You can take a simple step right now that promises to make your online browsing faster and more private. It's a choice you can make that does not require advanced skills. It's fast. It concerns an aspect of the Internet called Domain Name System, or DNS, and a new service called 22.214.171.124. In fact, there is now even a mobile app that you can install on your iOS or Android phone to simplify the use of the system on your phone.
The DNS is often compared to a phone book: it translates the words of a domain name into an IP address, which are the numbers that represent that name. For example, 126.96.36.199 leads you to Google.com. Partly because it's easier for people to remember words than strings of numbers like these, the DNS defines what these numbers should be when you type an address in your browser.
But you can choose the DNS service used by your computer. If this is not the case, the company providing your Internet connection – such as Verizon or Charter – takes care of that. Comcast, for example, uses an internal system. But instead of using the default setting, you might want to consider switching to a new DNS service (the 188.8.131.52 mentioned above), which comes from a network company called Cloudflare.
Moving on to this has two advantages. First, it's faster, although speed increases are measured in milliseconds per load.
Secondly, it focuses on privacy, with the commitment to clean up their DNS query records every 24 hours. They also say that they will participate in an annual audit by a third party.
The new service "sends a message that confidentiality does not have to slow things down," says Frank Wang, a PhD candidate in IT at MIT who specializes in security and recently moved to 184.108.40.206. With speed and confidentiality, "it's a very convincing reason to use it."
And in terms of privacy, Shuman Ghosemajumder, CTO of Shape Security, said, "Cloudflare has built a good reputation."
This is not the first offer of its kind: Google also operates a service called Google Public DNS; one of the IP addresses used is 220.127.116.11. Like 18.104.22.168, it is free.
Choosing a service such as 22.214.171.124 means that DNS lookups (the websites you visit and the DNS server must translate into numbers) are managed by Cloudflare and not your ISP. The logs of this process are regularly purged. (And data that has not existed for too long is difficult to hack or assign). And while your Internet company is still aware of the IP addresses of the websites you are browsing, switching to 126.96.36.199 is a symbolic step that places a critical part of the browsing process on a company that does not store your information.
Everyday Internet users have an interest in keeping their navigation as private as possible. "In a broad sense, what we do online reveals a lot about us," says Mitch Stoltz, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Whether these things are good or bad, good or bad, these are things we do not reveal to the world."
Our navigation may reveal religious or political preferences, for example, or information about our health. "We do not want our employers to know every website we visit when we're at home," he adds. "We certainly do not want advertisers, insurance companies or credit reporting agencies to know every website they visit."
The new Cloudflare service may not be "a complete solution" to the privacy issue, but it's a "good step in the right direction," says Stoltz. "Certainly, it's a sign that you care about this privacy, and the market is reacting more and more to these signals."
If you want to actively choose a DNS service, refer to version 188.8.131.52 or Google's offer for information on how to change the settings on your computer or phone. To use 184.108.40.206. service on your computer, follow the instructions on their website. To use it on your phone, download the iOS or Android app.
Note: This article was released in April, at the first announcement of 220.127.116.11. It has been updated and now includes the news of the 18.104.22.168 mobile application.