The answer to your question about “Can my WiFi provider see my internet history?” is YES! Your ISP (internet service provider) can see your internet history. Also, if you are using someone else’s WiFi, your internet activity logs are saved on their router, and they can see what you searched or watched while using their internet.
You need to understand that all of your online internet data initially goes through the servers of your local internet service provider, or ISP for short. Since that data is not encrypted, your ISP can see everything you are doing and accessing.
The recording of information about which internet resources you’re talking to is called “Netflow Data.” A colossal business revolves around Netflow Data, where data gets traded by Data Brokers. ISP promises that they are not selling your data to anyone, then how do these data brokers access your internet history?
In some countries like the USA, ISP’s are allowed to sell your data to third parties if they want to. They claim to enhance the user’s internet experience by performing tracking activities to upgrade the user’s browsing activity.
Advertisers pay vast amounts of money to show you directed and targeted ads once they get a hold of your internet logs.
According to the General Data Protection Regulation, ISP’s are strictly forbidden to sell your data to anyone and even states that it is illegal for ISP’s to keep logs of their clients without their consent. However, with detailed billing and service agreements (which we don’t bother to read), we agree and give them consent to track our activities.
In the end, you cannot expect that your ISP is not collecting data even at a subliminal level. They might collect data based on Govt. requests and thus compile records of your browsing history. Marketing companies pay vast sums of money to buy ISP clients’ logging data.
The US government strictly mandates that your ISPs keep the logs of their customers for at least 90 days. Most of the WiFi providers can see the following information of their clients:
- The amount of time a user has spent online.
- The timestamp of when you connected to the internet.
- The amount of time you have spent on ‘each’ particular website.
- Your source and destination IP addresses.
- URLs you have browsed on ‘each’ specific webpage.
- Unencrypted HTTP websites data.
We all know that this is a massive breach of your online privacy and security; that’s why we are here to bring you several solutions which you can implement and get rid of this problem once and for all.
You might be familiar with the Tor Network. If not, Tor Network stands for “The Onion Router.” It is sometimes also known as the Dark Web. Tor routes the user’s online data through a random series of servers that are different from one another. Also, it passes your traffic through the various nodes and hides the origin of your data by concealing your identity.
Tor was developed and created in 2002, and later on, it became a free & open-source software that enabled anonymous communication online. The US Navy Research Laboratory employees created Tor to protect the US intelligence communications online.
Tor is ultimately a non-profit tool; however, you will suffer from slow speeds if you opt to use the Tor network. Journalists, whistleblowers have used Tor and various activists to publish their ‘truth revealing’ stories by remaining completely anonymous.
For an additional layer of security, you can integrate a VPN into your system or devices and then use the Tor network. Your local ISP will not be able to suspect any usage of Tor or a VPN. Thus it wouldn’t be able to collect any form of data or keep logs.
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN works by sending your internet traffic via a secure encrypted tunnel where no one can trace your online activities. Without a doubt, VPN is the easiest and most effective way to hide, protect, and secure your online browsing from everyone who has the authority to access your internet records.
When you connect your device to a VPN server, your IP address gets masked, your location is changed, and it routes your traffic through the encrypted tunnel it forms. A VPN automatically changes the DNS settings on your machine, thus making it more secure.
VPN’s also use obfuscated VPN servers which specialize in hiding the fact that you are using a VPN to reroute your traffic from your ISP. The obfuscated VPN feature allows you to become anonymous even in those environments which are heavily restricted.
Several free VPNs are available in the market that claims they can provide you with complete anonymity, but they are nothing more than a fraud. For instance, if you are not using a VPN and directly routing your traffic via your local ISP servers, your data will only be logged by your ISP. But if you are using a Free VPN, not only will your data be logged by your local ISP, but also it will be stored by the free VPN provider company.
If you are using someone’s WiFi, the chances are that your internet browsing history is getting logged onto their router. The WiFi owner can log on to their router’s official dashboard and see what you were looking at over the internet. However, if you connect to someone’s WiFi with the VPN shield ‘on,’ you would not have to worry about your history getting recorded.
So, always go for the top-of-the-line VPN service provider like ExpressVPN, Surfshark VPN, and NordVPN. They all are integrated with a great set of features to provide you with the ultimate level of online security. All of these VPNs have a strict no-logging policy, which eliminates the threat of your data getting stored and sold to interested third parties.
Use of HTTPS
Are you familiar with the concept of “HTTPS vs. HTTP”?
You might have noticed that each URL domain starts with – “http:// or https://.” These are transfer protocols.
Websites and web browsers use transfer protocols to send and receive data packets over the World Wide Web.
- HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol
- HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
Websites with HTTPS are more secure in this regard. Your local ISP or router will still see what website you have visited; however, they will not be able to determine the content of that page along with the activity you have performed over that page.
The primary difference between these transfer protocols is the implementation of TLS/SSL certificates that allow secure and private communication between the web browser and the server to which it is connected. The data that passes through SSL Certificate holding websites is encrypted to some extent.
To avoid your data getting stored on a foreign device, you can get several VPN extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and other browsing platforms. These VPN extensions are integrated with the automated HTTPS protocol and secure each website which you visit.
Use changed DNS Settings
Domain Name System or DNS for short is a naming system for operating systems, computers, services, and every other resource connected to the internet. DNS is even used for private networks within an organization or a business.
DNS works by associating different types of information with domain names. For instance, if you type ‘Google.com’ in your browser’s address bar, your computer connected to the internet will automatically know where to go.
To put it simply, DNS creates a match between the site name and the IP address of that site. This process helps the browser to hunt for the exact link which the user has requested.
In 1983, Paul Mockapetris invented the Domain Name System (DNS). It’s old technology, and at that time, encryption didn’t come into play. That’s why DNS is highly insecure, and you need to change your DNS settings ASAP.
Furthermore, the tech of DNS is used by huge organizations and is typically allowed to pass freely through network firewalls where it gets attacked by cybercriminals. DNS security is nothing less than a critical component in your overall network’s security. Some of the standard DNS attacks are:
- DNS DDoS Amplification.
- Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS.
- Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks.
- DNS Tunneling.
- DNS Hijacking.
Since DNS tech is not integrated with security protocols, people in the tech industry have found and created various solutions to protect their DNS. Techniques like below are used for DNS security:
- DNSSEC – Secure the Protocol.
- DNS over TLS (DoT) and DoH (DNS over HTTPS).
- Reputation Filtering.
- DNS Inspection.
- And more.
For an average user, one can use the services of DNS Resolver by Cloudflare and Quad9, where an extra layer of encryption is added to your DNS, thus making it harder for your ISP to track your web activity.
To make a long story short, if you are connected to someone else’s WiFi, they can see your browsing history via their router. The WiFi owner can see your browsing history and your local ISP stores and logs your online data.
The need to protect our online activities is becoming a necessity with every passing day. Implement the methods mentioned above and become completely anonymous.