If your web browser is leaking your public IP address via the WebRTC functionality, that's a WebRTC leak – and these leaks can happen without a user even being aware! Whether you're using a VPN or not, WebRTC leaks pose a subtle but serious security threat.
So, if you want to know what a WebRTC leak is exactly, as well as how you can test your own browser, keep reading!
What is WebRTC?
WebRTC (or Web Real-Time Communication) is a technology that allows browsers to communicate directly, in real-time, without any intermediate servers being necessary.
Essentially, WebRTC makes communications between web browsers and devices simple. It's why you can share live video feeds with ease, or join real-time voice calls, all from within your primary web browser without first having to install plug-ins, add-ons, or other third-party software.
WebRTC has a number of other notable benefits, however:
- Lag is reduced during video calls or when streaming, and even during file transfer.
- Boosts sound quality, ideal for individuals or businesses engaging in group calls and/or webinars.
- WebRTC is open-source and compatible with just about all web browsers and devices.
- It's free! You won't have to pay a penny to use WebRTC – and it's probably enabled by default by your browser.
What is a WebRTC leak?
So, WebRTC makes communication between devices that much easier – but in order to facilitate this communication, those devices must reveal their public IP addresses. And this is where it gets dangerous. A third-party website could feasibly trick your browser's WebRTC into disclosing your IP address. If this happens, it's a WebRTC leak.
Obviously, you don't want your IP address to be leaked. Your IP is an important, sensitive piece of information that can be used to glean a worrying amount of information about you, including your approximate geographical location and your internet service provider. Worryingly, you could be leaking your IP address right now as the result of a WebRTC leak and have no idea – not unless you performed a test.
Because WebRTC leaks aren't as well-known as DNS or IPv6 leaks, they're often overlooked and harder to pinpoint. There are plenty of VPNs out there that claim to protect users from WebRTC leaks, but some due diligence is required before you commit to a subscription – some VPNs simply lack the tools and security measures necessary to do so. Check out our what is a WebRTC leak guide for more details and tips on how to fix it.
Which browsers are affected by WebRTC leaks?
Unfortunately, nearly all the best-known web browsers are susceptible to WebRTC leaks – and this is because WebRTC is usually enabled by default. If you're using Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Safari, or Edge, it's a good idea to perform a quick WebRTC leak to ensure you're not leaking your IP address!
How to check for WebRTC leaks?
The very last thing you want from your VPN is subpar digital security. The best services should be more than capable of preventing WebRTC leaks, however. There's also a quick and easy way of determining whether your VPN is doing its job and keeping your real IP address concealed and safe. Follow along with the steps below, and you'll be able to see in a few clicks whether you're experiencing a WebRTC leak.
- Disconnect from your VPN entirely.
- Then, you'll need to figure out what your real IP address is – you can do this by Googling "What is my IP address?" or visiting our handy tool! Make a note of this IP address, then close your browser.
- Boot up your VPN, log in as usual, and open your browser.
- You'll now want to repeat step 2 – search Google or visit our tool, and again, make a note of the address that appears.
If this IP address doesn't match your real one, your VPN is successfully preventing WebRTC leaks. If the IP address is the same as your real one, however, it's likely that you're disclosing it as the result of a WebRTC leak.
WebRTC leaks are sneaky threats that can all too easily go unseen and unsolved – but leaking your IP address is a big deal! This is doubly so if you're using (and paying for) a VPN. A VPN should conceal your public IP address and assign you with another, neutralizing the threat of WebRTC leaks, but not all VPN providers were made equally.
If you're concerned that your VPN might be leaking identifiable information of any sort, check out our VPN Leak Testing Tool. You'll be able to put your provider to the test, and check for IPv4, IPv6, DNS and WebRTC leaks in one fell swoop!