The purpose of a DNS bypass
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a crucial element of the internet’s infrastructure, carrying out the basic task of translating human-readable domain names into machine-understandable IP addresses.
Think of Google. We all easily remember google.it, while it would be very difficult to remember 184.108.40.206, for example.
That’s without taking into consideration that, behind entities such as Google or Facebook, there are hundreds of different IP addresses that you unknowingly reach based upon their requirements (server maintenance, speed, workload…)
Here is where DNS infrastructure comes to the rescue of the human being, “connecting the dots” between human and machine needs.
But why should I set up a DNS bypass?
Let’s look at some reasons:
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1. Censorship and geographical restrictions
Some governments or organizations may impose restrictions on access to certain websites or contents based upon geographic location. A DNS bypass can be used to circumvent these restrictions and access contents which are otherwise unavailable in a particular region. Consider, for example, China, which nationally blocks access to a great deal of Western content. Beware, the reader should not perceive that it is easy to implement this bypass; this is merely an example in the article for informational purposes.
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2. Privacy and business restrictions
Every internet provider has its own DNSs and, through those, is able to track each user’s browsing logs. In fact, if you think about it, a DNS contains the “history” of every request you have made. Some users may, therefore, set up a DNS bypass precisely in order to protect their privacy, perhaps opting for more secure services. This is, for example, the promise of Cloudflare.
Again, for this purpose, a DNS bypass is useful for that user who wants to bypass the restrictions of the corporate network, for example to consult his or her social networks.
We talked about it here (link to my first article…).
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3. Speed and performance
In some circumstances, a DNS bypass could be used to improve connection speed by accessing known IP addresses directly, rather than through the DNS resolution process. Keep in mind, however, that the contest between major DNSs is played out over milliseconds; certainly don’t expect to double the speed of your connection!
So, what are the main DNS Bypass techniques?
The main (and most obvious) one is precisely the use of alternative DNSs. Instead of using the DNS provided by one’s ISP, the user simply needs to change the settings on his or her computer’s network card to use the service he or she prefers. This is the simplest and most basic example of DNS bypass.
For users with slightly more advanced computer skills, the use of a VPN is an excellent DNS bypass strategy. Virtual private networks allow users to route their internet traffic through remote servers, encrypting the connection and hiding the actual IP address. This method not only allows DNS bypass, but also adds a layer of security and privacy to the connection (as long as one relies on serious providers and not free VPNs offered by unknown foreign providers).
Another DNS bypass strategy can be the use of a proxy server. Proxies act as intermediaries between the user and the destination servers. By changing browser or system settings, traffic can be routed through a proxy, thus bypassing the DNS provided by the ISP.
Finally, for true “geeks,” a DNS bypass can also be set up at the hosts file level. Modifying the system hosts file is a local method of bypassing DNS. By manually adding entries to the hosts file, users can directly associate a domain name with a specific IP address, ignoring DNS resolution.
Now that we know how to perform a DNS bypass, however, we also need to understand what implications this “maneuver” has, for better or for worse.
Let us focus mainly on security: the use of alternative DNS servers, VPNs, or proxies can pose security risks. Users must trust the provider of these services completely, since all traffic is routed through them.
It is no coincidence that several man-in-the-middle cyber attacks are, after all, fraudulent DNS bypasses.
Added to this is the ethical problem, perhaps less important to some, but not to be underestimated. If a company has banned the use of certain sites, DNS bypassing to violate these rules constitutes malfeasance. In this case, however, it is the network administrator, with appropriate configurations, who must prevent a simple DNS bypass from becoming a problem.
In conclusion, DNS bypassing is a practice that can be adopted for various reasons, but it is critical to understand the techniques involved and the associated risks. Users should carefully consider whether bypassing DNS is the right choice for their needs and consider safer and legal alternatives, such as using reliable VPNs. In an ever-changing digital landscape, user awareness is criucial for safely and responsibly navigating the internet.
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