A VPN killswitch is an emergency switch to bring a temporarily insecure VPN connection to a complete stop. In case of suspicious movements, the Internet connection is automatically terminated.
In the IT world, a killswitch is used to protect data or privacy. A stolen smartphone is deactivated by means of a killswitch so that the data is not read.
This mechanism is used for VPNs. It happens that a VPN fails while you are online. A killswitch automatically disconnects you from the Internet so that your data is not passed on unprotected. A VPN killswitch prevents your IP from becoming visible without you noticing. In short, the Killswitch saves your privacy and keeps control over your VPN connection.
What else do you use a killswitch for?
The term is common in many other industries. Heavy machines that have “quirks” or get stuck are stopped completely with the emergency stop switch. The same applies to vehicles, elevators and nuclear power plants. Safety is the top priority!
Smartphones also have various killswitches. A stolen cell phone is immediately rendered unusable by the killswitch. If it is a virus or Trojan, the killswitch causes the removal of the malicious application. The killswitch can control the whole device or individual apps. This is just as a background to understand the importance of a kill switch for the VPN.
Causes of connection interruptions
The VPN Killswitch takes effect when the VPN connection is interrupted for various reasons. We have listed the most popular interruptions:
- Firewall and/or router settings. The configuration of a VPN can become complicated under certain circumstances. The wrong firewall or router settings prevent a VPN connection from being established. The firewall or your antivirus program may classify the VPN as unreliable. The result is an irregular VPN connection.
- Unstable Internet connection / Insufficient signal strength / Server overload. Depending on your own Internet connection, the VPN connection may occasionally fail. If you regularly change the WLAN or receive a weak WLAN signal, the connection will be interrupted. Problems with the server are another risk. An overloaded server, malfunctions in the physical server or time-outs disconnect the VPN connection the killswitch takes effect!
- VPN protocol selection. We recommend only OpenVPN with TCP and UDP connections as protocol. OpenVPN provides a stable connection and high performance. PPTP and L2TP are comparatively unstable. The connections are disconnected more often. The choice of VPN protocol influences the frequency of interruptions. A premium VPN chooses the best protocol automatically.
Killswitch technology: how it works
A killswitch should always be activated. As an activist, journalist or blogger, you can’t afford to have your online activities tracked. This is especially true for people living in authoritarian-run countries. Anywhere the government can read what “coup” you are planning next.
A killswitch protects you from data leaks and unexpected connection interruptions.
A killswitch has three main functions:
A killswitch is not always active. It must be activated via the settings of the application or app.
There are also alternatives to Killswitch. VPNetMon and VPN Watcher do not terminate the entire Internet connection compared to Killswitch. Only the programs that reveal the IP address are terminated here. The Internet connection will still be available.
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How reliable are VPN networks?
Experts agree that no VPN client can promise complete anonymity. A VPN can never protect online activities 100%. However, it can significantly improve the protection of data and security on the network!
The VPN connection depends largely on the VPN software. Some VPN products are vulnerable to IPv6 leaks and DNS attacks. A third-party DNS server provider can read, log and manipulate the data. We recommend going with a provider that excludes third-party vendors and follows a zero-log policy.
A traditional VPN protects two things: the traffic and it disguises the origin of the user. Encryptions such as AES are not cracked.
The biggest vulnerability of VPNs is the user. Incorrect configuration of the VPN can expose the anonymity.
Mail traffic is also a problem for some VPNs. If the recipient of an e-mail does not have a VPN, the connection is open. Our PrivacyCubeprovides full encryption for e-mail traffic.
Conclusion: A killswitch is essential.
A killswitch is a valuable additional feature for any VPN. The killswitch approach has the right goals. You may not even be sitting in front of the PC while your data is being read out. A killswitch prevents this!