android section.

Testing WebRTC Leaks

You will want to perform a vulnerability check on your device with a VPN connection as well as without a VPN connection in order to examine the extent of WebRTC leaks thoroughly. This test will assist you in determining whether you and your private data are safe online, allowing you to take necessary measures in order to keep your data protected.

Without VPN Connection:

Once you have disabled WebRTC from your browser, you can head on to examine whether it actually hides your IP address or not. You wouldn’t need a VPN connection for this test. Here’s how you can conduct this test:

  • Open your preferred web browser and visit ipleak.net.
  • As soon as you launch the website, it will start examining your browser automatically, which might take a minute or so.
  • Check the subsection titled Your IP addresses– WebRTC detection.
  • If the area displays an IP address, this indicates that the vulnerability is impacting your web browser.

Suppose the subsection indicates “No leak” with or without the VPN connection. In that case, it means your online activity and identity are protected, and WebRTC leaks are not compromising your information.

With VPN Connection:

You might even check whether it is necessary for you to disable WebRTC from your browser when you have activated your VPN connection. This test will also prove whether your VPN connection is secure enough or not. Here’s how you can check for WebRTC leaks with a VPN connection:

  • Activate your VPN and establish a secure connection with a server.
  • Open your browser again and rerun the WebRTC leak test to see if anything has changed.
  • Repeat the same process as above, and if a public IP address still appears, that indicates that you are facing a violation of privacy.

To make it clear, if you are conducting other tests to see your IP address, you need to know that if a local IP address appears after the test, it does not mean that it is a leak. Instead, a WebRTC leak occurs only if your public IP address is displayed.

Final Words

Staying safe and ensuring anonymity on the internet has been an issue under research for quite a while. Even though complete anonymity has not been achieved in most cases, ensuring that you take total preventive measures is essential, and enabling you to do so is our responsibility. 

As WebRTC possesses the ability to bypass all the encrypted channels that you have established for your privacy, it is necessary for you to disable it from your browser, despite its many advantages. 

Many users, particularly those who are worried about their online privacy, are concerned about WebRTC leaks, which is understandable. However, after following the mentioned steps to disable WebRTC from your browser and establishing a connection with a secure VPN, you will be able to browse and stream the web without any concerns and enhance your online experience even further.

Kenneth G Aranda

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