What is a VPN Kill Switch & How Does it Work?

VPN Kill Switch

Written by: Per-Erik Eriksson

Nowadays, VPNs are loaded with a variety of features. Some of these features work really well to protect your privacy, while others serve little to no purpose. Many providers also lack a VPN Kill Switch that is mandatory to protect users’ privacy in unexpected events.

VPN users need to ensure that their provider has a no-log policy along with a kill switch to protect their privacy whenever their VPN connection suddenly drops, leaving them at risk of exposing their original IP address.

Let’s dig deep and see how a Kill Switch works and why it is so important.

VPN Kill Switch — Explained

A VPN Kill Switch is a feature offered by many premium VPN providers that automatically kills an internet connection if the VPN connection breaks. This is to ensure that your IP address is never exposed if the VPN falls out of use for any reason.

More advanced versions of the kill switch feature include protection against DNS leaks, which is a common mistake made with VPN connections. Having a Kill Switch is not only important for protecting your IP address, but it can also ensure that you do not accidentally expose your true location to the public or other computers on your network.

When you are connected to the internet through a VPN connection, all of your web traffic passes through an encrypted tunnel, so hackers cannot sniff out your data. If you have a kill switch enabled and the VPN connection fails for any reason, your internet connection will be shut down immediately.

How does VPN Kill Switch Work?

A VPN kill switch works by monitoring your internet connection for any sign that your VPN might have disconnected. If the device detects that there has been no activity on the connection for a certain amount of time, then your internet connection will be killed. This ensures that no data can pass through the unprotected connection and risks exposing your real IP address to hackers and other users on your network.

The vast majority of VPN Kill Switch options are opt-in features, which means that they won’t activate unless you specifically enable them yourself. If you want to use a VPN service with a Kill Switch, then you should be sure to check whether it has this feature available before making your final choice.

If the kill switch is enabled and the connection is suddenly lost, all applications which are using the internet will automatically be shut down. This means that no unsecured traffic can pass through the unprotected section of the connection.

Why VPN Kill Switch is Important?

This is because it can cut your internet connection, leaving you vulnerable to cyber threats. The VPN kill switch works by terminating the internet connection when the VPN drops out. In other words, if a service goes down and thus your ability to access certain websites while connected over the VPN, the kill switch will restore the original network settings so that you continue to have access.

Here’s how a VPN kill switch can really help to protect your privacy:

  • Protects your personal information from being exposed in a public Wi-Fi environment
  • Restores your original network settings when your VPN connection drops
  • Kills data leakage from unprotected/unencrypted connections
  • Prevent others from knowing when you’re using a VPN
  • Keeps your ISP and network admins in the dark about what websites you are  visiting

Is Kill Switch available in all VPNs?

The kill switch feature is not included in many VPN applications by default. However, if you are purchasing a premium VPN service with a focus on privacy protection, then they will most likely have a VPN Kill Switch included in all versions of their applications.

It is always worth checking whether a service has a kill switch before you make a final purchase because many VPNs claim to have this protection feature, but they actually do not work as effectively as they should.

How to Test your VPN Kill Switch?

There are a few ways you can test if your VPN has a kill switch, which is usually built into it. The first is to connect to your VPN and disconnect your internet connection (either wired or wireless).

If the VPN service does not drop out at this point, then there is no kill switch other than someone managing it remotely through an app or settings. Instead, keep checking for updates on the website of the VPN provider.

Bottom Line

A VPN kill switch is no more an optional thing, but it’s an important feature for any VPN service. It protects your internet connection by cutting it off when you are disconnected from the VPN, which can happen because of a number of reasons. Why take chances? If you want to protect yourself against harmful cyber-attacks and malicious intrusions, make sure that your VPN has this crucial function!

Related articles