A VPN kill switch is, using the simplest definition, a feature that automatically disconnects your device from the internet if your VPN’s connection drops out.
The point of kill switches is to ensure your IP address and other sensitive information are never exposed in case your VPN stops working (for whatever reason).
Here are some key points to be aware of, regarding VPN kill switches:
- The kill switch feature is often activated by default, but it can be deactivated if desired.
- If it is activated, your device will not be able to send any data via the normal internet if the VPN gets disconnected.
- A kill switch is an important feature for those who want to have complete faith in their online security and anonymity when using a VPN.
I’ll cover this in detail later, but just an FYI: NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market for its kill switch feature, which includes options for specific apps, or you can even set it for the entire system.
Why is a Kill Switch important?
Let’s use an example. Imagine you’re at a busy coffee shop, using your laptop to check your bank account balance or sending some sensitive work emails. You’re connected to a VPN alkready to keep yourself secure from potential hackers or wrong-uns.
Then suddenly, the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi connection drops, and your VPN disconnects. You don’t realize it right away and continue typing away, but all of a sudden, you get a pesky notification that you’ve been disconnected from the VPN. Oh no!
If you didn’t have a kill switch at this point, your computer would automatically just reconnect slavishly to the coffee shop’s unsecured Wi-Fi network, exposing your sensitive data and IP address to anyone who might be watching.
It’s like having a superhero who swoops in to protect you from harm as soon as danger arises
But with a kill switch, your internet connection would immediately cut off, preventing any potential leaks and keeping your data safe.
So it’s like having a superhero who swoops in to protect you from harm as soon as danger arises. They give you peace of mind, knowing that you can browse the internet and that your data is safe and secure, no matter what happens.
What are the different types of Kill Switch?
Example 1: A system-level Kill Switch.
When enabled, a system level VPN kill switch completely blocks your internet connection to your computer until the VPN connection is restored or by resetting the network adapter.
This makes it very effective at avoiding IP leaks. It’s really very easy to set up an active VPN kill switch and indeed if it’s not already switched on by default, all you’ll probably need to do is select a checkbox on your VPN of choice. This type of kill switch is best for users who want maximum security and protection for all their online activity.
Example 2: Application-level Kill Switch
This type of Kill Switch is like a smart bodyguard that only blocks the apps you choose from accessing the internet if your VPN connection drops. It’s more for advanced users who want complete control.
Kill Switches can be tuned to work for all eventualities: browsing the web, sending emails, or torrentin gfiles. A kill switch with your VPN is your ultimate online security guard, making sure your sensitive data is always protected.
I don’t use public Wi-Fi, should I still bother?
A kill switch should ideally be used for private/domestic Wi-Fi usage too, as well as public. After all, if you’re going to the effort of using a VPN, you may as well get the full benefit.
Users who frequently use public Wi-Fi networks or travel often will of course benefit the most from using a kill switch. Public Wi-Fi networks are notorious for being unsecured and susceptible to attacks, so having a way to ensure that your data remains secure even if your connection drops, is always welcome.
What are the drawbacks to using a VPN without a Kill Switch?
If you’re human (which we hope you are!) then you’ll probably forget a few times to switch it on or off. That’s okay, and it’s important to get into the habit of using a Kill Switch properly. Better to have one, that not.
If you’re not fully convinced, then here are some of the risks of using a VPN without a kill switch at all:
- Vulnerability if VPN connection drops: If your VPN connection drops, your IP address and sensitive data can be exposed until the connection is restored. This leaves you vulnerable to your ISP and potentially even the government seeing your online activity.
- Public Wi-Fi danger: Public Wi-Fi hotspots at cafes, hotels, and train stations are often unsecured and easy targets for hackers. If your VPN connection drops while using one of these networks, your data can be exposed.
- Location exposure: Your public IP address can give away your location, which can be especially problematic for activists, journalists, and bloggers who need to remain anonymous. Without a VPN kill switch, your location can be traced if your VPN connection drops.
- Traceable online activity: Third parties and governments can use your IP address to track your online activity and build a profile on you. If your VPN connection drops and you don’t have a kill switch enabled, this can make it easier for advertisers and businesses to track your activity too.
Does Torrenting require a Kill Switch?
It doesn’t require it, but you’d be silly not to use one in my opinion, if you’re into torrents.
Why? Because most people know now that Torrenting can be a bit of a grey area. Some of us do it to download large files like games and movies, while others use it to share files with friends or colleagues. Whatever our reasons may be, one thing is for sure: we need to keep our identities hidden.
Without a VPN kill switch, your true IP address and online activity could be exposed if our VPN connection drops. Imagine the horror of being caught Torrenting by your ISP or receiving a copyright infringement notice in the postal mail. That’s why most folk need a reliable kill switch to ensure that your data stays private and secure at all times. 🙂
Summary of the above:
|What is a VPN kill switch?
|A feature that automatically disconnects your device from teh internet if your VPN connection drops to protect sensitive information and maintain online privacy.
|Why is it important?
|It prevents your IP address and other sensitive data from being exposed when/if your VPN fails.
|Types of VPN kill switches
|System-level VPN kill switch; Application-level VPN kill switch.
|Who needs a VPN kill switch?
|Activists and journalists, P2P users, those holding confidential documents, and torrent users who wish to remain anonymous.
|Risks of not having a VPN kill switch
|Vulnerability when VPN connection drops, vulnerability on unsecured public Wi-Fi, traceability of location and online activity, and data leakage due to a faulty VPN service.
|What to consider when choosing a VPN provider
|Reliable and customizable kill switch, no visible impact on device performance, top-quality security features, audited no-logs policy, and compatibility with major operating systems.