Wi-Fi owners can access and see your online traffic when you use their access points to surf the internet.
In this article, you will learn what information Wi-Fi owners can see and the measures you can take to hide the sites you visit from Wi-Fi owners.
Let’s get started!
A Wi-Fi owner can see everything you do online when connected to their access point, such as a router.
However, the information they can access and be able to read will depend on various factors.
They include your connection’s security, access point and intercepting hardware, sniffing tools such as WireShark and packet tracers, and their tech-savvy skills.
Usually, the most common information a Wi-Fi owner can see includes the following:
In most cases, home Wi-Fi owners aren’t concerned about what you do while connected to their Wi-Fi unless they are interested in finding out what you do online.
However, ISPs, public Wi-Fi owners, and network admins are after your online activities for various reasons.
ISPs and network admins may want to know how you utilize their bandwidth, what sites you visit the most, and other information related to your online activities.
Public Wi-Fi owners, on the other hand, collect the data and sell it to other third parties – this is how most of them afford to keep the service running for free.
Although they are not Wi-Fi owners, hackers can intercept your online traffic and use it to compromise your online security and privacy and propagate further attacks.
Incognito allows you to browse privately only on your browser. Once you end your browsing session, the browser will delete your browsing history, cookies, and other data various sites might have stored on your device.
However, since incognito doesn’t touch your online traffic that passes through the Wi-Fi owner access point, everything incognito deletes on your side will still be visible to them.
Thus, the incognito mode/private browsing feature doesn’t hide the sites you have visited from a Wi-Fi owner.
Websites use the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to communicate over the internet. Nowadays, most sites use HTTPS (a secure version) to ensure your communication is secure over a network.
HTTPS uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt the site’s communication over the internet.
When you visit a website that implements HTTPS, the Wi-Fi owner will only see the website URL, not the contents.
On the other hand, HTTP allows the Wi-Fi owner and even hackers to see the website’s content.
Hackers might also manipulate the content you get from the website. This is how they infect your device with malware.
You can hide your browsing history and various information regarding the sites you visit from a Wi-Fi owner.
Nonetheless, there is some information that you can’t hide, such as timestamps, IP addresses (not of the sites), and bandwidth.
Use the following methods to hide the sites you visit:
A VPN allows you to surf the internet privately and securely. A VPN encrypts your online traffic from your device and then tunnels it through a VPN server over the internet to the intended destination.
Other than encryption, the VPN masks your actual IP address and assigns you the VPN server’s IP address.
The Wi-Fi owner and other prying eyes will only see encrypted traffic without details on what you are up to on the internet.
To other internet entities, your online traffic will seem to originate from the VPN server’s location. This nifty feature allows the VPN to bypass geo-restrictions.
Some VPNs have an obfuscation feature that allows you to bypass VPN blocks.
Check out our best VPNs roundup guide if you want recommendations on picking a VPN.
The Onion Router (Tor) offers anonymity and security. Your online traffic is encrypted and randomly routed through various nodes when you use the Tor browser.
When your traffic reaches its destination, the exit node doesn’t know the IP address of the entry node, and the entry node doesn’t know the IP address of the exit node. This routing defeats traffic analysis and surveillance.
However, unlike a VPN, Tor is slow, and ISPs easily block it.
The owner of the Wi-Fi network, along with anyone else who might be snooping, can track your online behavior, including the websites you access and other data they find relevant.
To safeguard your privacy and conceal your internet activities, consider using a VPN or the Tor browser. Furthermore, ensure you only access websites that use HTTPS and steer clear of using public Wi-Fi hotspots for browsing the internet.