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WebRTC Leaks: What Are They and How Can I Prevent Them?

Real-time communication over the internet has never been more convenient thanks to WebRTC technology. However, WebRTC comes with a major privacy risk – IP address leaks that can expose your location and threaten your safety.

In this comprehensive guide from , we’ll cover everything you need to know about WebRTC leaks, from what they are to how you can protect yourself through VPNs and browser tweaks.

What is WebRTC and How Does it Work?

First things first, what exactly is WebRTC?

WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communications. It‘s the technology that enables voice calls, video conferencing, screen sharing, and other real-time functionalities directly through your browser, without needing any plugins.

Apps like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Discord, and more all rely on WebRTC to power their core video chat features.

According to Statista, over 92% of desktop browsers now support WebRTC as of January 2022. It has become a fundamental component of how we communicate online.

So how does this useful technology work under the hood?

For WebRTC to establish a peer-to-peer connection, your browser must communicate with the app/website‘s server and exchange key data. This includes sharing your:

  • Public IP address – Assigned by your ISP and identifies your general location.
  • Local IP address – Also called private IP, assigned by your router and can pinpoint your exact location.

It is the sharing of your local IP address during this process that creates a WebRTC leak and poses privacy risks, as we’ll cover next.

Diagram showing how WebRTC leaks work on a technical level

Diagram illustrating how WebRTC leaks can expose your local IP address. Image credit:

What Exactly is a WebRTC Leak?

A WebRTC leak refers to the unintentional exposure of your local/private IP address during WebRTC communications, allowing third-party access without your consent.

This happens because WebRTC connections bypass VPN encryption by default. So your real IP address can "leak" out and be visible even if you‘re on a VPN.

According to cybersecurity firm Surfshark, WebRTC leaks affect every major web browser including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera.

They also estimate that around 30% of VPN users are vulnerable to WebRTC leaks based on their data. This represents a major privacy concern for internet users worldwide.

Now that you know what WebRTC leaks are, let‘s explore why they pose such a significant security risk.

Dangers of WebRTC Leaks

Having your local or private IP address exposed in WebRTC leaks can open the door to some very serious privacy violations and cyber threats, such as:

Locating Your Physical Address

Armed with your IP address, hackers can leverage geolocation technology to trace your IP back to your street address. This can let them physically locate you, especially if you also mention the city you live in publicly on social media.

According to ethical hacking firm SiberX, locating someone‘s home address is "ridiculously easy" with their IP and some basic online research. This represents a nightmare scenario for victims of cyberstalking or online harassment.

DDoS Attacks

Your exposed IP becomes a target for DDoS attacks, whereby hackers flood your IP address with junk traffic to overwhelm your network and take you offline.

DDoS attacks have surged in recent years, increasing 147% from 2020 to 2021 according to NETSCOUT. WebRTC leaks that reveal IP addresses only further enable these disruptive cyber attacks.

Identity Theft and Fraud

Obtaining your IP address gives hackers a critical starting point to then steal your personal information and impersonate you online for financial gain.

Examples include hacking your email accounts, stealing your credit card information, or performing wire fraud using your bank details.

According to the FTC, nearly 1.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2020, resulting in over $1.9 billion in losses. Many cases start with IP address leaks.

Malware and Spyware Vulnerabilities

Spyware and malware can be programmed to target specific IP address ranges. Having your local IP exposed allows these malicious programs to infiltrate your device and monitor your online activity.

Per cybersecurity firm PurpleSec, an incredible 74% of businesses reported at least one malware attack in 2021. WebRTC leaks contribute substantially to these troubling malware trends.

Compromised VPN Protection

If you use a VPN, WebRTC leaks are especially problematic since they indicate your VPN is not successfully masking your true IP address and location.

This completely compromises the core privacy and encryption benefit of using a VPN in the first place.

As you can see, WebRTC leaks introduce a diverse array of privacy and security risks that can seriously endanger your safety as an internet user. Now let‘s go over ways you can properly test for and prevent WebRTC leaks.

Testing Your VPN for WebRTC Leaks

If you currently use a VPN service, it‘s critical that you test to confirm it actually prevents WebRTC leaks and does not expose your IP address.

Here is a quick 5-step process you can follow to test your VPN for leaks:

  1. Disconnect from your VPN and ensure it is completely turned off.
  2. Note down your public IP address at a website like
  3. Reconnect to your VPN and verify you are protected.
  4. Visit a WebRTC leak testing site like or
  5. Check if your public IP is visible. If so, your VPN has leaks.

I recommend repeating these steps across both HTTP and HTTPS websites for comprehensive leak testing.

You should test regularly even with trusted VPNs, as leaks can appear due to VPN software glitches or browser updates. Staying vigilant is key.

Here is an example of a WebRTC leak test revealing the user‘s true public IP address, indicating the VPN has failed to prevent leaks:

WebRTC leak test showing user's public IP

Results of a sample WebRTC leak test displaying the public IP address. Image credit:

Now let‘s explore your options for preventing these dangerous WebRTC leaks.

How to Prevent WebRTC Leaks

There are two primary methods you can use to avoid WebRTC leaks:

  1. Use a VPN with robust WebRTC leak prevention.
  2. Manually disable WebRTC in your browser settings and extensions.

Let‘s look at each approach in more detail.

Use a VPN with WebRTC Leak Protection

The most effective way to prevent WebRTC leaks is to use a high-quality VPN that actively blocks WebRTC traffic from escaping the VPN tunnel.

However, you cannot just use any VPN and assume you are protected. Some VPNs still allow the WebRTC loophole, rendering them ineffective.

According to a 2021 review study by Restore Privacy that tested 35 major VPN providers, only 23% successfully prevented WebRTC leaks.

When choosing a VPN for IP address protection, you need to vet the providers thoroughly and read third-party evaluations of their leak prevention capabilities.

Here is a comparison table of the top VPNs proven to prevent WebRTC leaks based on expert testing:

VPN Leak Protection Speed Cross-Platform Pricing
NordVPN Yes Fast All devices $3.29/month
ExpressVPN Yes Very fast All devices $8.32/month
Surfshark Yes Fast Unlimited devices $2.21/month

I suggest reading detailed reviews for each before deciding. Key things to look for are independent audits of their no-logs policies, leakage prevention capabilities, and speed/cross-platform support.

The few extra dollars per month are well worth it for the peace of mind of verified WebRTC leak protection from a reputable VPN provider.

Disable WebRTC at the Browser Level

Besides using a hardened VPN, you can also block WebRTC leaks at the browser level by disabling WebRTC in your browser settings and extensions.

The steps for disable WebRTC vary slightly across the most popular browsers:


Install the WebRTC Control or WebRTC Leak Prevent extensions. Enable them in Incognito mode.


Go to about:config and set media.peerconnection.enabled to false to disable WebRTC.


Under Develop menu, disable "WebRTC mDNS ICE candidates” or uncheck “Enable Legacy WebRTC API” in settings.


Enable "Hide local IP address” under edge://flags on some versions.

Refer to the previous section of this guide for step-by-step browser tweaks and visuals.

The advantage of directly disabling WebRTC in this manner is that you control the changes yourself rather than relying on any VPN provider. The drawback is WebRTC services will cease working in your browser.

WebRTC Leak FAQs

Let‘s recap some common questions surrounding WebRTC leaks:

How do I stop a WebRTC leak?

Use a VPN proven to prevent WebRTC leaks or disable WebRTC directly in your browser‘s settings and extensions.

What is a WebRTC leak test?

A WebRTC leak test determines if your IP address is visible when using your VPN, signalling leaks.

Is it safe to disable WebRTC?

Yes, disabling WebRTC is perfectly safe but makes WebRTC functionality in your browser stop working.

The Bottom Line

WebRTC leaks threaten your online privacy by exposing your IP address, enabling cybercriminals to breach your security in many ways.

Safeguard yourself fully by using a trustworthy VPN solution purpose-built to block WebRTC leaks based on expert evaluations.

Also consider disabling WebRTC at the browser level for extra protection.

Stay vigilant by testing any VPN regularly and keeping browsers patched against the latest WebRTC vulnerabilities.

With the right preventative measures, you can utilize WebRTC‘s connectivity benefits without sacrificing your safety.


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.