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Your internet service provider can monitor the sites you browse, see the apps you use, and much more.

What is a DNS leak?

58% of the global population are active internet users - that’s 4.4 billion people! However, when most of us go online, we don’t actually know what goes behind the scenes and who has access to what information. Even if you’re worried about your privacy and use tools to protect it, an unreliable or malfunctioning VPN app can leave your DNS queries visible to your ISP. This is known as a DNS leak.

Whoever runs your DNS server can make a log and track every single website and app you use. That means your ISP can collect your online browsing habits. Why would they want to do that?

  • It provides a source of income for your ISP.
  • Data is easily collected and sold to marketing companies for a pretty penny.
  • Companies then use this information for targeted ads and other marketing strategies to promote their brand.

It's kind of like the saying two can keep a secret if one of them is dead. Even if your information is not sold for malicious intent, that doesn't mean that it won't fall into the hands of predators.

What is DNS?

Not so long ago, every home had a phonebook. It was a lifeline that we couldn't do without. DNS stands for Domain Name System and can be likened to the phone book of the internet. DNS servers are databases of all of the public domains on the internet.

How does DNS work?

Users find domain names useful but browsers communicate via IP addresses. A DNS is responsible for translating the domain name into an IP address and the other way around so the proper content is loaded to your browser page.

The dangers of a DNS leak

  • It can give unauthorized third parties the ability to track all of your online activity.
  • It can compromise your online privacy by providing a clear overview of what you do online.

The mechanism that makes DNS a serious privacy risk is that your web browser uses DNS to find the sites you are looking for online. Your device then asks the DNS server, which in turn sends back the directions that tell your browser how to get to the site you are looking for. This process leaves a cookie crumb trail to your ISP (or DNS service provider), leaving you vulnerable. The other problem is that there are countless numbers of different DNS servers. Those who are in control of the server can access all of your online activity.

Let's face it, there are some things that you don't want to end up in the wrong hands. For instance, do you want your boss to know you are looking at other job opportunities? The answer is probably not. Once out, the information has the potential to pop up in all kinds of wrong places.

What causes VPNs to leak DNS?

There are endless reasons a DNS leak can occur and as fast as technology is changing, new ways are constantly popping up. Here are the three most common cases:

  1. Manually configured VPN - a manually configured connection inherently leaves you at a much higher risk of incurring a DNS leak.
  2. You've been hacked - if a malicious third-party attacker has gained control of your router it can trick your device into routing DNS traffic around your VPN which leaves you vulnerable.
  3. Manual DNS configuration - you may have intentionally or unintentionally told your device not to use DNS servers operated by Surfshark VPN.

Using Surfshark applications significantly reduces your risk of a DNS leak.

How does Surfshark prevent DNS leaks?

When you connect to the internet, your device is making DNS requests. However, if you’re using Surfshark, our apps will block all the DNS requests that your device is making and direct them through a safe, encrypted tunnel. Since we do not keep any logs, your privacy is protected. Here’s the key benefits you get:

  • Faster DNS servers than the standard ones.
  • No activity or connection logs.
  • End-to-end encryption for absolutely all traffic between your devices and DNS servers.

Let's take a step-by-step look at how this works.

  1. You click a link or enter a URL in order to visit a website.
  2. The domain name is sent to a Surfshark DNS server via Surfshark's encrypted tunnel.
  3. The IP address is looked up by the DNS server.
  4. That IP address is then used by your device to access a website.

The main takeaway is that all traffic is contained within the safety of the encrypted Surfshark tunnel which protects your information and privacy.

The Surfshark advantage

Surfshark is dedicated to making sure you are protected from the dangers of the world wide web. When you use Surfshark, you have peace of mind because you know who is operating the servers that your devices are communicating with and that any and all traffic is safely encrypted inside the tunnel. Each VPN server has its own DNS complete with leak protection when used in conjunction with IPv4 stack. Protect your online privacy with second-to-none technology.

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