internet

I am repeating myself, but the internet is still the wild west.  Rules governing how our data is to be handled are all, but non-existent.  Political fights are still taking place regarding net neutrality and how to get fast and reliable broadband to rural areas.   Stories appear daily about data breaches or leaks, messages that are supposed to be deleted really aren’t, and our internet service providers can legally sell our personal browsing data to third parties.

More tools have started to hit the marketplace that are mostly free or relatively inexpensive for the really security conscience. There are a host of virtual private network (VPN) companies that will encrypt all your transmitted data.  One of the biggest additions to internet speed and privacy, that is totally free, is Cloudflare’s DNS service.  You should absolutely be using it.

What is DNS?

Domain Name Service (DNS) are servers on the internet that act like a phonebook you used to use looking up addresses or phone numbers.  Your internet connection is set to use a DNS server to look up the address of a website or how an email gets delivered.  An example is that one of Google.com’s servers has an address of http://216.58.218.238. I can get to Google.com by typing those numbers (IP addresses) into my web browser, but of course, it’s much easier to remember Google.com.  That’s where DNS does the hard work for you.

Your internet service provider, by default, have their own set of DNS servers.  These are typically slower and they keep logs of all the places you visit to use for potential resell.  Cloudflare’s DNS infrastructure has been rated the fastest with an average lookup time of 10.95 milliseconds, far faster than the average internet provider response time of 68.23 milliseconds.  It may not sound like a lot, but trust me, you will notice the difference.

Additionally, the entire Cloudflare service has been built upon on a privacy first mentality.  Cloudflare purges logs every 24 hours.  They have hired a third-party auditing company to verify annually that they are not storing consumer data of this nature and that the software is purging records like it is supposed to.

How do you get this faster, private DNS service?

To use the new service, you simply have to change the DNS settings in your Wi-Fi router, modem, or computer to the Cloudflare server settings.  Detailed instructions can be found at: https://1.1.1.1

If you are comfortable changing settings in your home or office network, you will use the settings:

DNS 1: 1.1.1.1

DNS 2: 1.0.0.1

That one setting change is all.

Cloudflare has even created mobile apps for Android and Apple that use this service instead of the cellular providers DNS.  The apps are both free and can be found on the App store or Google Play. Once you download the app, just hit the slider to ON.  It’s that simple.

I have been using this service since the day it was launched last year.  It’s only been in the past couple of months that I have seen the service gather more attention outside of core networking or security professional circles, such as notable YouTube technology influencers. I’ve even had conversations with a certain business internet provider’s networking support team that were unaware of Cloudflare DNS.  

I’ve had some people tell me, “Security is overrated; or I don’t have anything to hide.”  My response is typically “I guess you aren’t doing or saying anything important, ever.” We live in an era where anything we do, say, or write is being recorded for all-time, never to be forgotten.  I’d just assume to have some of my own data, just be my data.

NEXT MONTH:  The relatively cheap, harder approach I used to speed up my internet and cut down on ad traffic.  Until next time!

John Barker President at Barker Management Consulting. He can be reached at   jbarker@barkerleadership.com  or  www.barkerleadership.com.

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