At times VPN does come with vulnerabilities or flaws that risk users’ privacy. One such flaw is that the VPN connection drops suddenly. A VPN connection drop means that your IP address gets revealed to your ISP, and all online activities are also visible to anyone monitoring your network.
This results in unrest among the users as they thought VPNs are the perfect anonymity tool. Here a VPN kill switch comes into play. VPN providers have a unique kill switch feature to maintain online security when the VPN disconnects. The prime function of a kill switch is to disconnect you from the internet when there’s a connection drop and prevents your IP address from getting leaked.
This article will give you a detailed insight into a VPN kill switch and how it proves useful for your digital privacy. So, let’s get started.
What is a VPN Kill Switch And What Does It Do?
A VPN kill switch is an advanced security boosting feature that prevents data leaks when the VPN connection is lost. By disconnecting you from the internet, it protects any unencrypted data from accessing the web until the VPN connection becomes stable again.
A kill switch blocking your VPN connection protects your IP address, location, DNS, and WebRTC traffic from getting leaked. In this way, a kill switch ensures greater anonymity and online protection over the web.
Most of the VPN providers come with a built-in kill switch. If you genuinely care about your online privacy, then you should use a VPN with a kill switch feature. If you don’t, your IP address and other sensitive data can get into the wrong hands, and even hackers can access and compromise your data.
How Does a VPN Kill Switch Works?
An internet kill switch ensures that your data traffic goes unprotected over the web when the VPN connection drops. It disconnects you from the internet world until the connection is established again. The kill switch achieves this task in different stages. Its work is divided into four steps which include:
- Observing: Firstly, the kill switch constantly monitors your network from any changes in VPN stability or IP address.
- Detection: If because for any reason, the VPN connection drops so, the kill switch quickly detects it.
- Blocking: The kill switch then blocks you or the selected apps from accessing the internet. If you’re using a system-level kill switch, it blocks the entire connection, while if you use a passive kill switch, you select some apps to become inaccessible.
- Restoration: When the VPN connection is established again, the kill switch restores your connection to the internet world.
Bear in mind that not all VPN comes with the kill switch protection feature. To protect your privacy over the web, make sure you use a VPN that offers kill switch protection.
Why Should You Use a Kill Switch?
A VPN or internet kill switch plays a crucial role in protecting your digital privacy. This advanced feature gives you great peace of mind while maintaining your online privacy and security. Here’s an insight into the reasons for using a VPN kill switch:
Torrenting is always a risky affair. For a safe and successful torrent downloading experience, you need to ensure that your VPN kill switch works actively and doesn’t leak your torrent IP address or other sensitive data if the VPN connection malfunctions.
- Prevents Online Tracking
If you’re a journalist, social activist, or political influencer, then a kill switch proves to be handy. It ensures that your identity remains hidden, and no one can track your online activities.
- Protection Against Hackers
When you’re surfing the web from a coffee shop or airport, you remain under the radar as hackers and other threat actors are always searching for new targets. An internet kill switch ensures that you remain anonymous, and the hackers won’t get a backdoor to enter your network.
- Bypass Strict Censorship
A kill switch is quite helpful if you’re using a VPN in any restrictive regime like China. It ensures that none of the unencrypted data goes to the internet and is detected by the authorities.
From the reasons mentioned above, it is clear how valuable the kill switch feature is. Hence, you shouldn’t ignore it.
Types of VPN Kill Switch
There are two main types of the VPN kill switch. Let’s find out how they both differ from each other:
System-Level Kill Switch
It is also known as an active kill switch that’s switched on by default. It disconnects all your network activities until the VPN connection is restored. When there’s a connection drop, it disconnects the VPN and sends the information to your device that prevents connecting to any unsafe networks.
Application Level Kill Switch
Another type of kill switch is the application-level kill switch that is more secure and reliable to use than the active kill switch. It allows the user to select the specific apps you want to avoid accessing the internet. When the VPN connection drops, the selected apps stop working to maintain data privacy.
Why Does a VPN Connection Drop?
A VPN is the most reliable tool that safeguards your traffic data from getting leaked. However, despite providing a top-notch level of online protection, a VPN causes connection drops. This connection drops results in incredible frustration among the users. Several reasons cause VPN connection drops. Some of the most prominent reasons include:
- Choice of VPN Protocols: If you use a protocol that offers more security than speed, it might result in connection drops. For example, using OpenVPN TCP over a UDP port may result in a more stable connection. Thus, it’s advised to switch the protocol that ensures fast speedy connection.
- Network Congestion: If you’re connected to a VPN server with many users, it often congests the network. As a consequence, you experience slow internet speed or connection drops.
- Firewall or Router Settings: Sometimes, the VPN connection drops because of the firewall or router setting. If this happens, then you should disable them and restart your VPN.
- Server Locations: Connecting to a server located far away can also result in the VPN connection malfunctioning.
Apart from these, VPN client-server issues, limited bandwidth, and blocking the VPN traffic can also result in the loss of a VPN connection. Whatever the reason, a VPN kill switch can save you from these issues and ensure a secure and hassle-free browsing experience.
Best VPNs With Kill Switch Feature
To use a VPN with a kill switch feature is crucial for your online security. However, it is also a sad reality that not all VPNs offer this feature, and perfect working isn’t guaranteed if they do so. It means that choosing the best VPN with the kill switch feature can be challenging, but you don’t need to worry much.
After reviewing and testing various VPN providers, we’ve compiled the best five VPNs with the kill switch feature. So, let’s dig more out of it:
NordVPN offers an automatic kill switch feature that blocks internet access and prevents your data from leaking when the VPN connection drops accidentally. You can easily find the kill switch feature within the General tab under the Settings tab. NordVPN’s kill switch feature allows users to protect their privacy on Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, and Linux.
The ExpressVPN has a system-level kill switch which also is known as Network Lock, while in the Android app, it is named Network Protection. You can easily find it within the General Tap Option. You can protect your traffic from getting exposed to the ISPs and other spying eyes by enabling this feature. You can use ExpressVPN’s network lock feature on Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, Windows, and even on some routers.
- Surfshark VPN
Surfshark is another best VPN that offers impressive system-level kill switch protection. Like other VPN providers mentioned in this list, Surf Sharks kill switch also functions on Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS without causing any trouble. To enable the kill switch feature, head to the Settings option > Connectivity > Toggle to enable the kill switch feature.
- CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost is yet the best VPN that offers an active kill switch feature. To activate the CyberGhost’s kill switch feature navigate to the Privacy Settings Option and simply tap to enable the feature. The VPN provider allows users to enjoy the benefits of kill switch on Android, Windows, iOS, and macOS devices. When tested, the CyberGhost kill switch feature was working completely fine.
VyprVPN comes with an application level and system level kill switch that ensures that none of your data traffic gets leaked when the VPN connection drops in any circumstances. With the VyprVPN kill switch feature, you can even block the LAN traffic. By navigating to the Connection bar of the VPN app, you can find the kill switch feature. However, VyprVPN only offers the kill switch feature in macOS and Windows apps.
How to Activate the VPN Kill Switch?
Activating a VPN kill switch is quite simple and easy. If you know the appropriate steps, then you can do it yourself in less than five minutes. Below we’ve compiled the steps for activating a VPN kill switch:
- Please pick up a VPN from the above-recommended list and subscribe to it.
- Sign up for a VPN account.
- Get done with the download and installation process.
- Log in to your VPN account.
- Navigate to the settings and then to advanced options and look for the kill switch feature option. Some VPN providers call it Network Lock, so; you have to look for the right option.
- Toggle to enable the kill switch feature.
You’re now connected to a VPN with a kill switch feature. Enjoy surfing the web without worrying about your activities getting exposed.
Are There Any Risks of Using a VPN Without a Kill Switch?
The VPN offers an impressive kill switch feature that cuts off you from the internet when the VPN connection malfunctions. In this way, a kill switch maintains your online security and prevents data leaks.
But if you use a VPN without the kill switch feature, it can bring catastrophic impacts to your online security and privacy. Some of the risks of using a VPN without a kill switch are as follows:
- Your IP address and location become exposed to your ISP, government agencies, and other prying eyes.
- Your anonymity gets compromised and you won’t be able to download torrents securely.
- As your ISP can learn about your activities, they can even throttle your connection for streaming and torrenting.
- If you’re connected on a public Wi-Fi network and your VPN connection drops, hackers get a chance to invade your privacy and steal your data.
- Anyone can track your browsing activities violates your right to internet privacy
To reduce all these risks and to browse the web freely and anonymously, it’s mandatory to use a VPN with the kill switch feature.
What Happens When a VPN Disconnects?
A VPN establishes a connection between the VPN client and the remote VPN server and because of this connection, it hides your IP address and encrypts the data traffic.
But due to various reasons, the connection is broken, which results in a VPN connection drop. From the security point of view, it is a serious security concern and risks your online security in the following ways:
- Your IP address is visible to your ISP and all other snooping eyes monitoring your Network.
- The firewalls can detect and block the VPN traffic thus, making it impossible to bypass internet restrictions.
- All your sensitive data over the web is vulnerable to hacking.
- Your torrent IP address gets leaked and creates hurdles in the downloading process.
The best most secure VPNs are the ones that protect your privacy even in the time when the VPN connection drops. Make sure you use a VPN that offers kill switch protection to mitigate these risks and ensure a safe and secure internet browsing experience.
How to Check If Your VPN Kill Switch Is Working Fine?
A VPN kill switch is an impressive security-boosting feature. Thus, you should always use a VPN that provides kill switch protection. However, there are various VPN providers that, despite claiming to have an active kill switch, fail to protect user data from leaking when the VPN connection drops. Thus, it is suggested to run a kill switch test to make sure that your VPN is providing the privacy and security it promises.
There are two methods for testing the internet kill switch. Below we’ve discussed the step-by-step instructions to run a kill switch test. So, here you go:
Method No 1:
In this method, you simply need a VPN to run the test. The steps include:
- Sign in to your VPN account and connect to a VPN server of your choice.
- Visit any website, stream on Netflix, or start downloading torrents.
- Now, disconnect from the VPN server for a few seconds but don’t close the VPN client.
- Reload your web pages to check if your internet is working correctly or not.
- If your internet connection stops then, it means that your VPN kill switch is working fine.
Method No 2:
In this method, you can test your VPN kill switch by using the Wireshark software. To conduct this test, follow the steps as mentioned below:
- Choose any website you want to access and note down its IP address.
- Download and install the Wireshark software.
- Run the software onto your device.
- Run the VPN and connect to the website you want to access.
- Now, disconnect the VPN connection. Make sure that you also close the browser and windows tab.
- Go back to the Wireshark software and check if the connection with the websites’ IP address is established after disconnecting the VPN server.
- If you don’t see any established connection, then it means that the VPN kill switch is working completely fine.
Both these methods are reliable ways to test out the internet kill switch. You can choose any method to check if the kill switch is leaking your IP address or not.
An internet or VPN kill switch is a valuable yet overlooked feature. It protects your IP address from getting leaked when the VPN connection drops in any circumstances. Using a VPN without a kill switch can expose your identity, which in turn risks your online privacy and security. Hence, it is always recommended to use a VPN with built-in VPN protection.
The VPN mentioned above offers a kill switch feature that works effectively to protect your digital privacy. Select any VPN according to your needs and increase your security level with the VPN kill switch.