When we visit someone’s home or workplace, if there is a Wi-Fi network available, we tend to connect to the network with the user’s permission. This is because we want to conserve mobile data and get access to a faster internet connection for unlimited download.
But the question arises, “Can the Wi-Fi owner see your internet and browsing history if you connect to his Wi-Fi network?” In this article, we will answer this question and let you know what exactly the Wi-Fi owner can see. We will also discuss the steps you can take to maintain the privacy of your browsing history when you are connected to someone’s Wi-Fi network.
If I Surf Through Someone’s Wi-Fi, Can the Admin see My History?
Well, the short answer to the question is yes. Almost every Wi-Fi router keeps logs of the websites the connected devices are visiting. Only the Wi-Fi owner has the permission to check out the logs of the Wi-Fi router to understand which connected user visited which websites. Therefore, when you are connected to someone’s Wi-Fi, he can see your browsing history.
If the website has HTTP protocol, the owner can also see which web pages of the website you visited. In fact, if you type something on such websites, the Wi-Fi owner can also see what you typed with third-party tracking applications. However, if the website has HTTPS protocol, he can only see that you visited the website and cannot see which web pages of the website you checked out. The information you typed on such websites cannot be viewed by the owner.
Wi-Fi History View: What Exactly Gets Exposed?
Apart from your browsing history, here are some other details the Wi-Fi network admin can find out regarding your internet browsing when connected to his Wi-Fi network.
- The websites and their URLs.
- The specific web pages and their URLs.
- The duration you spent on each website.
- The exact time you connected to the Wi-Fi.
- The duration when you were online.
Can a WiFi Provider have Access to your History When you Connect with Your Phone?
This monitoring and tracking by Wi-Fi network admin gets even deeper when you connect their Wi-Fi with your phone. Apart from the above-mentioned browsing history details, the Wi-Fi owner can see the following logs –
Call Log – All the calls you made using Wi-Fi network’s internet connection.
Message Logs – All the instant messages and conversation you had using Wi-Fi, if the messages are not end-to-end encrypted.
App Log – All the apps you have used while staying connected to Wi-Fi network as well as the duration of usage for each of those apps.
Therefore, if you have shared any personal or financial details through messages, the owner can check them out and put you in trouble. Therefore, there is a complete infringement in your online privacy when you connect your phone to someone’s Wi-Fi network.
How to Hide History from Wi-Fi Router?
When you are connected to a Wi-Fi network, even if you delete browsing history on your browser, it won’t hide your browsing history from the Wi-Fi router. This is because the Wi-Fi router itself has a memory space where it logs all your browsing history for the admin to check out later if he wants to. The only way to hide browsing history from a Wi-Fi router is by using a VPN or Virtual Private Network.
When you connect to someone’s Wi-Fi network and use a VPN before any online activity, the data packets sent and received during your internet browsing get encrypted. Therefore, even when the router collects those data packets and rearranges them to understand your browsing history, it becomes impossible for the router or any third-party tool to decrypt the packets and rearrange them.
On top of that, a VPN changes the actual IP address of your device temporarily that is connected to the WI-FI network. Therefore, the Wi-Fi router will not be able to understand from which device the data packets are originating, and hence, your privacy will stay intact. There are various free as well as paid VPN services and apps available to choose from. You must install activate before connecting to any Wi-Fi network to hide your browsing history.
Why is it Necessary to Hide Browsing History?
It is very important for you to understand why you should hide your browsing history when you are connected to someone’s Wi-Fi network. You may be doing the usual stuff like surfing the internet, checking your social media accounts, sending a few usual messages, and buying some products online.
However, when you are browsing the internet, you would not see someone to monitor what you are searching for, what you are visiting, especially when things are personal. Similarly, you would not want someone to read the personal messages you are sending to your friends and others. At the same time, when you are logging into any online account, your login credentials can get captured. When you are purchasing and paying online, your financial details can be recorded.
Therefore, for your own safety and privacy, you need to hide your browsing history from Wi-Fi admins. You would not want any trouble like someone stealing money from your credit card or bank account, someone logging into your social media profiles and humiliating you, or someone blackmailing you with your personal chats and searches.
How to Browse Securely?
The only way to browse the internet securely when you are connected to someone’s Wi-Fi is using VPN. Some of the popular VPNs are
If you want complete security, we recommend you opt for the premium services of VPN instead of the free versions.
Apart from VPN, you can use the Tor web browser which is designed to hide your browsing details from the Wi-Fi routers. All traffic goes through the Tor network which is encrypted and therefore, nobody can see them. You should also install a spyware checker to detect any spyware presence on your device. Finally, never save your login credentials on your web browser as it becomes easy for hackers to access them.
Does Incognito Mode Prevent WiFi Admin from Monitoring Your Browsing History?
No, not at all. When you are using Incognito Mode on your web browsing, you are preventing your browser from logging your browsing history. However, the Wi-Fi router is logging your browsing history as usual.
Conclusion – Can WiFi Owners Check What Sites I Visit?
Yes, the Wi-Fi owner can see all the websites you visit when you are connected to his Wi-Fi network. Moreover, if the admin uses any third-party monitoring and tracking tool, you can get more details of your browsing history such as recording what you are typing on websites and apps while being connected to your Wi-Fi. Therefore, to hide your browsing history and browse securely, we recommend you install a VPN on your device and protect your privacy.