Who can see me when using a VPN

VPN or Virtual Private Network enables a user to hide your online activity from a third party. Total anonymity is however impossible when using any network, but it is possible to hide a number of things that are key in identifying you. When using a VPN, the provider takes on data about you and encrypts it such that only they would know what you are doing online. The system, however, has to have a way of differentiating users and as much as you will be on a private network, you might be visible to some services. Tor uses IP addresses to identify users while bitcoins uses it’s wallet. It is, however, possible to limit the information you avail to other people.

The following can see you and your online activity although you may be using a Virtual Private Network.

a) The Virtual Private Network provider. The network provider providing VPN services has access to a lot of information about you. They can access your IP address, view your online activity and identify the data transferred between you and network. The network is somewhat private, but they can, however, see all your online activity. The network provider is therefore obliged not to share this information with anyone else unless as dictated by law. As put out in their terms and conditions, some popular VPN providers like Express VPN say they will not share information about you with any third party unless as required by law enforcement with evidence for the same.

b) The owner of any rented infrastructure especially servers has access to your information also. This is because they are not tied directly to the individual. They have access to the same amount of information as the service providers. Virtual Private Network Providers at times may at times not have enough resources to invest in individual servers, and it, therefore, rents them. The owner of this server may not be as discrete with personal information with the end user as the provider itself. They are therefore not obligated to hide your information.

c) Web proxy services. These are servers that connect user personal computers to the server hosting the URL they are looking for. The information held by these servers. A computer sends out a request to these servers when it needs to access the internet, and these servers themselves look for the server hosting the IP address that was typed in. Through web proxy, they can know your IP address and the website you intend to visit. Depending on whether you have turned security features on, they might be able to see more. Half of the time, this might be the owner of rented infrastructure.

d) Your Internet service provider (ISP) can track the IP addresses of the sites you visit, but anything else is encrypted. Depending on how good your VPN is, the ISP can see the site you intend to visit and management data once in a while. When you visit a website, your VPN logs its IP address and sends it out. Your ISP can take the IP address and figure out the website you requested for, but that is as much as they can see as any data sent between you and the website's server is encrypted.

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