Do you need to use private DNS?

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Although you might not be aware of it, the Domain Name System (DNS), is an essential component of your internet experience.

What is DNS? DNS is a Uniform Resource Locator, which you use to access a site’s URL. It then converts it into an IP address.

Instead of remembering and typing a complex IP like 172.217.1.46, type just google.com.

In other words, the sole purpose of the servers on the internet is to convert URLs into IP addresses so that they can be routed across the network to their destination.

However, simply entering a domain name in your browser does not send an automatic request to the internet for translation. To check if the URL is already translated, the browser first checks the local cache.

This will speed up the process than if it needs to reach your DNS servers. If it does not, the request will be sent to public DNS servers.

What is DNS Server?

DNS Servers are the servers responsible for performing the above-described translation process. They typically only do one thing. These servers use software such as BIND (pronounced name-dee) to translate between URLs and IP addresses. 

Where are the DNS servers?

Nearly all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have their own DNS servers. You don’t have to worry about configuring those servers. There may be occasions (such as slow DNS servers at your ISP) when you want to use DNS servers provided by a third party. Google, for example, has its own DNS servers at 8.8.4.4 or 8.8.8.8.

Google’s DNS can be used in place of ISPs without any problems. Your computer doesn’t care who your DNS servers are, even if you work in Latin America. As long as they can properly translate, it will not matter.

However, there is a catch: Using traditional DNS servers can pose privacy risks.

DNS Privacy: The Absence of Privacy

Regular DNS servers send plain text to every URL and search query you enter. This means that anyone can see what you are doing through your web browser.

Imagine that back when handwritten letters were being sent to family, friends and business associates, every letter was enclosed in an unsealed envelope. Anybody who received that letter could read it, then put it back in and send it to their home. This is what you can do with standard DNS servers.

This system can lead to serious privacy issues, such as identity theft. Private DNS is also available.

What is Private DNS?

Private DNS can be described as DNS over TLS, DNS over HTTPS or DNS over TLS. TLS stands for Transport Layer Security, and HTTPS for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.

All DNS queries that you make using DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS are encrypted. This makes it much more difficult for malicious third parties to intercept your internet traffic.

Even if you have to send software to Latin America for your day to work, DNS-dependent network traffic is far more secure from hackers. This is an additional layer of privacy that you may not be aware of.

What are the best ways to use it?

Depending on the platform, how you use Private DNS will vary. Each operating system has its own requirements for setting up DNS entries. Most desktop operating systems use automatic DNS setup. This means that your DNS servers will be provided by your ISP.

You will need to learn how to configure DNS addresses on your platform. Next, you will need to use a DNS server provided by a third party that offers DNS over TLS/DNS. Cloud Flare is one example. Cloud Flare DNS servers number 1.0.0.1 or 1.1.1.1. These are the addresses that you would use to configure DNS.

You can enable private DNS mode on Android devices running Android version 10 (Settings > Network). The Cloud Flare address required by the Android platform is not the same as the one used for standard desktop operating systems.

You won’t experience any network slowdown once you have configured Private DNS on your platform. However, you will be able to enjoy greater privacy while surfing the internet.

Give it a try

Private DNS is a great option. Your operating system can be configured to use DNS over TLS/DNS over HTTPS. You can always return to the original configuration if the DNS servers stop working as well as your ISP’s servers. Private DNS is a good choice, as it offers privacy and speed that’s not too noticeable.

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