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What does your ISP see when you turn on your VPN?

What does your ISP see when you turn on your VPN?


2021, February 11 · read 6 minutes

Your ISP sees your VPN connection because it can identify an unfamiliar IP address. However, they cannot see anything specific about your online activity. This includes your search and download history, as well as the websites you visit.

Like it or not, practically everyone has to go through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to surf the web, watch Netflix, send emails, and do anything else on the Internet. That’s why many people use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to hide their online activity from their ISPs.

With this in mind, we can ask ourselves: Can an ISP see a VPN?

This article will explain What ISPs do and don’t see And How do they know you are using a VPN.

What is shown to ISPs when using a VPN?

While VPN keeps you anonymous on the Internet, Your ISP will still be able to see some of the following:

  1. Your VPN connection: Your ISP will see that you are connecting to the VPN server but you won’t know what you are doing. All information is encrypted and unreadable.
  2. The IP address of your VPN server (Internet Protocol) Tabuk: Thanks to your ISP, you can access the Internet. They are responsible for sending your requests as data packets to the VPN server. Therefore, they will always know the IP address of the VPN but not the final destination of the data packet.
  3. Your VPN Protocol: To provide a secure connection, VPNs use technology that presents different protocols (visible to your ISP). Although your ISP sees the protocol you are using, it cannot take any information from it, so it does not affect you in any way.
  4. Contact timestamps: Your ISP can always know when and for how long you’re connected, but they won’t know what websites you’re browsing. Whether you use a VPN or not, they will see when you are connected to the Internet.
  5. Use your bandwidth: When you browse, stream, download, or play large files, your ISP may see how much bandwidth you’re using. But they won’t know what you’re using it for.

What do VPNs hide from ISPs?

Although ISPs can identify the above information, this is it Some things they can’t see when using a VPN:

  1. What websites do you visit: Your ISP can see that you’re browsing, but they will Not Review the specific websites you visit.
  2. What files are you downloading: Your ISP can guess what kind of activity you’re doing based on how much bandwidth you’re using – for example, streaming, torrents, downloaded files, etc. But they won’t be able to see exactly what you’re downloading.
  3. What you are looking for: In the same way that your ISP cannot see the websites you visit, They will not specify what you are looking for. They will see your web traffic, but nothing else.
  4. What you write anywhere: With a VPN, your ISP may see that you are typing, but this information is encrypted, thus, Unreadable.

How does your ISP know you’re using a VPN?

When your ISP tries to determine a VPN connection, these are some of the methods they might use to find out.

VPN server IP address

When you connect to a VPN server, your local ISP sees that your traffic is being sent to a single IP address that is different from the one they initially gave you. Therefore, this data may indicate that you are using a tunnel to encrypt your information.

VPN protocol

Your ISP can see or at least guess that you are using a VPN based on the port number. Various VPN protocols such as OpenVPN (UDP or TCP), IKEv2, or WireGuard® use specific port numbers. These numbers are part of the process of determining which message request you send to the server.

DPI (Deep Packet Inspection)

Deep packet inspection is a process that searches through traffic to find more information about a user’s web activity. Instead of just seeing general information (IP and protocol), this method enables ISPs to monitor packet traffic, make assumptions about the type of traffic, and more. But that doesn’t mean that your ISP will always know exactly which websites you visit.

Summary: How much privacy do you have online?


Does your ISP see if you use a VPN?

Websites visited

Web searches

printed information

Downloaded files

Online purchases

personal information

VPN in use

VPN server IP address

VPN protocol

Contact timestamps

Keep private things to yourself – not your ISP

A VPN cannot guarantee you 100% anonymity, but it does offer a great deal of protection. Your ISP will be restricted in what they can see if you are using a VPN. They won’t see your personal information (i.e. what you type), web traffic, browsing and live streaming habits, online purchases, and more.

Besides, VPN can also help you avoid bandwidth throttling, access blocked websites, and much more. If you protect your privacy, using a VPN is the first step towards a better internet experience.

Disclaimer: Surfshark discourages the use of a VPN in ways that are likely to violate the streaming service providers’ terms of service.

Stay protected from ISPs with a VPN

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written by

Nancy Cusio

On an adventure exploring the world of technology!

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