Not all of your browsing history is something to be proud of. We've all made searches that we would rather keep hush-hush, but how do you do that if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is tracking all your activity on the web and mobile devices?
Well, luckily there is a way to hide browsing history from your ISP and in this article, we're going to show you how, so stick around to find out.
Why Should You Hide Your Online Activity from the Internet Service Provider?
First, why would you want to hide your online activity from the ISP in the first place?
And the reason is pretty simple: to limit the visibility of your data and especially your sensitive information.
The ISP is often seen as a "benevolent" service that all it does is provide Internet access, however, it is anything but.
Your ISP can also sell your data to third parties, give it away to the government, not to mention that, because they store it on their servers, someone might hack them and get your data, along with everyone else's who is using that ISP.
6 Ways to Hide Your Browsing History
There are several ways you can try to hide your browsing history, including:
1. Using the Private Browsing Mode on Your Web Browser
Private browsing is still far from a sure-fire way to hide your online activity and it will still be visible to any websites that you visit, your employer, and especially your Internet Service Provider.
However, at least anything that you search for won't show up in your browsing history, so there's that at least.
How to turn on Incognito/Private mode?
This depends on the web browser that you are using. All major web browsers have some form of private browsing or incognito mode.
For instance, if you are using Google Chrome, the shortcut is CTRL+SHIFT+N, forSafari it's Command+SHIFT+N and for Mozilla Firefox it's CTRL+SHIFT+P.
Of course, you can also do it from their respective menus.
2. Make Sure Your Browser is Not Sending Your Location
The websites that you visit often like to know your exact GPS location to send you personalized and targeted ads.
They are not exactly asking you "send me location", but instead get this information from your browser.
Fortunately, depending on the browser you're using, you can prevent your physical location to be known to every site that you visit on the Internet. All you need to do is:
- For Chrome: Go to Preferences>Settings>Advanced>Content Settings>Disallow
- For Safari: Go to Preferences>Privacy>Disable Location
- For Firefox: Type about: config in the URL bar and then geo.enabled
3. Avoid Tracking by Google or Social Media Sites
Have you ever wondered how is Google able to bring you such accurate results?
Well, the reason is that it is tracking your Internet activity on its many services, including Chrome, Gmail and others.
The same goes for social media sites like Facebook, which keep immense data on our user behavior, online identity, personal interests and so on.
So how do you stop Google and social media sites from tracking your online activities?
- For Google: Go to My Account>Activity Controls>Toggle Web and App Activity off>Untick Include Chrome History and Activity from Sites, Apps and Devices that Use Google Services
- For Facebook: Go to Settings>Adverts and from here you can manage ad targeting
- For LinkedIn: Go to Privacy and Setting>Accounts>Managing Advertising Preferences
- For Twitter: Go to Settings>Security and Privacy>Uncheck Tailor Ads box
4. Use a Plugin or Browser Extensions to Block Tracking
However, even though you've opted out of tracking your web traffic and ad targeting, it doesn't mean that the websites you are visiting are abiding by this. Many of them will still do it.
In order to stop them, you can install browser extensions or plugins like Privacy Badger to block cookies and put an end to advertisers seeing what you browse online.
5. Use a Privacy Browser
The problem with all of the methods so far is that you have to trust your search engine not to do any of these things and if you really want to keep your anonymity online, I wouldn't bet on it.
So what you can do instead is use privacy browsers or search engines, such as Firefox (for mainstream users), Tor (for advanced users), or Brave.
For instance, the Tor browser is the most well-known Internet privacy browser and you can use it to hide your real IP address from Internet providers and other "curious" eyes as it sends your Internet traffic through so-called "nodes."
6. Use a VPN Provider
Finally, you can also use a Virtual Private Network to improve your online privacy and hide your IP address and private data from your ISP.
So, how does a VPN hide your browsing history from your ISP?
The main purpose of a VPN service is to hide your IP address. It does this by sending your Internet traffic to its own VPN server instead of the regular ISP's server.
That way, if someone were to look at your IP, they would see the VPN server's IP address and not your real IP address.
Most VPN providers (at least the good ones) have several dozen servers with their own IP addresses to choose from and hide your Internet connection and protect your online privacy.
However, do keep in mind that many providers will keep logs of your search history so be sure to check exactly what the VPN provider:
- What do they do with your personal data?
- How do they secure it?
There are many ways for someone to look at your browser history, monitor your Internet traffic and learn your online identity.
Your ISP especially can log your online activity, user behaviour and send your personal information to advertisers, the government, or some other third party.
This is why you need to know all the ways you can to protect your privacy online and, once again, that includes:
- Using private browsing
- Disallowing GPS location tracking from your browser
- Avoid ad tracking by the search engine and social media sites
- Using browser extensions
- Switching to a privacy browser like Tor
- Using a Virtual Private Network and a VPN server
Do you want to retain your Internet privacy while you send important emails that contain your personal information?
You can do so by using Liverado: encrypted Email. Liverado is the most secure email service around that encrypts your emails and also hides IP addresses from prying eyes.
Try Liverado today to protect your personal data.
*Can someone see your search history if you delete it?*
Unfortunately, deleting your search history will not be enough to hide it completely from prying eyes. The reason for this is that they can simply get the cache file and voila!, all your Internet activities are at their disposal. For instance, someone can learn your browsing history even if you've "deleted" it by:
1. Going to your Google Account 2. Clicking on Data and Personalization 3. Selecting Web and App Activity from Activity Controls 4. Finding Manage Activity Another method is by using the index.data file on your computer. This file contains all the URLs and web pages that you've ever browsed.
*How do I make sure no one can see my search history?*
It's very hard to ensure that absolutely no one can see your browsing history. For instance, if you're using a private browsing mode provided by your browser, your online activity will still be visible to your ISP and this doesn't hide your IP address. On the other side, using remote access VPNs is a much better solution to hide your browsing from Internet providers, but then your activity and data are visible to the VPN provider so now you have to trust them instead. The best way to ensure that no one (or as few people as possible) see your browsing history is to use a combination of methods such as:
1. Private browsing 2. Disallowing location tracking 3. Turning off ad targeting 4. Using a browser extension or plugin 5. Installing a privacy-oriented web browser 6. Purchasing a VPN service
*Can your Internet provider see what you search with a VPN?*
No. Your Internet provider won't be able to see what you search while using a VPN service. However, they might be able to see that you are connected to a remote access VPN.