A new online service was launched today to keep your browsing habits out of the hands of marketers and help you automatically avoid millions of malicious websites.
The new Domain Name System (DNS) service offered by Quad9 - a nonprofit founded by IBM Security, Packet Clearing House (PCH) and The Global Cyber Alliance - is free to use and takes only a minute to set up. Quad9's DNS promises to check websites visited by users against the IBM X-Force threat intelligence database, as well as 18 additional databases, and will detect and automatically block access to known malicious websites.
Moreover, Quad9 promises not to collect, store or sell any information about your browsing habits - protections that would have been standard in the US anyway, had Congress and the White House not already sold out the American consumer.
This autumn, US President Donald Trump signed congressional legislation repealing FCC privacy protections that would have banned internet service providers (ISPs) from collecting and selling customer information without user consent. The Obama-era rules were set to be implemented this year and would have prevented ISPs - such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon - from mining data about people and their browsing habits for marketing purposes. That's right, the US government screwed people over. Try to contain your surprise.
In Australia, ISPs are required to collect "metadata". Though this does not include your browsing history, ISPs are not barred from collecting such information.
"Every day, there's a new article or news story about how someone on the internet is making money by chipping away at your privacy, or collecting some bit of data you didn't realise you were emitting," John Todd, executive director for Quad9, told Gizmodo. "This project turns that around and gives a little bit of privacy back to users."
For the uninitiated, DNS services are an essential component of the internet, translating actual IP addresses such as "22.214.171.124" into easy-to-remember names such as "Gizmodo.com.au". Unless you've altered your DNS settings yourself, your DNS is likely set to whatever you ISP would like it to be. Unfortunately, many DNS services monitor your traffic - data from which is then resold to online marketers and data brokers.
Essentially, IBM, PCH and the Global Cyber Alliance are vowing never to do this.
"We feel consumers should have an option to take control of their privacy and protect this information," Todd said. "Quad9 provides that. Quad9 does not store, correlate or otherwise use personally identifiable information."
Moreover, service promises speed. "Leveraging PCH's expertise and global assets around the world, Quad9 has points of presence in over 70 locations across 40 countries at launch," Quad9 said in a statement, adding that it plans to double its global presence over the next 18 months.
If you'd like to take advantage of the service, it's simple to set up: Change your DNS settings in your device or router to point to 126.96.36.199. If you need help, just follow the instructions in the videos linked below: