There’s an old 80's song that goes, “I always feel like somebody’s watching me, and I have no privacy.”
In 1949 George Orwell wrote the book Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a work of fiction, but one of the themes is about government surveillance.
Well, the 80s are long gone and the paranoia of that song and the fiction told in that book have become a reality. Our reality.
And if you’re reading this thinking, what? No one is watching or spying on me, think again. Because if you’re reading this you have internet access. Or a data plan.
In terms of your IPS at least, trust me. They are watching you. Are you aware there’s actually legislation in place required Internet Service Providers to monitor and analyze your internet traffic to be sure you’re remaining compliant with whatever local laws might be in place? Now, before you freak, this doesn’t mean there’s a vault somewhere with a history of all your web surfing. But your ISP is analyzing, classifying, and processing your habits while keeping all that info in a log file. This is all done automatically. No one is physically inspecting data, however, if you and your internet traffic were under investigation—and by that, I mean a criminal investigation—all of this data would be shared with law enforcement servers and you can be sure human eyes would be analyzing it on that end.
Before we go get into all the things your ISP may know about you, let me give you a heads up on how you can keep their spying at bay. Because that’s what you really want to know, right?
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
There are many to choose from, so I recommend doing some research and checking features, but here’s a starting point: https://vpnpro.com/vpn-reviews/nordvpn-review/. Check that review and a few others.
So, what does a VPN do for you?
Typically, when you go online, all your activity can be monitored because your IP address is an identifier. When you use a VPN your IP address is hidden behind the protection of the private network. You browse with a new identity. An IP address provided by the network, not your own.
Does Your ISP Know too Much?
Does your ISP use DPI (Deep Packet Inspection)? In some countries, the law requires they do. And what does that mean to you? It means you have virtually no privacy.
It’s called Deep Packet because it goes beyond collecting typical data like what IPs you may be connecting to, and the port numbers and protocols you connect with. It can collect all the information about your internet habits, and in some cases may even capture your SMTP emails. The full content of your emails! What habits, you may wonder? The sites you visit. How long you stay and how often you return. Your complete browsing history. Unless someone is a known criminal, I don’t think this is anyone’s business. I’m sure you agree.
Even if you connect to secure HTTPS sites, some of that data will be collected.
But my Computer (Device) is Secure!
That may very well be true, but you have no control over how secure things are at the other end—the sites you are visiting. Even if you endeavour to only visit sites that have HTTPS, do you know with 100 percent certainty those sites are 100 percent secure? That the webmaster didn’t mess up or skip a few steps? Is every link or every cookie on that site encrypted and not just the overall site itself? Because those internal links or cookies could be leaking data. Your data.
Based on the above, I’m sure you’re seriously considering a VPN now, aren’t you? And you should.
A VPN will protect your browsing history and your data from the prying eyes of your ISP.
I’ve already mentioned above that a VPN will cloak your IP address with one of theirs, so that’s the first layer of protection it will offer. Whatever sites you visit won’t be accessed using anything that will identify you.
All of your data is encrypted as well—both ways. So even if you visit a site with less than stellar security and encryption methods in place, you can breathe easy, knowing your VPN is taking care of that duty.
If that isn’t enough, here is a bonus reason to use a VPN. A virtual private network doesn’t just offer you one anonymous IP address to hide behind. They offer IP addresses that are geo-connected to nearly every country. If you’ve ever tried to access online content only to have it blocked by a geo-restriction, your VPN gives you a way to circumvent that. Is there a Netflix show you would love to watch that’s not available in your country? That problem could be a thing of the past with a VPN.