Your ISP, or internet service provider, is watching you. Everything you do online is recorded–every Google search, every Facebook like and every website you’ve ever visited are all used to create a digital portrait of who you are.

As more devices are beginning to incorporate internet technology, it’s important that you take the right precautions by protecting your online privacy.

What Your ISP and Other Third Parties Can See

ISP servers like Comcast and Charter are said to keep users’ private data on their servers. But that’s just the start–when you dig a little deeper you realize that these ISPs and other services like Google and Facebook are actually collecting this data and leveraging it to other companies.

Imagine this: You look up new phones on Amazon, and a few hours or days later you start to see targeted ads with that same phone. It’s not a coincidence: it’s a way marketers use your browsing history to send better ads. Ok, sure, you might not think that’s bad, but what happens when these companies have more information about you than they should?

A few years ago sites like CheapTickets and Expedia got in trouble for price discrimination. The travel websites were able to tell whether a visitor was browsing on a Mac or a Windows machine, and would actually show higher prices for customers who were using Macs. This is just one example of how a company can exploit your personal and private info. In reality, the possibilities are endless.

How to Stay Private Online

Browsing in an incognito window may keep your significant other from seeing which sites you use, but not your ISP and Local Government. To truly become anonymous online you need to hide your IP address, as this is how you’re actually being tracked.

One of the best ways to do this is to use a VPN or virtual private network. When you connect to a VPN network, you’re able to hide your real IP address and replace it with another IP in the location of your choice. Once you’re connected to a VPN server, your information becomes encrypted and you’re able to browse without having to worry about being spied on or having your information being infringed upon.

Knowing How to Check Your IP Address

When you’re browsing on a VPN network, your true location is hidden. You’re even able to access sites that may have been geographically restricted before. This is why a lot of people who live in heavily internet censored countries use VPNs to access content from back home. But don’t take our word for it. Check for yourself. Using this nifty IP Checker tool lets you see exactly where your current IP is located.

Your privacy is important, so make sure you protect it. Use a VPN to encrypt your connection and browse the internet the way you were meant to.

About the Author

David Lang is Communications Manager at ExpressVPN – the worlds fastest VPN provider.