In a world that is ever-more inter-connected, the expectation that much of our lives is private seems to get thwarted more and more. Our computers constantly ‘converse’ in cyberspace, and we are never sure who might be ‘listening’.
Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) provides your computer (include all linked computer devices such as your phone, tablet, recently even on your watch) with a special number (IP address) that identifies it uniquely for its own purposes. That number is linked in special log files to your various activities online. Beyond recording the data and speeds you use, your ISP isn’t normally interested in what you do. It just wants to collect the appropriate usage fees each month.
However, there are parties who may be very interested in what you do. As well as hackers or those looking to steal info, there might be government bodies that want to spy on you. Forced legally or somehow tricked, an ISP can provide data about you that might be harmful to you.
There may be no guaranteed, fully effective way to prevent this, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. Next to shutting off/putting to sleep your equipment, or disconnecting physically from the internet; there is still an avenue less inconvenient for you. I’m referring to the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service.
In the case of a VPN your ISP’s allocated IP address number gets linked to another, virtual IP address provided by the VPN service. That address can be provided by a server (VPN-linked computer) located anywhere around the world. On mine that means from any of 37 different countries. All your ISP will know, or be able to report to the government, is the link to a foreign server. Only the foreign server will have any idea of what you are doing, and typically the VPN is committed to keeping no logs. So, even if the IP address is traced to the foreign server, there will be nothing to report, other than time spent there, perhaps. Encryption is another safety measure your foreign server will provide, which means that if info is provided or stolen it will be garbage.
Your experience on your own computer will be almost exactly as always. No changes to familiar passwords, browser settings, etc.
The only change will be for anyone trying to trace your IP address to your machine. Very difficult, and likely requiring legal proceedings in several countries’ jurisdictions—making it unlikely, even if remotely possible.
To compare VPN services and their prices (some are free, but those seldom get the highest recommendations) go to www.google.ca and search on the term VPN. The service I use myself is called Private Internet Access. Go to the site, https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ and check it out.
Enjoy more peace of mind, well worth the price.