Make no mistake, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are key players in the big data industry. Just like Microsoft and Google, a huge portion of their revenue stream comes from selling internet search and behavioral data collected from their customers.
Now what can they see? Your IP address, physical geolocation, downloads, and the names of each website you’ve visited (along with timestamps to show just how long you’ve spent on each site) are all visible to your ISP. Based on this data, they can accurately monitor and determine your browsing habits, online store preferences, and even your affiliations to a political party.
What does this mean exactly? While you’re paying upwards of $80+ a month for internet service, your data is also being sold to advertisers who target specific ads based on sites and products you have shown interest in. The worst part? This is all completely legal if you are in the US.
To protect yourself, and to limit how much your ISP is able to collect from you – you should first start by using a VPN such as Proton VPN. By doing so, any digital information sent over your internet provider’s network will be encrypted. This includes everything mentioned above such as your IP address and website info. Your ISP can identify the VPN provider you are connecting through, but they can see nothing more. It is a good idea to get in the habit of using a VPN anytime you connect to the internet regardless of which network you are connected to.
A lot of VPNs have a kill switch, that cuts all your internet connection if the servers go down. This will prevent any of your data from being compromised if their servers fail. We recommend that you keep this on.
Another suggestion would be to use HTTPS websites ONLY since HTTP sites offer no encryption. Browsers like Brave and Firefox offer “HTTPS Enforcement” features to ensure you aren’t accidentally connecting to non-encrypted websites.