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How to Disable WebRTC Opera IP Address Leaks

VPNs are widely used not only to access high-quality entertainment. They also protect the privacy of users, especially in this age when hacking, online fraud, and identity theft have become rampant. People would not want to find out one day that they have been suddenly married to some person, or that their identity was used by someone else to amass thousands of credit card debts.

A VPN is an effective security measure against these frightening situations. Over the years, however, we’ve become unaware of the new vulnerabilities that recent technology advancements expose us to. One of these is the WebRTC bug that caused (and still causes) browsers to leak the IP addresses of some VPN users. Sadly, this ‘bug’ affects major browsers.

In the succeeding sections, you will learn how to detect and avoid such WebRTC IP leak on the Opera browser.

What is WebRTC and how does it work

Whenever you use your browser to communicate with someone via audio or video call, your browser needs to know the other person’s IP address (and vice versa). In the past, you need a plug-in to do this, so most people opted to use Skype and other VOIP apps.

However, WebRTC changed the game—it allowed for direct and real-time communication between browsers by combining several protocols into an API. Most notable of these were the STUN and TURN protocols which enabled browsers to know the IP address of the other browser that it’s communicating with.

With WebRTC, there’s no more need for a browser plug-in, or a separate app, for people to communicate through browsers. To learn more about the basics of WebRTC, check out this video from Express VPN.

However, with the STUN/TURN protocol, experts discovered that WebRTC could be exploited by people with malicious intent, as the real IP address of VPN users could be detected in some instances. WebRTC uses an advanced IP tracking technology; even if a VPN is involved, WebRTC can still get the real IP address of the VPN user if the VPN hasn’t configured itself properly.

This ‘bug’ has been called the WebRTC IP leak. Since almost all web browsers support WebRTC, the bug has become a global problem.

As one of the first browsers to support WebRTC, Opera is vulnerable to IP leaks, especially when you use the browser’s built-in VPN. Take note that this Opera VPN will not protect you when torrenting or using VOIP apps. It doesn’t provide holistic protection to everything you do online, unlike these VPNs that we’ve tested.  

To test if your Opera browser WebRTC is leaking your IP address, go to IPleak or BrowserLeaks. I used the latter, and it showed both my local and public IP addresses:

WebRTC IP Leak Opera Browser

How to disable WebRTC Opera

Opera doesn’t have a built-in way to disable WebRTC. This is true for most browsers, except Chrome for Android. You need to add an extension to turn off WebRTC on Opera. Here is how you do it:

  1. Click on the Opera logo located at the upper left-hand corner of the browser. Go to Extensions > Get Extensions.

How to disable WebRTC Opera Step 1

  1. On the search bar, type in WebRTC to call all WebRTC extensions.

How to disable WebRTC Opera Step 2

  1. We recommend the WebRTC Leak Prevent extension. Click on it to open the details page. Click on the Add to Opera button, and wait as the extension is being installed.
  2. Do the WebRTC leak test again.

How to disable WebRTC Opera Step 4 - Leak Still Positive

Notice that although the local IP address is no longer leaked, the public IP address is still shown. Note that this public IP address can still be traced back to you, so this situation is not ideal.

If after adding the WebRTC Leak Prevent extension, your IP is still leaking (as in our case above), do the following:

  1. Go to the Extensions page by pressing Ctrl+ Shift+E.
  2. Look for the WebRTC Leak Prevent extensions, and click on Options.

WebRTC Leak Prevent Extension Step 2

  1. On the IP handling policy dropdown, select “Disable non-proxied UDP (force proxy).”

WebRTC Leak Prevent Extension Step 3

  1. Do the leak test again. This time, both the local and public IP addresses are not shown.

WebRTC Leak Prevent Extension - Negative Leak

I chose the WebRTC Leak Prevent extension because it had the highest rating with the most number of reviews. For comparison, the WebRTC Control extension has more reviews, but it has a lower rating. You may try other extensions available on Opera, just make sure that you do a WebRTC Opera IP address leak test after you add one.

Other VPN tests you can do

WebRTC isn’t the first technology that has affected VPN users, and it certainly won’t be the last. For instance, IPv6 (a protocol developed to replace the depleted IPv4) is also causing IP leaks. This vulnerability prompted some VPN providers to develop IPv6 leak prevention features, and hopefully, they will also respond to prevent WebRTC IP leaks.

For now, all that you can do as a VPN user is to disable WebRTC for every browser you use, whether for desktop or mobile, if your VPN isn’t already taking care of the issue. Many have fixed this issue for you already, so make sure to do thorough VPN tests regularly, so you can stop any potential leak before it can harm you. Such tests include the DNS leak test, IPv6 leak test, and IP leak test.