Who Can Track Me Online
When online you can be tracked by:
- Internet service providers. ISPs can see what you do online and even curb your traffic. However, a VPN hides your IP, encrypts your traffic, and protects your online privacy.
- Government agencies and other similar entities. They can approach ISPs or online service providers to obtain data about you or just use their own tracking methods.
- Cybercriminals. They can track you and steal your data by intercepting your traffic via public Wi-Fi. However, a VPN protects you from this by encrypting your data. Even if the Wi-Fi youre connecting to is compromised, your data will still be protected.
Here are some of the ways you can be tracked online even when using a VPN:
Do I Need A VPN On All My Devices
Yes, you will need to install a VPN client on each device you want to connect to the VPN. For the most part, VPN clients offer the same features across platforms but that’s not always the case.
For mobile devices, the situation is a little thornier. Most companies offer VPN apps for Android and iPhones, which is great because we use these devices to connect to Wi-Fi all the time. VPNs don’t always play nice with cellular connections, but it takes some serious effort to intercept cellphone data. Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may have an easier time gaining access to this data, or metadata, through connections with mobile carriers or by using specialized equipment.
Note that you can skip client apps altogether and connect to the VPN service simply using your computer’s network control panel. It comes with major drawbacks, however. For one thing, it’s tedious. For another, client apps give you access to more features. Since you’re paying for the bells and whistles VPN companies offer, you may as well be able to use them. VPN apps will also always be up to date with the latest server information, which will save you a lot of trouble.
Do VPNs Block My Search History From My Isp
VPN Providers will make sure your search history is invisible to your ISP . The ISP will only see the IP of the VPN server, and thats all they get. However, the VPN provider may log your internet activity even though they typically promise not to keep any logs.
This is the case for almost any VPN provider you can work with as its part of the system behind a VPN.
The VPN will make sure your data is sent through an encrypted tunnel and routed around their web servers before they retrieve the data you ask for .
But, theres a very important point to make here.
Your traffic may be logged elsewhere!
Follow along here.
All the VPN providers we have tested and tried in our search for the best VPN providers have promised on their websites to not keep any logs or records of their customers whereabouts.
Its essential for them to have a good reputation and its one of the primary reasons people use a VPN. To keep a high level of privacy around their search history.
But history will tell that many VPNs do in fact keep logs!
How do we know this?We have looked at cases where governments, intelligence agencies, and even private companies have come after VPN providers to check their servers for personal data on a suspect or people of interest.
Multiple cases have been disclosed and weve focused on the VPN providers that have shown that they do not keep any logs at all. We will come back to these in a second.
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What Can An Isp See When I Use A VPN
Your ISP can see that youre connected to an IP address owned by a VPN service. They might also see that youre using a port thats typical for VPN traffic. Thats all they should be able to see when you use a VPN service.
Your ISP basically connects you to the websites you want to visit. They get a request from you in the form of a data package and send it where you tell them to. When youre using a VPN you basically tell them to send that request to the VPN server.
The VPN server will take it from there without letting the ISP know where that data package goes.
To sum it up. The ISP can only see this information when you use a VPN:
So the answer is: Not much.
And thats the whole point.
We dont want anybody to know what were doing online. There are way too many examples of private data ending up in the wrong hands for a ton of reasons. But always reasons that dont benefit you as a user.
Thats why VPN services are on the rise. Check out this graph from Google Trends. It shows the number of people over time who search for the term Best VPN:
As you can see theres a pretty good rise for that search term.
People want to find out whats the best VPN service for them to use. These people are not considering if they should use a VPN or not they are ready to find the best one.
What To Look For When Choosing A VPN Service
- A Zero/No Logs policy. We dont recommend using any VPN that logs your data. The entire point of using a VPN is to regain control of your privacy, including from the service provider.
- The latest encryption protocols. An out of date encryption protocol can compromise your security. Make sure your provider offers 256-bit encryption protocols. We prefer the open-source OpenVPN protocol, as its the most regularly updated encryption protocol and has thousands of developers working on it every day. Some of the best VPNs, like NordVPN, rely on its encryption to offer their users military-grade security without compromising speeds.
- A solid history with no data leaks. A VPN with a track record of compromised user data is a red flag. Your VPN provider is trusted with protecting your data, so its important they have a solid reputation of doing so for other users.
- Plenty of servers spread around the world. More server locations means more bandwidth to go around between users and more opportunities for content access. The VPNs we recommend often have thousands of servers across dozens of countries. Research the server locations of VPNs before subscribing to ensure your needs will be met.
- Access to streaming services. Content access is one of the most common reasons for using a VPN, however not every service works with streaming sites. If you want to use a VPN to watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, or Disney Plus, make sure the provider is able to grant you access to those sites.
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A VPN Can Protect Your Online Privacy But There’s A Catch
After US lawmakers vote to end online privacy rules, people are looking for ways to hide their browsing histories.
Interest in VPNs hit a five-year high after Congress voted to kill FCC internet privacy rules.
Your internet service provider can sell your browsing history to the highest bidder.
That’s the creepy truth internet users in the US woke up to on Wednesday morning. And it’s spurring them to check out tools that can hide their browsing histories and disguise their internet traffic.
On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted to kill Federal Communications Commission rules that would have stopped ISPs from selling this data. Later that night, Google searches in the US for a tool called a VPN spiked to a five-year high, according to Google Trends.
Journalists and cybersecurity experts also chattered about VPNs .
The uptick in searches matched a broader, somewhat manic response to Congress’ actions. One man is offering to sell his internet browsing history on eBay, so that he can benefit from this apparent commodity. Another ticked-off internet user started a campaign to buy the internet histories of legislators and a bunch of other people to make them publicly searchable.
Fatemeh Khatibloo, a principal analyst at tech research firm Forrester who focuses on privacy, pointed out that nothing has actually changed about the way ISPs treat your data. That’s because the FCC rules hadn’t gone into effect yet.
Well, it’s complicated.
Can Internet Providers Sell Or Share My Data
ISP companies can sell your web history to advertising agencies. By getting your browsing history, they can create a more personalized campaign and alter your online experience. In other words, if you are browsing the web, and constantly see very targeted ads popping up, it means that ISP may have been selling your web history.
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What Can The Isp Not See When I Use A VPN
Your internet service provider cannot see which websites you visit. They can only follow your tracks to the VPN server. Everything beyond that point is hidden from the ISP.
All your browsing activities will be a big blur for the ISP.
Heres what the ISP cannot see:
Since the ISP cannot see which websites youre visiting you need to think about who else might be looking. Your VPN provider absolutely has access to your data so you need to use a good VPN that you trust not to keep any logs.
All they will see is a long list of characters that makes absolutely no sense at all.
Use An Ssl/ssh Tunnel
SSL and SSH tunneling are two methods of routing your Web traffic over different types of encryption connections. Even though they require some manual configuration, your VPN provider should be happy to assist you in setting up these custom systems of encryption.
- SSL Tunneling: Through a program called Stunnel, it is possible to create SSL or TLS tunnels. SSL or TLS tunnels are used by HTTPS . When you connect to a VPN server using SSL or TLS, it becomes hard for websites to tell if you are on HTTPS traffic or VPN traffic. To create SSL and TLS tunnels, you have to contact your VPN provider because they must be installed on both the clients PC and the server. AirVPN is a famous software that lets you create SSL and TLS tunnels easily.
- SSH Tunneling: SSH Tunneling is a lot like SSL Tunneling – it also creates a tunnel, only it uses an SSH tunnel and not SSL or TLS. SSH is a big deal in the business world, where it is used to access shell accounts on UNIX systems. It is not as widely used as SSL, but it is still a good way to access blocked websites. To make it work, you have to contact your VPN service provider.
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What Do VPNs Hide From Isps
Even though ISPs can identify the information mentioned above, these are some things they cant see when you use a VPN:
Cut Off The Surveillance
Cybersecurity has quickly become one of the hottest topics around the technology world over the last couple of years as more and more data is being leaked.
Were talking private photos, personal information, etc.
What you do and what you communicate about online shouldnt be openly accessible to anybody who comes knocking at the ISPs door.
You might not feel any need to hide your whereabouts today but you never know what tomorrow may bring. Maybe the future has plans that dont fit with your current interests online.
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Advantage : Fight Online Censorship
In a lot of countries governments heavily censor the internet. These countries block access to certain internet services and websites. Examples of apps and websites that are often blocked are WhatsApp, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Skype, Spotify and Facebook. Moreover, news websites and journalist platforms are often blocked because they are seen as a threat to the sitting government. In these countries this censorship heavily impacts the freedom of speech of their citizens.
In some western countries there are also online restrictions. For example, many countries block the Pirate Bay website because they do not want their citizens to download illegal materials.
A VPN can help you bypass censorship and restrictions by allowing you to connect to a server in a different country. By doing this you can go online as if you were in that other country. This way you can gain access to websites and services that are not available in your own country.
Switch To Mobile Data Via Smartphones/tablets
In case VPNs are blocked in your school or workplace, you wont be able to use this type of software to visit restricted websites. However, you can switch to a different Internet connection thats not restricted. So, instead of using your school/office Wi-Fi connection, you need to rely on the mobile data plan provided by your carrier .
This is a very simple trick, and it does not require any advanced techniques or knowledge. You simply turn off your Wi-Fi and browse the Internet through your mobile connection. Your carrier will charge you, but at least you will be able to access websites like Facebook and Twitter. Besides, you can also from your smartphone, and use it on your computer via tethering.
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Do Isps Care If You Use A VPN
That leads to the second part of the question, whether ISPs care that youre using a VPN. The answer is probably that it depends on your geographical location. In most of the world, we can assume that ISPs generally dont care. Whether you connect to a VPNs server or that of a random site is probably all the same to them. After all, many people use VPNs to remotely connect to work networks. A VPN youre using for privacy looks about the same.
There is, however, one big exception to this rule: Dictatorships like China, Iran, and a bunch of other countries that have made VPNs illegal. In those countries, most ISPs will either be owned by the state or have some kind of state control imposed, meaning that there is a chance of somebody checking on connections.
We know that the Chinese authorities will impose fines on VPN use, and there are rumors that the government has developed VPN-tracking technology. We can speculate that these programs can gather information on which connections are sending back encrypted data and thus identify them, but were not sure.
VyprVPN is one VPN service that claims to have connection protocols that can fool the Chinese detection system, we assume by making the VPN tunnel look like a regular connection somehow.
Can My Isp See My Google Searches
Google uses HTTPS across all of its web services, so your search queries are encrypted with SSL. Your ISP can see that you are visiting Google, but not specific search queries. However, Google often links to sites in search results that do not have HTTPS, in which case your ISP can see the contents of that site being downloaded to your device.
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How To Stay Secure With A VPN
A VPN works by encrypting your online presence. The only way to decipher this encryption is with a key. Only your computer and the VPN know this key, making it impossible for your ISP to tell where you are browsing.
Different VPNs will use different encryption processes, but generally speaking, it works in three stages:
How Can Your VPN Be Traced
The best VPNs will not allow your IP to identify you. However, there are ways to identify VPN traffic:
- VPN IP address. The IP addresses of VPN servers aren’t difficult to recognize there are even databases specializing in VPN detection, that try to determine whether an IP belongs to a particular provider. When you access a website with a VPN on, it may be able to identify that you’re using a VPN using your IP. However, this doesn’t mean the website will know the identity of the person behind the IP address just that they are using a VPN.
- Port number. Some VPN protocols use specific port numbers to establish a connection. For example, OpenVPN usually uses port number 1194, while OpenVPN typically uses 443. So, the port number can give away the type of VPN connection you’re using.
- Deep packet inspection. DPI is a process that involves inspecting the structure of each passing data packet. It has many useful applications, like blocking spam or malware. However, it can also be used to identify VPN traffic. This is what the government of China uses to block VPNs.
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