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How ISPs can still track users on HTTPS sites

June 5, 2018    |    Company News    |    Lauren Elkins

They can see you.

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see what you’re up to online even when you’re on HTTPS encrypted sites.

Think of your ISP like your mail carrier. It’s their job to deliver your letters and magazines. They deliver your packages. Our website, similarly, is sending you a package containing this reply, displaying the text and images on the site. You pay the mail carrier for sending and receiving your packages. If you pay a higher amount, you get packages within two-days or overnight. The more you pay, the faster packages move.

HTTPS encrypts the package’s contents. Your carrier can’t see what’s inside the boxes or envelopes. You might compare it to using security envelopes when mailing sensitive information. However, your carrier still needs to know that it’s coming from you and going to the recipient. You can’t encrypt this information or it will end up in the unknown bin. Your carrier is able to track who you are exchanging packages with, whether it’s our website, Facebook, your bank site or Netflix.

But what does a VPN do to the mail carrier?

When you route your internet traffic through a VPN, your ISP is no longer able to track the specifics of your browsing. It only sees that you are exchanging packages with the VPN server.

Think of it like using a neighbor to send your mail. Everything you send out is addressed to them. They send it on. The mail carrier only deals with the delivery to the neighbors. Then, when a package returns, the carrier takes it to a neighbor without knowing it will continue on to your door. With a VPN, your ISP has no clue if you’re visiting Facebook, a banking site, Netflix, your competitor’s sites, gaming sites, etc.

Make sure you choose a trusted neighbor. Not all VPNs are created equal! Check out our post on why.

Better Safe Than Sorry