Want to block your ISP from tracking your web history? We have covered some tools in this tutorial that will help keep your privacy private while surfing the web. So if you want to keep your ISP from looking over your shoulder for data to sell to advertisers, here are three relatively simple actions you can take to get started.
Use HTTPS Everywhere
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HTTPS Everywhere browser extension is one of the ﬁrst things you should install. This extension requires that all website connections to your browser occur using SSL/TLS encryption. That means the content of what you’re viewing will be protected from passive collection by your ISP. The only time the extension won’t force HTTPS is when the site you’re connecting to doesn’t support the protocol.
It’s a great little extension that starts working as soon as you install it. What it doesn’t do, however, is stop your ISP from seeing which sites you surf. Only the contents of your communication are protected. So your ISP will know you visited Netflix, but not what you watched while you were there, or the speciﬁc pages you visited. HTTPS Everywhere is obtainable for Firefox (desktop and Android), Chrome, and Opera browsers.
Get a paid VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Your next step is to subscribe to a paid virtual private network service —not a free one that collects your data and sells it to third parties for analytics, or uses ads to support its free service, because that would contradict the entire point of all this. You want a VPN that you pay to keep your data private. This should cost somewhere around $40 to $60 per year.
A VPN is like an encrypted tunnel between you and the Internet. You connect directly to your VPN (a connection your ISP will see) and then all Internet browsing goes through the VPN’s servers and blocks third parties from snooping. Once you’ve picked and conﬁgured a VPN set it to start up automatically and funnel all your Internet traﬃc through there.
Choosing a VPN is a bit of a tricky business since you want a provider that collects and stores a minimum amount of data about your browsing. Some VPN providers oﬀer helpful extra features, such as an Internet kill switch that immediately shuts oﬀ your PC’s Internet contact when your VPN gets disconnected.
You also want your VPN to safeguard against DNS leaks, which is a problem we’ll get to next.
Fine-tune your DNS
The DNS (Domain Name System) is how your computer translates a human readable website name, such as TechLinu.com, into a machine-friendly numerical Internet Protocol address. It’s like the telephone book of the Internet.
The problem is that your PC is usually conﬁgured to use your ISP’s DNS, which means your ISP sees all your browser requests. VPNs usually conﬁgure your PC to use their DNS, and there is usually a DNS leak protection feature that makes sure your PC doesn’t overlook the VPN and use your default DNS settings.
Nevertheless, to be even sure you’re not using your ISP’s DNS, it’s a good idea to set your PC to use a third-party DNS provider such as OpenDNS.
A good start
Now you’re oﬀ to a good start for shielding your data from a snooping ISP. It’s not foolproof, but you’ve taken a number of important steps. Once you’re set up, consult IPLeak and DNS Leak Test (use the extended test for the latter) to make sure you’re not revealing any data that you don’t want to disclose.
Now all you have to do is hope your ISP doesn’t block or control your traffic whenever you’re using a paid VPN.