For example, if I use my ISP DNS and open this page they will see:


It would show up in their logs for sure.

But if I use Google DNS, then what EXACTLY can they see?

Do they log this as:

or just:

I'm asking this because my government seems to monitor too much. I know about VPN but I don't use VPN all the time. I simply want to know what can ISP log when I'm not using VPN, only Google public DNS.

  • 1
    No it is not duplicate
    – Marko
    Jun 28 '15 at 19:45
  • Can you specify what you mean by "their log files"? It's too broad. Short answer: They can log everything. They can ready everything that's not well encrypted. For example, it could be logging your computer/router's MAC, or logging routed traffic both to one of Google's DNS servers (to resolve the FQDN) and to or to Tor nodes, or the DNS query itself, or TCP flags, or SSL / TLS negotiations, or logging the URL and cookies in the HTTP layer of the subsequent page request, or the PNG image or XML in the request body, or... you get the picture. But many logs reduce performance. Sep 29 '16 at 3:39

Short answer: they are only able to log the hosts you visit (e.g. security.stackexchange.com, google.com, etc) and not the full address (e.g. https://stackexchange.com/login). If you access unencrypted webpages (http instead of https), they are able to see everything. ISP are not known to log unencrypted webpages en masse, but I wouldn't not be surprised if the NSA or china logs this kind of meta information.

Long answer:
Since DNS traffic is not encrypted, your ISP could see every host you visit (it does not matter if you use Google's DNS or theirs). If you visit https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/ask (note the s after http), your ISP will see that you visited security.stackexchange.com and that you used HTTPS. If you use HTTP, the will see everything (the content of the webpage, url, and sometimes even cookies. Note that security.stackexchange.com will always redirect you to their HTTPS version. This means your ISP will only see that you were redirected to the encrypted version. If you are not on the https version, you're being MITM'd. You should then use a VPN).

If you request http://security.stackexchange.com/questions/ask (as you have originally asked), your ISP will also be able to tell that you requested the very page since it is not encrypted. It does not matter that Stack Exchange is redirecting you to the encrypted version because the you have already access the unencrypted version once. Make sure you always use https when possible.

If you access google via (one of their IPs), your ISP will still be able to see that you visited Since your ISP is also probably running a DNS server, they could also check where resolved to (which will probably return google). They could also check that by hand, but this would take more time.

The only way to protect you from these attacks is if you use a VPN. Note that by using a VPN you simply shift the trust to someone else. If you use a public VPN, there are many more parties who can monitor your traffic: the VPN provider (their server might log everything you do), the server host, and the government the server is located in.

  • ISP uses DNS servers to log visited pages right? If I use third party DNS like Google Open DNS then they cant? Right? I know they can track anything if they really want to but what usually happens if you use third party DNS? I gues they dont have logs about visited pages...
    – Marko
    Jun 27 '15 at 17:32
  • @Marko No, ISPs don't use DNS to log visited pages. All DNS can log is what domains you're talking to, but that's already visible to the ISP (even with TLS, the domain is generally sent unencrypted). DNS is not capable of logging visited URLs, because it has nothing to do with URLs (just domain names, but not the protocol or the path).
    – cpast
    Jun 27 '15 at 17:39
  • @Marko I added a short answer, which hopefully clarifies my explanation.
    – Matt3o12
    Jun 27 '15 at 17:47
  • @cpast Matt3o Thanks you for you answers.This is my real question...I stopped using Facebook some times ago as accused of sending insults to some people...I live in a country which has bad cooperation with Facebook... I did not do that, I just didn't. Few days ago I used search engine to find FB page of a woman who accused me. When I opened that page it sent 503 error code... so it should be only visible that I opened fb because it is HTTPS but it returned HTTP error page (error code 503)because server was down.In address bar was full address, it said http instead HTTPS with full adress of tha
    – Marko
    Jun 27 '15 at 18:23
  • 2
    @JavaTechnical, assuming you have not been MITM'ed, only your computer and the webserver you visited (although your browser might sync your history to some kind of cloud service).
    – Matt3o12
    Jun 19 '16 at 19:23

An ISP is literally an "internet provider". As such they provide you the wires and equipment to access the global scaled network.

Since they are in between you and the rest of the world, you have to assume that anything not encrypted is potentially logged by your ISP. Even if you use Google DNS, the DNS request will be send from your computer, to your modem, to an equipment of your ISP, then to Google DNS.

DNS is not commonly encrypted and contains the name of the site you ask for resolution, thus they can log it. Furthermore, IPs can be passed through a reverse DNS which will return the name the IP is associated with (actually the main name).

Whether they do log DNS request or not is not in the scope of the site.

After your DNS request, your computer has to access the website. In the same way, if the session is not encrypted, it can be logged.

As a matter of fact, even encrypted traffic can be logged, but it can't be read (unless you can break the crypto).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.