You can prevent deep packet inspection. Of course, you first need to know that it exists and that it threatens your online freedom.
You might think that you can be anonymous online by using the “incognito” feature of your web browser? You’re wrong. ISPs use a tactic called deep packet inspection to spy on you. They can tell what websites you visit and what kind of content you’re accessing. Based on that information, they throttle your speed.
You’re ISP can see that you’re using the internet, but they can’t inspect your packets to see what you’re doing.
Prevent Deep Packet Inspection
Before we get started, can we agree on something?
Deep Packet Inspection is bad. It violates your privacy and is used to restrict your online behavior.
With that being said, let’s learn more.
What is Deep Packet Inspection?
Deep packet inspection is a method of analyzing the small bundles of data that carry information through data networks and the internet. DPI looks at the header information of a packet as well as the information that the packet contains.
When internet service providers use DPI, they’re examining everything about your connection and the data you’re sending and receiving.
ISPs don’t need to use DPI to provide high-quality services.
ISPs could do a fine job operating their network by monitoring port numbers, assigning and tracking IP addresses, and managing protocols. However, they choose to use deep packet inspection tools to collect behavioral data about their users.
They also use DPI to prioritize traffic, detect malware, and discover hackers.
Why is Deep Packet Inspection a threat?
Deep packet inspection threatens you because it discloses all your internet activity and the data you’re exchanging.
Your personal information, including your shopping habits, age, location, and more can be sold to advertisers, political campaigns, and research firms without your knowledge. ISPs also readily surrender their DPI data to governments, legal teams, and law enforcement agencies.
In other words, deep packet inspection threatens you by making your personal information and online activities available to your ISP and third parties.
As a result, if you don’t prevent deep packet inspection, your ISP can throttle your internet connection and sell your data. Consequently, DPI can make you liable for criminal or civil damages if you do the “wrong” things online.
How to detect Deep Packet Inspection
In most cases, the DPI used by ISPs is passive. This means that they observe and record your data without modifying it. You can’t detect passive DPI, but you can prevent deep packet inspection by using a VPN.
Another form of deep packet inspection, active DPI, modifies your packets leaving a footprint. This type of DPI is detectable. An example of this type of DPI could be a system that modifies a certain type of data such as known malware to prevent it from causing damage.
Systems can also strip STARTTLS from SMTP traffic to expose the contents of email messages as plain text.
With the right tools, you can detect deep packet inspection.
However, the best way to neutralize the threat to prevent deep packet inspection with a VPN
Bypass Deep Packet Inspection OpenVPN
When you’re connected to a VPN server using a protocol such as OpenVPN, your data is encrypted. So, when your ISP scans your internet activity, all they will see is (1) that you’ve connected to an internet host and (2) jumbled, meaningless information.
Also, all your internet traffic will be tagged with the IP address of your VPN, so no one can trace your activity back to your ISP and to you.
Defeat Deep Packet Inspection
In many ways, you can say that a VPN defeats attempts at deep packet inspection.
However, remember that your VPN service provider can also use DPI.
For this reason, you need to be careful when shopping for a VPN. For starters, choose a VPN that has a strict “no logs” policy. This ensures that no one can associate your online activities with the IP address that you got from your ISP.
If you worry that your VPN is keeping logs, consider using NordVPN’s “DoubleVPN” feature. It automatically routes your internet traffic through two VPN servers to increase your online safety. You could also connect to one VPN service before connecting to another.
Also, never use free VPN services. They make money by selling your personal data and internet activities.
If you want, learn more about deep packet inspection before buying your VPN service.