How to make sure you’re getting all the VPN features

You’ve set up a fantastic VPN, and you should use it every time you go online. So your online privacy is truly secure, right?

Not necessarily. According to reports, a former Ubiquiti developer illegally downloaded proprietary data and tried to blackmail his employer for $3.8 million after his internet connection broke down. He was indicted for extortion in December 2021, causing Ubiquiti’s share price to plummet by $4 billion in market capitalization as a result of the scandal.

Isn’t it true that he found a way to turn off the killing switch? We don’t know for sure, but Surfshark (as well as many other VPNs) leaves the kill switch off by default. You won’t be fully secure until you go to the Settings screen and enable the relevant choice yourself.

Not to mention kill switches. VPN apps come with a slew of essential tools that aren’t necessarily turned on by default, including DNS leak protection, anti-phishing and malware blocking. We’ll go through some of the key phrases to look for, as well as the sorts of features you can enable right now with just a few clicks.

Switch on/off the kill switch.

The kill switch protects your privacy by monitoring the VPN connection and shutting off your internet if it goes down, preventing your true identity from being revealed. It’s a necessary feature, but cutting someone’s internet connection unexpectedly is a big step, and many providers don’t enable it by default.

Even if your internet service provider’s website boasts of a superior kill switch, don’t assume it will protect you automatically just because you’re using the program. Confirm that one essential information by clicking the Settings button: it is, in fact, switched on.

If you can’t locate a kill switch feature, be concerned. Some suppliers won’t provide the capability on all platforms (for example, you could have a kill switch on Windows but not on Mac), and some don’t offer it at all. Check your provider’s customer support site for more information.

Piracy and online safety

In theory, VPNs are all about privacy, but it’s stunning how frequently important privacy features aren’t turned on unless you take action.

Even if the kill switch is active, DNS and IPv6 leaks may reveal information about your identity. Some VPNs come with leak protection by default, while others leave it to you to enable it. To discover what’s available to you in the Settings area, look for sections such as Connectivity or Advanced.

Many other VPN clients, such as Avast Secureline and Perfect Privacy, offer crash reporting and other tools that provide information about what you’re doing. This is frequently just an anonymized rundown of connection disruptions or download speeds, for example – but if you want the highest degree of anonymity, sending nothing at all may be your best bet.

To find out what your provider is doing, look through any reporting-related settings. NordVPN’s option is called ‘Help us improve,’ for example; ExpressVPN’s is a similar, though longer, ‘Help Improve ExpressVPN.’ Surfshark has a category called Crash Reports at Settings > Advanced that you may check for more information on what it does and whether you want it to continue operating. If you’re not comfortable with it.

How to Secure Your Network with a VPN

VPNs don’t always function as expected, but there are some settings tweaks that can make a huge difference. If you’re always manually connecting to the same server every time you launch the VPN, look for a setting that allows you to do so. Enable ExpressVPN’s option ‘Connect to the last used location when ExpressVPN is launched,’ and the app will take care of connections automatically.

Customers may inundate you with connection alerts and notifications, or they may choose to overlook doing so. Many other firms provide a ‘Show Notifications’ option to limit how many notifications you receive.

We frequently encounter apps that do not reconnect by default if the link drops, forcing you to manually reconnect. This isn’t really convenient, but there is occasionally a setting that can assist. At the Settings > Kill Switch page in Hide.me’s Windows app, you can select ‘Reconnect automatically.’

Malware blocking

A premium feature that can do a lot to protect you online, as well as your antivirus, is the ability to block malicious and phishing domains. However, by default, many VPNs disable these features.

If you use NordVPN’s malware-blocking CyberSec, it will usually be turned off, but you may activate it by going to Settings > General and selecting the On option.

Although Surfshark’s CleanWeb is more likely to be on, it’s a good idea to double-check by going to Settings > Connectivity.

If you use a web filter, bear in mind that it may cause issues, for example if an app is unable to access a genuine site. If anything goes wrong when you’re connected to the VPN, turn off the filter and try again.

VPN troubleshooting

VPNs have a slew of tools to assist you with typical connection problems. They’re so tiny that providers don’t bother advertising them since they aren’t visible, but they’re there if you need them.

In countries where OpenVPN is blocked, you might discover that the connection is shut down. However, IPVanish and other companies provide a ‘Scramble’ option, which makes your activity difficult to identify and may allow you to connect. Look for a UDP/TCP setting if you’re having trouble connecting with OpenVPN and your connection keeps dropping.

The most popular applications default to using the UDP protocol, which delivers fast speeds but low dependability. However, simply changing the ‘TCP’ option or selecting it in a list may solve your problem by switching to the more reliable TCP mode.