Do you like to connect to the internet, surf the web all day, and not worry that anyone is looking over your shoulder? Some of us actually do that, but for many people, such careless internet usage is irresponsible and even risky. A virtual private network (VPN) can make you anonymous on the web. But that’s only good when the VPN is active over your internet connection. VPN users need to know that they can lose their anonymity in a split second. A VPN killswitch can prevent that from happening.
The Unreliable Internet
There are no guarantees in life, as the saying goes, and that applies to the internet as well. In tech speak, the level of reliability of the internet protocol is known as “best effort”. That means that if the IP packets get there, good, but there’s no way to be 100% sure that they will. That’s why IT network environments are replete with all manner of redundancy methods and solutions.
When it comes to VPN traffic, you can count on the security of its robust encryption technology — until the connection breaks. That can be a big problem for users dead set on protecting their data traffic and maintaining internet anonymity. As soon as the internet connection fails, your confidential traffic becomes vulnerable once again. And it can happen in a split second without your knowledge.
Everyone hates it when the internet connection goes down. But many times, you might lose a connection for such a brief moment that you won’t even notice it. Built-in mechanisms re-establish the connection as quickly as possible. Theoretically you could lose your internet repeatedly throughout the day for only a couple of seconds — and you are never the wiser. But if that happens without a VPN killswitch, you might find your internet starts back up without any VPN protection at all.
But what can you do? The best thing would be to keep the internet from restarting without a VPN. But since the reconnect is usually automatic, you also need an automatic way to stop the reconnect from taking place. That’s where the VPN killswitch comes in.
Loss of VPN
Suppose your internet is completely reliable — or let’s say it remains connected all day. That doesn’t mean your’re out of the woods. If your VPN service goes down for whatever reason, your data traffic is exposed. This could be caused by a problem with the VPN service provider. Maybe they have lost internet connectivity, or they have problems with their servers.
There are many reasons that you could lose your VPN connection. Whether it’s on your end, way on the other side of the world at a VPN server site, or somewhere in between, loss of VPN means loss of privacy. If you swear by VPNs, then the crux of the matter is that whenever you have internet, you should have VPN, and whenever you don’t have VPN, you should not have internet. So you really need a VPN killswitch.
What is a VPN Killswitch?
Privacy-conscious users know that it’s better to have no internet traffic at all than to have internet data flow that is unprotected. A VPN killswitch monitors the internet for any interruption in data transmission. When it detects a disconnection, it immediately disables any further internet traffic. It stops the automatic reconnect. When it detects a loss of VPN connectivity, it stops the internet.
VPN killswitches are built into most VPN software. But are they automatic? Not always. Some VPNs have connection settings to manage your internet traffic. You can tell the software to stop all internet traffic when the VPN service is disconnected. And you can tell it to automatically reconnect when it is disconnected.
It’s all a matter of the management of internet protocols. The internet uses TCP/IP. VPNs use protocols like IPSec, L2TP, and OpenVpN. The idea is that whenever TCP/IP packets are flowing, your VPN protocols should be flowing. And when VPN protocols are not flowing, the TCP/IP (internet packets) should be stopped dead in their tracks. That’s what a VPN killswitch does.
A Minor Inconvenience
It can be a real pain when your internet connection is stopped because of a lack of VPN connectivity. But that’s the price that some users are willing to pay for to ensure privacy, security, and anonymity. Which would you rather have, a more continuous internet or a more secure, protected connection?
For dissidents in oppressive countries, the loss of VPN — even for an instant — can be costly. A VPN killswitch maintains the shell of anonymity and limits the exposure of those for whom communication secrecy is vitally important.
Everyone is entitled to some measure of privacy, whether online or on the street. The level of privacy that you want to pursue is your decision. If you are looking for ultimate privacy and protection on the web, a VPN will help you get there. But you need to be aware that your VPN can fail at any time during your internet session. And if your internet drops and recovers without a restart of your VPN service, you’re just as vulnerable as if you’d never even downloaded a VPN application. A VPN killswitch helps you manage your internet and VPN connectivity so that they are somehow simultaneous. VPN may be the best thing since sliced bread for privacy, but keep this in mind: Without a VPN killswitch, you can kiss your dreams of internet anonymity and privacy goodbye.