When you read about VPNs, you might have heard the term WebRTC. There are some VPNs that suffer from WebRTC leaks which makes us think that WebRTC is related to VPN services.
In reality, WebRTC is a term related to the browser. So if you’re facing a WebRTC leak, it’s related to Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or any other browser you’re using.
Before we discuss WebRTC leaks, we need to understand what WebRTC is.
WebRTC or Web Real Time Communication is a software tool that lets you have video or voice chat in your browser, without the need for extra plugins.
So if you’re creating a live video feed or sending live audio and aren’t using any extension, it is because of WebRTC. It establishes a communication channel between your browser and the website you’re visiting. This is done by exchanging IP address.
The problem with WebRTC is that this exchange of information might bypass the encrypted tunnel you have created.
This is called a WebRTC leak.
Because of this leak, your real IP address is exposed to the website you’re visiting. Even if you’re connected to a VPN, this leak can expose your real IP to the website you’re on.
⚠️ If you don’t protect your connection against WebRTC leaks, any website on the internet can get your real IP address even if you have encrypted your connection. This can be a huge problem.
Is WebRTC bad?
Not really. Since it lets you live stream audio and video content, it is essential for a good internet experience. But since it also leaks your real IP online, you need a way to fix this problem.
Vulnerability due to WebRTC
WebRTC makes your connection vulnerable and your real IP address can lie exposed to a STUN request with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and several other browsers – even when you use a VPN.
Browsers such as Chrome and Firefox allow websites to make requests to get the public and local IP addresses of the user. These requests cannot be blocked by blocker plugins such as Ghostery and AdBlockPlus.
This means that any website can run a few scripts to get your real IP address through your browser.
Why is it dangerous?
It’s simple – if you’re online and your IP address is leaked, the website you’re visiting will not see your VPN’s IP but your IP instead. This lets governments spy on you. And it’s worse than not using a VPN at all.
Because when you’re using a VPN, you think you’re secure. If you live in an oppressed country and use a VPN, you might use it to post your opinion online, thinking you’re safe under encryption. But WebRTC leaks your IP, exposing your true identity.
If you’re using it to access geo-blocked content, you’ll see that you’re unable to unblock it. However, things become dangerous when you’re a journalist or an activist and all your online activities get exposed to the government.
How to test for WebRTC leaks
There are several websites that test for leaks. Make sure you connect to the VPN. Now click here to test your connection. Or you can click here to test your browser and see if it’s leaking IP address.
If you see your real IP address, this means you need to change your VPN.
How to Avoid WebRTC Leaks
There are some ways in which you can avoid a WebRTC leak. For example, you can use a good VPN. There are several VPNs in the market that avoid WebRTC leaks.
A good VPN will block unwanted IP requests through WebRTC while letting other WebRTC connections that continue under the anonymous IP address.
You can also block WebRTC at the browser level, but if your VPN is able to block WebRTC leaks, you don’t need to make fine adjustments in the browser settings.
Also, blocking WebRTC at browser level will make it difficult to stream audio and video. However, if you still want, you can tweak the settings.
A VPN to Protect from WebRTC leaks
WebRTC is an issue with the browser, just like browser fingerprinting. Even if you use a VPN, these vulnerabilities can reveal your true identity online.
The good thing is that there are some VPNs that can solve this issue for you. Top VPN providers such as Nord VPN and Express VPN claim that they can solve the WebRTC issue so you don’t have to worry about IP leaks.
There are three solutions to handle the WebRTC leak issue.
- Disable browser WebRTC. There are some browsers that come with disabled WebRTC, you can use them. However, as mentioned earlier, disabling WebRTC will change your online experience.
- If it’s not possible to disable WebRTC, you can use browser add-ons. However, when you use extensions, you increase the chances of being fingerprinted.
- Use a good VPN. There are several VPNs in the market that don’t leak your IP. You can use one of them.
In a Nutshell
ℹ️ When you use a VPN for any purpose (to go anonymous online, to access geo-blocked content, or to hide from the government, etc.), the browser becomes the weak link in the chain.
ℹ️ If you add too many extensions, you can be browser fingerprinted. And if you want to use VoIP or video calling on the internet, you need to use WebRTC, which can leak your real IP.
ℹ️ And since WebRTC issue wasn’t known until 2015, there might be more vulnerabilities in the system without us knowing about them.
ℹ️ To stay safe from this issue, you can either make changes to the browser settings and block WebRTC or get a browser that has WebRTC blocked by default.
ℹ️ Either way, you will find some differences in your internet experience. You won’t be able to stream audio and video content.
ℹ️ So the best option that will let you stay safe and also stream your favorite content would be to use a good VPN. There are several VPNs in the market but not all of them can block WebRTC leaks. Before you get a VPN, it’s best to talk to the provider to make sure it blocks WebRTC.
ℹ️ Also, try to get a VPN with a money-back guarantee so you can test the connection after subscribing to it. If it leaks your address, you should be able to get a refund.