WebRTC Test Guide for Beginners in 2018

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If I say you live in a dangerous online world, you would not believe. Sadly, it is a bitter truth that hard to swallow. There are numerous VPN services found in leaking their users’ IP addresses due to WebRTC bug. Therefore, you should know how to perform WebRTC test to safeguard your privacy at any cost.

Through my post, you would be able to protect your online privacy by exploring WebRTC pros and cons in detail. Moreover, you can perform WebRTC leaking evaluation at your own.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC also known as Web real time communications is an innovative open-source technology that enables desktops and mobile browsers to exchange data. The whole process takes place in real time through simple APIs.

Interestingly, web browsers do not need an intermediate server to communicate with each other. As a result, voice including video chats along with P2P file sharing is possible within browsers at a rapid pace.

What-is-WebRTC

Pros

  • Allows P2P file sharing within browsers
  • It is a free open source technology
  • Compatible with Firefox, Opera and Chrome browsers

Cons

  • Could expose users’ IP addresses

 

Key Components

WebRTC consists of three major APIs that include:

  • PeerConnection
  • GetUserMedia
  • DataChannels

PeerConnection

Through PeerConnection, you can send and receive different multimedia files simultaneously.

GetUserMedia

The name discloses the whole concept as it provides access to users’ media that includes camera and other stuff

DataChannels

The above key component improves non-media transfer process within browsers to another level.

How WebRTC Works?

As per my knowledge, developers were using C/C++ language to build in order to help users to perform voice and video calling. Luckily, this is not the case anymore. This is because WebRTC does not use C/C++ but avails JavaScript API.

Hence, you can use WebRTC inside your browsers in no time. By doing so, you can transform your real time communication access to next level. Through JavaScript API feature, you can avail WebRTC on your favorite browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge too.

The best thing about WebRTC is its user screen capturing benefit. Furthermore, it allows you to share or record the screen of your loved ones instantly. You can conduct all these functions in real time with such an ease. Above all, it offers users a real time unbelievable live interaction experience.

When you use WebRTC benefit, you can transfer any kind of data to others.

Recently, Firefox browser has launched an eye-catching Firefox Hello video and chat client. The amazing communication tool helps you to interact with others those are using updated Chrome, Firefox, and Chrome browsers.

You can use the said feature on your browser straightaway since you do not have to download any plugin or browser extension. Sadly, this latest development could provide countless opportunities to hackers. They can explore new ways of accessing users’ personal information.

How to use the WebRTC Leak Checker

I recommend you to find out the difference between public IP addresses and local IP addresses. Once you have understood the difference, you can attain the end objective of WebRTC leak checker. Interestingly, when you perform WebRTC leak checker test, you will find two types of displayed IP addresses.

These are public and local IP addresses. Public IP addresses describe your identity over the internet. After connecting to a VPN service, you are able to get public IP addresses offered by your VPN provider. When you visit any site, it monitors VPN server’s public IP address not yours.

This way, you may secure your online identity. However, not all the things are rosy with public IP addresses. In case WebRTC exposes your actual public IP address instead of VPN server’s public IP address when connected to a VPN, third parties can recognize you.

Likewise, if you find a public IP address during the test then it means you have a leak issue.

On the other hand, local IP addresses are not related to you. Your routers assign these IP addresses and more importantly, they reuse these addresses millions of times globally. Even if third parties identify your local IP addresses, you are untraceable.

If you observe a local IP address during the test, your privacy is still protected period!

5 steps to test for a WebRTC leak (with and without VPN)

Those users who do not opt a VPN while conducting different online activities, they disclose private information to third parties. If the leak tool detects a leak hassle when you are connected to a VPN service, you can perform the following steps to secure your privacy:

  • After disconnecting from a VPN, you should open the page in new window or tab
  • When you see public IP addresses, note them
  • Close the page and connect to a VPN service
  • Open the closed page again, if you spot public IP addresses, you are facing privacy leak

If you are connected to a VPN service and the tool categorically specifies there is no leak, you are on the safe side luckily.

WebRTC-Leak-Test

Image Credit: Web Code Geeks

How does a WebRTC leak put my privacy at risk?

The only and major downside of WebRTC is its usage of different techniques that expose users’ IP addresses. Therefore, a WebRTC leak makes you vulnerable in this digital age. Firefox and Chrome browsers for Windows use a tool that may disclose your original IP addresses.

WebRTC-Privacy-Risk

When you use Chrome or Firefox browser, their IP checking methods can expose users’ ISPs issued IP addresses. It means websites can use WebRTC JavaScript code in web browsers like Firefox and Chrome that allow them to know about users’ actual IP addresses.

However, the said loophole is found in Firefox and Chrome Windows browsers only.

How does WebRTC spot my IPs?

According to my research, it uses ICE (Interactive connectivity establishment) protocol to explore users’ IP addresses. In addition, the protocol also uses two different techniques that are described as follows:

  • STUN/TURN servers
  • Host Candidate discovery

STUN/TURN Servers

These servers enable web browsers to ask questions like “what are my public IPs”. Likewise, they also help two devices to communicate with each other even if they are behind NAT firewall. The STUN/TURN can influence your privacy a great deal.

Host Candidate Discovery

There are devices those have numerous IP addresses related with their hardware. These IP addresses are unreachable from websites due to firewalls through STUN/TURN servers. Still, the ICE protocol discloses and helps browser to collect these IPs through your device.

The local IPv4 addresses are interlinked with your device and even if these addresses are discovered, your privacy will remain intact. But, if you have IPv6 address, your online security might be in danger. Hence, a spiteful website may use STUN/TURN servers and host candidate discovery approaches to entice your browser in exposing your IP addresses.

WebRTC leaks: Which browsers are more vulnerable?

Unfortunately, Firefox along with Chrome, Opera, Safari and Microsoft Edge desktop users are at great risks because of WebRTC leaks. This is because these browsers offer a built-in WebRTC feature in their browsers.  If you perform online activities through these browsers, chances are that you can become a victim of WebRTC leaks.

As per my research, Firefox and Chrome Windows browsers are more prone to WebRTC leaks. Therefore, you should know how to disable WebRTC in the above-mentioned browsers. By doing so, you can protect your digital identity and use these browsers from anywhere anonymously.

How else can I prevent WebRTC leaks?

Fortunately, you can prevent yourself from WebRTC leaks after disabling WebRTC feature in your browser at your own. Here are three distinct options you can use to prevent WebRTC leaks:

  • Disable WebRTC in browsers
  • Use browser add-ons or extensions to remove WebRTC
  • Use a premium VPN service to avoid facing WebRTC leaks hassles

You can disable WebRTC in various browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Microsoft Edge. Unfortunately, browser add-ons do not offer the desired level of anonymity. Still, it reduces the probability of WebRTC leaks considerably.

Likewise, select a VPN provider that does not leak your original IP address during WebRTC leak test.

How to disable WebRTC in Chrome on Desktop

The task of disabling WebRTC in Chrome on desktop is straightforward. Here is how you can do:

  • Go to ‘Customize and Control’ and from tab use ‘More Tools’ then click ‘Extension under the section
  • You should scroll down and click ‘get more extensions’
  • Through search bar in left corner and write ‘WebRTC control’
  • Click ‘add to chrome’ >add extension> activate plugin to turn WebRTC plugin from blue to block

This is how you can perform WebRTC leak Chrome fix procedure to disable WebRTC in chrome browser.

Luckily, you can also use two types of Chrome extensions to overcome WebRTC leaks. These are:

  • uBlock Origin
  • WebRTC Network Limiter

uBlock is an all-purpose blocker that helps you in blocking ads, tracker and malware. The WebRTC network limiter is an official Google add-on you can use to bypass IP leaks hassles without blocking WebRTC completely.

Chrome-Browser-WebRTC

Image Credit: Ask Dave Taylor

How to disable WebRTC in Firefox on Desktop

Similarly, you can disable WebRTC in Firefox on desktop without using WebRTC leak test. Here is how you should do:

  • You should enter “about config” text in address bar and hit enter
  • You must click “I accept the risk” before proceeding further
  • You should enter “media. Peerconnection.enabled’ on search bar and press enter
  • You should also right click on the line listed and choose toggle

Firefox-Uninstallation-WebRTC

 Image Credit: Google Play Store

How to disable WebRTC in Opera on Desktop

You can disable WebRTC in Opera on desktop after following below mentioned steps:

  • From extension gallery, you should write the name of plugin in search box “WebRTC control”
  • Click the plugin
  • Click “Add to Opera” and activate the plugin that can turn WebRTC from blue to block

How to disable WebRTC in Safari on Desktop

Surprisingly, the Safari’s model follows security rules in true letter and spirit than other browser. Therefore, you do not have to disable WebRTC in Safari as it does not offer WebRTC by default.

Safari-WebRTC-Uninstallation

How to disable WebRTC in Microsoft Edge on Desktop

The same applies to Microsoft Edge, as it does not provide a built-in  WebRTC in its browser. Still, you can secure your browser from leaking your IP addresses. Here is how you should do:

  • Write about:flags in address bar and check the marked option ‘Hide my local IP address over WebRTC connections’

Microsoft-Edge-WebRTC

How does WebRTC expose my IP Address?

Unfortunately, WebRTC uses a method that discloses public IP addresses even if it is behind a NAT firewall.  Through some JavaScript commands, WebRTC may be used to send UDP packets to STUN server.

The server sends back UDP packet embedded with IP addresses from which the request initiated. Consequently, you are bound to perform WebRTC test to bypass IP addresses exposing problems.

How can I protect against this IP leak?

As the requests to STUN server are originated outside the normal XML HTTP. These are invisible in the developer console therefore; it becomes next to impossible to block these requests through browser plugins such as WebRTC block.

5 Used cases for real time communications with WebRTC

When it comes to performing various tasks like real time video and audio calls, nothing comes close to WebRTC. Here are five amazing examples of used cases for real time communications:

  • One-way conversational devices
  • Surveillance
  • Internet of things (IOT)
  • Entertainment
  • Online education

One-way Conversational Devices

Surprisingly, Amazon avails WebRTC for Alexa and other products. Likewise, Google Duplex uses real time communications along with artificial intelligence (AI) that enable users to interact with other users naturally. This way, they can conduct different activities over the phone instantly.

Surveillance

WebRTC technology is also helping governments and surveillance agencies in achieving their online privacy missions. Interestingly, 130 million cameras are assumed to be used worldwide for privacy purposes.

Through WebRTC, they may perform functions like automated alerts already used by video surveillance technologies.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is growing significantly as 127 devices are connected to the internet per second. Furthermore, the data is passed through WebRTC among machine-to-machine connections.

Entertainment

The gaming geeks are able to enjoy online gaming experiences to next level. Thanks to WebRTC, they can play games like Cubeslam, and AirConsole smartly.

Online Education

WebRTC is playing its role in education industry since organizations adapt to this notion to provide customized learning platforms for instructors.

FAQs

I have explained different queries related to WebRTC briefly below:

WebRTC leak takes place when your public IP addresses are still exposed even when connected to a VPN. As a result, third parties can access to your crucial private information.
WebRTC is an open source framework that allows real time communications in browsers.
Interestingly, you do not have to enable WebRTC in Chrome as it is already available in the browser by default.
Yes, Windows based Steam client use WebRTC for the new VOIP.
If you are still anticipating WebRTC leak hassle despite using a VPN, you should contact customer support section of your VPN service.
A VPN protects you from WebRTC leaks by masking your public IP addresses. When you open new pages when connected to a VPN service, your public IP addresses will not be exposed.

Wrapping Up

I hope I was able to describe various aspects that relate to WebRTC test in detail. Furthermore, you can understand the pros and cons of WebRTC if you go through my post thoroughly. This way, you can secure your real time communications and perform P2P activities securely and anonymously from anywhere.

Thanks for reading my post, you are more than welcome to share your views through comments section below.

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Usman Hayat

Usman Hayat

Author
All Posts by Usman Hayat

Usman Hayat's Biography :


A business school grad specializing in marketing, Usman found his love for writing during studies. Salmi now pursues a career as a digital privacy & security advocate for VPNRanks working as a blogger. Salmi loves reading about sci-fi & technology while cricket is his game of choice. When the world cries ‘online freedom’ Salmi stands resolute raising his voice for the rights of netizens everywhere.


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