Three data leaks which might erode the base of your online privacy

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Online privacy is critically important in this era of privacy breaches. There has been a lot of discussion about how to stay safe online and many experts have suggested using a virtual private network. A number of people are subscribing to a VPN service because it keeps overzealous intelligence agencies away from monitoring online activity and also keeps browsing history hidden from data-hungry advertisers.

However, your privacy can be at risk even after you are using a VPN for PC. Three common vulnerabilities can leak your data when you are surfing online. These include App leaks, WebRTC and DNS leaks. Keep reading to know how these leaks work and what can you do to counter such leaks.

App leaks

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 2.87 billion smartphone users. It is evident from such numbers that people prefer to spend more and more time with their smartphone. The apps we use on our smartphone know a lot about us, if anyone of it leaks out our information then it would practically be quite difficult to pinpoint which one did it.

App leaks happen when an app fails to secure the data. The defaulted apps are often found to connect with online services and leak information of the user, for instance; when signing in for a social media platform you need to put in the credentials to the server to verify you; this data can be saved by the app and later leaked.

Apps that use HTTPS protocol are found to be more secure than those who do not. Apps that rely on HTTP are susceptible to data leakage. These apps can be ad-laden gaming apps, business apps, sports apps, and news apps.

Information that an app can potentially leak includes your email address, postal address, Username, passwords, and your credit card information. People should think twice before allowing apps what information they can access.

If you are not using a VPN for app leak, then you should opt for one. A VPN cannot fill in the holes left by the app developer to encrypt your data, but it surely can prevent the data leakage by changing your IP address and prevent data from being connected.

DNS Leaks

DNS stands for “Domain Name Server,” that potentially reveal your online identity even if you are using a VPN service.

When you type in a website’s URL in the search bar of a browser, then your browser asks a DNS for the IP address of the web server which is connected to that URL. Then your browser asks the host server for the web page and displays it.

The web browser automatically uses the DNS services that are available until you specify it not to. The DNS request is so strong that it can bypass a protective layer set by your VPN provider. This means that whenever you visit a website, your IP’s DNS server is contacted and they can be potentially exploited to keep logs of your online activity.

The DNS leak issue can be fixed with some minor tweaks. Here’s how to;

You can manually change your setting to use different DNS like Google DNS or OpenDNS instead of using the default one by your internet service provider. You can change it by typing in the IP of the DNS server you want to use in the internet adapter settings.

Alternatively, you can automate the process by using the services of a VPN provider that claims DNS leak protection by automatically switching the browser to a secure DNS.

WebRTC Leaks

WebRTC (Real-Time Communication) allows a peer-to-peer exchange of videos and audios through a browser. It is a protocol which is used by popular apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Discord. Though WebRTC, it is useful to communicate and send videos, this protocol has its downfall. The connection created by WebRTC is used to share data that bypasses the protection of your VPN until your VPN is designed to catch it. Moreover, if you are not protected, then it will leak out your IP address.

An IP address is a key to reveal a user’s identity. A simple Google search is capable of revealing the location when an IP address is searched. If anyone gets access to your IP address (hacker in many cases), then he can access all the data that is linked with your IP address, this also includes your postal address.

WebRTC can leak your information even if you are using a VPN service; to be sure you are protected, use a VPN service that claims strong protection from WebRTC leak.

You can also take these steps to stop the privacy leak.

If you are using Google Chrome, then you can find apps on the Chrome Web Store to disable the WebRTC leak.

If you are using Mozilla Firefox then disabling WebRTC is so simple just head to the configuration page and turn off peer connection settings. 

Note: There is no way to disable WebRTC on Safari and Microsoft Edge. If you are so conscious about your privacy, then it is advised to either switch to another web browser or use a VPN that has a built-in WebRTC blocker.

Terry Higgins, Marketing Director, AllBestVPN
Image Credit: Balefire / Shutterstock