The domain name system or DNS works by translating domain names into IP addresses to allow for interaction between browsers. Every device that’s connected to the Internet will have a unique IP address. These unique IP addresses are what other devices use for communication. An IP address example is 192.168.254.254 in IPv4. In IPv6, more complex alphanumeric IP addresses exist, such as 2400:cb00:2048:1:c629:d7a2.
People type Facebook.com or Netflix.com instead of long strings of letters and numbers because of the DNS. That’s why you’re assigned DNS server address every time you browse the Internet and connect to a website. DNS servers make surfing the web easier while making it possible for all browsers to translate complicated host names into a format that they can understand. However, DNS servers carry a huge privacy risk, despite being a critical part of an Internet user’s connectivity.
DNS Servers And The Privacy Risk They Pose
In unprotected connections, the DNS server being utilized is a property of the Internet service provider or ISP. Note that an ISP may be subject to data retention laws, depending on the country where it operates. That means your web traffic’s sensitive details may be logged even for extended periods of time.
The risk to an Internet user’s privacy that a DNS server poses is one of the driving factors why VPNs or virtual private networks have become a hit these days. Through VPN tunneling, your data gets encrypted, and your connection gets routed through a secure server. A VPN service prevents your ISP from freely logging your online activity by serving as an extra layer of protection.
Ideally, your connection to the server of your VPN is the only thing that your ISP can see. The details of your traffic are off-limits to snoopers and hackers since your destinations online will be hidden. The problem is that VPNs can sometimes develop serious security flaws, resulting in a DNS leak.
DNS Leak: What Is It?
When a DNS leak takes place, a network that’s supposed to be anonymous by being connected to a VPN server gives away the user’s real IP address. It’s currently one of the major threats to the privacy and security of online users. Check out securitygladiators.com/dns-leak-test/ to learn how to perform a DNS leak test.
The virtual private network is providing a false sense of security when there’s a DNS leak. That’s because the user’s computer is unknowingly accessing the default DNS servers instead of the VPN network-assigned anonymous DNS servers. The DNS query fails to get routed through the anonymity network, thus causing a DNS leak. When this happens, the public network can have access to the user’s real IP address.
Below is a discussion of how to avoid identity exposure online due to DNS leaks.
Ways To Prevent DNS Leaks
Several preventive measures exist for Internet users to counter the serious privacy threat that may result from DNS leaks. To ensure privacy and security of users online, some VPN services have already included fully controlled DNS resolvers or built-in anti-DNS leak solutions.
The following are helpful suggestions to avoid identity exposure online because of DNS leaks:
- Block All Non-VPN Traffic – Either configure your firewall or use IP binding to block non-VPN traffic in your network. By doing so, your ISP’s DNS servers and your real Internet connection won’t be used when you surf the web.
- Enforce A Good DNS service – Set OpenDNS or any DNS service you prefer for every network adapter available. One can do this by going to the TCP/IPv4 options within your network adapters’ properties. Even when you’re not connected to the VPN server, enforcing a good DNS service ensures that your ISP’s DNS servers will never be used.
- Disable Teredo – Go to Windows and open command prompt to disable Teredo. It’s Microsoft’s 6to4 solution. Teredo is similar to your router’s 6in4/6to4 features. Some file-sharing clients, such as uTorrent, have an option for disabling Teredo as well. Disabling Teredo and other IPv6 related options on the router will prevent DNS requests from going through a non-tunneled IPv6 connection.
Aside from the ways mentioned above, you can also install a good firewall to prevent DNS leaks and keep your network or server safe from prying eyes.
Internet users who are extremely cautious when it comes to the security and privacy of their online activities use VPN services. The problem is that DNS leaks can happen even when connected to a VPN server. Hence, users need to verify that all the traffic that originates from their computer is being routed through the VPN’s secure network by performing a DNS leak test. Experts also recommend that users implement the ways to prevent DNS leaks discussed above to ensure that no monitoring entity can successfully track down their real IP addresses when browsing the Internet.