Security

New free Quad9 DNS service has built-in security, privacy settings to protect internet users

Project partner IBM Security says it's time for DNS-level cybersecurity, and it's launching a free service to show how much safer the internet, and the IoT, could be.

IBM Security, in partnership with the Global Cyber Alliance and the Packet Clearing House, today launched a new free DNS service with built-in security and privacy features.

The aptly-named Quad9 (IP address: 9.9.9.9) uses threat intelligence from IBM's X-Force Threat Intelligence database, along with 18 other threat intelligence agencies, to compile a thorough blacklist of websites. Whenever a user attempts to navigate to a website that is known to contain malicious code, Quad9 will block it.

IBM said Quad9 will not compromise internet speeds in order to do this—it is launching with 70 points of presence (PoP) in over 40 countries.

SEE: Phishing attacks, not breaches, represent the biggest security risk for Google users (TechRepublic)

Quad9 aims to improve internet privacy as well. DNS servers, which translate website IP addresses into text-based domain names, are controlled by various corporations. IBM said in a press release that those companies "often capture Information about the websites consumers visit, devices they use and where they live for marketing or other purposes."

Those using this new DNS service won't need to worry about that, though. "Quad9 DNS service is engineered to not store, correlate or otherwise leverage any personally identifiable information (PII) from its users," IBM noted in the release.

Is DNS security the future of the internet?

As phishing attacks become more sophisticated, it's increasingly difficult for humans to tell a fake website from a real one—but it isn't hard for DNS to do so. If Quad9's ability to filter bad websites out at the DNS level is successful, one major element of cybercrime—spoof websites—could vanish overnight.

SEE: IT Networking Fundamentals Certification Training (TechRepublic Academy)

Quad9 has also been designed to protect Internet of Things (IoT) devices as well, something that is sorely needed as connected tech continues to grow into more areas of daily life.

DNS-level protection, IBM said, adds an extra layer of security to IoT devices, which consumers have generally had a hard time configuring and securing. IoT devices would not be able to access command and control servers like those used by the Mirai botnet, provided they're recognized by one of the threat intelligence agencies used to build Quad9's list of bad actors.

How to enable Quad9 DNS on your network

Whether at the office or at home, Quad9 can be enabled with just a few simple changes to network settings on a computer. Steps for macOS and Windows machines can be found on the Quad9 website.

Protecting IoT devices will require changes made at the network level.

The top three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. A new DNS service from IBM, the Global Cyber Alliance, and the Packet Clearing House features built-in protections against malicious websites. The service will also not gather personally identifying information about users, making it better for privacy as well.
  2. Quad9's database of malicious sites is compiled from 19 different threat intelligence agencies. This should ensure a fast response time to new threats—when one partner agency recognizes a bad actor, it can be blocked by Quad9 immediately.
  3. Quad9 will also protect IoT devices, provided it is enabled at the network level and not only on individual computers.
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Image: Quad9

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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