How a VPN Can Help Hide Your Search History
Most of us use search engines on a daily basis. But have you ever stopped to wonder what’s going on with your search history? Congress has now allowed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell your browsing logs.1 So if you value your privacy, you may want to know how a VPN can help mask your IP address, while keeping you anonymous while you search on the Internet.
How VPN Helps Hide Your IP Address
Even if you use a private browsing mode, your IP information can still be collected. The primary ways to hide your search history and stay anonymous on the Internet are to change your IP address with a virtual private network (VPN), such as Norton Secure VPN, or a private anonymity service, such as Tor.
Tor, an abbreviated form of “The Onion Router,” works by sending your encrypted and re-encrypted data through several random nodes on the Internet, creating a circular path. It’s similar to how you might try to keep someone off your trail while playing a game of hide and seek in the woods: by following a hard-to-follow path and wiping your footprints away. Since the different nodes only know the IP address of the before and after node, none of the nodes know the full path the data takes. In addition, each completed path is only valid for 10 minutes and then Tor generates new random paths. However, your data is not encrypted at the exit node
With a VPN, your online activities are anonymous and protected because the VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your data throughout the entire transmission process. Instead of sending information directly from your IP address, with a VPN service, the IP address of the VPN server is the one associated with your activity. If your VPN service provider has servers all over the world, it may appear that you are connecting to the internet from Berlin when you are actually in Mumbai.
What information can a VPN hide?
Perhaps you are concerned about a medical diagnosis, so you turn to the web for information. Or maybe you are trying to find the best deal on an airline ticket online. Unfortunately, web browsers keep track of your search history. And they associate this information with your IP address, which essentially identifies you and your location as does the sender’s address. You can clear cookies and search history from your browser, but it is possible that your information has already been recorded by your Internet service provider or the website you visited.
So, if you want to keep your personal search private or get a flight ticket at a better price without getting bogged down in price by cookies, remember that your search and browsing history is not as private as you think. Options to protect your information and searches from prying eyes, such as hiding your IP address with a VPN.
Disclaimer and references:
1 ZDnet, “Trump signs law allowing ISPs to sell your browsing history,” 4 April 2017.
2 Torproject.org, “The Solution: A Distributed and Anonymous Network.”
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