The VPN kill switch is designed to automatically disconnect your device from the internet in case the VPN connection fails. This ensures that your IP address and sensitive information are not exposed to potential hackers, thereby protecting the security and anonymity of your internet connection.
Although most VPNs come with the kill switch feature turned on by default, you can switch it off if you prefer to keep using the internet even if the VPN is disconnected. However, for those who want to ensure comprehensive online security, a reliable kill switch is crucial.
What is the function of a VPN Kill Switch?
A VPN kill switch is designed to ensure your online safety and privacy by monitoring your connection, detecting issues, blocking your access to the internet, and restoring your connection as soon as it’s safe. Here’s a detailed breakdown on how it works:
- Monitoring: The VPN kill switch continuously monitors your connection to your VPN server by scanning for changes in status or IP address.
- Detecting: It instantly detects any changes that could prevent your VPN from working properly.
- Blocking: Depending on the type of VPN you’re using, the kill switch will either block certain apps or your entire device from accessing the internet.
- Restoring: Once the issue is resolved, your VPN kill switch will restore your internet connection automatically.
While some VPNs offer a kill switch feature, it may not always work properly or be reliable. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a VPN with a kill switch feature that is effective and trustworthy.
When does a VPN Kill Switch activate?
A VPN kill switch activates when your VPN connection is lost and can occur due to various reasons, such as:
- Connectivity issues that cause the internet to disconnect from your VPN server.
- Switching to a different VPN server.
- Unstable network connections, like when using public Wi-Fi.
- Automatic updates that cause your computer to reconnect to the internet without opening your VPN.
- Using a new firewall that doesn’t have an exception for your VPN, causing it to be blocked.
- Forgetting to turn your VPN back on after someone else uses your device and restarts it.
Types of VPN Kill Switches
To ensure internet security, VPNs often have a kill switch feature that comes in two types: system level VPN kill switch and application level VPN kill switch.
- System-level VPN kill switch: This type of kill switch monitors your VPN connection status and stops your device from connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi or mobile data if it detects that your VPN connection has gone down. This is very effective in preventing IP leaks. Enabling this feature usually requires simply checking a box on your VPN settings.
- Application level VPN kill switch: This type of kill switch allows you to choose which specific applications you want to block from connecting to the internet when the VPN connection fails. This gives you more control over how the switch operates and is useful for hiding your IP address while using certain apps, such as browsers, email apps, video calling apps, and torrent clients.
Why should you use VPN Kill Switch?
It’s common for VPNs to experience connectivity issues occasionally, and if you’re using a VPN to protect sensitive information, it’s important to have a backup measure in case the VPN fails. A VPN kill switch can provide an additional layer of protection, ensuring that your data remains secure and private even if the VPN connection drops.
Who should use VPN Kill Switch?
A VPN kill switch is not necessary for everyone, but it can be particularly important for individuals who require a high level of privacy and security. This includes:
- Journalists and activists who don’t want to be tracked or monitored.
- Users of peer-to-peer transfer software who need to keep their IP addresses hidden.
- Professionals who handle confidential information, such as lawyers or social workers.
- Torrent users who want to remain anonymous.
Risks of not using a Kill Switch in a VPN
Here are the main points regarding the risks of using a VPN without a kill switch:
- VPNs are not always reliable, and occasional connection drops can leave your IP address and sensitive data exposed.
- Without a kill switch, you are vulnerable if your VPN connection drops, as your ISP and the government (in some cases) can see your online activity and access your IP address until your VPN is back up and running.
- Public Wi-Fi hotspots are often not secure, and if your VPN drops while connected to an unsecured network, your data will be vulnerable to hackers.
- Your location can be pinpointed through your public IP address, which could be a problem for activists, journalists, and bloggers. Without a kill switch, your location could be traced if your VPN connection drops.
- Without a kill switch, your online activity can be traced, and third parties like advertisers and businesses can use your IP address to develop a profile on you.
Tips for choosing the right kill switch
Here are some tips for choosing the right VPN with a kill switch feature:
- Choose a VPN with a reliable and customizable kill switch feature to ensure that your data is protected even if the VPN connection drops.
- Look for a VPN that doesn’t impact your device’s performance negatively.
- Ensure that the VPN has top-quality security features to keep your data safe.
- Opt for a VPN with an audited no-logs policy to ensure that your online activity isn’t being tracked or stored.
- Make sure that the VPN is compatible with the major operating systems you use.
In summary, a VPN kill switch is an essential security measure that ensures your online activities remain private and secure, even when your VPN connection suddenly drops. By activating the kill switch, it constantly monitors your VPN connection and immediately cuts off your internet access if there is any disruption. This prevents any unauthorized access to your data and keeps you anonymous online. Once the VPN connection is restored, the kill switch automatically restores your internet access.