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Can your ISP see your traffic when using a VPN?

Can your ISP see your traffic when using a VPN?


Can your ISP see your traffic when using a VPN?

Can your ISP see everything you do online even if you use a VPN? Short answer – not all the time. Long answer – they see some information, but they can see more if a VPN leak or government interference gets in the way.

Here’s everything you need to know about it, to make sure your privacy stays the same, including how to properly scan your VPN.

What does your ISP see when using a VPN?

Some people say they can still see what you’re doing online, while others say they can’t see anything.

Well, neither of them is right. When you use a VPN, your ISP can still see some information. However, nothing that would reveal about your web browsing.

Here is a quick list of the type of data they can access:

  • They will still see your real IP address. They are the ones who set it for you, and you will need to go through their server first before connecting to the VPN server.
  • Your ISP will also see the IP address of the VPN server. But that’s it. They will not know what websites you are browsing after connecting to the server.
  • They can see or guess which VPN protocol you are using based on the port. For example, OpenVPN uses port 1194 by default, and IKEv2 uses UDP port 500.
  • Your ISP can see when you connect to a VPN serverand the amount of data you use during that period.
  • and finally, Your ISP can see the encrypted data stream. But they can’t do much with it because it would just sound like gibberish.

All in all, it’s not enough to compromise your privacy.

Here’s what your ISP sees when you don’t use a VPN

Without one, your ISP will see a lot of what you do online:

  • What URLs are you linking to.
  • What you write on unencrypted websites.
  • The files you download from the platforms are not encrypted.
  • What web pages do you visit on unencrypted websites.
  • How much time do you spend on a particular web page or website.
  • Search history and surf the web.

And get this – even if you use HTTPS sites, your ISP can still get an idea of ​​what web pages you’re browsing. They can actually see the website name because DNS queries are not encrypted. Besides, they can analyze your data packets, and use information such as timing, size, and destination to predict which web pages you visit.

Generally speaking, if you are connecting to the internet without a VPN, you will always find your ISP breathing on your neck and peeking at your screen. And no, using incognito mode won’t help. This only keeps your browsing from people using the same device you are, not your ISP.

Is there any way your ISP can hack VPN traffic?

not exactly. Despite this, there are two scenarios in which your ISP can see what you’re doing online even if you’re using a VPN:

1. If they intercept and decrypt your traffic

Essentially, if your ISP can find a way to intercept all your data packets, and decrypt them, they will be able to see your entire browsing history even if you’re using a VPN.

This sounds like a strange dystopian scenario, but it’s actually something that is actually happening in Kazakhstan, to be exact. The law now requires ISPs to force their users to install government-issued certificates on all their devices. With these certificates, government agencies can intercept and decrypt user traffic.

2. If your VPN suffers from leaks

VPNs can actually suffer from leaks that expose user data – like their IP addresses and their traffic. Which is a common occurrence. Nor is it an isolated issue like government interference in Kazakhstan.

Here are the types of leaks you might be dealing with:

  • DNS Leaks – This happens when your DNS queries are routed through your ISP’s DNS server instead of the VPN provider’s server. They occur for many reasons, such as network configuration issues, IPv6 leaks, OS features (Teredo and SMHNR on Windows), and transparent DNS proxies.
  • IP leaks – When this happens, your IP address leaks from the VPN tunnel. This can happen due to poor server-side configuration of the VPN (IPv4 leak), or because the VPN provider does not support or block IPv6 traffic (IPv6 leaks).
  • WebRTC Leaks – This occurs when the WebRTC functionality within web browsers takes precedence over the VPN tunnel.
  • Traffic Leaks – This happens when your VPN connection suddenly drops. When that happens, all of your traffic is exposed. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, it’s enough to compromise your privacy.

No matter what leak you are dealing with, your ISP will be able to monitor your online browsing.

How to deal with VPN leaks

Well, you are obviously more likely to deal with VPN leaks than government-mandated traffic decryption at the moment (unless you live in Kazakhstan of course).

So precautions must be taken. For starters, you need to do a proper check of your VPN. Follow this link for the ProPrivacy leak testing tool. It works very fast, and it will tell you if there are any IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks.

Ideally, this should be the result:

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