October 8, 2018

Google’s parent firm Alphabet launches DNS protection app ‘Intra’

The application, launched by Alphabet’s technology incubator Jigsaw, seeks to simplify access to blocked websites, apps as well as the internet.

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dns protection

Google’s parent company Alphabet have launched a DNS  protection (Domain Name System) app Intra, to protect internet users from DNS manipulation, a type of cyber attack that is used to block access to news sites, social media platforms and messaging apps.

This app, launched by Alphabet’s technology incubator Jigsaw, seeks to simplify access to blocked websites, apps as well as the internet.

According to Alphabet, several media agencies around the world are suppressed by DNS manipulation tactics to block the news provided by them. They also say that these agencies face issues like overwhelming their servers with bogus traffic and restricting user access to applications.

By launching Intra, Alphabet claim that they can counter DNS manipulation by simplifying access to restricted websites, news portals and apps. They claim that by encrypting DNS queries, Intra will help users bypass online censorship and at the same time exercise DNS protection by implementing “DNS over HTTPS” (DoH).

Alphabet believe that the DoH technology will soon become a standardised norm in the internet world with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), in charge of approving such technologies. Speaking about the need to curb DNS manipulation, Justin Henck and Ben Schwartz, Product and Technical leads at Intra, commented:

DNS manipulation is important to study for two reasons. First, it’s a frighteningly common technique used around the world.

For example, a recent study by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) suggests that DNS manipulation is being used in Venezuela to block several independent media organizations, news sites, and social media applications.

They further added:

We are increasingly seeing this tactic being used around the world to suppress the news. Of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom House’s recent ‘Freedom on the Net’ report, nearly half have experienced a decline in overall freedom, meaning techniques like DNS manipulation are likely to increase in the near future.

Looks like major cloud players understand the importance of DNS protection and are taking the necessary steps to mitigate the same, especially with the likes of IBM and Packet Clearing House coming together for DNS protection. It will be interesting to see which organizations make similar breakthroughs in addressing DNS protection

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