More VPN users are becoming aware that some websites are using a fairly new technology implemented in browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, allowing websites to see the real IP and location of their users, regardless if the user is behind a VPN or proxy, essentially bypassing it’s protection.
This back door technique is called WebRTC and is supported in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. Only Firefox has an official method to disable WebRTC for users who wish to keep their real IP private behind their VPN, by visiting in the Firefox URL bar “about:config” then change the “media.peerconnection.enabled” setting to “False” will turn off WebRTC in Firefox. Chrome and Opera users are not so lucky, as there is no official method to disable WebRTC, they must rely on unofficial third party browser plugins which don’t always work.
Some websites use the WebRTC back door to display content to their visitors only from specific geographic locations – different content for different locations. This may pose an inconvenience for users who travel often: visitors will have problems accessing content from their home location and instead only have access to content from the region they are currently traveling within, even when using a VPN to set their IP location or not.
How does this WebRTC back door really work? When a visitor opens a website with WebRTC code, it instructs the user’s web browser to make direct DNS calls to another server of the website’s choosing. These DNS calls bypass typical VPN connections. Not just web browsers and websites can do this, any application running on your device can use the same technique to bypass your VPN or proxy.
The best solution to prevent your real IP leaking for both websites and apps is to change your device system DNS IP that works as a smart DNS proxy, such as Hide My IP’s DNS Proxy service. Free DNS IPs such as Google DNS or OpenDNS do not offer protection for WebRTC back doors or other methods that “leak” user’s real IP addresses.
Perhaps one day Google Chrome will officially allow users turn off WebRTC, but this remains to be seen.