VPNs allow you to surf the internet anonymously. However, your internet service provider knows when you are connected to a VPN.
Virtual private networks are designed to mask your location and maintain your privacy while you access the internet. Your internet service provider (ISP) knows when you are connected to a VPN. However, they don’t know precisely what you are doing since the VPN encrypts your data.
Does my ISP know I’m connected to a VPN?
Your ISP usually knows when you are connected to a VPN, and in most cases, the exact VPN you are using. When you are using a VPN to access the internet, your internet service provider sees that you are connected to one. They can also view the amount of traffic being passed from you and to you.
Your ISP providers notice that the data coming from and to your device is encrypted, and it sees the IP address of the VPN. By viewing the IP address of the VPN, your ISP may also know the VPN service provider you are using.
Although your ISP knows you are using a VPN and in most cases, the exact one you are using, they cannot see the websites you visited or exactly what you did there. The VPN ensures that your traffic remains encrypted, making it impossible for your ISP and other snoopers to view your online activity. Note, it is best to use paid VPN services like ExpressVPN as the free ones may not offer strong encryption or may sell your internet data. Blokt wrote an in-depth review on this service.
Your ISP also uses your online data
On April 3, 2017, United States president Donald Trump signed a law which reversed the regulations former president Obama enacted on ISPs regarding how they collect and share user data. According to the new law, ISPs can collect and sell user information like their location, the apps they use, and the sites they visit.
Similar to what social media networks do, ISPs collect user data and sell it to third-party marketers and advertisers who use that information for targeted ads. Also, your ISP is under no obligation to let you know how they handle your information, and they can sell it without your permission.
When you access the internet, your device is first connected to a router, which then connects to your internet service provider. The ISP creates a connection with the website or online service you want to access. Any data you upload or download while you are connected to the internet passes through your ISP. Thus, they have the opportunity to easily intercept, view, and make a copy of your online data and sell it to third-party marketers or give it to law enforcement and government agencies.
VPNs will protect you from your ISP
The primary idea behind the use of VPNs is to protect your privacy and ensure that no one snoops on you while surfing the web. That includes your internet service provider. When you use quality VPNs like ExpressVPN, you will still use your ISP to connect to the internet because a VPN is not a replacement for an ISP.
However, instead of talking directly to the web page you want to access, your ISP communicates with the VPN you are using. The VPN server acts as the middleman between you and your internet service provider.
The connection between your device and the VPN is encrypted. Thus, although your uploads and downloads still go through your ISP, the data becomes useless to them when they intercept it because it is encrypted. In the encrypted form, your data cannot be viewed by your ISP. Thus, your ISP knows you are sending and receiving information, but they have no idea what it is.
A VPN is sure to protect your data from being viewed by your ISP and other snoopers as long as you use a reliable VPN that encrypts your data transfers. You can also safeguard yourself further by using the Tor network and blocking trackers on your browser.
Your internet service providers know when you are using a VPN. However, they do not know the websites you are accessing or what you are doing online as the VPN encrypts your data. Using a VPN is an excellent way to stop your ISP from intercepting and viewing your online activity.