Friday, January 16th, 2015
We have been considering the issue of DNS servers that we use in our VPN servers and thank all users who have provided valuable feedback to us. DNS servers translate the easy to remember word addresses (such as bolehvpn.net) into IP addresses which is a bunch of numbers. Previously we used the default DNS servers that were provided by each server provider’s ISP but due to some unreliability, we then moved to Google’s DNS servers (which wipes its logs every few days) and then we dabbled for a while with OpenNIC’s no log servers. OpenNIC’s servers being hosted independently kept on going down and so we reverted to Google and/or OpenDNS.
Is there a a Problem?
Even using this setup, an ISP cannot see what you’re surfing as all queries are going through the encrypted tunnel. However the administrator running the DNS server (Google or OpenDNS) is able to capture some info which are the following:
- Our VPN server’s IP
- The time of the DNS query
- The destination address of the query
For example if you were trying to access minecraft.com through your internet browser while on our VPN, the DNS server admin would be able to know that our VPN server made a query to minecraft.com at a certain time. Besides that, no other information about the end user is given out and you also have plausible deniability as many users use a server at one time. Therefore although your ISP does not know what you’re doing if someone is very determined in trying to unmask your identity and has the legal resources to do it, they theoretically can get the DNS server admin to help narrow down their search. It’s still a long way to go to unmasking your identity since they would be unable to identify which user within the VPN server at that time but assuming the site you visit is very unique and they have other information tying to you accessing such a site (for example if they have seized your computer) it is further evidence that can be used against you. Yes, this is quite an extreme situation and for the average user, it isn’t important but we realized that if we can take steps to improve the privacy of our customers, we should.
How BolehVPN is Improving
Many other VPN providers also use Google DNS or OpenDNS or their server provider’s own DNS but we are taking the step of hosting our own DNS servers so that none of your information goes to third parties you may not trust. Meaning, any potential identifying data is only kept within BolehVPN and not to any other third party provider. Also, any DNS leak test would also not show our company’s name but the original server provider’s one which further doesn’t reveal that you’re using a VPN.
These changes are not trivial as we do have to properly secure these DNS servers and ensure they can handle any loads thrown at it but we are already deploying this on a few of our servers to test performance and will be rolling out these changes over the coming weeks and will post an announcement once it’s completed.. We don’t forsee any major difficulties with this.
Also for those asking why don’t we use DNSCrypt, it doesn’t really add any advantage to the way we are setting it up. You are still free to use DNSCrypt independently if you prefer to continue using that.
What Do You Need to Do?
Nothing, the changes will roll out and you may experience a very brief disconnection and upon re-establishing of the connection, the new DNS servers will be pushed to you unless you chose to specify them manually. Do feel free to share your opinions and comments!