You might be wondering what your Internet Service Provider (ISP) sees when you use a VPN. Well, your ISP can see that you are using a VPN but it cannot see the contents of your VPN traffic. This is because your data is encrypted by the VPN service before being transmitted to its destination.
Here is everything you need to know about what a VPN hides from your ISP and how the VPN disguises your data so that your ISP doesn’t see anything.
This article is a part of a series:
Chapter 1: VPN for Dummies
Chapter 2: How to set up a VPN
Chapter 3: Can you be tracked with a VPN?
Chapter 4: Should you be using a VPN?
Chapter 5: Do I need a VPN at home?
Chapter 6: What does a VPN hide?
Chapter 7: How do I know if my VPN is working?
Chapter 8: How does a VPN work?
Chapter 9: What does your ISP see when using a VPN?
Chapter 10: Why does my VPN keep disconnecting?
Chapter 11: Why is my VPN slow?
Chapter 12: How to check your VPN location
Chapter 13: What is a VPN Kill Switch?
Chapter 14: How to cancel a VPN subscription
Chapter 15: What types of encryption does a VPN have?
Chapter 16: How does a VPN protect you?
Chapter 17: What is split tunneling on VPN?
Chapter 18: What is a VPN used for?
Chapter 19: How to hide your IP-address
Chapter 20: The ultimate guide to VPN tunneling
Chapter 21: What is a DNS leak?
What Does Your ISP See when You’re Using a VPN?
Essentially, your ISP sees nothing when you’re using a VPN. This is because the encryption process turns all of your traffic into indecipherable code which makes it unreadable for anyone who intercepts it while in transit.
Your VPN provider may have some information about this activity, such as knowing that you’re using a VPN in the first place, but it cannot see any personal or sensitive data that passes through their servers since everything is encrypted before being sent out onto the internet.
So, What Does a VPN Hide from Your ISP?
A VPN is a great tool if you are carrying out some secretive activity that you don’t want any third parties, including your ISP, to see. Here is just some of what a VPN hides:
- Web browsing
- Email (including webmail)
- Instant messaging (chatting, Skype, etc.)
- Downloads and uploads of files including videos and pictures.
With a VPN you can unblock websites that are only available in certain countries or regions around the world to allow for access from everywhere else. It’s also possible to use it if you want to unlock content on streaming sites like Netflix US or BBC iPlayer which usually shows different content than what is available in your country due to licensing issues. If you’re doing something like this, then your ISP won’t be able to tell since it is hidden,
Why Should You Hide Data from Your ISP with a VPN?
There are many reasons why you might want to hide data from your ISP, but here are just some of them:
- Privacy – If you’re using the internet to do something that you’d rather no one know about (such as watching adult content or torrenting) then you can use a VPN. With encrypted traffic, nobody will know which sites or services you use online since it looks like gibberish rather than readable text. Your ISP won’t be able to tell either so this is great for privacy.
- Security – ISPs usually aren’t very good when dealing with customer security issues such as notifying customers about potential threats discovered on their networks by packets passing through their servers. For example, if the ISP’s servers were used by an attacker to launch a DDoS attack then customers could be affected. With traffic encryption, this is less of an issue since it means that your data isn’t visible in transit and therefore not open for interception by third parties like cybercriminals.
- Hiding Browsing History – If you want to hide what sites you’ve been visiting online (for example because they are embarrassing), then using a VPN can help with this too. They make it look like your internet traffic has gone somewhere else other than where it actually did go so nobody will know which URLs have been visited on either PC or mobile device.
It’s also worth noting that ISPs may use customer data themselves for monetary gain. This is another reason people want to use VPNs as they don’t want their personal privacy infringed upon.