How to protect yourself if your VPN connection stops working

A VPN enhances the security of your online connection and adds a strong layer of protection for your privacy. However, there are not infallible solutions and even if your VPN connection is generally reliable, it may fail when you less expect it. If you are disconnected from the VPN server, the data packets would be simply routed through your ISP as they would normally do, meaning that your online activity is no longer protected by encryption.

Your conversations, browsing history and anything else that you do on internet can be exposed. This is particularly risky for those who use BitTorrent applications and leave them running unattended because the data they are downloading is no longer “hidden” and they can be eventually traced and identified. The good news is that it is possible to prevent that your computer or certain programs access internet in case the VPN connection suddenly drops. Here are some ways to protect your data even if your VPN disconnects.

VPN clients featuring an Internet Kill Switch

This is probably the easiest option to ensure that none of the applications you run, get access to internet when a VPN is not in use. Many VPN providers offer VPN clients that come with an internet kill switch. In the client’s Settings, dialogue you can select this function, which will prevent all outgoing and incoming traffic in case your VPN connection fails. Some of the VPN services that have VPN clients with built-in kill switch include PIA, IPvanish, AirVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, Mullvad, Astrill and Hide My Ass. If you come across any issues when you try to reconnect to internet using this function, you can easily solve them by resetting your adaptor. To do this, you just need to right-click on your internet connection and select “Troubleshoot problems”.

Download torrents using Vuze

Vuze is a popular BitTorrent client and from version 4.8.1.0 upwards, it features an option that can detect if it is running over a VPN. If it identifies that a VPN is not in place, a pop-up notification will appear, asking users if they wish to use the client over VPN only. While this function should be automatically enabled, if it is not working for you, it is possible to set it up manually, following the below steps.

1. First check that your VPN connection is active. In Vuze, go to Tools, then Options and under “User Proficiency” select Advanced”.

2. After that, go to Connection, then Advanced Network Settings and search for your VPN connection in the list. It will appear as below:

Windows (PPTP/L2TP) – WAN Miniport
Windows (OpenVPN) – Tap-Win32 Adapter V9
OSX- tun0 (or whichever network interface shows your VPN IP address)

3. Type the interface name in the “Bind to local IP address or interface” dialogue above the list.

4. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and ensure that “Enforce IP bindings…” is checked

5. At the bottom of the Vuze client there is a small routing icon. If everything is working correctly, this should light up green now. The icon will turn red if your VPN is disconnected and all torrent downloads will be stopped. Once you reconnect, the torrent download will continue.

Use VPNetMon

This VPN monitor continuously checks the IP address of your VPN and if it can’t detect it, it will close all the specified applications at once. It is meant to work so fast that there is no time for a new connection being established from your actual IP address. VPNetMon is available for Windows (up to Windows 10) and it can be downloaded from http://vpnetmon.webs.com for free.

  1. Once you download VPNetMOn, run it and click “Opt”.
  2. Select any applications that should be shut down when the VPN disconnects. The first part of your VPN’s IP should be entered in the VPN IP Start box. This information can be found in one of the lower IPV4 Address boxes when you are connected to your VPN.
  3. Once you connect to your VPN, your VPN IP address should appear in green in one of the lower IPV4 Addresses boxes. Applications that you want to keep protected, should be launched from within VPNetMon. To check that everything is working as it should, you can disconnect from your VPN to confirm that all the applications selected shit down immediately.

VPN Check

Just like VPNetMon, VPNCheck is a VPN monitoring tool that will shut down any specified applications, if your VPN connection suddenly drops. VPN Check is a paid solution, but there is a free version available. In order to enjoy all its features, you should opt for the Pro edition, which costs $20.

  1. After downloading and installing VPN Check, run the application and click on “Config”.
  2. Enter your VPN account information. VPN is designed to provide optimal performance with the OpenVPN client, but it also works well with customer software. You can add any applications that should be shut down in case the VPN connection fails. The free version only allows you to add up to 3 applications. Once you have selected the programs, close the window.
  3. In the Status screen, select either “Cycle: IP Task” to shut down the individual applications that you previously selected, or “Cycle IP: Network” to shut down your entire internet connection in case the VPN fails.
  4. You can disconnect the VPN service to confirm if VPNCheck is working correctly. If it is, any applications that you selected should close down immediately and you would see an Alter in the Task Bar.

Configure your OS settings manually

Adjusting the settings of your operating system is possible the most secure way to ensure that some applications or your whole internet connection shits down if your VPN is disconnected. The benefit of this method is that you don’t need third-party software, but since the process is more complex, some research and technical knowledge required.