Today there are a variety of qualities VPN networks in the market, but for sure no service is perfect. Each VPN providers look to improve the reliability of their service every day. It is stirring how most VPNs keep introducing new advanced privacy features like the VPN Kill Switch feature which is also known as Internet Kill Switch VPN.
From time to time the network connection drops and the device go back to the public IP address assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). This brings the risk of the user’s activities being exposed.
It is even worse when the user doesn’t notice if or when this happened. Several VPNs add the internet kill switch VPN feature to their service to counter this problem.
Later we will look at how a kill switch works and some of the VPN services with kill switch features.
What Is A VPN Kill Switch?
A Kill-Switch is an additional security feature that is written into the best VPN services.
The feature ensures that your IP address is never uncovered when the network connection of the VPN server drops.
In simple terms, it is intended to prevent from sending and receiving traffic in case the VPN connection accidentally cuts off.
When activated, the Kill-Switch uses the administrator privileges to automatically cuts off the internet connection immediately if the VPN disconnects. This keeps a user safe from snooping and IP leaks.
Snooping is the interception of the unencrypted traffic.
Why use a Kill Switch?
Even the most reliable VPN services will sometimes experience server down moments.
A Kill-Switch comes last in the line of security to ensure that your IP address is never uncovered or you never transmit packets of unencrypted data. It is therefore important to choose a VPN service that has an Internet Kill-Switch feature.
Although most users don’t need such levels of security, it is important to have an alternative for users whom security is a major concern.
How A Kill Switch Works
A Kill-Switch can be compared to a spy that continuously observes your network connection for any change in either bandwidth, status or IP address.
If the Kill-Switch notices any change (it could be a drop in the VPN connection), it immediately cuts off your internet connection until the VPN connection is restored or you shut down the VPN.
The reaction of the Kill-Switch is usually virtually instant, to prevent your device from defaulting to the public IP address assigned by the Internet provider.
Types Of Kill Switches
System Level Kill Switch
System level Kill-Switch is the simplest and the most popular Kill-Switch selection.
When it is enabled, a system kill switch absolutely blocks internet connection to the entire computer until the VPN connection is restored or by resetting the network adapter.
Usually it is a brute force technique with a little of finesse. A system kill switch is very effective at avoiding IP leaks.
Enabling a system kill switch is generally easy, as it only entails selecting a check box in the VPN.
Below is a demonstration of enabling a Kill-Switch in Private Internet Access software.
VPN Services With A System Level Kill-Switch
Application Level Kill Switch
Application level kill switch is a type on a kill switch that allows you to choose the specific applications you want to kill when the kill-switch activates.
The way I see it, it is more flexible compared to the system level kill-switch because it allows the user more control on how the switch operates.
The common applications/programs that you may want to close include:
- The browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla, Opera Mini etc.)
- Gmail app.
- Torrent Client (Bit torrent, Utorrent, Vuze etc.)
VPN services with an application level Kill-Switch
Resetting A Kill Switch
When users don’t know how a Kill-Switch works they tend to send complaints to the VPN service providers.
Most users doesn’t understand the strength of a kill-switch and the things they ought to do to restore internet connection.
For you to regain connection you should take one of the following steps:
- Restore connection to the VPN
- Reset the DHCP settings for the Network adaptor.
Resetting your DHCP settings is easy. You can achieve that by following these simple steps:
- Right click the network/Wifi icon in the system tray and run the trouble-shooter.
- When the trouble-shooter return a “Cannot Reach DHCP gateway” message, click fix and it will automatically reset.
Is An Internet Kill Switch VPN Automatic?
It is not always that a Kill-Switch is automatic.
To enable kill switches for most VPNs you might need to go to the app settings and enable the feature.
For instance, the IPVanish VPN allow the users to customize the Kill-Switch feature.
On top of activating and deactivating the kill-switch feature, it allows you to choose whether the connection should restored automatically and whether the VPN should change the IP periodically.
Other Solutions To Disconnections
Other than the Kill-Switches, there are many other choices to stay safe and protect your IP address if the VPN network is not reliable. The most popular options are:
VPNetMon is a free program that blocks unsafe connections in case the VPN connection drops.
The program kills specific applications when the VPN connection goes down. The program is ideal for most users because it does not block internet use to the whole device: just kills some apps that could uncover the IP address over the insecure connection.
The program also has the capability of auto dialing your VPN using PPTP or L2PT.
Just like VPNetMon, VPN Watcher observes the VPN connection. In the event it goes down it kills the applications that could reveal the IP address over the unprotected network.
But this tool is not free, it will cost a user $9.95.
Do I need a Kill Switch?
Whether to activate a Kill-Switch or not is a personal decision to make.
It all depend on the reason you bought a VPN for in the first place.
If security is a major concern to you and that you may never want to uncover your IP address, it is important to always activate the internet kill-switch VPN when accessing the internet.
When Kill Switch Is A Must
- Torrents users
- People who need to remain anonymous (Like activists)
- People holding confidential documents
On the other hand people using VPN to unblock Geo-restrictions should be less troubled.
Does My VPN Have An Inbuilt Kill Switch?
Having in mind that different provider have different names for the Kill-Switch feature, it is quite a task to figure whether a VPN has an inbuilt Kill-Switch.
You can find out by going through the VPN’s reviews or FAQs.
Also, VPNs advertise the feature in diverse ways; the good thing is that we have put together a list of the top VPNs with the Internet Kill-Switch feature.
Top VPNs With A Kill Switch
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN in the market. They are known for their excellent security services. To ensure that their clients are always happy with the service they keep no logs of user activities.
They have also equipped their software with a Network Lock (Internet Kill Switch) that shuts the internet connection when the VPN server goes down.
Below is the ExpressVPN general settings tab.
By default, the Network Lock is enabled but a user is also allowed the freedom to deactivate it. It ensures that all the traffic goes through the VPN tunnel. The Network Lock works perfectly well.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access, also known as PIA was one of the top VPN services to incorporate Kill-Switch feature to their software. They were also able to support it on both Windows and Mac OS.
PIA also boast their service with an inbuilt DNS leak protection. And on top of that have a strictly no-logs guarantee and more advanced security features.
PIA has an Encryption and Authentication setting screen. This allows the user to set the type of encryption, authentication, and handshake depending on the security needs.
PIA VPN will provides a user with a limitless bandwidth starting from $3.33/ month.
Hidemyass VPN is the most remarkable VPN software across the world. It is the most popular and has the most number of clients amongst the top VPNs.
Their service includes a Secure IP-Bind Technology (Internet Kill Switch). Users can a multiple choice of servers as the VPN run servers in more than 75 countries worldwide.
Hidemyass service is excellent to almost every user but not that great for Bit Torrent users
IPVanish is one of the top Known VPN services available. Besides being the fastest VPN service user privacy is a priority. To start with they don’t log user activities. They also have a kill-switch feature in their software for both Windows and Mac clients.
As shown above, IPVanish has a feature of changing the IP address periodically at a set interval of time. Also, it is possible to set a different port so that to use TCP rather than UDP.
Note: for better perfamance stick to the OpenVPN UDP.
PureVPN is one of the best VPNs. Their service majorly focus on user security. To achieve maximum security for their clients they have added a kill switch to their software.
The kill switch feature is at moment in beta and all users have free access. Below is the Kill switch set up tab.
PureVPN also offers additional features to improve their security levels. These features include the NAT firewall and the dedicated IP feature.
All new users buy the VPN at 35% the original price. Their prices start at $4.16/ month.
Conclusions On Kill Switch Feature
By this point, you are well aware of how a Kill-Switch works and also the alternatives available out there. You should, therefore be able to ensure that all your connections are secure.
It is also very crucial to note that low VPN connections are not the only causes of IP leaks. DNS leaks are also very common where a website unintentionally direct to an unintended DNS server.