Some Privacy Tools that Block Your Provider from Tracking You
Privacy and security are serious concerns in the digital world. There seems to have been an increase in the amount of data and identities being stolen. The effects of these issues can range from a little inconvenient to life destroying!
When most people think of internet security they will consider anti-virus software and firewalls. However, one of the biggest issues to your privacy is actually your internet provider! You may not have thought much more about your ISP other than to locate the one with the best deal and a good enough speed for your needs.
What you may not realize is that it is legal in many countries for your internet service provider to sell your personal information and web history. Whilst there is not enough information to risk your identity being stolen it will identify you and your internet activity. This will allow marketing firms to target you as well as a host of other data organizations.
Fortunately, there are some tools you can use to prevent your ISP from tracking your internet usage.
You will probably have noticed this at the beginning of many websites; particularly when you need to enter personal details in order to log into a service. This simply means the site is secure.
This software works by connecting you to the internet via SSL/TLS encryption. You will need to install the extension onto your browser which should take just a few moments. It will then start working straight away on any site that supports this protocol.
When you connect this way your ISP is not allowed to see the information on the page, this will stop them from knowing what you have looked at. However, it is worth noting that they will be able to see the site you have visited; just not the specific detail.
This can prevent any worthwhile data being collected if you are visiting sites that provide access to a wide range of data; such as YouTube. Of course, if you visit a specific site it will not stop them from knowing where you have been.
A Virtual Private Network creates an encrypted connection between your computer and the VPN provider. All data is encrypted before leaving your device and decrypted as it arrives at the VPN. This procedure is also repeated for data arriving at your device. The purpose of this is to prevent ISP from knowing who you are; it also provides a secure connection to keep hackers away from your data.
The VPN acts as your gateway to the internet. It will contact your ISP and you will be able to access the internet in your usual way. It will slow your internet speed slightly but the effect should be negligible.
The ISP can monitor the sites you visit but it has no idea of who you are; it simply connects the sites to an IP address; which is assigned by your VPN and no connected with your real one. The best VPN services will make a small yearly charge; however, this will ensure your privacy remains intact.
It is possible to use a free VPN but these are usually free because they sell your data to a third party; which effectively destroys the point of using a VPN!
You should also be aware that some VPN providers will log your activity. As they are in possession of your details you may have created anonymity from your ISP but will have replaced it with your VPN knowing all your details. There are VPN providers who do not lock your activities and use a sequence of procedures to ensure they know very little about you; these will be the ones that are most effective at blocking your provider from tracking you and your internet activity.
You may not have considered the Domain Name System in your privacy and anti-tracking options. The DNS is a converter, it takes the name of a website; which you can read, and turns it into computer language which your computer can recognize and find. Without DNS you would not be able to access the internet so freely.
However, the DNS is usually set by your ISP. This ensures that your ISP sees all your internet activity as all requests to visit sites are processed through the DNS server.
Even if you opt for a VPN provider, you may still be using your ISP’s DNS setting! This is because the ISP will have set their DNS as a default one. Once the VPN software has been loaded you must locate the DNS leak protection feature. Turning this on will prevent your computer from using the default DNS; it will use your VPN setting and provide you with a good level of privacy.
Taking the right precautions is essential to ensure your ISP cannot track you and your activity. However, you will want to be certain that the steps you have taken are working properly. To do this you should access several test sites. These will test for a DNS leak or an IP leak and advise you if your internet provider is still able to access your data.
The test results can help to guide you in ensuring you have set up your software properly. Of course, your ISP provider may not like being blocked and may reduce the bandwidth to a specific VPN or even block some access.
Tor is a type of browser which has been developed specifically to eliminate your ISP from knowing what sites you have been visiting. It works by encrypting your data; both incoming and outgoing. This effectively hides all your information.
In addition, it will split your data and allow it to pass through what is known as nodes. Different parts of your data go through different nodes until they reach the point of exit. At this stage they are decrypted and put back together; the destination site is literally unable to identify where the data came from.
Tor will allow you to use the internet without your ISP tracking your movements. In fact, it will allow you to become anonymous whilst surfing.
Unfortunately, there are two downsides to using Tor. The first is that it is possible for anyone to set up an exit point. This will allow them to view all the traffic passing through and may provide enough information to identify you. The second is the fact that the government believes people using this software are up to no good; even if they are not!
In addition, you may find the speed of your internet slows down. It will become even slower if you pair Tor with a VPN; although this will virtually guarantee privacy and anonymity.
The fact that your ISP collects your details may seem relatively harmless but it can lead to privacy issues and even unfair associations. You will also be subject to a wide array of marketing via any contact details you have provided to your ISP.
This will become frustrating and actually slow your internet speed. Using one or even all of the above options will help to ensure you remain safe by preventing your internet provider from tracking your every move.
Related: How to Hide Your IP Address