Written by: Alex Popa
Ever feel like your internet use isn’t entirely private?
For many, the feeling of being followed online, whether by your ISP or anyone else, is quite discomforting.
While not exhaustive, below is a list of entities that typically track your movements and activities online. While many people are only concerned with their Internet Service Provider keeping tabs on their online activities, there could be more people or organizations that you may have considered who are watching what you do and where you go.
Europeans are more protected than Americans in this respect, as they have the right, under GDPR, to opt out of tracking and storage of their personal data.
While there is no individual that is sitting behind a computer watching your each and every move, this doesn’t mean that your actions are not being logged and stored somewhere.
There are a number of reasons why your Internet Service Provider might track what you do online.
Your browsing history is actually considered to be a revenue stream for many ISPs. They pull together anonymous logs and then sell these off to marketing and research companies.
There are also rumors that ISPs are going to start charging their customers for a privilege of ‘data protection,’ selling it like an add-on that prevents them from selling your data on to third parties and marketing companies.
The information that gets collected by your Internet Service Provider can also be accessed easily by government organizations or agencies. They are legally entitled to do so and can force your ISP to release information they hold about you upon request.
At this point, you might be somewhat disconcerted at the power your ISP has over your ‘personal’ information. However, there is some good news.
Thankfully, there are tools available to us to prevent our Internet Service Provider from seeing everything, and everywhere you go online. What’s even more welcome is that you don’t need to be a technical genius in order to do this and getting started is quick and easy.
If you think that switching to the private browsing mode on your browser will make a difference, then sorry, it will not.
The truth is, this does nothing other than to stop the browser itself from storing and recording information about you. As far as anything else is concerned, whether that be your router, your ISP, your operating system, they will all still carry on logging and reporting on your actions.
There are now a number of ways you can browse the internet privately, and when you browse online in this way, your ISP cannot see what you are doing or which sites you are visiting.
Listed in our most favored order are three easy ways you can stop your ISP from tracking your information.
A VPN is one of the easiest, quickest, and most secure ways to use the internet. It offers strong privacy protection through encryption to safeguard your data.
One of the reasons it takes the top spot on our list of how to stop your ISP from tracking you is that it offers this and so much more. As far as tools and software go, it enriches your online life and allows you to forget about potential ISP snooping.
It will mask your IP address and even enable you to access restricted content that is subject to location blocks or state censorship.
There are lots of VPNs to choose from; we typically recommend NordVPN as the two which are reported to offer the best value and the best results and ratings.
We would also like to add to this that Free VPNs should be avoided as we’ve seen many cases of poorly configured security that can leak your private information and even selling your browsing data to third parties. Check our beginners guide to VPNs for more information on how this works.
A good VPN costs $3-15 per month.
The TOR Browser was originally developed by the US Naval Research Lab in the mid-90s to help protect military communications. It is known to many as Onion Routing; this is due to the many layers that are involved in protecting the network.
It is famously used to the Dark Web, the part of the internet that is unavailable to those using normal browsers such as Chrome or Firefox.
If you don’t want your ISP to track your movements online, TOR is a great way to ensure they cannot see what you are doing. There are lots of people who use TOR for chat rooms, forums, support groups and more.
The major downside of using the TOR network is speed. Your requests pass through lots of different layers of encryption so the response times are not the quickest which can frustrate those who want to download large files or use the net for streaming.
If you want a good speed of response or want to use content streaming services, then a VPN is most likely going to be a better option.
A proxy site works similarly to a VPN and TOR. The benefit of using a proxy site Vs. a VPN is that it is completely free of charge. However, as with anything free, there are some risks to consider as well.
Some proxy sites can be riddled with malware and viruses. There is also a risk that they are not completely secure, which then means that any information you send through, could be compromised.
The only point to consider is that if you use a proxy site, the visit to the site will be recorded by your ISP, which could in itself raise a red flag.
In conclusion, the fastest, safest, easiest, and most effective way to prevent your ISP from tracking you is via a VPN.
If you want to save some time, skip to our NordVPN review and check why we recommend it so often.