Demanding More From Your ISPs

“The internet has finally become too complex for us to understand.” What troubles could be hiding with your ISP and why VPNs aren’t enough anymore.

Recently Ajit Pai–the man who killed net neutrality–stepped down. Many see his departure as the rebirth of net neutrality; however, since the original ruling on February 26, 2015, the number of controversies surrounding ISPs and the increasing power they have over modern society has quadrupled. As we enter the 2020s, there is one thing for certain in the modern world: ISPs are a foundational entity in many people’s lives. The Title-2 net neutrality regulations are as critical for many people’s livelihood as shelter. This has led to a more consumer-conscience demographic of buyers who want more from their ISPs. The financial harm that hackers can cause is increasing by the year as more of our everyday lives have become digitalized through the internet.

The question buzzing through many conversations is whether ISPs should be more responsible and then how to protect yourself. This question has recently surged thanks to the rising concerns of the controversial insecure infrastructure of the Border Gateway Protocol route that is frequently the target of hackers due to its outdated two-napkin protocol. In recent years, scientists have made incredible strides to fix this broken system with various patches recommended for ISPs. The patches work but many ISPs refused to follow-through due to cost-cutting. If internet security were placed as high of a priority as entities like education are, then advanced protocol methods likewise to that of cryptographic routes and filters would replace BGPs.

There has been a plethora of “quick-fix” buzzword technologies that cater to privacy, like VPNs, but few will protect all your information 24/7. Due to the poor infrastructure that many ISPs share, most hacks are out of the control of the public. Thankfully, all is not lost. You can still have the privacy you crave; however, it will require some sacrifices and due diligence. For example, you can research the history of the ISP provider you would like to go with and how often they handle cyber attacks. Most issues that plague ISPs are 100% due to their faults from outdated BGPs, lack of DDoS protection, and the use of “egress filtering”. A large portion of these cons is a result of the companies’ incompetence or greed.

Luckily, there are quite a few smaller, lesser known ISPs that follow BGPs patch guidelines and fight to keep net neutrality in place–even though it would greatly benefit them to ditch it. These companies are often hard to find but worthwhile once found. Another more extreme option that one can take to secure information online is by going the traditional route and handle personal banking situations non-digitally. Sending banking information through the mail and tracking your checking account can still be done non-digitally. Also, doing most of your online surfing through your cellular network data is slightly more secure than a router that is connected directly through your ISP; however, it can be more expensive.

For many, the obstacles you must hurdle to ensure your privacy is too much to fathom. The more realistic option demanding more responsibility on ISPs can be achieved by contacting your politicians. Until then, as the modern world becomes even more complex with ISPs acting as another need for humans, we will see more people asking the obvious question: Should ISPs become more responsible?