A new online service was launched Thursday morning 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. “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 realize 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 “126.96.36.199” into easy-to-remember names like “Gizmodo.co.uk.” 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, the initiative 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, promising 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 188.8.131.52. If you need help, just follow the instructions in the videos linked below:
And if you’re looking for other ways to conceal your browsing habits from your ISP or anyone else who might be snooping, here’s a guide from Gizmodo US’s Adam Clark Estes.