Trying to keep your web activity private is understandable. However, there are some ways data can still get leaked to third parties like your ISP. Your ISP or Internet Service Provider is the firm that gives you access to the internet.
Because of the power ISPs hold, they’re legalized to track the entirety of your internet activity. Information that your ISP collects from you includes your web history, device model, and browsing habits. ISPs typically mask this breach of privacy with an explanation of providing you with a better surfing experience.
ISPs also record a big bulk of your internet data. This information can be stored for months and even years, depending on how long the government legally allows them to keep the data.
Reasons why your ISP Tracks your Activity
- Government Requirements
ISPs are required by the government to record the data of all users on their networks. On one hand, this information can be used to track criminals down. On the flip side, whistleblowers and journalistic sources can also get exposed to the ISP.
- Source of Profit Maximization
To maximize profit, firms try to sell assets that are considered valuable. In the internet age, user data is highly treasured by various corporations.
Your internet activity is sold alongside millions of other users in a bid to make a profit. In several countries, it is legal for ISPs to sell consumer information to advertisers. In turn, these advertisers analyze the data to serve you with targeted ads.
- Tracking Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
In several countries, it is not legal to engage in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing. By tracking your browsing activity, your ISP will be able to determine if you’re using a P2P-like connection. Actions like these can land you in trouble with the government once it gets reported.
Measures you can take to Prevent ISP Tracking
- Get the Tor Browser
Tor Browser is based on the Tor network. It is a very private browser that never records your browsing history and hides your internet footprints. A Tor network user can visit numerous websites in a day and not get tracked because data gets bounced across different tunnels.
There are several volunteers on Tor’s network that serve up nodes to anonymize internet data. Even the government with its sophisticated resources finds it difficult to trace the origin of internet traffic on the network.
Tor network is used by individuals who want to access the dark web, freedom fighters, and journalists. It is common to see posts from anonymous people who want to share sad stories.
- Download a VPN
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is a technology that encrypts the flow of your internet data. When you connect to a VPN server, communication between your device and an end node becomes secure.
To explain it better, the internet is a big place where information shared can easily get spied on. By using a VPN, a private tunnel will be created from your phone or computer to the final destination of your traffic. This way, third parties trying to spy on your information won’t be able to make sense of your data.
A VPN is better than Tor Browser in the sense that it encrypts all internet data flowing into your device from your ISP. Tor Browser on the other hand only shields your ISP from internet activity in the browser. Files downloaded on your device would still get seen by your ISP.
Note that your ISP can see when you’re using a VPN. However, every bit of your activity would be kept secret from them. You’d best use a paid VPN for total security. To protect your home or office network, a router VPN would be best since all devices connected to it receive the same privacy.
- Browse HTTPS websites
This is a partial form of securing your data from ISPs. HTTPS websites use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocols to secure your data. Visiting HTTPS websites only will ensure a big part of your web activity stays secure.
To identify an HTTPS website, you’ll see a padlock showing up in the address bar. The downside to this security tip is that your ISP will still be able to see the websites you visit. Your downloads will also be visible to your internet service provider.
Your online activities can be tracked by your ISP as a government requirement or for profit. This might include a lot of information that you would rather be kept private. However, you are not completely powerless in this situation. Take the aforementioned measures and step up to safeguard your privacy.