What Is WebRTC? How to Stop WebRTC Leaks

WebRTC, which stands for Web Real-Time Communications, does just that. It’s a project that provides additional communication functionality to web browsers, which is helpful – but it doesn’t do it without risk. In this article, learn what WebRTC technology is, why some users are concerned about its privacy, and what you can do to disable leaks for yourself.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC is a free, open-source project that allows web browsers and mobile applications to add real-time audio and video peer-to-peer connections and communication functionality. It lets you quickly communicate with others on the web with audio and video.

You can communicate directly inside web pages and applications without requiring additional plug-ins with these WebRTC data channels. The technology is implemented via regular JavaScript APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) in major web browsers, like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. For example, a website using this technology can access a user's microphone or webcam. In advanced cases, web apps provide video calling and screen sharing functionality, like in Google Hangouts and similar programs.

WebRTC privacy concerns

This free, open-source project is a game-changer that makes online real-time communication significantly easier. However, many Internet users have major concerns over its privacy vulnerabilities. This is because this type of supported connection has the potential to expose the IP address of your device to the public. This phenomenon is known as a WebRTC leak.

Why is this an issue? If you don’t take any additional steps to hide your IP address, it may not be much of a problem at all. However, for people who do hide their IP address with a virtual private network, or VPN, these leaks are concerning.


The point of using a VPN or proxy is to conceal your IP address. Your real IP address contains identifying information about you, including your general physical location and your Internet service provider.

If your browser has a WebRTC leak that exposes your IP address, it defeats the purpose of using a VPN or proxy. With your IP address exposed to the public, your Internet service provider can track your online activity and advertisers can tailor your advertisements and send spam. In some cases, cybercriminals can even use your IP address as a gateway to access your personal data and perform data transfers.

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself against these WebRTC leaks.

How to protect yourself from WebRTC leaks

To avoid experiencing WebRTC leaks, follow these steps.

Disable WebRTC

WebRTC is likely enabled in your browser by default. But if you don’t need to use video or audio communication in your browser, you can easily disable it. The process varies from browser to browser, so make sure you follow the instructions for your primary browser.

To disable WebRTC in Chrome:

Google Chrome does not have any built-in settings to disable the WebRTC components. Instead, you'll need to install an extension such as WebRTC Leak Prevent or Easy WebRTC Block if you want to disable WebRTC Chrome. Simply search for one of the extensions in the Chrome Web Store, click Add to Chrome, and then activate the extension while you browse. This will easily disable WebRTC right in your browser.

To disable WebRTC in Firefox:

If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can disable WebRTC in your browser's settings. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Type about:config in the address bar and press Enter. 
  2. You’ll get a warning message indicating that changing configuration can affect Firefox performance. Click the “Accept the Risk and Continue” button that shows up on the warning screen.
  3. Type media.peerconnection.enabled in the search bar underneath the address bar.
  4. Double-click the search result which will change the Value column to false. Once you do that, you’ve successfully disabled WebRTC.

To disable WebRTC in Microsoft Edge:

With Edge, you cannot disable it altogether. However, you can easily change the settings to ensure it doesn't reveal your IP address.

  1. Type about:flags in the address bar and press Enter. 
  2. Check the box "Hide my local IP over WebRTC connections."
  3. Restart Edge for the changes to take effect.

To disable WebRTC in Safari:

Like Firefox, Safari allows you to change the settings to disable WebRTC.

  1. Click Safari in the menu, then click Settings.
  2. Click Advanced and then check "Show Develop menu in menu bar."
  3. Then, in the menu bar, click the Develop tab. In the drop-down menu, navigate to the WebRTC option, then click Enable Legacy WebRTC API.

Use a VPN

Some VPNs offer the option to stop this type of IP address leak while still allowing you to use its features, like the audio and video communication. A masking service like a VPN provides the option to quickly disable or enable this to protect your public IP address. ExpressVPN and NordVPN , for example, offer this.

However, it's important to remember that these VPNs are paid services. You won't be able to get one for free if you want the full protective benefits that a VPN service can offer. If you value privacy and security on the Internet, VPNs offer many more benefits to protect you online. You'll get your money's worth if you invest in a VPN service.

Use an extension

Browser extensions are a great free option to either completely disable WebRTC or to prevent the leaks. Some common leak protection extensions are WebRTC Control, WebRTC Protect, Easy WebRTC Block, and WebRTC Leak Prevent. WebRTC Control in particular brings you control over the API in your browser and protects your local IP address against leaks.

If you want to download these extensions, check your browser’s extensions store and follow their instructions to add them to your device.