Your VPN works properly if there are no IPv6, WebRTC, or DNS leaks. For the average user, testing those out is basically enough to ensure their VPN is the real deal. ProPrivacy have a VPN security test that does it all under a minute.
Now, their tool is all you really need since it includes all the aforementioned tests. But if you need a second opinion, you’ll find more below to compare results, as well as some extra tests later on for a more complete picture of your VPN functionality and security.
#1 IP Leak Tools
If you’re not familiar with how VPNs leak, here is a summary of each type and why they occur:
- IPv6 – slow adoption of this new IP address standard by companies means VPN providers don’t usually offer support for it. If you ever read about “IPv6 leak protection” it most likely just means that IPv6 traffic will be blocked by the VPN client.
- WebRTC – browser feature that allows for audio-video communication, but also for websites to discover your real IP address through STUN requests, even behind VPN protection.
- DNS – the Domain Name System (DNS) that translates website names to IP addresses and vice versa. Leaks happen when DNS requests go through your ISP instead of your VPN provider’s servers (usually due to a Windows feature like Teredo, or Smart Multi-Homed Name Resolution).
As for other tools you could check out, here they are:
Keep that last one in mind; it will come in handy for the next section.
#2 Torrent IP Leak
Let’s preface this by saying we do not condone illegal file-sharing through torrents. It’s still unfortunate that people in less developed countries have to resort to it just to access entertainment media, software, or learning materials.
That aside, torrenting has many perfectly legal uses, such as companies sharing large files quickly while saving on bandwidth. Even in these legal situations, it’s important to use a VPN to hide your IP from potential bad actors. Music artists and others are known to share their work for free on torrent sites, so you can’t count on a fully trustworthy torrenting environment.
In any case, why would you need a separate IP leak test for torrenting? Well, consider the fact that some torrent clients inject your real IP address into the data packets it sends out. IP leak tools only really verify your IP address from your browser, so the IP address your torrenting client uses could go unnoticed.
As mentioned, IPLeak has a test for that. You simply add a Magnet link to your torrent client while keeping the tool open, and it will show you the IP address it detects.
#3 Anti-Malware or VirusTotal
A good chunk (about 20%) of the top free Android VPNs were found to contain malware, while 25% of them suffered from DNS leaks. While this kind of situation is usually limited to “free” VPNs, remember the following: Cyber criminals consider VPN providers important targets, and will do anything in their power to exploit any vulnerabilities and otherwise do damage to their users.
As such, it doesn’t hurt to check your VPN installer file with some decent anti-malware, even if it’s from a trustworthy provider. If you don’t feel like shelling out for more software, a good alternative is a tool like VirusTotal that will scan your VPN’s installer file with its combination of 70 different antivirus scanners.
#4 Wireshark –Test Your VPN’s Encryption
Encryption is how your VPN obfuscates your network data so it can’t be read by outsiders, such as your ISP, government surveillance agencies, or cyber criminals. With a trusty VPN provider, you will never have to worry about this part of their software.
However, free VPNs are a different story, as you’ve seen above. Not only can they contain malware, but many were found to not even use encryption. If you truly can’t afford a paid VPN option, it might be a good idea to test out its encryption using a packet sniffer such as Wireshark.
Packet sniffers are typically used by technicians to diagnose network problems, but cyber criminals can use them to steal your data. For example, over the unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot at your local café or hotel. Check out how to use Wireshark to test your VPN if you have any doubts about it. It’s worth doing it even if you use a paid VPN option; you never know.
#5 Speed Test
It’s inevitable that there will be a connection slowdown while using a VPN, even if your provider has the fastest servers around. There are multiple factors that affect your VPN speed, from the distance between you and the server, to your system’s CPU speed – which affects how fast your VPN encrypts and decrypts network data.
Now, a faster VPN doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all-around better, but that doesn’t give your provider an excuse to slow your browsing down to a crawl. Give SpeedTest a try to verify your connection speed, with and without a VPN connection. This should give you an idea of whether your ISP or your VPN is to blame for your connection problems.