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I am using an iphone app called tunnelbear. I was wondering if my ISP gets to see my network traffic (aka the URLs I am visiting) when I am using the VPN.

I did a small experiment using Paros following this tutorial. This is what I see from Paros normally (all URLs my iphone is accessing). enter image description here

When I use the VPN, I don't see any website that I am accessing on my iphone.

Give this, I have two questions:

  • My understanding was that when we use a VPN, the traffic gets encrypted and goes to the VPN server. Therefore, shouldn't I see the address for the VPN server each time I try to access an URL?

  • Given Paros doesn't see the URLs I am visiting, can my ISP see them?

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Paros is an HTTP/HTTPS proxy, so it only handles those specific protocols. Most VPNs use IPSec or OpenVPN as their application protocol, so Paros would not see them.

Your ISP will not see the URLs you visit, only encrypted traffic to the VPN provider. Your ISP can trivially identify that you are talking to a VPN provider. Your VPN provider can (if they choose to) see all of the web traffic you send. (Full URLs for HTTP, only hostnames for HTTPS.) Also note that an attacker who can see both traffic into the VPN endpoint and out of it can trivially identify the VPN user who is originating traffic to a given site.

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