How much ISP can learn through your internet traffic?

Not sure if you are aware but in many cases your ISP might be spying on you. Some of it might be intentional, some automatic – because company is required to do so by law. Today we will try to show you how much, on different occasions ISP can learn through your internet traffic. 

Before we get to saucy details we should explain two things. First, what exactly – at least in this case – we understand under phrase – ISP – Internet Service Provider. In general, this term is used for telecom companies that supply you with Internet at home. However, for the purpose of this article, this term has to be understood broader. So, when we ask – how much ISP can learn through your internet traffic, under ISP term we understand all entities providing you with internet access: telecoms for when you are at home, or any other network/access providers for when you are at work, school, in hotel, during holidays, etc. In those instances those “companies” become your temporary ISP and they also might be collecting data.

How much ISP can learn through your internet traffic?

To put it mildly – a lot. Basically every single bit of data you send or receive tells a story. All the websites you visit and services you use. They know date and time of visit – those data are logged – and also amount of data exchanged between you and the source. Do you do Bitcoin transactions? You thought it is 100% anonymous. Wrong. You ISP knows and if it has to, company will share all the details about your activities with authorities.

Personal data

If you connect with unencrypted websites – forums, shops, etc. Their address would start with “http” instead of “https”. Your ISP will see your login, password, and even things you wrote. If you are buying online from such unsecured places, all the details of your card are clearly visible to the internet provider. Your emails can also be out in the open, if you do not use secure transmission protocol like TLS. If it was not required during setup you are not using it – that is if you are not sure…

Logs

Torrents? Sure thing!!! Your IP address is clearly visible in the torrent network and your ISP will log, type of transmission, amount of data and IP’s you downloaded from or uploaded to.Such data combined with those gathered by BOT’s in torrent networks are more then enough to make sure the court will find you, if things go that far.

But even if you only access secure websites and use secure, but public protocols. With time it will be enough to create a “nice” picture of you – the user. You habits, likes, dislikes and what are your major activities online.

The result

Now, imagine, that the ISP you use is also a crook. One that is deliberately monitoring your traffic and “listening” for specific data – credit card numbers, emails, passwords. You’d not be the first one who fell a victim to a hacker in a open Wi-Fi hotel network. If a hacker/ISP learns what services you use it will not be a problem to prepare a fake email from such service to make you open an attachment or lead you to a fake website that will try to install malicious code.

That happens every single day! All over the world. And because the risk getting caught for perpetrators is relatively small this becomes bigger problem with passing time. Simply, more people see this kind of activity – provide a free network in a popular spot – as a way of making money.

How to limit what ISP can learn through your internet traffic?

This is quite simple. Don’t leave anything to a chance! Do not show anything to any ISP – ever. Don’t let them know what websites you visit. Don’t let them know what services you use. Do not let them recognize the type of data you send and receive. Is it perfect? No, it is not. But since more people will not be using such precautions there is a big chance no crook will waste time on you. How can you achieve this? Subscribe to VPN. Encrypt all your traffic – including all above and limit what your ISP can learn through your internet traffic.

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