Proxy servers are critical for online security. They filter incoming and outgoing traffic. You get to block content that could compromise your online safety. Hackers will not be able to find areas of vulnerability that they can use to penetrate your site.
Other than security through encryption, you can also track internet usage. Proxies work well for organizations or individuals who want to block specific sites.
Proxies also give you access to content that has restrictions based on geographical location. People who use services such as Netflix find them incredibly useful. Some content may be accessible in one country, but not in another. By circumventing firewalls or content restrictions, you can consume such content without issues.
Proxies can also change or hide your IP address. For example, a SOCKS proxy hides your IP address by shielding it with a new one. Your old ID continues to exist but beneath the surface. In this way, you can use the internet without other people knowing exactly where you are.
Since all communication goes through the proxy, you hide your identity when online.
Understanding The Role Of Your IP Address
Your IP address holds a lot of information; most of which you may not even be aware of. It is your online location. Think about it as you would when referencing your physical address. It shows in which continent and country you are located.
It goes further to show the state, city, and even postal code. And if you think that is all it does, think again. Your IP address can pin down your exact longitudinal and latitudinal position.
It explains one reason why many people will hide their IP address when online. The use of proxy servers provides security, anonymity, and privacy when online. Data encryption ensures no one can access your information.
Understanding The Difference Between VPN And Proxies
You may find some people use VPNs and proxies interchangeably. They do share certain similarities. With both, you get privacy and access to sites that have restrictions. You also get anonymity and encryption for added security.
The difference between a proxy and a VPN comes in the process. A proxy will misdirect or mask your IP so that you can browse anonymously. You can also block off individual web pages you do not want. It’s ideal for monitoring and tracking internet usage.
Your proxy is a computer on the internet that has its own IP address. The main challenge with proxies is that whoever owns the server has access to your data. It is essential to sign up for platforms that are reputable and trustworthy. Please read the fine print so that you know how they handle your data once it’s on their server.
VPNs establish secure tunnels through the server. They replace your ISP routing, resulting in data encryption and security. It does this for all your internet traffic.
Whether you are using a proxy server or VPN, an IP address leak can happen.
What Happens When There Is An IP Leak?
You install a proxy server so that you get online privacy and security. The best way to achieve this is by hiding your IP address. The proxy has an address that third parties see, instead of yours. When there is an IP address leak, it means you no longer have the shield the proxy offers.
Using a proxy is not a hundred per cent guarantee that your IP address will not leak. The basic premise of proxy servers is that you get privacy and anonymity. The truth is there are so many different types, all with different offerings.
Ideally, the devices should connect to an anonymous server. However, there are many reasons why an IP address leak may occur, including your device connecting to a default server, DNS leak, or WebRTC leaks.
How To Check For IP Address Leaks On Your Proxy
Let’s look at some of the ways to check if your proxy is leaking your IP address.
1. Use Online Tools
There are specific online tools you can use to check for IP address leaks:
- Step 1: Simply log onto whatismyip.com to help with running the test. Do note, that the IP address that appears when you log on is your correct one.
- Step 2: You will need to connect to a proxy from another country.
- Step 3: Check what address comes up and whether it is the same as the one you had in step 1.
If it is the same, it means that you have an IP address leak. If it is different, it means your proxy server is working just fine.
2. Use Google Search Engine
Doing an IP address leak test is very simple on Google. Follow the steps below:
- Turn off your proxy server
- On Google, search for ‘what is my IP address?’
- Google will show your public IP address at the very top of the result page
- Now turn on your proxy
- Go back to Google and run the same search
If the result is the same as it was the first time, you have a leak. If it shows a different IP address, then you are safe. The different IP address will be the one your proxy provider gave you.
3. DNS Test Leak
If you have ever used a phonebook, the DNS is the online version. Domain name system or DNS converts text into numbers.
Computers communicate via numbers, which is the format your IP address comes in. The numerical address is what the system uses to route data to the internet.
When you want to access a site, your ISP receives a request for a DNS for the recipient website. Your internet provider will assign you a DNS server. It is where they record your internet activities.
In some instances, your operating system may ignore the proxy. Instead, it connects to the default DNS server. What happens is your address becomes visible to third parties. DNS leaks are a serious problem because they expose your ISP to anyone who may have an interest.
There are several sites where you can carry out DNS leak tests, including dnsleaktest.com or dnsleak.com. Using the tool is very simple, and you only need to follow the prompts. Your feedback should be available within a few seconds. It will look something like this:
Most importantly, the sites do not gain access to your IP address. You continue to maintain your anonymity even as you run the leak test.
When shopping for a proxy, check that you get DNS leaks prevention.
4. Use Your Computer To Check For Address Leaks
You can use your computer to check for IP address leaks. Here is what you need to do:
- Get your IP address details; the real one and the one from your proxy server
- Look for a test server (you will need these to launch the command prompt. You’ll find tons with a quick Google search)
- Understand how to use the command prompt on your computer
If you are, for example, operating on Windows, this is what you need to do:
- Go to the search bar – you will find it on the bottom left of your screen, right next to the Windows symbol
- Type in the following – pingtestservername.com-n1
The command prompt will show your IP address. If it’s the same as the one the proxy provider has given you, you are fine. If it is the same as the original IP address, you have a leak.
5. Torrent Leak Test
Torrents present a popular way of accessing software, entertainment, or other material. You get to share files, but it can also expose your ISP IP address. Some clients may also include your IP address when sending out data. It puts you at unnecessary risk with regard to online security.
In the case that the torrent client bypasses your proxy, you lose your anonymity and privacy due to the leak.
Here is what you need to do.
- Search for a torrent privacy checker online. You have many options available.
- Download the magnet or test file
- Upload the file you have just downloaded onto your torrent client
If your IP address comes up, there is no leak. If, on the other hand, the IP address from your ISP comes up, you have a leak.
6. Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) Leaks
Push notifications are convenient because they provide real-time communication. That is the functionality you get with WebRTC. However, even with a proxy, you may still experience an IP address leak.
Disable the WebRTC in your browser. You will, however, compromise some of the functionalities, such as Google Hangouts. Install the leak prevention tool if you use Firefox as your browser.
Is Your Proxy Leaking Your IP Address?
Here are the ways to know if your proxy is leaking your IP address:
- Use online tools.
- Use the Google search engine.
- DNS Test Leak.
- Use your computer to check for address leaks.
- Torrent Leak Test.
- Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) Leaks.
We have looked at six ways to check whether your proxy is leaking your IP address. A proxy server is intended to provide you with anonymity and privacy.
You should be able to browse the internet without third parties knowing your location. The right proxy will hide or shield your IP address.
Unfortunately, in some instances, it may not work as it should. IP address leaks are easy to identify using the simple-to-follow methods above.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.