What Is Identity Theft Exactly?
Identity theft is a term that is used to refer to any kind of scam, deception, or activity that leads to loss of your personal data, including loss of passwords, username, credit card details, banking information, health ID’s and social security numbers, that goes on to be used to commit fraud and other criminal activities without your consent.
For some people, identity theft can be just an annoying inconvenience as they can be able to resolve the problems that it brings about and restore their data on their own. While for others, recovering their identity can be costly and time-consuming leading to tremendous unwanted repercussions.
How Identities Are Stolen
Online identity theft comprises of various activities, but it occurs when users fall into the trap of confidence scams and phishing, use Wi-Fi that is not secure, personal information leaks to unwanted third parties through DNS leaks or when users download malware to their smartphones and computers that steal their confidential information and so on.
As such, it is important therefore to make sure that you protect yourself from identity theft using the best means possible. In this piece, we are going to look at how you can protect yourself from identity theft by preventing DNS leaks.
What Is a DNS?
A domain name system (DNS) is a service that maps domain names to their respective IP addresses. For example, let’s assume that one of Google’s IP addresses is 184.108.40.206, and when you go to your browser and type in www.google.com on the URL bar you will arrive at Google; that’s because your internet service provider (ISP), has translated the domain name from the series of numbers address with the help of DNS servers. This translation of IP addresses is usually done to enable humans to remember computer addresses by their domain names instead of ambiguous IP addresses.
A DNS service is therefore requested automatically when a user enters a web address on their browsers to enable the server to know how it will find the website. You find that when you use a router to connect to the internet, your router gets a DNS server IP address and a specific IP address to identify your machine via internet service provider (ISP) DHCP. In some cases, you can consider using private or public DNS servers instead of those provided by ISP.
What You Need to Know about DNS Leak
When you are using a browser to reach a certain website, the browser sends a request to the DNS server with the URL that you entered, and then you are directed to the IP address. This is an essential piece of how the Internet operates. A DNS leak occurs when a browser fails to use the VPN set up and sends DNS request straight to your ISP. Consequently, this can lead to identity theft in conception that you have remained anonymous and safe from online surveillance, but you are not protected. The bottom line is that verifying that the traffic originating from your computer is routed through a secured VPN network is the best way to protect yourself online.
Well, how does a DNS leak occur? A DNS leak occurs when your virtual private network (VPN) services provider uses virtual servers. For example, if your VPN services provider is based in New Zealand and the provider doesn’t have physical servers that are in existence in your locality like in France, Hong Kong, Germany and so on. The provider instead opts for virtual servers, something that implies that DNS servers in New Zealand are not protecting you as they should be doing. The virtual servers that give you VPN services don’t have the ability to record and monitor your online activities when you send a request to retrieve information to the DNS server leaving you vulnerable to identity theft. The point is that when you are using a VPN, the DNS request that a user makes must be directed to an anonymous DNS server via your VPN, and it shouldn’t be sent directly from your browser, this is what keeps your ISP services provider from monitoring your activities and connection.
Detecting a DNS Leak
A big number of VPN services providers have put in place features that can assist you to monitor your DNS requests and ensure that they are routed through the VPN. You can contact your VPN services providers anytime if you are concerned about a DNS leak and verify if your internet users are protected from identity theft and other privacy needs by this feature.
In addition, DNS leak detection should be a simple and easy task, given that there are different sites that can provide you with this service. Good examples of websites that provide DNS leak detection services include www.dnsleaktest.com and www.ipleak.net just to mention but a few. Considering the privacy threats posed by DNS leaks, there are various preventive measures that have been put in place by VN users and general internet users. Among the preventive measures put in place, the following is a list of other suggestions to prevent DNS leaks:
- Consider hiring good and reputable DNS services
- Block non-VPN traffic
- Install a good firewall
- Disable Teredo; for windows users
It is advisable to opt for VPNs that come with features that can help to ascertain whether your DNS requests are going through the VPN you are subscribed to instead to your ISP provider. To see if your VPN provider has this protection, go to settings; you should be able to see an option that you can use to check for DNS leaks as well as prevent DNS leaks.
To wrap up the loose ends, it is worth mentioning that DNS leak is one of the risks that a big percentage of internet users encounter. You find that if you fail to make use of a VPN, your ISP is usually set as your DNS server. This is the reason why users are advised to confirm that the traffic that is originating from their computer is securely routed to A VPN network to prevent monitoring entities to track their IP address. When you subscribe to any VPN services provider, you will be connected to secured DNS servers that do not keep logs of your browsing history such as passwords, sites accessed, and other personal details. In addition, the connection to the DNS servers is usually encrypted end-to-end for privacy and security for all subscribers.
About the Author: Bram Jansen
Bram Jansen is an online privacy expert. He’s been helping businesses secure their information online. He offers tips and advice to protect companies from common problems and to guarantee they are protecting their online and social media privacy. He’s part of vpnAlert, a trusted advisor on VPNs and Internet Privacy. You can visit their Twitter page. When not working, Bram indulges in kayaking and mountain climbing.