VPN Kill Switch: What Is It and How Does It Work?

What is a VPN Kill Switch?

A VPN kill switch can protect your sensitive information if your VPN connection fails. This feature cuts the internet connection immediately when the VPN drops, meaning you can’t send or receive internet data. However, not all VPN providers use this feature, and not all kill switches are equal.

How Does a VPN Kill Switch Work?

VPN kill switches protect your data and anonymity with four main features.

How Does a VPN Kill Switch Work

  • Monitoring: When you use a VPN, the VPN client creates an encrypted link between your device and a remote server. If a person or entity intercepts data, they won’t be able to read the content or identify you without the encryption key.

    A VPN’s kill switches constantly monitor your connection to the remote server to ensure data goes through this encrypted tunnel.

  • Detecting: Issues with your network connection can cause your device to disconnect from the remote server. As your device attempts to reconnect, it might bypass the VPN app and establish a connection outside of the secure tunnel.

    At that time VPN kill switch can detect these changes by constantly monitoring your connection status or looking for IP address changes.

  • Blocking: When the kill switch detects that you have lost your secure VPN connection, it will trigger a network lock. Your device won’t be able to send or receive any data over the internet.
  • Reconnecting: Next, the kill switch will attempt to restore your VPN connection. The VPN client will contact a remote server via an encrypted tunnel, and you’ll be able to resume browsing the web anonymously once your device has established a safe connection.

How To Test a VPN Kill Switch

Testing your VPN kill switch ensures the feature works as intended so you don’t accidentally send sensitive data outside a secured connection.

Here is how you can verify that your VPN kill switch works.

Step 1) Find Your Real IP

Using a VPN will display a different IP address to the remote servers you are connect with. However, you need to know your initial IP address to verify that your kill switch works.

Follow this link to find your public IP address. It’s a unique identifier that indicates your location and identifies your device.

Step 2) Activate the Kill Switch and Connect to Your VPN

You need to make sure you have the kill switch enabled on your VPN client. Open the VPN client and wait for your device to connect to a VPN server. Your client will typically establish a connection to a saved server or the nearest server available.

Step 3) Connect to a Different VPN Server in a New Location

Next, you should switch to a different VPN server. Select one in a different country so you can easily tell the new IP address apart from the IP associated with your device. After that you should Check your IP again, the location should match the country you selected in the VPN client.

Step 4) Create an Unexpected Internet Disconnection

Disrupt your internet connection by turning off the Wi-Fi feature on your device. Alternatively, you can restart the router or unplug the cable between the wall jack and the router.

Step 5) Re-Establish Your Internet Connection

Restore your internet connection. Your device should automatically connect to your saved Wi-Fi network again. Open a browser or another app and attempt to connect to a URL. Two things can happen.

  • When the kill switch feature works, you’ll get an error message, and your secure connection will return after a brief delay. So, you need to check your IP address to verify that the kill switch established a new connection to the VPN server you were using previously or to a saved VPN server.
  • When the kill switch feature doesn’t work, your device will establish a non-encrypted connection to a saved DNS server without going through the VPN tunnel. You’ll see your IP address if you use an IP checker tool.

Why Do You Require VPN Kill Switch?

VPN kill switches make you safer by preventing accidental data leaks if your VPN connection drops.

  • Weak Signal Strength: The range of a Wi-Fi network is typically between 150 and 300. If you get too far from the router, your device will lose connection. Once you’re back in range, your device will connect to the Wi-Fi automatically, but you won’t however, you will not get a secure VPN connection.
  • Strict Firewall Settings: A firewall can help keep you safe online. This application manages which programs have access to the internet. However, strict firewall settings can cause this app to block your VPN client.
  • Unreliable VPN Protocol: An unreliable protocol could be the culprit if your VPN connection suddenly drops. VPN connections can use different protocols:
    1. PPTP is one of the most common protocols, but it’s less safe than other options.
    2. L2TP/IPSec uses more computing power. It can slow down your device and cause it to freeze, interrupting VPN connections.
    3. The OpenVPN protocol can be challenging to configure. If your VPN connection fails, you might be using the wrong settings.
  • Your Device Being Hacked: Kill switches stop data from going out. It protects you from DDoS attacks and other threats.
  • Your IP Address Leaking: If you lose your VPN connection, it only takes an instant for your IP address to become visible to your Internet Service Provider and other entities.
  • On Mobile When Connection Frequently Dropped: Using a mobile VPN will improve your safety and privacy. However, using a VPN client on the go can cause frequent interruptions, since your mobile device has to switch between relays and towers to stay connected to the mobile network.
  • Becoming a Target for Ads and Misinformation Businesses and advertising companies gather user information so websites can display specific ads based on that publicly visible information. But targeted ads are only one problem with your data being visible. Malicious content can more easily engage you because it mimics content relevant to your interests.

What Are the Types of VPN Kill Switch?

Types of VPN Kill Switch

Here, are important Type of VPN kill Switches:

  • System Level Kill Switch: A system-level kill switch will recognize when you have lost connection with your VPN service. Activation of the system-level kill switch will prevent your device from connecting to the internet, whether it be through cellular data or a WiFi network.
  • Active Kill Switch: An active kill switch protocol will monitor your connection status and interrupt it if it detects any changes.
  • Passive Kill Switch: A passive kill switch protocol has a faster reaction time. These kill switches will activate as soon as it stops receiving a signal from the VPN server.
  • Application-Level VPN Kill Switch: Some VPN clients have a kill switch that interrupts the connection at the device level. You can also find application-level kill switches that prevent a specific app from going online if you don’t have a safe connection.

Who Should Use a VPN Kill Switch?

Anyone who uses a VPN to protect their anonymity should use a kill switch.

Here, are common applications of VPN kill switch:

  • Authoritarian Regimes: A kill switch is a must-have feature to avoid an accidental leak.
  • Confidential Document Holders: It only takes a second for valuable data to be exposed via your Internet Service Provider to other entities.
  • Activists and Journalists: A kill switch to protect your online credentials and make it more difficult to be tracked.
  • Peer-to-Peer Transfer Software Users: Using a kill switch will mask the IP address.
  • Torrent Users: Using a skill switch can help these users remain anonymous.


Read on to learn more about kill switches.

Yes, you can. There are a few ways to make your own kill switch. It is possible to disable the connection manually by entering your connection settings or simply disconnecting your modem. However, building your own kill switch is not recommended unless you have a robust networking skill set.

Well-known VPN providers like NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost offer a kill switch feature. This feature should be listed on the companies’ websites, so when looking for the best VPN service, check if they include a kill switch option. It makes them more trustworthy, too.