Can the internet provider track the apps?
The information portal for safe cell phone use
Traces of data on the Internet
If you use the Internet with your smartphone or tablet, you leave traces of data behind. Because every device that is connected to the Internet is assigned a unique number - the IP address. This means that all data packets that are sent or received can be clearly assigned to an Internet connection.
The data traffic from your own device is routed to the destination via many intermediate stations. At these intermediate stations, unauthorized persons can read: which page you call up when and for how long, which videos you watch, which data is sent by apps and which texts are written in online forms.
If the connection has so-called transport encryption (recognizable on websites by the fact that the address begins with "https"), the transmitted content can no longer be read by third parties. The IP address of the user and which website he calls up when, however, is still visible.
But not only outside eavesdroppers can "overhear": Your Internet service provider also learns a lot. He not only has full access to the surfing behavior of the customers, he can also assign the IP addresses to the real subscriber by name and place of residence.
If you are surfing on your smartphone, this is the mobile operator who gave you your SIM card. When using WLAN access, the respective telephone or cable company.
The solution: Virtual Private Network (VPN)
You don't just have to put up with all of this. If it is important to you to keep your connection data to yourself, you can redirect your data via a so-called Virtual Private Network (VPN).
The data connection from the end device to the target is divided into two sections when surfing via VPN.
- The first connection section, from the end device to the VPN server, is encrypted separately. So nobody from outside can see what is being broadcast.
- The second section, from the VPN server to the destination, is no longer specially encrypted, but has the IP address of the VPN server as the sender address. So nobody from outside can see who the actual sender is.
Only the VPN server knows which content was sent to which end device. The security therefore depends on the seriousness of the provider.
Note: Whoever sends his name as content can of course also be identified with VPN. Web forms and log-in data should therefore only be entered on pages whose address line begins with HTTPS. Then the data is also encrypted on the second section of the route.
Where can I get a VPN from?
A VPN can, for example, be operated by the employer for the company network or the university for the university network. Alternatively, there are commercial VPN providers whose servers can be used.
There are now very many such providers with different quality. Some are free, but most are paid. The speed of the free services is usually greatly reduced.
If you have a newer Fritz-Box, you can use it to set up your own VPN server and use it to redirect your data traffic when you are out and about. The advantage: You don't have to trust an external provider. The disadvantage: the IP address of this VPN connection can still be assigned to you personally. You are well protected from "eavesdroppers" in unsecured or public WLANs.
VPN: benefits and limits
VPN services are a good method to protect yourself against eavesdroppers in your own WLAN. Especially in unsecured WLAN networks, such as those often offered in cafés or hotels, it is extremely easy to record the data traffic of other participants. VPN helps reliably here. But VPN services also have limits:
- VPN services do not offer complete anonymity in the network There is hardly any complete anonymity on the Internet - even if you use a VPN. Your own Internet provider can no longer read the data traffic in detail, but can only determine that you are using a VPN connection. But the VPN provider has full insight. And it also logs surfing behavior. Depending on the country in which the VPN provider's data centers are located, security authorities can seize and investigate the servers.
- Not all VPN providers are reputable There are many VPN providers out there. Not all have the same standards. And some of them have even tampered with their customers' traffic in the past. For example, to replace the advertising banners displayed on websites with others - and thus generate additional income. The VPN provider should therefore be chosen carefully.
- VPN doesn't help against tracking You can also often identify the provider of the website you are calling, and above all its advertising partners. The simplest example of this are browser cookies. Anyone who has ordered shoes in an online shop, for example, has usually saved an online shop cookie in their browser. This means that he can be identified the next time he visits the shop page. These methods are summarized under "Tracking".
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