If your VPN software fails to hide your IP address and leaks your real location, read this guide to learn how you can fix the problem.
What this does is it allows users to bypass geo-restrictions on content, or check if their ISP is throttling the connection.
While all this is great and helps users feel safer online, the unfortunate part is there’s a new security flaw that can reveal or unmask your real IP address to prying eyes, whether or not you’re using a VPN.
Even worse is that this flaw is so easy to exploit despite the fact that most VPNs assure their clients of encryption for their sensitive data while boosting their security while online.
The new security flaw lets remote sites exploit your browser’s Web Real Time Communication or WebRTC feature, so as to reveal your real IP address even if you’re connected to your VPN, all with a few lines of code. What happens is your location protection is removed, the one you get from your VPN, then your actual location and ISP is revealed.
As much as this is browser based at the moment, any app that uses WebRTC and can load web pages is vulnerable so literally any prying eye or online snooper can see past your VPN and know who you are and your location.
Signs your VPN is leaking your IP
But how do you tell whether your VPN is affected by this security flaw?
Here are some steps you can take to determine if you’re affected:
- Check for your real IP address from sites like What Is My IP Address and write it down
- Connect to your VPN and choose a server in a different country
- Go to the same site and check your IP address again. If you see a new one that matches the one your VPN gives, you’re okay.
- You can also visit the WebRTC test page and see the IP address it gives
Note: If both sites display the IP address given by your VPN, you’re good to go. If the first shows your VPN location and the latter shows your real IP address, then you’re affected by the security flaw. This means your browser is leaking your real IP address.
What to do when your VPN doesn’t hide location
Despite the anxiety that comes when you know your VPN doesn’t hide location, there’s a way out, and you need not wait for your VPN to fix it for you – you can protect yourself. There are a number of things you can do to resolve the VPN doesn’t hide location issue, from installing a plugin to disabling the WebRTC feature.
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Solution 1: Disable WebRTC
The WebRTC is enabled in browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera by default, so those using Safari and Internet Explorer don’t have it so they won’t get affected when VPN doesn’t hide location.
If you really want to get out of this rut, you can choose to change to the latter two browsers, or you can disable WebRTC on your browser if using Chrome, Firefox or Opera.
For Chrome browser
There aren’t any built-in settings that’ll let you fix WebRTC leaks so to disable it, you need to install the right Chrome extension. Previously, users downloaded block WebRTC add-on/extension for their Chrome browser, but this didn’t work well and leaked user IP addresses.
You can get this Chrome Extension by PureVPN that is tried and tested to prevent WebRTC leaks and hide your real IP completely. It also comes with high encryption levels so your traffic is also secure.
- Launch Firefox
- In the address bar, type about:config
- Click ‘I’ll be careful, I promise!’ (The message varies depending on your version of Firefox). If you get ‘This might void your warranty’ click ‘I accept the risk’
- A list will open with a search bar, type media.peerconnection.enabled
- Press enter
- Double click on the result to change its value to false and close to complete the process
Installing the Firefox Extension by PureVPN also helps prevent IP address leaks if you don’t want to go through the above steps.
Solution 2: Cookie cutting
If you’ve visited a site before or have an account with it, then replacing your IP address may not change anything, because a site can use an IP and location from your first visit.
To resolve this, do the following:
- Log out from a website account after your normal session
- Connect your VPN
- Remove any browser information by deleting cookies, browser history and other data
You can also launch a private browsing session that doesn’t have previous website information by going incognito if using Chrome, or opening a New Private Window if using Firefox.
Solution 3: Disable Geolocation API
Geolocation API is one of the easiest ways for websites and apps to find your location because it’s accurate, easier to use and your VPN may not affect it.
To test this, connect to your VPN and run a geolocation test. Your browser should ask if the site can access your location, so give it permission and it will display a map with your real location, not that of your VPN.
To disable Geolocation API, do the following:
- Check browser and apps for any previous permissions and delete the ones you don’t need
- If using Chrome, click Settings > Advanced > Privacy and Security > Content Settings > Location to see the list of blocked and allowed sites
- For Firefox, click Options > Privacy and Security > Permissions > Location. Opera’s is at Settings > Websites > Location. Internet Explorer can allow or block location checks from Tools > Internet Options > Privacy > Location
Tips on how to hide your location and stay secure
- Use a web proxy that encrypts your browsing data
- Use an online VPN which works similar to a web proxy
- Use Tor (The Onion Router) that sends your traffic via several nodes all over the globe and bounces it around, so each node knows only the one that came before and after it, so its hard to trace your location or connection back to you
Let us know if these solutions helped you by leaving a comment in the section below.
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