An overwhelming amount of companies provide DPI technology. Many tech giants, including Nokia, Huawei, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Alcatel-Lucent boast deep packet inspection offerings. With time, the desire for these technologies has only increased. According to HTF Market Intelligence, market growth is rapidly rising. For anyone with privacy concerns, this internet surveillance technology increasing in prevalence should be regarded as a worrisome trend.
What is DPI?
Deep packet inspection (DPI) is a method of data collecting and analyzation. DPI can be used over the course of normal operations by an entity that wants to check to make sure a connection is safe. An educational institution that allows children access to the internet may use something similar to DPI to protect those children.
Unfortunately, that’s not the most common application of deep packet inspection. DPI is typically deployed in countries that heavily censor, block, or monitor internet usage. It’s become a tool for governments to spy on their people and prevent access to information.
DPI can be used to see what websites are being accessed or to prevent certain websites from being accessed. All activity is logged and sent to an overseeing authority who can utilize the information how they see fit.
Why is DPI Becoming More Prevalent?
Many industries utilize DPI, primarily as a surveillance and security tool. Government agencies, educational institutions, and internet service providers have both above board and morally ambiguous reasons for utilizing deep packet inspection. Deep packet inspection can help to keep a shared network safer – malicious code can be found and analyzing data can help backtrack to the root of a problem.
As our everyday reliance on the internet is growing, so too is the desire for major players to implement DPI technology. This isn’t altogether an invasion of privacy when the technology is utilized in a place where one may not have a reasonable expectation of privacy – such as using a government owned computer at their government job. It becomes a problem when internet service providers are utilizing DPI in ways that are unnecessary, such as analyzing and storing data of private citizens browsing the web from their home computers.
The Menacing Side of DPI
There’s a reason why countries like China and Russia liberally utilize deep packet inspection. They want to track everything their citizens do. They want to be able to block any website that may change the news narrative, disparage the government, or provide a platform for people to unite against their governments. Although there are legitimate applications for DPI that aren’t intended for the sole purpose of invading the privacy of internet users, DPI is seldom used that way.
Countries that do not impose strict internet censorship still utilize DPI has a sinister reminder that the government will always know what people are doing. Although websites may not be blocked, DPI can still provide the government with the information it needs to arrest bloggers, social media users, and armchair journalists who post anything those governments may consider to be less than favorable.
Will DPI Impact Me?
In countries without government censorship, DPI is often used to create data profiles of people and households for targeted advertisements. In some ways, the strategy is reminiscent of the film Minority Report, or an episode of Black Mirror. This can (and should) make the everyday internet user uncomfortable – whether or not they’re using the internet to inspect political opinions. This also creates the undercurrent for something much more uncomfortable. With so many internet service providers adopting DPI, the foundation has already been laid for censorship and monitoring.
Although government agencies in countries like the United States have not outright expressed a desire to censor the internet, they have expressed a desire to gain more control. Recently, Attorney General Barr expressed that he would like to prevent Facebook from offering standard end-to-end encryption on messages exchanged through its popular Messenger service.
As more ISPs adopt DPI, you’re more likely to become a part of this slippery slope. With DPI coming to a WiFi network near you, you’ll be embroiled in the web of data collection and surveillance. Even if this surveillance does not ultimately become a tool for censoring the internet, you’re sacrificing all of your privacy and entrusting authorities you do not know with a wealth of information about you and your browsing habits. Innocent or not, it’s a massive affront to the virtual version of personal space.
How Do I Protect Myself?
The only way to circumvent DPI technology is to utilize a VPN. Not every VPN is created equally – some VPNs can outright be blocked by DPI, as they’re able to be detected. TorGuard is like the Swiss army knife of VPNs. With a myriad of stealth connection protocols, users can access the internet and entirely bypass DPI without setting off any red flags. TorGuard can confuse DPI and ISPs by making VPN traffic appear to be regular internet traffic. VPN use is undetectable, and no one will be the wiser.
OpenConnect, the default method of connecting through TorGuard, is already equipped with stealth technology. Every connection is capable of circumventing DPI. In addition to OpenConnect, TorGuard also offers a Stealth OpenVPN port, a Stunnel feature, ShadowSocks (a stealth SOCKS5 proxy feature), and AnyConnect for smartphones.
You’ll always be safe, secure, and private with TorGuard VPN – no matter how you choose to browse.