Firefox begins rollout of encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH) by default for US-based users

Technology Guides Feb 26, 2020
Firefox begins rollout of encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH) by default for US-based users

Mozilla Corporation or simply Firefox begins rollout of encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH) by default for US-based users. The rollout will continue in the US over the coming weeks to confirm no major issues are discovered as this new protocol is enabled for Firefox’s US-based users.

What is DNS?

DNS is a database that links a human-friendly name, such as www.bundupress.com, to a computer-friendly series of numbers, called an IP address (e.g. 192.0.2.1). By performing a “lookup” in this database, your web browser is able to find websites that you search by name eliminating the need to search by IP address.

The New Standard

DNS over HTTPS or (DoH) is a new standard that encrypts part of your internet traffic with the purpose of adding a layer of user privacy and security, preventing eavesdropping and manipulation of DNS data by third parties.

In other words, prevent eavesdroppers from tracking the websites you visit or interact with. It should be understood though that encryption by itself does not protect privacy, encryption is simply a method to obfuscate the data.

The History

Ever since DNS was developed in 1987, it has been largely unencrypted for no other reason than there was no real need to do otherwise. Cast your mind back to a time when websites were just static in nature, brochure or information sites. Compare that with today where you shop online, interact socially, do banking and use a plethora of other applications for everything from running your business to making a hair appointment.

about Mozilla

Mozilla Firefox is a fast, light and well designed open source web browser. At its public launch in 2004 Mozilla Firefox was the first browser to challenge Microsoft Internet Explorer’s dominance. Since then, Mozilla Firefox has consistently featured in the top 3 most popular browsers globally. What made Firefox so popular, is their simple and effective UI, browser speed and strong security capabilities with good support for developers.

Much harder for Snoopers

Encrypting DNS makes it a lot harder for snoopers to look into your DNS messages, or to target them in transit. Just as the web moved from unencrypted HTTP to encrypted HTTPS, as you can see in our domain https://bundupress.com and not http://bundupress.com, there are new upgrades taking place to the DNS protocol that encrypt DNS itself, which encrypts that part of the web that makes it possible for private and secure communications.

Why eavesdrop on your data?

Apart from the obvious reason, ie ill gain or crime. The real reason may be a lot more simple and closer to the truth, profile based marketing. As the rise of the internet continues to develop and online commerce continues to grow well beyond the Worldwide estimate of $3.46 trillion, so will the need for profile based marketing and data tracking continue to grow.

How to enable DoH if you live outside the US

If you’re outside of the US and would like to enable DoH, you can do so by going to Settings in your Firefox browser, then General, then scroll down to Networking Settings and click the Settings button on the right. Here you can enable DNS over HTTPS by clicking, and a checkbox will appear. By default, this change will send your encrypted DNS requests to Cloudflare, however you have the option to choose between two providers, Cloudflare or NextDNS. Both providers are trusted resolvers.

Currently only two trusted resolvers are available while Mozilla continues to explore enabling DoH in other regions, and adding more providers to the browser.

Enable DOH in Settings

Go to Settings, then General, then scroll down to Network Settings and click the Settings button on the right. From there, go to Enable DNS over HTTPS, then use the pull down menu to select the provider as your resolver.

Image courtesy of https://www.mozilla.org/

Glen Smale

Glen Smale is a FullStack Software Engineer & CTO @StaffCluster with 15yrs tech industry experience. He is a freelance technology Journalist and writer @Bundupress.

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