As we were asking our readers about the VPN solution they want us to review, someone suggested one VPN solution and emphasizes on the logging feature of such a solution. In fact, he wanted to know the information that is logged by the VPN solution. Learn about VPN connection logs.
How does a VPN work?
This truly is a legitimate question. If we think about it, by using a VPN solution, we are redirecting all our traffic into one gateway (the VPN server) so that it manipulates our IP packets, the replaces some headers so that our traffic is seen as originating from the VPN server instead of our actual computer. Well, this is an over-simplified explanation of how a VPN works, but it gives a simple picture of the whole system.
So the concern of our reader is justified. By sending all our traffic to a VPN provider, we are empowering them to screen every bit of our traffic. This means that we now have two gateways:
- First, all the internet traffic that we have goes through our ISP: we can’t overcome it. We always need to have an ISP or gateway that will connect us to the rest of the world,
- Second, we are adding a second layer that also acts as a gateway if we chose to work with a VPN provider.
By using only the ISP, we know that the ISP administrators can screen all your traffic. In order to prevent that, we can use a VPN provider that will encrypt all traffic between you and the VPN provider, thereby preventing the “screening” at the ISP side. But then, how do we make sure that our data aren’t screened at the VPN server-side?
This whole thing doesn’t build trust, does it?
In fact, what we really want to know is the logging that is made on the VPN server side. At the client side, we can eventually see some information when the VPN client is connecting (it shows, for example, the reasons if you can’t connect), but once you are connected, you usually don’t see anything really interesting, even though you enable the verbose mode which should show you more information.
I, for example, checked the log on my VPN client and found out that the log is reporting a lot when initiating the connection (DHCP configuration, handshaking process, …), but since the connection is established, it goes on mute mode. And most of the times, the log format is unreadable for the non-techie person.
The only thing that we can be sure is: at the VPN server side, the service provider can run a packet-sniffer that will log all the traffic – coupled with the VPN logs, they have all the ability to reconstitute your traffic.
Can I check the VPN connection logs?
Back to the initial question: how do we check how our VPN log is traced, I think it all comes down to the same answer: as a client, we can’t. It all depends on how the VPN provider has configured his logging feature on his own servers. But the same applies to the logs at our ISP: they can trace it all, but as clients, we just can’t have access to those logs (unless you have a federal court order).
VPN services with no logs policy
There are several VPN services that have no logs policy, meaning that they do not keep any logs regarding the VPN connections users make. Take for example, ibVPN, NordVPN, PureVPN, PrivateInternetAccess. Thus, if you are concerned about the logs you may choose one of these providers. Also, just to be sure, read the provider’s logs policy before subscribing.
Do you know other VPN services that declare that they do not keep VPN connection logs? Share them with the comments below.