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What does your ISP see when using a VPN?

What does your ISP see when using a VPN?


We all know that VPNs are an excellent way to hide what you’re doing online from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). But you have to wonder – what does your ISP see when using a VPN?

There is a lot of misinformation about this topic online, so we put this quick guide together to provide a clear answer.

So, what does your ISP see when using a VPN?

Do they still see everything you do? Or are they just staring at a blank screen?

Well, both scenarios are exaggerated and incorrect. In fact, your ISP You will see a little information about your browsing When you are connected to a VPN. After all, you will have to go through their network before connecting to a VPN.

However, what they can monitor will not be enough to violate your privacy. Here is a list of the types of things they will see:

  • Your real IP address. Your ISP can see it because you are going through their network when you connect to the VPN server. Also, they are the ones who assign it to you in the first place. For more information, check this link.
  • The IP address of the VPN server you are using. That’s it, though. They will not see the other IP addresses your device is connected to when connecting to the server.
  • The encrypted data stream that represents your web traffic. It will just seem gibberish to them.
  • The VPN protocol you are using. They can guess it because they see which port it’s using. For example, IKEv2 uses UDP ports 500 and 4500, and OpenVPN uses UDP port 1194 by default.
  • Exact time when connecting to the VPN server.
  • The amount of data you exchange with the VPN server.

What can your ISP see when you’re not using a VPN?

a lot of things. You need to understand that All your data packets pass through your ISP, They can parse its contents if it is not encrypted. They can also Spy on your DNS queries (It asks the connection you send to websites) Since they are going through their own DNS server.

And you are not secure even if you are using HTTPS sites exclusively. In theory, HTTPS should only allow your ISP to see the name of the website. But they can actually monitor network traffic and use information such as the size, timing, and destination of data packets to determine unique page visits or guess the contents of your traffic.

What does that mean exactly? Simply put, without a VPN, your ISP can see the following:

  • What sites do you link to.
  • What web pages do you browse and how much time do you spend on them.
  • Anything you write on unencrypted websites.
  • What files do you download or upload to unencrypted websites.
  • By and large, your entire browsing and search history.

“Okay, but what if I use incognito mode?”

It’s really not the same thing. We already have an article regarding Incognito vs VPN, but the main idea is that incognito mode will only delete cookies and browsing history. It will not hide your traffic from your ISP at all.

VPN or not VPN – which is better for your privacy?

It may seem that your ISP sees a lot of data when using a VPN, but this is not the case at all. Sure, the list of information they get on your connection seems a bit long, but they can’t do anything with it. Once you are connected to the VPN server, your ISP will have no idea what you are doing on the internet.

On the other hand, if you are not using a VPN, your ISP will monitor all your online browsing. Perhaps they will share this data with advertisers to make a profit, or they will use it to show you ads instead.

In general, if you value your privacy, You should always use a VPN when connected to the Internet.

Can ISPs Monitor VPN Traffic?

numberThey can’t do that because VPNs use end-to-end encryption to hide your traffic. If your ISP tries to spy on it, it will only see a string of random characters.

However, Your ISP can detect VPN traffic.

Besides looking up port numbers, your ISP can use it DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) To detect VPN traffic. Simply put, DPI helps ISPs analyze your data packets to the point where they can detect VPN traffic patterns. They have a very easy time with OpenVPN because the protocol has a unique signature.

you also have Internet service provider You can easily see if you are using a VPN server By checking client sessions on their network. They will only have to search for the one with no DNS queries. Remember that your device does not ask to translate an IP address into a website name when connecting to a VPN server.

Can You Hide VPN Traffic From Your ISP?

Yes, you can actually – through Using a VPN introduces confusion. This feature has many names (stealth mode, camouflage, anonymity), but it does the same in all cases – it hides your VPN traffic.

In short, VPN obfuscation removes metadata from your data packets and adds more encryption to make VPN traffic look like normal HTTPS traffic.

If you want to learn more about it, check out our in-depth article on VPN obfuscation. You will also find a list of the best encrypted VPNs in the guide.

Can ISPs hack VPN traffic in any way?

Usually, they can’t. The only way to do that is if they have access to your device or the VPN provider’s servers.

So, ISPs hacking VPN encryption is just a myth – Except in one country. In Kazakhstan, the government has virtually forced ISPs to have their users install government-issued certificates on their devices. It allows government agencies to intercept and decrypt user traffic. Yes, even HTTPS traffic.

What happens if your ISP blocks the IP address of the VPN server?

If they can see it, they can block it, right?

Yes. And if they do, then you You will not be able to connect to the VPN server Any more.

Normally, they would have no reason to do so unless they are compelled by law to do so, or if they fear their customers will use VPNs to torrent movies, games and TV shows anonymously – which is illegal, needless to say.

How do ISPs block VPN server IP addresses?

Essentially, they will use a firewall to apply incoming and outgoing traffic rules to your IP address (which your ISP assigns to you). These rules will say that you cannot access the IP address of the VPN server on the network anymore.

And if the ISP does not want to have employees monitor the IP addresses of the VPN server, they can use a file Blacklist VPN IP. Some online lists of VPNs and datacenter IP addresses are free to use, like this one, for example. The good news is that these lists generally don’t get frequent updates.

The only way to bypass such firewall rules is to use a different anonymous proxy or VPN to mask your IP address. But using a VPN or proxy to unblock the VPN is pointless.

That’s why you should Always use a VPN with many servers. When there are hundreds or thousands of them, you don’t have to worry about your ISP blocking them all. Also, IP address blacklists can’t keep up either. If you need help finding such a service, check out our guide on VPNs with the most servers.

Warning – VPN leaks allow your ISP to see more than they should!

If your VPN has a leak, your ISP will be able to monitor some (if not all) of your digital fingerprint. It depends on how severe the leak is, such as whether the VPN is leaking your IP address, all your traffic, or your DNS queries. Whatever the case, things will not look good for your privacy.

Here is a quick overview of the types of VPN leaks that can occur:

  • DNS Leaks – This happens when your DNS queries leak from the VPN tunnel. Basically, they pass through your ISP’s DNS server instead of the VPN server. Therefore, your ISP can see what websites you are browsing on the Internet, even if you are using a VPN.
  • IP leaks It causes your IP address to leak out of the encrypted tunnel. There are two types: IPv4 leaks and IPv6 leaks. IPv4 leaks are most common because a lot of VPNs support or block IPv6 traffic.
  • WebRTC Leaks – These leaks occur when the WebRTC functionality within web browsers takes precedence over the VPN tunnel, causing your IP address to be leaked.
  • traffic leaks – This happens when your VPN connection drops. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, your IP address and traffic becomes exposed, and your ISP can monitor your online browsing.

To avoid these kinds of leaks, you need to Use a VPN with Leak Protection and Kill Switch (A feature that shuts down your access to the web when the VPN connection drops.) Some of the best options include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Surfshark, and VyprVPN.


So what does your ISP see when using a VPN?

Not much. Just your IP address and the IP address of the VPN server, when you connect to it, the amount of data you exchange with it, your encrypted traffic, and the VPN protocol you are using. In general, nothing can jeopardize your privacy.

Just make sure to choose a reliable VPN. If it has leaks, your ISP may see more than you are comfortable with.

And if you know more about what other types of data ISPs can see when people use VPNs, let us know in the comments below or on social media.

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