Wondering if your VPN is keeping your in the private and secure line? If it isn’t, then here’s what you need to do – also, here are some tips for VPNs.
Having a VPN is an essential step for anyone looking to up their security and privacy online in the modern world of the internet. Now that so much of your data is online, and so many people can access it with relatively little effort, it’s worth investing in a solid VPN for a few dollars a month that will provide you with 256 bit military-grade encryption, doesn’t log all of your data to be looked at later on, and doesn’t operate in a country that is likely to demand the company hand over all their servers.
On top of this, you want a VPN that is fast, as many of them will slow down your internet connection due to the fact your data is being rerouted through a separate server on its way to and from your device. There’s a lot to check for when purchasing a VPN – they’re not all the same. Some are more secure than others, and if there was ever a time in your life where reading a private policy is essential, this is it. After all, what’s the point of having a VPN is someone can access all your data and share it with third parties? Isn’t that the sole reason why you wanted one in the first place?
Assuming you’ve got all of this figured out and you’ve installed a top VPN to keep you secure and private while online, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s always working. This is a major weakness of a VPN – to make sure it’s working properly all the time requires that your connection is solid at home and that the service itself is kept up-to-date and well maintained. If, for example, the servers crash at the company hosting your VPN, then all your data is vulnerable.
How to Check if Your VPN is Working
The process for making sure your VPN is working correctly or not can differ depending on what VPN you’re using. However, there are usually similarities in how to do this across the board. There are a few methods, so let’s have a look.
TRUST: First of all, if you’re using a trustworthy VPN service, then this shouldn’t even be a concern – you’ll likely have a small tab in your taskbar or on your mobile device informing you if you’re connected or not. With the best VPNs, you can trust that if it says you’re good, then you’re good. If you’re using a free VPN or one that you’re not sure whether to trust or not, then let us give you some advice: change VPN. Don’t ever use a sub-standard service for this matter – some VPNs WILL store your data and they’ll share it with ‘trusted companies’ who you will never know the name of. Many of them also lack the top industry encryption that you should have to ensure that no one can get around the security of your data.
THE MARKER: As mentioned above, there should be an icon on your computer desktop to indicate whether your VPN is currently active or not (you probably want more confirmation than this, however). On a mobile device, you can go on settings to see if you have your VPN active or not – there will also probably be an icon on the top of the screen.
YOUR IP ADDRESS: Sometimes, your VPN will say its active, but it could be leaking your IP address due to shoddy maintenance, low security, or the fact that it’s a free service and you should never have downloaded it in the first place. Your IP address determines your location and by hiding it you can access content that would otherwise not be available in your country. While your VPN can keep you secure, it can also mask where you are, and this part of the deal isn’t guaranteed with every service – sometimes people can easily see your IP address, even with a VPN.
Go to a website that can detect your IP address and ask for them to detect yours – if it can, then obviously your IP address has been leaked, but if it can’t then you’re in the clear. Try now opening your VPN, making sure you’re connected to an exit server in another country, and then try again on another IP address detector site, this one working off of WebRTC (a new technology that can get around a VPN and see your real location). If it can’t pick you up, then you know your VPN is working fine – if it can, then you’re vulnerable.
DISABLE WEBTRC: WebTRC is built into Chrome and Firefox nowadays, and other companies are likely to start using it to stop people from using their services in unsupported countries. This is a real shame for VPN users, as it could actually render the IP masking element of the VPN totally useless. However, there is still hope, Safari doesn’t use this technology yet, so your VPN will work fine while using that browser. Also, you can just disable WebTRC by installing the SafeScript add on for Chrome, or by installing the DisableWebTRC add on from Mozilla. Simples.
How to Keep Yourself in the Clear with a VPN
To ensure that you’re always safe when using your VPN, make sure you regularly check to see if your IP address is discoverable. Also, make sure to activate a KILL SWITCH.
What is a Kill Switch?
Most VPNs have a kill switch option. This is an essential step in keeping yourself secure. If your VPN ever leaks your IP address of stops encrypting your data, the kill switch will activate and your internet connection will be disabled. This is to ensure that you’re never online without the full protection of your VPN. If for any reason your VPN stops working, even just for a few seconds, the kill switch will shut off your internet connection to make sure that your location and data are never revealed. Once the VPN is active again, your internet connection will be restored. While this is a bit annoying if you’re in the middle of doing something online, it’s totally worth it to keep your IP address masked and your data secure.
The kill switch works by constantly keeping an eye on your connection and the IP address attached to it. If anything changes then it instantly turns it off, meaning your internet won’t have a chance to connect outside of the VPN network. Always make sure you have this turned on. And remember, invest in a good VPN to begin with.