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People get so worked up over hackers and governmental surveillance they forget their ISP can also spy on them. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the first connection point between the Internet and your computer. As such, ISPs represent one of the many potential threats to online security. After all, you connect to the outside world through their network. Your IP address while online is actually one they assign to you for the duration of your session. It makes sense that your ISP may be spying on you. What’s really disturbing is, they may still be spying on you despite your use of a VPN.
(from Secure VPN)
|Can one track my real IP address when I use VPNs?
Generally speaking, yes.
Your VPN still runs from your IP address to the VPN server. Your ISP can still see all the packets running from your computer to the VPN server, and although they may not be able to decode the contents or final destinations of them, they can usually still identify the kind of traffic (i.e. web pages, streaming, P2P, etc) by analysing the timing and density.
Can your final destinations “track” your IP address when you connect to them via a VPN connection, no, they cannot. The VPN server will mask your IP address when connecting to your destinations on your behalf.
That being said, if you use your regular browser, even on VPN, you will still be exposing all of your cookies, and websites will still know who you are as your IP address is usually immaterial to them.
(from Andy Pieters via Quora)
|Can one track my real IP address when I use VPNs?
–> Summary: It is just more difficult to get you.
No, a VPN service does not directly leak your original IP address. Not that your original public IP address is at all meaningful, but it is not available when you connect to a web site.
However, you need to understand that if there is sufficient motivation for finding you, you will be found. Let’s say you almost always use a VPN from home to connect to some social media web site. Sometimes you connect from your phone but only rarely.
Let’s say you search for some good fast-acting poisons using Google. Google will notice this and connect every access you have ever made to Google to this search. If someone you barely know dies and poison is suspected, law enforcement will get a little love-note from Google with your name and address.
This is going to happen regardless of your use of a VPN.
Since you accessed the above-mentioned social media web site from your phone, your user name is connected with your wireless carrier. They also have the date and time and port number you accessed it from. This can be used to determine your wireless carrier account. Your identity is no longer a secret if someone with sufficient legal reason really wants to find it.
A VPN used to encrypt unencrypted web traffic. It was useful for that. Today, with nearly all web sites using HTTPS a VPN is of very, very limited utility. It does not protect you in any way really. It does slow things down. If you like that, keep paying. If you are not using a paid-for VPN service, you are disclosing lots of stuff to the marketing people at that free VPN company – which they sell. See, they are being paid, just not by you.
|How Your ISP May Be Spying on You, Despite VPN||
Before we go further, let me make it clear that this potential ISP threat has nothing to do with hackers or the government. This is a separate issue that pertains only to the connection from your computer to your ISP’s network. It happens via a mechanism known as a DNS leak
|What Does DNS Mean?||The Domain Name System (DNS) is a worldwide directory service that contains every domain name in existence. Its primary responsibility is to translate domain names into numerical IP addresses. For example, the IP address of the server you’re reading this article on is 18.104.22.168. The DNS looked up the domain SecureVPN.com and found its corresponding IP address. Now 22.214.171.124 and your device (which itself also has an IP address) are in communication with each other via machine language. IP addresses are like telephone numbers for computers, and DNS stores those numbers in a more human-friendly format. After all, it’s much easier to remember SecureVPN.com rather than 126.96.36.199.|
|What is a DNS Leak?||DNS exists on hundreds of servers throughout multiple countries. Which DNS server you use online is generally determined by your ISP. Unfortunately, this means they can record and monitor your online activities if you’re using their designated DNS server.|
|But sometimes, your computer will ignore your VPN connection and just send all DNS requests straight to your ISP’s server. That’s what a DNS leak is, and it can lead you to believe you’re safe from online surveillance when you’re actually not.|
|How to Stop Your ISP From Spying on You, Despite VPN
Check for DNS leaks first. –
|Before you can solve the problem of a DNS leak, you first have to know if you actually have one. The simplest way to check for leakage is to visit https://www.dnsleaktest.com. Click the button that says “Standard test.” You can also use the “Extended test” if you’re really paranoid. That test is somewhat more comprehensive, but it takes longer. If you see your ISP’s DNS servers listed in the test results, that means you have a leak, and your ISP can see your activity online.|
|Use a VPN that offers built-in DNS leak protection.
||Leak-proof VPN client software like Secure VPN’s stops DNS leaks via a firewall that blocks all Internet traffic – including DNS requests – unless it passes through the encrypted VPN tunnel. Most reputable VPN providers already have leak protection built into their software, but it doesn’t hurt if you check their fine print to make sure they’re serious about blocking all DNS leaks.|
|Use third-party DNS leak prevention software||You might want to consider using software like VPNCheck Pro in addition to your VPN. Windows in particular is susceptible to DNS leaks, so if you’re a Windows user, this is an additional layer of protection for your online anonymity.|
|Switch to a different DNS server||If your ISP assigned your default DNS server, one way to keep them from spying on you is to simply switch your DNS server to one that’s outside their network. Some choices for non ISP-controlled DNS servers include Open DNS, Comodo Secure DNS, and Google Public DNS. In addition to preventing DNS leaks, changing your default DNS server could result in faster connectivity speed. Windows 7 users can learn how to switch DNS servers at http://tinyurl.com/w7usrs, and Windows 10 users can learn at http://tinyurl.com/w10usrs.|
|Make sure your VPN has a “kill switch.”||The connection a good VPN service provides for you to their secure network shouldn’t fail or “drop” very often. However, like all things Internet, it does happen sometimes. If your computer stays connected to the Internet after a VPN service drop, your real IP address is exposed. It’s the same as not using VPN at all. A VPN “kill switch” blocks all Internet traffic to and from your computer if the VPN tunnel collapses. You can also buy third-party kill switch software that does the same thing. VPN service drops are not technically a DNS leak, but the effect is the same: you think you’re anonymous behind a VPN, when in fact your IP address can be seen by anyone who cares to look.|
|Use a firewall.||A firewall is a computer security system that monitors and also controls network traffic based on a set of predetermined rules. Firewalls can be hardware or software based. Most computer operating systems allow you to implement firewalls, although the set up differs between systems.|
|It’s frustrating that your ISP may still be spying on you, despite your use of VPN. There are already enough computer security issues to deal with without also having to worry about an ISP checking up on your activities due to DNS leakage. Fortunately, most reliable VPN providers like SecureVPN have robust DNS leak prevention built into their software. And there are several other viable options for plugging DNS leaks. I hope this article has given you some solid options in the continual fight to protect your online anonymity.|
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