I just moved into an apartment with free internet and it included a router.
I don’t feel safe online like that, so I changed to my own router – still on
their internet feed. Is my landlord able to see the websites I go to?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #72, I look at the possibilities that a landlord who offers a
shared internet connection could be snooping in on the connection.
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Seeing the websites you go to
The short answer is very probably yes.
The fact that you changed your router probably didn’t change much of
anything. It’s possible that if your landlord were particularly malicious, that
the router (the one he provided) may have had some settings that made it easier
for him – but the fact is, in a sense, your landlord is your ISP – and
ultimately, your ISP can see everything you do.
Open hotspot safety
The best thing to do, the safest way to treat a situation like this is, if
you do not trust your landlord (which apparently you don’t), you should treat
that internet connection as if it were an open Wi-Fi hotspot.
That means making sure you’re using https as much as possible.
In extreme cases, it means that you should set up a VPN for your internet
access. That provides an encrypted tunnel between you and the VPN service that
your landlord will not be able to peek into. That’s the way to keep what you’re
doing private from your landlord.
We’re not that interesting…
Now, I will say in general it’s hard for me to say that a landlord is or
isn’t going to take the time to snoop on what you’re doing. Typically, like
I’ve said many times before, we’re just not that interesting – but I’ll assume
that you have reason to be concerned.
In a case like that, treating it like an open Wi-Fi hotspot, with all of the
vulnerabilities that are associated with that, is definitely the safest and
best way to go.
There are definitely clear ways to use that connection that will keep you