Is My VPN Working? Let’s Check It.

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From the perspective of newbie VPN users, they are all secure with the VPN. However, the security of the VPN is not always working. Actually, most of the time, you are leaking some of your personal detail, even when connected to the VPN. With such continued leaking, you lose anonymity and the perks that are due to IP obscuring.

Fortunately, it’s not that you shouldn’t use a VPN, or there is no possible way of preventing these VPN vulnerabilities. You should always check your VPN for vulnerabilities. In this guide, you will find the probable ways on how to check your VPN is working and remove the vulnerabilities.

Let’s get started with our guide on how to check if your VPN is working.

Why My Data Is Still At Risk?

When you came to know that the VPN working isn’t assured. You are forced to think that I should check my VPN, then it’s most probable that you question why?

To better understand the answer to this question, you should first know the basic working areas of a VPN service. There are two main purposes of the VPN. One is security through encryption, and the other is privacy through IP obscuring.

Test My VPN Encryption

There are fewer chances that your VPN is passing your internet traffic unencrypted, but it might be possible. On the other hand, you might be mistaking a proxy extension for a VPN service.

The proxy extension uses a simple mechanism for IP masking and has an intermediate server in between that just transfers the request with an anonymous IP. But your internet traffic is not encrypted when you are using a proxy.

However, some VPNs are also lacking in encryption, and some trusted VPN services have adequate encryption. Therefore, you must check if your VPN is encrypting your data or using the proxy as a VPN.

For checking encryption in Windows, you have to follow these steps but first with the VPN connection off.

  • You need software like WIRESHARK to check encryption. Download and install the software.
  • To check the encryption, you need to go to a site that is not secure. For instance, a site that doesn’t have HTTPS in its URL. This is because; a secure web page might produce difficulty in proper monitoring of VPN encryption.
  • Now, open the WIRESHARK software and press “Capture.”
  • Then click “Options.”
  • After that, you will be taken to a different menu of the same thing.
  • Then press “Ethernet.” It will display your local IP address or the router IP address if you are behind a router.
  • Click on the “start” button and then reload the site you are on. Yet, you must reload the page as soon as possible.
  • Then, click the Red Cross button to stop the loading process. This button is present at the top of the “Capturing from Ethernet” tab.
  • Now, go to the Protocol section in the displayed result list. You will see varying protocol results such as DNS, TCP, HTTPS, etc.

Here is the More Detailed Video About it.

After inspecting the results in this process and clicking the different captures, you can see much readable stuff. This is the case when your VPN is not connected.

Now, connect the VPN and carry out the process again. Just remember to give a few seconds for a proper VPN connection. In the results of the VPN connection, the protocols should be in “UDP” only, and the captures shouldn’t display any readable stuff.

On Mac, there is a bit different procedure for checking VPN encryption. However, you can start the process with a VPN connection.

You have to download and install the CocoaPacketAnalyzer. Before performing the capture, you should check your IP address by accessing the “System Preferences” and then press “Network.”

How to check if your VPN is working: Encryption Test

Now open the software, and click the option of “Preference.” Now click the “Capture” at the top and set the “Capture Interface” after refreshing it from the given button at the front. When you click the Capture Interface, there are many options, but you have to set your own IP address.

How to check if your VPN is working: Encryption Test
How to check if your VPN is working: Encryption Test

Now close the Capture window, and you will be back to the main page of CocoaPacketAnalyzer. Click “Capturing” and press the “Start” button at the bottom. However, before starting the process, remember to close all the background programs except the browser window and an HTTP site. 

How to check if your VPN is working: Encryption Test

After starting the process, click stop after few seconds. Then, you will see a window that will display some captured results.

Now scroll down the displayed list and monitor the results. If your VPN connection is on, then all the protocols should be UDP, and everything should be unreadable.

VPN IP Obscuring

Here is the detail of how a VPN could be leaking your IP and other details to resolve the query.

WebRTC (A Browser Leak)

WebRTC is a browser feature from which a remote site can reveal a user’s IP address even when connected to a VPN. This is the most common cause of IP leaks. Most of the popular browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera) have this feature with default enable.

The WebRTC feature is working in a browser with the utilization of a STUN server. The server obtains an external network address. If any website desires to know your real IP address, they conceal a part of Javascript code to transfer the UDP requests to this STUN server. Later, it eventually routes these requests to all the available network interfaces. Therefore, your real IP address, as well as VPN IP address both, are exposed.

However, it concerns that the code could easily be embedded into an apparently safe website. Sadly, these requests cannot be detected by the developer console. It is because the requests are not the same as the typical HTTP requests. Therefore, it is not confirmed that the browser plugins could block such kind of leak completely and reliably.

You can prevent WebRTC leak through setting up a proper firewall which hinders all the requests made outside VPN connection. There is another effective and completely safe way, which is to disable WebRTC in your browsers.

IP Leak

IP address leak is the vulnerability that is found in the VPN service or is due to your VPN. There are two possible situations due to which your VPN could be leaking your IP address.

  • DNS requests are leaking your DNS request to the ISP DNS server instead of sending it to the anonymous VPN servers.
  • Another reason could be the VPN provider that doesn’t support IPv6.

The IPv6 leak happens when your VPN only supports IPv4.

The IPv4 protocol uses 32 bits addressing, which allows 2^32 unique IP addresses to the devices. However, they weren’t enough for the immensely increasing internet websites, and therefore, IPv6 was introduced. IPv6 user 128 bit addressing, but there are still many websites that use IPv4 protocol due to various reasons.

Looking at such a situation, the websites which have an IPv6 protocol have adopted a dual-tiered approach. Therefore, when they are connected to an IP address which only supports IPv4, they produce an IPv4 address, and when they are connected to an IPv6 address device, they generate the IPv6 address.

Unfortunately, most VPN providers don’t have software that supports IPv6. They bypass the request from a website that has IPv6 enabled. In this situation, your IPv6 request is delivered to the ISP network, and your real identity is exposed.

DNS Leak

The DNS leak in a VPN’s presence happens when the DNS requests are sent unencrypted to the ISP DNS servers instead of going to the VPN DNS server. When the VPN doesn’t have their own dedicated DNS servers or the settings are reverted, your VPN ignores it. To avoid such a situation, you should have a VPN with DNS leak protection and a dedicated DNS server.

How Can I Test These Leaks?

There are certain websites through which you can check the VPN leaks. These websites include IP leaks, DNS leaks, and WebRTC leak. Remember to use an authentic tool. It is important because many tools have their own VPN or are backed by a VPN service. Mostly, they display an alert if their VPN is not connected even if your IP is not revealed.

To test these leaks you must go to the preferred tool. DNS leak tool, IP leak tool, or WebRTC leak tool are the most preferred tools.

First, to carry on with testing these leaks, disconnect your VPN and run the IP test from the IP leak tool. With this step, you will get your real IP address and other details of your host provider.

Now connect the VPN and perform all the tests one by one.

  • If the IP leak test with a connected VPN displays your real IP address or any other detail, then your IP is leaking.
  • If the DNS leak tool shows your IP address’s real insights, then your VPN is not working against DNS leaks.
  • Finally, run the WebRTC test with the VPN connection on. If you see your real IP address, you have the WebRTC leak.

Is Your VPN Working?

It is important to make sure that you are protected and your VPN is working well. For this, you should carry on these VPN tests not only once but regularly after a certain time period. Also, you could implement preventive measures after figuring out the flaws in your VPN. However, it is more appropriate to look at certain important features before selecting a VPN for yourself.

The recommended VPN features to avoid these VPN leaks are:

  • IPv6 leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Killswitch
  • Dedicated DNS servers.

Towards, the end all I can say is, hopefully, now you have a clear idea on how to check if your VPN is working or not. If it isn’t, then follow the above-mentioned steps and protect yourself.

Kenneth G Aranda

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