How do you know if your VPN is secure? You can try to take the VPN provider’s word for it, but having a way to check VPN security is better. I’m going to look at a few tests that you can perform on your own to make sure your VPN’s secure, and protecting your properly.
Check VPN Security: What should it be securing?
The biggest thing that you should be watching out for is DNS leaks. If your ISP can still see what websites you’re visiting, your VPN isn’t secure enough. If your ISP can see what websites you’re visiting they can collect this data, sell it to advertisers, and sell you out to the NSA.
The other big thing that your VPN should be doing is securing your IP address against tracking. It should hide it from websites. We have a handy IP address tool that you can use to make sure that your IP address is showing for a different city or country if you’ve selected a VPN in a different city/country. It is the most basic way to check VPN security.
There is no one tool that can check VPN security for you. There are a few, besides our IP address tool, that I’d like to show you so that you can check your VPN security on your own and find out.
Extended IP address tester
After using our IP address tool above, you can do a more indepth check with this tool. It will check VPN security in regards to your Java, Flash, and DNS. Make sure that they are all different from your actual IP address.
I am definitely not in Spain. Or rather, I am sadly not in Spain. Here’s what websites see when I visit them:
Every aspect of my web experience believes that I’m in Madrid! You can also take each IP address and do a Google search on it. If they show anything but the country/city of your VPN provider then your VPN is not secure and has DNS leaks. I used IPVanish in my example here, everything was clear!
Check VPN security for torrents
When doing P2P and torrenting, you want to be sure your VPN is secure to protect your anonymity. ipMagnet is an open source tool that you can use to check your IP address in a torrenting setting
It will check VPN security levels by downloading a file onto your computer using your usual torrent client. I use Bittorrent, and it worked just the same as any other thing I’ve downloaded.
Once you download the file it shows you your results. Here are mine:
As you can see, torrents still think that I’m in Spain. My VPN is secure and protecting me when I download torrents.
Check for DNS leaks
To check for possible leaks, it doesn’t get much simpler than DNSleaktest.com. When I first go to the page it shows me my VPN IP address. It thinks I’m still in Spain:
Then I have the option of doing a Standard Test, or an Extended Test. The difference is in the number of queries it performs to test for DNS leaks. The difference is a factor of 6:
- Standard Tests: performs 6 queries
- Extended Tests: performs 36 queries
If you absolutely, positively have to have The Best Security and the most secure VPN, go for the extended test. It takes an extra 30 seconds or so.
I went with an extended test. As you can see, it still shows me as being in Spain:
What to do if your VPN is leaking your DNS or IP address
Now you have done a check on your VPN security levels and found it to be lacking. My first piece of advice is:
Easy, ya? Each of the 10 providers in our list passed these tests.
Other points to consider include:
- Make sure that your VPN client is correctly installed. You may want to uninstall and start over again with a fresh install.
- If you’re using OpenVPN, check to see if you have the certificate in the right place.
- Check with the VPn provider, their FAQ pages will typically have lots of information waiting for you.
- Switch to using SSTP/OpenVPn protocol within your VPN client software.
- If leaks occur during torrents, check to see if your VPN has a VPN kill switch. This will kill your connection if the VPN server drops, protecting your IP address from being exposed. A VPN which allows P2P and has a kill switch is IPVanish.
Those are the most basic things that you can do to check to see if your VPN is secure, and fix it if it isn’t. For anything else, it’s going to come down to whether your ports are properly setup, For that, I’d advise taking your issue directly to the VPN provider as each situation can be unique.
In case you’e wondering, no, that is no longer my IP address. 😉
Feature image via Imilian / Shutterstock