DNS leaks are essentially vulnerabilities that allow DNS requests to be passed to your ISP. In other words, a DNS leak affects your privacy by sending a query to an unencrypted DNS request used on your network.
Your ISP’s (Internet Service Provider) DNS servers store a lot of information about you when you visit websites or do anything on the Internet. In particular, they store the domain and IP address you have visited, as well as the name of the website you are visiting.
Privacy is a big deal in this day and age. Hardly a day goes by before we hear or read of a data breach in the media. Hackers are hard at work and their target is not just high-profile businesses. They’re also targeting average homes in search of passwords, banking info and more. If you have installed an anonymity or privacy service on your computer or network, it is extremely important to ensure that all traffic originating from your computer is routed through the anonymity network. DNA leaks can affect your ability to stay anonymous by revealing your private information to any adversary monitoring your traffic.
What is a DNS
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It’s a protocol used to translate domain names into numerical IP addresses such as 188.8.131.52. IP addresses are required to route data on the Internet. Whenever you type a search or web address on your browser, you are essentially asking your computer to contact a DND server on the Internet. This server in turn requests the IP address of the page or site you are seeking and returns it back to your browser for your viewing. In many cases, and with fast internet speeds this process is instantaneous.
To mask what you are doing online, you need a Virtual Private Network or anonymity network which routes traffic through its servers instead. DNS leaks are a major privacy threat since the anonymity network may be providing a false sense of security while private data is actually leaking.
Leaks in your DNS can be caused by a misconfigured VPN, a lack of encryption, or even a combination of both.
Detecting and Fixing a DNS Leak is not difficult
Fortunately, detecting leaks in your DNS is not that difficult. You can simply run a test on DNSLeakTest.com. Overall, the best way to avoid this is to simply use VPN providers that offer integrated leak protection. Fixing the solution can sometimes be as simple as changing the VPN provider, disabling IPv6, or using an OpenVPN plugin. These leaks can also occur if your ISP is able to track your digital movements while using a VPN, as in the case of an IP address tracking system.
DNS leaks are very common nowadays, especially for Windows users, where the default setting is to send the request to the DNS server of the ISP instead of going through a VPN tunnel.
If you are a long-term subscriber of a VPN provider, you should check your DNS capabilities. DNS leaks essentially occur when a DNS query is sent through the encrypted tunnel of the VPN, or when VPN servers are bypassed or ignored.
If you know that your current provider is exposing your privacy to the web through DNS leaks, you should switch to another provider that guarantees that your data is secure and flawless. Ultimately you’re better off only using a VPN that offers DNS leak protection.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can have the ability to effectively enforce a DNS leak. At the user level, improper network configuration can easily lead to DNS leaks, bypassing VPN protection and using a so-called transparent proxy server that intercepts and redirects your web traffic to ensure that all DNS searches are carried out via the ISP’s own DNS servers.